With the rapid adoption of digital solutions during this COVID-19 period, businesses find themselves turning more and more towards data to improve operations and customer experience. Data is king, to say the least, and many marketers are of the view that the more data gathered the better it is as they can make more well-informed decisions. In a previous interview with Marketing, Bart Buiring, chief sales and marketing officer, Asia Pacific at Marriott, International, said that with the constantly evolving marketing industry and the uncertainty of the pandemic, marketers can mitigate the uncertainties by relying on data. He added that analytics enables marketers to know their customers better and the brand can leverage on a wealth of information from bookings to searches. Similarly, with the rise of eCommerce, Anil Gautam, managing director of DHL eCommerce Malaysia, said brands should use big data to gain insights on customer behavior and tailor their offerings to convert first-time users, enable repeat purchases, and retain customers through the consistent delivery of promise.
Adding on to the conversation, Fuji Xerox Singapore’s chief digital and marketing officer, Susie Wong (pictured) is of the view that having data today is a must, but what is crucial is quality over quantity. Collecting more data is not enough; brands have to know what to measure. “One common tendency I have observed is that because we can measure everything, we dutifully report all measurements,” she said, adding:
We need to see the forest from the trees.
Wong goes on to say that oftentimes, businesses are besieged with in-process metrics that they forget that the larger marketing goal is about two things: customer acquisition and customer retention. The essence of marketing is about building brand equity and driving commercial bottom-line, and so marketers should not only be preoccupied with collecting data, but also looking at the data and asking “so what?”
When it comes to marketing investments, Wong said it is no longer about allocating a certain budget to digital marketing in this day and age. “The age-old question of how much of your marketing budget is shifting to digital should not be the way we look at marketing investments anymore. The paradigm has shifted, we are living in a digital world, so in that context, all our marketing spends must be in digital,” she said. Wong also mentioned that as we enter a digital world, the 4Ps that marketers used to take reference from (product, pricing, place, promotion) should now be revised as: people, performance, programmatic, and platforms, as businesses start investing more into digital marketing.
However, as more brands look to invest in digital marketing nowadays, Wong also noted the increased difficulty for brands to reach out to consumers, given the increased competition in the digital space now. Citing a Salesforce research, Wong said it now takes six to eight meaningful touchpoints between a brand and consumer to trigger an action. “We are living in the era of the ‘evolved customer’, where consumers no longer implicitly place their trust in brands,” she added. To stand out from the crowded digital space, brands need to create highly targeted and hyper-personalised experiences. “Brands should leverage on the micro-moments of their targeted consumer and be there as part of their journey,” Wong said, elaborating that this means putting together a cohesive omni-channel strategy that marries digital and print, using real-time data and artificial intelligence.
The importance of human-focused experience
In this period of uncertainty, Wong said Fuji Xerox differentiated itself by relying on more human-focused experiences while continually adapting the latest technologies. According to her, the brand has introduced hybrid human and machine intelligence models, where the most routine tasks are automated so that employees are optimised to do greater value work. For example, it recently embarked on a digital transformation project where it eliminated manual invoice processing with an e-invoicing system that automatically formats, deliver and archive invoices. “This enabled us to have more than 90% of our billings e-invoiced, resulting in cost savings of over 20% and shorter payment cycles,” she said.
When asked how Fuji Xerox balances between digitalisation and customer experience, Wong said the two are intertwined and there is no trade-off. “In fact, the greater usage of data enables us to know the patterns of our customers more accurately at every touchpoint and this, in turn, helps us be better service providers to them,” she added.
To ensure there is a human touch in its digitalisation efforts, Wong said Fuji Xerox practices the "Customer Performance Index" approach where departments keep each other in check when it comes meeting expectations of the brand itself and its consumers. This ranges from billing in Finance to delivery and installations by its technical services teams. This way, Wong added, at any point in time, there is a human element in its interactions.
Moving forward, Wong also said Fuji Xerox would be interested in developing a customer data platform as well. Personally, she also sees the potential in voice search technology, which she said has skyrocketed in the past year with the rising adoption rate of digital voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. "It is predicted that over half of all searches will be done via voice by the end of 2020," she said, adding that for digital marketers, it will change the way they approach search engine optimisation (SEO).
Although there are many new technology the brand can consider venturing into, Wong is quick to note that it isn’t all about acquiring more technology, but about how it can optimise its existing stack of digital tools. “The basics for us are customer-relationship management, content-management system, customer experience, and marketing automation. We continue to focus on how these different systems can be better integrated to provide a holistic view of how we can woo, wow and win our customers,” she added.
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