Gaurav Bhatia, VP of Digital Strategy, AARP Services, Inc., & Head of Digital, Influent50
Over the past decade marketing has transformed from an art to more of a science, evolving from a creative and pure advertising play to a data, digital, technology, personalization and customer journey. With the advent of marketing technologies, digital platforms, real time analytics, advertising technology, automation, and real time testing, the marketing function is becoming more digitally focused and data driven.
Every industry and function is being digitized and transformed—from retail to healthcare to education and even industries that have been considered less innovative. We have seen the travel industry transform in the early 2000s from distribution through agents and call centers to a consumer driven online business. In addition, financial services began offering online products and services in the mid-2000s and now FinTech is becoming more prevalent.
As leaders in the industry transform their business models they need to focus on creating the best digital experiences, leveraging the retail experience. The good news is that we now have the tools and technologies that will enable marketers to execute “the digital experience” in a nimble manner.
Key areas that marketers and businesses need to focus on include:
• Improve the end to end customer experience: Companies need to understand the customer experience, from awareness about their product or service to sales and post- sales support.
Most organizations have a fragmented approach based on channels, products, segments that drive dissatisfaction and customer churn.
It is crucial to develop and understand the customer journey and map the organizational processes to mimic the customer journey. Develop use cases and journey maps so that you can see and feel the pain points/friction in the journey and make the required changes. This gives the team the opportunity to design the experience after having lived it.
• Leverage marketing technologies and build integrated marketing platforms: Today, marketing technology allows us to execute and measure the effectiveness of different customer touch points and campaigns. Organization need to be able to leverage marketing technologies and build an integrated platform that will help them test different experiences, measure the effectiveness and get a full view of customer behavior data. To be effective, teams have to be able to centralize their marketing technologies, platforms and channels and sync these resources to execute their marketing tactics. This strategy helps business to get a full view of the customer and allows for better business decisions.
• Use data to drive marketing decisions: Lot of organizations are using data for decision making and also debating whether marketing focus should be “left brain or right brain.” Data is unbiased and should be used across the marketing functions to drive business goals. Teams should focus on using data to drive marketing, be it direct mail, e-mail, web, mobile or social media. One cannot ignore the power of data and the positive impact it has both in terms of ROI and the customer experience. Using data enables us to create the experience based on customer wants and needs, and allows us to deliver on ROI, since we do not have to market to every single consumer that interacts with us.
• Create “Marketing as a Service”: The concept of “Software as a Service” (SaaS) is proving to be a popular delivery model for software. With marketing being data driven with a heavy technology component, I fully expect that in the next few years that marketing will also follow the same trajectory. It will be more of a service that businesses will use to engage with the customers—whether it is selling a product, providing customer support, getting feedback or simply offering an opportunity to interact with the brand. It will or should be the corner stone of customer engagement with your brand.
As we explore new interaction points—artificial intelligence, virtual reality, Internet of Things (IOT)—we are also automating and making mainstream marketing technologies and platforms that allow us to simply market and drive simplification. I encourage companies to think about how they can use marketing technology to enhance their marketing capabilities and drive improved business results and customer experience.