PR Awards 2023
How the pandemic has changed the role of the marketer

How the pandemic has changed the role of the marketer

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Marketers today are facing a plethora of challenges. While many of us have weathered the storm of the pandemic – and continue to fight to do so – the role of the marketer has shifted dramatically, and as a result, new priorities, methods, and objectives have emerged.

Today, 78% of global organisations have a different marketing perspective, and are re-prioritising metrics because of the pandemic.

In the past, marketing wasn’t necessarily associated directly with customer satisfaction, or the NPS. While marketers had some influence over the customer experience, it would be safe to say marketers didn’t own the customer experience, explained Chris Jordan, regional sales director, Digital 360, Salesforce ASEAN.

Marketers, even up until several years ago, were still very much in charge of top of the funnel awareness and activities, along with bringing customers down the funnel, and then eventually, passing leads over to the respective teams. But today, marketers are in charge of that entire customer engagement.

According to Jordan, what has accelerated marketers having to adopt the customer experience is the influx of digital.

“It’s almost like out of nowhere that marketing has become the digital consumer engagement division. And, as soon as everything went digital, C-suites and boards looked at marketing and said: ‘That’s your role, right’?”

This then put a huge focus on marketers needing to have a direct impact on revenue.

“If marketers are able to tie the funnel performance to customer satisfaction, all of a sudden, marketers become essential business partners,” said Jordan.

“While we’ve always been pivotal to the business as marketers, all of a sudden, CFOs and CEOs are looking at marketing because we’re able to measure and understand the impact we’re having across the business and across the funnel.”

Agreeing with the point on digital, and more particularly the pandemic elevating the role of marketing, Jean Tan, marketing director of Capital Group, said that during the crisis, many sales and leadership teams turned to the marketing function to help them reach out and engage clients digitally as face-to-face interactions came to a halt.

“As things went totally digital and it was hard to meet clients face to face, marketing saw a lot of support from senior management in terms of identifying the tech stack, the marketing technology, and finding the resources to work towards the creation of a unified view of the customer for a seamless experience,” Tan said.

But creating a seamless experience is no easy thing. According to Salesforce’s State of Marketing report, creating a cohesive journey across channels and devices, and engaging with customers in real-time while innovating, remain major challenges for marketers globally.

Adding to the conversation, Benjamin Goh, marketing and communications director of SEA at Montblanc, said the expectation of a seamless journey and client experience has always been present in the world of luxury. However, amid the pandemic, the responsibilities were heightened because clients would expect the same delivery and experience regardless of platform.

“In the world of luxury we are expected to give clients a seamless journey, and an experience. In the physical world, that experience is a lot easier to chart out,” he said.

He added that when the pandemic hit and physical activity came to a halt, the team at Montblanc had to innovate and think of new ways to engage VIPs. With that, tech experience suddenly took a front seat.

With face-to-face time dwindling, the team decided to create a virtual event. To make the digital experience as smooth as possible, the team organised for champagne, glasses and a food basket from a Michelin-starred restaurant to be sent to its VIPs, along with a tablet, where clients simply had to tap in for a pre-loaded Zoom call – making it a frictionless experience.

“You have to think of the entire client journey – even if it’s as simple as a Zoom set-up. If there is any difficulty in the experience, you lose your client, and your engagement is entirely lost,” he said.

Adding to the conversation, Johan Buse, chief consumer business group at StarHub, added that the one element marketers needed to remember was to keep things simple and intuitive so as to not turn off consumers who might have a slightly lower level of tolerance.

However, keeping your touch-point intuitive doesn’t mean making it “non-digital”. If anything, for StarHub, over the course of the pandemic, its consumers have become even more aware of what its online stores and apps can offer.

While in the past many consumers chose to call through its hotlines because of the convenience factor or force of habit, Buse explained that today, StarHub’s consumers are more receptive to using their app or reaching out online.

“I think what we see increasingly is a need for hybrid where there might be people who browse online, place their order online, but still prefer to pay and collect from the store.”

The enormous spaghetti of legacy systems

Buse added that in the telco industry, many players struggle with having an “enormous spaghetti of legacy systems” where there are hundreds of data sources and systems in place which struggle to talk to each other to make sense of the data.

His sentiments echoed Salesforce’s 7th State of Marketing Report, in which it is predicted that marketers are only going to keep increasing the number of sources they use from a marketing perspective. Marketing alone is predicted to use approximately 14 different data sources. When IT or business decisions come into play, that number increases exponentially.

With such a high number of data sources, a whole slew of different challenges around identity stitching, personalisation, and real-time elements emerge. “Marketers must decipher which parts of those data are coming in real-time and which are not, leading to a large number of marketers not satisfied with their ability to create relevant customer experiences,” added Jordan.

“While data is brilliant, it’s only as good as the activation that you can do with it. Because if you know your consumers, that’s going to be fantastic, but if you can’t do something with it, it’s irrelevant.”

Interested in the opinions of more than 8,200 global marketing decision-makers? Get your complimentary copy of Salesforce’s latest State of Marketing Report here.

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