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Overcoming cloud fragmentation in the marketing portfolio

This post is sponsored by Oracle.

To adapt to changing customer expectations, many businesses resort to adopting single solutions to solve for particular pain points. At the end of the day, they end up with fragmented data and business processes as a result of using multiple, siloed clouds from different vendors. Such cloud fragmentation leads to unconnected data, which increases complexity when trying to deliver a unified singular customer experience.

The good news is that more often than not, these disparate cloud marketing solutions are available on a subscription basis, and thus easy to move off. The next step to overcome cloud fragmentation of the marketing portfolio is to decide strategically on a platform that will enable marketers to meet their CX priorities. This also needs to be powered by connecting the back office system of records with the front office systems of engagements.

How has brand marketing evolved?

Today, marketers are increasingly being recognised as a key function, aligned to driving business outcomes and held accountable for revenue targets. With this shift, marketers now find themselves responsible for acquiring customers, engaging those customers, increasing advocacy and decreasing churn.

Additionally, with more devices (and more distractions) for consumers than ever before, the concept of cross-device is becoming top-of-mind for the industry as a whole. The many touch-points throughout a customer’s day, from seeing an ad on their mobile phone, to watching TV after work, to checking Facebook and scrolling to a sponsored product video – these touch-points are key as consumers travel through today’s non-linear buyer journey.

Campaigns can now span across several screens or touch-points at the same time, connecting with consumers throughout the buying process.

With technology evolving every day, are marketers in the region keeping up with the tech to keep up with consumers?

We are seeing an increasing number of businesses leveraging the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance their marketing operations.

According to the 2017 Freeman Global Brand Experience Study, Asian marketers are early adopters of technologies in providing audiences with immersive and sensory brand experiences compared with marketers in North America and Western Europe. The report also found that one in three Asian marketers plan to allocate up to 50% of their overall budget to brand experience in the next three to five years.

What’s important is for businesses to make smarter decisions when deciding what to purchase for their customer experience (CX) solution suite. By managing all their different customer channels in a silo with point solutions targeting SMS, push notifications, email, social media, display ads, etc, marketers may end up with a CX suite that is too varied to drive a consistent message.

This cannot continue in the omni-channel world that our customers and prospects operate in. Marketers today must be able to orchestrate an omni-channel experience that motivates the customer in the channel that is most comfortable for them.

What are some of the challenges leading to marketers delivering less than stellar customer experiences?

The challenge of managing multiple channels and systems has introduced many pain points for marketers, especially around driving demand, maintaining consistent engagement and delivering stellar customer experiences.

The rapid rise of technology has led to many channels, disconnected teams, siloed data, fragmented systems and a serious skills shortage to match the new technology adoption rates. There are reasons businesses are falling short when it comes to connecting engagement points from an interest level to advocacy.

The customer experience is broken. What this leads to is customers discontinuing communication with a company because they receive irrelevant promotions and messages or do not receive a consistent experience across all channels.

The second reason is that the marketer’s experience is broken. Common complaints we hear from marketers include the inability to have a synchronised view of their customers’ interaction with the brand, the lack of data analytics used in decision-making and the difficulty in measuring ROI of marketing activities across different touch-points.

Ultimately, the lack of a connected business prevents progress. Marketers need to collaborate with their counterparts in IT, finance and HR to enable a consolidated viewpoint of data collected leading to connected insights for a connected customer experience.

How can businesses overcome cloud fragmentation of their marketing portfolio?

To adapt to changing customer expectations, many businesses resort to adopting single solutions to solve particular pain points. At the end of the day, they end up with fragmented data and business processes as a result of using multiple, siloed clouds from different vendors. Such cloud fragmentation leads to unconnected data, which increases complexity when trying to deliver a unified singular customer experience.

The good news is that more often than not, these disparate cloud marketing solutions are available on a subscription basis, and thus easy to move off. There is no legacy hardware tied to this purchase, and essentially no capital loss.

The next step to overcome cloud fragmentation of the marketing portfolio is to decide strategically on a platform that will enable marketers to meet their CX priorities. This also needs to be powered by connecting the back office system of records with the front office systems of engagements.

Increasingly, whether legacy or modern, B2B or B2C, businesses are realising that to deliver a unified experience to their customers, a new view of the business and their business model needs to be employed.

This new “end-to-end customer experience” mandates that marketers think beyond simply acquiring new customers to delivering an experience at every step of the customer life cycle. It also mandates that converting and growing revenue while building advocacy is impacted by more than just marketing.

How can marketers move beyond acquisition of new prospects to being part of the C-level discussion on the overall customer experience? 

Here are five ways marketers can make the customer experience part of their overall brand strategy:

Connect everything: Customers don’t care about technology systems or how they work. They just expect that when they call a company the information they have provided online, in person, via chat, or on another telephone call, will be available to further refine their experience with the company. Demonstrating understanding in one area, such as marketing, without connecting that understanding to commerce or service, will only lead to customer frustration.

Set standards: In an age of micro-moment personalisation, businesses should have rules in place to ensure that customers with ongoing service issues receive communications that acknowledge their current situation.

Have the right conversations: There is nothing more frustrating than calling a company for help only to have to repeat the message over and over again, and to be on the receiving end of communications that clearly demonstrate the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

Make CX part of everyone’s job: Too often, organisations get fixated on the service department as being the front line when it comes to the customer experience. But, in the age of digital, each customer touch-point, including marketing, loyalty, commerce, and the respective lines of business, should co-ordinate their piece of the customer experience to ensure maximum customer satisfaction.

Search for and fix the areas where customers are most frustrated: Early quick wins are important to keep the momentum going.

The writer is Wendy Hogan, customer experience and marketing strategy director at Oracle APAC.

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)