What is context? According to Merriam-Webster, context is “the situation in which something happens or the group of conditions that exist where and when something happens.” We’ve been using it since late Middle English speakers adapted the Latin contextus, from con (together) and texere (to weave). For marketers, context means understanding attitudes, behaviors, and preferences to address the requirements of individual customers in their moments of need.
It is critical for marketers to embrace customer context. Why? Winning in the age of the customer depends on the interactions that people have with your brand, and compelling customer experiences materialize only when your firm understands its customers and anticipates their needs. The context of all those interactions determines whether customers will engage and, more importantly, transact with your brand again. Marketing’s job is to harness the power of customer context to create a repeatable cycle of interactions, drive deeper engagement, and learn more about the customer in the process.
I’ll be brief, because I know you’re busy. If you’re a customer-obsessed marketer, you should plan to attend Forrester’s annual Forum designed just for you – MARKETING 2016. Join us and 600+ marketing leaders in New York City on April 26-27 as we dive deep into the issues that matter most to you. Our agenda this year is comprised of five sections:
1. Thriving In The Post-Digital Age: Led by our own VP/Principal Analyst Shar VanBoskirk, hear our latest research on what it takes to succeed as a marketing leader in a world where digital embeds in everything.
2. Customer Understanding: Sick of all the noise about big data? Join VP and Research Director Srividya Sridharan as she uncovers how to move from data, to insights, to business action.
3. Contextual Engagement: Principal Analyst Rusty Warner will be joined onstage by eBay and J&J as they discuss best practices in using situational context to drive deeper customer engagement.
4. The Leadership Question: Forrester’s Michelle Moorehead will moderate a superstar panel on the changing leadership role for CMOs.
5. The Power Of Trust: Principal Analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo will discuss how your ability to manage consumer privacy will be a key differentiator in building trust.
A CMO and a CIO walk into a hotel bar (Let’s call them Tom and Dick). After ordering a drink, Tom says, “Dick, I really need to start working with a DMP this year, and I want your help selecting one.” Dick says, “A DMP? My enterprise architecture team is building a near real-time, self-service data management platform. We’ll be done by the end of the year. You’re going to love it in 2017!” With an absent look on his face, Tom says “A DMP is a piece of AdTech that we can use to quickly target tailored audiences with our ad campaigns. It’s not a back-office data warehouse”. Dick laughs and says, “Ad campaigns? Didn’t you just buy a campaign management tool from one of those so-called marketing cloud vendors? You know, our CRM system has a campaign module, not to mention an enormous customer database.” Tom’s response: “You’re not getting it. Cross-Channel Campaign Management is a MarTech tool, not CRM. And a DMP is not a customer database.” Exasperated, Dick shouts, “What the hell is the difference between MarTech and AdTech anyway!”
We all know the opening part of Pope’s often-quoted adage. Certainly some acquisitions in the enterprise marketing technology arena are now looking like foolish decisions. In yesterday’s 2015 trading update, SDL announced it will sell multiple products that are “non-core to its future strategy,” including social intelligence, campaign management, and its Fredhopper eCommerce recommendation engine. SDL paid $110 million for the first two solutions when it completed its acquisition of Alterian in early 2012. The SDL announcement echoes Teradata’s similar announcement in November to sell its marketing application division. Teradata acquired Aprimo in late 2010 for $525 million, and then added smaller acquisitions of eCircle, Argyle Social, Ozone, Apoxxee, and FLXone – the last pick-up coming less than one month before the sell-off announcement.
By breaking the marketing technology landscape into two basic categories -- systems of insight and systems of engagement -- the report both organizes an increasingly complex technology landscape and gives concrete examples of the types of solutions available to marketers today.
We’ve all seen comprehensive diagrams featuring hundreds of vendor logos across multiple marketing technology categories. So, when tasked with mapping the technologies required to deliver contextual marketing, I decided to simplify things. For more details, see my new report “Combine Systems Of Insight And Engagement For Contextual Marketing.”
Forrester has defined broad “systems of X” categories that include systems of record, design, operation/automation, insight, and engagement. The latter two lend themselves to the enterprise marketing technology landscape.
Real-time analytics and insights drive the contextual marketing engine (below), and these tools fit squarely into the systems of insight category. Customer data bases and big data repositories fuel the engine, and as customer behavior refreshes them frequently, they, too, are systems of insight (as opposed to more static systems of record).
To successfully grow in Asia Pacific (AP), you must excel at understanding customers’ needs, wants, and behaviors and have the capabilities necessary to transform this insight into improved customer engagement. But that’s true everywhere. What sets the AP region apart are the continued vast differences between markets. Appreciating these market differences, and the impact they have on customers’ expectations, is critical when sourcing enterprise marketing capabilities.
Don’t worry: I’m not here to support your New Year’s resolution with work-out advice. But if you want to review the six requirements for planning a mature enterprise marketing strategy, then keep reading.
Real-time, contextually relevant customer experiences require a significant investment in enterprise marketing technologies. However, customer insights (CI) professionals often struggle with defining marketing technology requirements to match business objectives. It’s difficult because you must balance multiple stakeholders, accommodate channel-specific processes, and integrate products from different vendors to align with your firm’s enterprise-wide business technology (BT) agenda.
To support CI pros with requirements planning, Forrester offers a self-service assessment tool to help you determine how your firm stacks up using our enterprise marketing maturity model. We believe that customer-focused enterprise marketing initiatives rely on improved capabilities across six core competencies. The first three – strategy, resources, and processes – focus on organizational readiness. The remaining three – data, analytics and measurement, and technology – underscore the importance of the right tools to enable successful execution.
At Dreamforce in San Francisco earlier this week, Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Scott McCorkle highlighted retailer Eddie Bauer’s strategy to make marketing so good that it feels like customer service and customer service so good that it feels like marketing. He may well have added that when marketing and service are well executed, they both begin to feel like sales – or at least the extension of sales environments that they are meant to support.
This thinking underscores the blurring lines between marketing and customer experience. Where does one end and the other begin? And does it really matter? Certainly to the customer it doesn’t; all he or she wants is a great experience that delivers value appropriate to the current context. So then, why do brands continue to let organizational or functional silos get in the way? It’s easy to say that legacy systems and processes still dictate what brands are able to achieve, but surely with today’s business technology capabilities, it’s possible to do better.
Brands highlighted at Dreamforce not only do better: they blend marketing, services and sales for a seamless customer experience. Take Fitbit, for example. Of course the Fitbit business model is based on interaction and context, but Fitbit has taken things to another level by ensuring that marketing content is fully incorporated into app functionality instead of pushing messages at customers. Up-sell, cross-sell and promotional content appear when contextually relevant and blend smoothly with customer services information and sales/transactional opportunities.