On the road to success with digital business, personalization and data protection
BY ANDRES DICKEHUT
Andres Dickehut, CEO of marketing service provider Consultix, set off on behalf of Das Produktkulturmagazin in search of digital marketing trends. He has been advising international clients on customer engagement, eCRM, customer lifecycle management and eCommerce since 1994. ProCampaign®, one of his company’s own developments, is used by brands to steer pinpointed campaigns from a single system and in full compliance with data protection regulations.
Trends don’t arrive with a big bang. They take shape gradually, are regarded by early adopters as a source of salvation and are finally welcomed by the masses, provided they have managed to achieve a certain degree of market penetration. Trends are antennae that wave about in the marketplace and with which we as entrepreneurs should grapple each day in order to remain flexible, prepared and competitive. What was just on the horizon last year might already be of particular strategic importance this year, if we want to stay on the ball. Digital transformation and the handling of big data which accompanies it were and are examples of such topics. And a big bang last year was surely the data protection debate when safe harbor was declared a failure and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation entered into force.
Urgent action is needed in 2017 too which will have an impact especially on marketing. Initially, the antennae waved about only slightly but now it’s quite clear: digital business, personalization and above all data protection, yet again, will keep us busy over the coming months. You could also say: information procurement, purchasing and online and real-time interaction, everywhere and at any time – welcome to our digital reality. Consumers are experiencing the possibilities that this digital reality has to offer and it is they who are setting the pace. Companies must follow suit and make sure their business models are future-proof. Making a business digital is a management task which requires a high level of technical understanding and the ability for networked thinking.
Yet precisely in the area of marketing, transforming a company into a digital business means investing in new platforms and systems which help enterprises to understand their clients, indicate touchpoints and generate corresponding customer loyalty interventions. A solution: marketers take specific customer data from systems such as SAP or eCommerce and unite them in what is known as a customer engagement hub that allows them a 360° view of the client and his needs. This is the basis for intelligent and informed decisions and the opportunity to address the client at precisely the right moment, in real time too.
Equally important in digital business are topics such as storytelling and a personal approach. Marketers need to keep an eye on this over the coming months. What is meant here is an individual and emotional encounter with a brand. Being addressed individually makes a customer happy to start a dialogue with that brand. It is personalization that mostly decides whether a customer comes back or not. Forrester noted back in 2015 already that the only long-term competitive advantage for a company in future will be to know the customer and what he wants and act accordingly.
However, to be able to address the client individually, marketers have to rely on sound customer data. Nowadays, these are the feedstock for personalized campaigns with a high degree of customer “engagement”. The filtering, analysis and linking of existing customer data helps marketers to get to know their clients better and gauge their needs – best of all even before they have themselves formulated these needs. The panoramic view of the client allows marketers to make intelligent and informed decisions, reach the customer at exactly the right moment and address him absolutely individually in each phase of the customer lifecycle. An emotionalized and personalized customer approach at the right time and in the right place takes on a completely new quality. The success of this individual approach is measurable at any time, for example in the shape of rapid and constantly growing return on investment.
In digital business, data is the new gold. Legislation has acknowledged this fact too and reacted in the recent past to the issue of consumer protection. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has now entered into force. From 2018 onwards, companies face a penalty of up to four percent of their annual turnover should they contravene this regulation. That’s why marketers should not just sit back and relax but instead tackle without fail the issue of data protection, whereby self-certification, such as was agreed in the framework of the Privacy Shield, is not enough here. Companies can only send out a clear signal through verifiable certification by data protection authorities. Enterprises which obtain a data protection seal of approval and count on certified solutions are thus also investing in their own competitiveness, reputation and their relationship to their customers.
Consultix can confirm from its day-to-day experience just how important the topic of data protection is. With ProCampaign®, its own customer engagement hub, Consultix has specialized in particular in the fast-moving consumer goods sector (FMCG), whose marketing activities address a large and broad spectrum of end users. We process about 50 million customer profiles every day and the protection of this data is a determining factor for our reputation and, of course, critical to our clients’ business operations. To show just how important data protection is to us, for several years now we have had our products and services certified by authorities at the highest level. Just one example: so that our portfolio always remains state of the art, our European Privacy Seal (the highly respected EuroPriSe seal of approval), which we have been allowed to display for several years already, is now in the process of being renewed. The seal shows customers that the certified company acts in compliance with current European data protection legislation. It is a form of insurance for internal and external audits and allows the risk managers of international groups to sleep peacefully at night. Our belief and my advice to all marketers: you need a safe haven for your data because data protection is brand protection and will remain so in future too!
Digital transformation is unstoppable. It is no longer simply a trend but already a fact. For marketers, investment in new technologies and solutions is the key to a successful dialogue with the customer. With these, large volumes of customer data can be handled, analyzed and used to address each client individually. Such solutions offer a quick return on investment, but this should not be the only priority. The route to digital business is only possible via legally compliant data storage and transfer. Why? Because data is the new gold of our economy and its protection is a form of insurance for each and every company. It’s not just a matter of our own reputation but also of our clientele’s trust in us.
Consultix operates on behalf of global brands in over 90 countries. Its flagship is ProCampaign®, its secure customer engagement hub. The SaaS solution integrates digital marketing, customer lifecycle management, eCRM and eCommerce for pinpointed and effective marketing campaigns.
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin, issue Q1 2017. Picture credit © Katsumi Murouchi/Getty Images