There are tech platforms that can bust your data silos, but they’re not a silver bullet. For successful customer engagement you need a precise alignment of people, processes and technologies .
MARTEC’S LAW: TECHNOLOGY CHANGES FASTER THAN ORGANIZATIONS
Technology continues to evolve quickly. But changes in behavior and culture take time. There are only so many changes in people, processes, and technology that an organization can productively absorb at once — at least without a major disruption. This is amplified when it comes to omnichannel engagement, because it requires significant alignment and collaboration.
Keeping up to speed on the right technologies to adopt and vendors to work with is tough enough. Often times even when organizations build the right stack they may only use a fraction of the capabilities. This can be averted by developing the right customer engagement vision and strategy.
CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT VISION
Today brands are competing on customer experience. As engagement channels continue to evolve, developing a vision for how you expect to interact with your customers in the coming years will be critical. It will inform a roadmap for delivering meaningful customer experience AND it will help your team understand what they are working towards. This vision should be based on a combination of your customer’s needs and what will be feasible. Many businesses are in dire straits because their customer engagement visions were too broad and lacked sufficient forward thinking. One of the biggest reasons for failed visions, is aiming too low. Your vision should include your perspective on omnichannel personalization.
SILOED DATA: A BARRIER TO OMNICHANNEL PERSONALIZATION
Your customer engagement strategy should be outside-in. This means starting with a consolidated view of your customer and develop an integrated approach to meet her needs. This type of strategy requires leveraging customer data. Companies have lots of customer data. Unfortunately it exists with silos. Many companies do a lousy job at integrating customer data. But it hasn’t hurt them because integrating data is hard and their competitors didn’t integrate it well either. But with this is changing due to the development of a new type of technology – the Customer Data Platform.
TECHNOLOGY ISN’T A SILVER BULLET
“Getting the most out of marketing technology is often less about the technology itself and more about people and process.” Bryan Yeager, Research Director at Gartner
Customer Data Platforms integrate siloed customer data and can bring machine learning to marketing and customer engagement. But technology isn’t a silver bullet – it is only as good as the processes that are implemented around it, and the processes are only as good as the people who execute them. You need to get the right balance.
PEOPLE: YOUR TEAM NEEDS EXPERTISE, BANDWIDTH, GOVERNANCE & COLLABORATION
Start by assessing your internal resources and culture. Amongst your existing employees do you have the expertise, bandwidth and structure to integrate all touch points around the customer? It is important to distinguish between doing many things that are targeted towards your customers, versus whether they are all synchronized and integrated at the customer level.
Are there cultural issues that need to be addressed? How is governance being handled?
After assessing your internal team you need to identify the type of outside help that you may need. If you are looking for large scale transformative change you may consider engaging a leading management consulting firm or a large customer insights service provider. These types of firms can be very helpful for large, complex engagements. You should be prepared to budget accordingly.
If you are looking for a specialized partner that is independent, agile, and experienced. You may want to evaluate a specialist boutique like Refined Path. We provide modular services which help clients unify and active data for better customer engagement. Benefits of working with a specialist includes singular focus, senior involvement from strategy through delivery, lower overhead costs and ability to start small and expand based on results. Boutiques also can be used to provide training and fill any gaps that your team may have.
PROCESS: ALIGN THE RIGHT ACTIVITIES
Your process will depend on your goals, team, strategy and technologies that you have chosen to work with. You will need to identify the tasks and the sequence of those tasks necessary to fulfill your objectives. It is critical that your process fosters alignment with your customers as well as alignment across the team.
Amongst the activities that you may include in your process will be:
- Integrating The Right Customer Data
- Mapping Customer Journeys
- Defining Audience Segments
- Developing Personalized Content
- Predicting Customer Behavior
- Reaching Your Audience
- Responding To Signals
- Evaluating and Optimizing Over Time
- Governing Engagement Across Functions
TECHNOLOGY: USE THE RIGHT PLATFORM FOR YOUR BUSINESS
There are different types of platforms to help personalize customer engagement. You should understand the features and benefits of each and decide on the best tech stack based on your customers’ needs and business objectives.
Most companies have A CRM system and a Marketing Automation Platform. Many have added a Data Management Platform. Some B2B companies are adding a Account-Based Management platform to orchestrate activities. And now Customer Data Platforms (CDP) are creating a lot of buzz. It can be very confusing for marketers to keep up with.
A few thoughts. Don’t lead with technology. Start with your customer. What are key segments, what are their needs at every stage of their journey. How is their journey evolving? Then develop integrated strategies that are enabled by the technology and data that you have.
That said, be aware of how your organization leverages the technology that you have invested in. Many times key features are not utilized. Also many times there can be sloppy gaps that don’t seem like a big deal – but they can really hurt your results. Things as simple as having the wrong landing page for a search term. Details matter.
DO YOU NEED A CUSTOMER DATA PLATFORM?
We find that many marketers don’t understand customer data platforms and are under the impression that they can do the same things as their existing technology. This is likely not the case. A CDP doesn’t replace your a CRM or DMP. It is a complementary piece. Each firm should be aware of it’s capabilities and make an informed decision based on their circumstances.
Gartner defines a CDP as an integrated customer database managed by marketers that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing, sales and service channels to enable customer modeling and drive customer experience. This includes unifies both anonymous data and personally identifiable data to form a single customer view. There are three elements to be aware of:
- Marketer-Managed System: The CDP is built and controlled by the marketing department, not the IT department. Limited technical resources may be required to set up and maintain the CDP, but it does not require the level of technical skill of a typical data warehouse project. This is important for an agile marketing/customer engagement team.
- Creates a Persistent, Unified Customer Database: The CDP creates a comprehensive view of each customer by capturing data from multiple systems, linking information related to the same customer, and storing the information to track behavior over time. The CDP contains personal identifiers used to target marketing messages and track individual-level marketing results.
- Accessible To Other Systems: Data stored in the CDP can be used by other systems for analysis and to manage customer interactions. This facilitates real-time activation, based on the signals that you pick up about a customer.
No all CDP’s are the same. If predictive marketing is important in your strategy you likely want a platform that incorporates machine learning and can customize models specifically for your business. As opposed to rule-based approaches, machine learning which can figure out which prospective customers are really engaged, and distinguish them from the ‘tire kickers.’
CRM and Marketing Automation Platforms can enable you to personalize specific touchpoints including your website, email and advertising campaigns. However, they are not designed to integrate all data sources for a holistic view of your customer, nor activate synchronized personalization.
Data Management Platforms (DMP) are designed for targeted digital advertising using anonymous third-party data. Customer Data Platforms are designed for your first-party data.
As you consider the right approach for your firm, Refined Path can help you choose, implement and operationalize the right solution for your organization.