How to keep full control during digital transformation
BY CHRISTIAN COLMER
“Speaking to the pilot is strictly forbidden!” It was with these words that Picasso once curtly interrupted someone who was admiring his work. Successful CMOs do just the opposite. They are pilots who seek dialogue and keep an ear to the ground for customer requests, since client feedback is the fuel for successful marketing campaigns. But how do brands really get to know their customers nowadays and which instruments do they need on board to do so?
Data and what we make out of them are becoming more and more important. Companies in all sectors are making themselves future-proof by transforming their business models and becoming digital businesses. Such restructuring is a management task and affects all corporate operations. This also means new rules to the game when communicating with clients, because brands develop differently in digital environments and digital marketing requires new key performance indicators (KPIs). Brand management and marketing have become “disruptive”, demand new skills and new tools. At the same time, reaching the client spot-on at the right moment through a new channel on each occasion and with a suitable message remains a challenge – as does listening to him.
A customer’s value is not only reflected in the conversion rate but also in his points of contact with the brand. Planning this customer journey in the best way possible is a particular challenge both online and offline. It is here that conventional CRM systems reach their limits. What are needed are solutions which help marketers to make buyers out of prospective customers, loyal clients out of buyers, and brand ambassadors out of these loyal clients. With a centrally managed platform, which bundles all important digital marketing applications and makes it possible to analyse and control the customer journey automatically, the CMO keeps a firm hand on the rudder. In addition, the solution should also defragment customer data distributed over various applications and generate a 360° profile for the continuous visualization of all KPIs. According to Gartner, only a customer engagement hub (CEH) can fulfill these requirements. The analysts’ view is that such a hub is becoming an essential meta tool in every company.
Anyone who in times of social media, mobile devices, and internet of things wants to achieve successful sales must know what his customers want even before they themselves express it. Forrester already stated last year that the only permanent competitive advantage for firms lies in knowing the customer and what he wants and then acting accordingly. This is impossible without a high-performance customer engagement solution. This CMO’s cockpit is therefore a key enabler for both marketing as well as the successful transformation of a company into a digital business. Via such KPI-driven, personalized, contextualized, and appreciative marketing, success can be defined and measured at all points of contact with the customer. Below, the key stages are explained where marketers can turn potential buyers into loyal customers and brand ambassadors through stringent customer engagement.
Customers interact with the brand via the website, spot advertisements in magazines, on Facebook or TV and experience it in the store. The challenge is to maintain this contact and intensify it. In order to connect the customer and the brand, a corresponding profile must be drawn up in the customer engagement hub and constantly augmented. This requires the customer’s consent. If he supplies his data when subscribing to a newsletter, for example, then these data migrate, following a double opt-in loop, into his profile, separated according to specific attributes. The client’s interests and the brand’s “values” are interlinked in the background. On this basis, automated and individualized customer interactions can be planned using workflows and the customer journey begins. CRM systems are ideal for collecting customer data and then, for example, making them available to sales and distribution. In the area of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) or health, however, applications are needed which work generically in order to be able to interact with the customer at any time and in any place. Nowadays, a CEH analyses systematically the points of contact between brand and customer and recommends how to bind the customer to the brand through individualized marketing activities. The client automatically receives offers tailored to him. The approach is emotional and personal. And winning.
The CEH knows the preferences of each individual customer and links them to offers and campaigns. The marketer chooses suitable workflows along the touchpoints. Each point of contact with the brand can be expressed in figures and enhances the value of the customer profile. By linking client data with data from other systems, such as SAP or eCommerce, the marketer obtains a 360° picture of his client and his preferences. An additional advantage is that the customer receives cross-selling and up-selling offers which are already customized to his requirements even before he has made his consumer habits known. The journey is evaluated continuously, since the better the marketer knows his customers, the more precisely he can tailor offers to their requirements.
A large number of customer profiles are built up with information of relevance to the brand to the degree that the customer engagement hub finds it ever easier to learn from it and to generate purchase recommendations across all channels by comparing data. The brand becomes increasingly personalized and the individual client relates to it more closely. The success of campaigns, cost per customer, and his value can be measured with ever greater accuracy. The solution filters and visualizes all transactions and KPIs in real time using business intelligence algorithms. These figures then influence the next interactions with the customer. As everyone knows, satisfied customers are the best advocates for a brand. They become veritable ambassadors if they can be prompted to make pertinent statements and these can be used intelligently as testimonials, ratings, and reviews. Because bona fide statements by third parties lend authenticity to brand values and communication as well and thus boost brand image. The conversion rate rises measurably. These personalized messages can be sent from the hub at regular intervals, automatically, in real time, and across all channels.
Digital transformation is a corporate challenge: Those brands are future-proof which live digital business along the entire value chain and manage to share the same values with their customers, whereby these are the alpha and omega of all activities. Investment in a customer engagement hub is a business-critical, strategic decision and not an investment in another technological product, says Gartner. Like a professional pilot, the marketer with a CEH sees everything he needs to simply by glancing at his instruments, whilst others must fly with restricted visibility. To be able to act, in particular when there is turbulence, we must stay in control. Personalized, proactive, and pertinent communication with the customer – based on analyses, data, and algorithms – is a crucial success factor for brands which must continuously position themselves in rapidly changing contexts.
Consultix is a marketing and IT service provider which operates on behalf of global brands in over 90 countries worldwide. Flagship is ProCampaign, its secure customer engagement hub. The SaaS solution integrates digital marketing, customer lifecycle management, CRM, and eCommerce.
This article was published in Das Produktkulturmagazin, issue Q3 2016. Picture credit © Courtney Keating / Getty Images