Can a global distributed marketing cloud be the silver bullet that delivers omni-channel VIP customer experiences?

This is the first of two blogs highlighting key observations made whilst delivering a globally distributed marketing cloud across multiple markets and brands, and seeing what this means for the customer experience.

Together, the series will explore the market drivers that make this technology so popular, but more importantly, will also expose key subjects that require solid planning in order to ensure scalability, and avoid chaos further down the line.

Marketing spend on technology

It’s remarkable that the number of marketing technology companies has grown 2,500% in the past five years. Originally, this was c. 150 companies, and it’s now over 3,500 companies that are registered as “tech” businesses. The Chiefmartech infographic shows this rapid rise well:

This phenomenon has been fuelled by the proliferation of new channels and gadgets, and the subsequent need to monitor, analyse, report and predict how individuals consume our content whilst also aiming to understand their customer experience. To understand how all this translates fiscally, Gartner conducted research to understand what marketers tend to spend their money on:

There are a couple of key takeaways here:

Firstly, technology represents 27% of budget.

Secondly, the average CMO’s spend on technology is on par with the CIO’s, and is predicted to exceed it.

Ultimately, this is being driven by both consumer expectations and the desire of business to continually improve advertising and marketing efficiency, and its accountability.  Together they are driving the explosion in marketing technology.

So what is Marketing Cloud and why is it becoming so popular?

It is the smooth integration of proprietary and third party data with the Single Customer View (SCV).  It is monitored by sophisticated analytics and next best action algorithms, in order to deliver personalised customer experiences, across every channel.

It enables marketers to manage and develop digital and analogue assets, as well as making them available to other marketers globally whilst aligning with business hierarchy rules.  It should provide a “second-to-none” VIP customer experience.

The attraction of the marketing cloud is mainly due to the connection and coordination of the plethora of data, channels, media and tools to deliver a unique omni-channel customer experience.

However, don’t be fooled. It may not be rocket science, but it is complex.

The Customer Experience Compass

Whether your organisation is B2B, B2C, D2C, Public Service or not-for-profit, the success of your plan will ultimately be measured by the degree of engagement your proposition generates with your target audience. Due to this, it is necessary to ensure that your project’s compass is always pointing to customer experience; consumer; customer; client or citizen.

Past projects proved that brands who relied heavily on agencies to execute plans, shifted their reliance more towards the IT function for support. This is more prevalent with brands that are traditionally big advertisers, as they have more advertising experience than marketing experience.

The downside to this is that IT functions don’t always put the customer at the heart; often questionable experiences are the outcome of this because, technically, it makes sense. The best way to overcome this is to ensure the whole organisation understands and adopts a “customer centric” approach and product owners maintain a hearty desire to always ask “what will the customer experience be?”

Complexity drives change in marketing operating models

As we ditch the concept of digital marketing and accept that marketing in a digital world is the status quo, Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) are flexing their vision and shaping new ways of working.

With a myriad of channels, media formats, audiences and content ecosystems, the role of CMO has become more challenging; so, again, it is not surprising that hope lies at the door of MarTech+Services to deliver finely tuned customer experiences.

One of the many challenges CMO’s face is that technology vendors are so enthusiastic about their wares, that they sometimes forget to acknowledge the rethinking required to the marketing op-model.  Admittedly this is a prickly topic to tackle because many of the newly acquired capabilities won’t have been business-as-usual (BAU) previously; keep an eye on potential op-model changes.

When it comes to marketing technology, we are often only limited by our imagination and budget. Not ideal when speed to market is a key differentiator in the nimble digital world. The art of the possible is often overlooked and the prioritisation of business benefits is sometimes forgotten. Remind yourself of what a Minimum Viable Product is and be fast to fail so you find the big wins more quickly.

Where to start?Think “Satellite View”

Not just helicopter view…think satellite.  Imagine the marketing cloud roll-out has finished. You’ve created the marketing utopia; personalised customer experiences everywhere, fuelled by data and the insight it brings.  On-boarding and training is continuous using the latest in-app training resources.

You’ve nailed the global 24hr support infrastructure and your media efficiencies are improving weekly. Your analytics perfect contextual and lookalike campaigns whilst capping the frequency of ads viewed by audiences.

Visualising your end goal massively improves the ability to ask simple questions such as: do we have an operating model for global support?  How will we manage the interim period between agency execution and in-house capability?  How will the content ecosystem feed the exponential demand for interesting, useful and engaging material? And, of course; have we involved our customers to help us shape the future?

You’ll also start to see what scalability challenges are coming in the future. Everything you do will need to be scalable; it’ll need to be easily repeated and industrialised across markets, brands and continents. The art of scalability is to “build it once and deploy it everywhere”.

It’s a common goal, but in practice, virtually impossible.  First-hand experience of juggling hundreds of brands across multiple markets, shows that individual brands and markets often have contrasting BAU requirements and processes, so compromises have to be made. But rather than resign to the fact that there will be compromises, with better planning and analysis, it is possible to make ambiguity part of the strategic plan.

In an ideal world you would analyse the global BAU by market and brand, and then overlay a picture of “what good looks like”.  This will be expensive and time consuming and if speed to market and subsequent competitive advantage are key business drivers, then the perfect approach may not be appropriate.

Moving forward

Part 2 of this blog will explore how we can embrace ambiguity to serve speed and flexibility. We will look at marketing maturity and how it varies across brands to create the need to enable various levels of support and technology-mix.  We will touch on GDPR, Product Demos, Prioritisation and Delivery methods.