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.
How does the CI pro responsible for marketing technology buying make an informed decision when faced with so many options? Well, to quote Ron Davies (feel free to summon the voices of Three Dog Night, David Bowie or Shelby Lynne, if you prefer), “It Ain’t Easy!” To help CI pros with their decision-making, my latest brief The Marketing Technology Buyer’s Dilemma provides advice on how to maintain customer focus while navigating market changes.
This past Friday I had one of the most enjoyable meetings of my professional life. I had initially been worried about this particular meeting. After spending 3 nights in Switzerland, I travelled back to the UK, spent 2.5 hours at Heathrow and then caught a flight to Finland, arriving well after midnight. Knowing that I would only have a few hours’ sleep in Helsinki before heading 100 km north to Lahti for the meeting, I was concerned that travel and tiredness might take their toll.
I needn’t have worried. Several participants had enjoyed a late night at Lahti’s famous summer retreat, and they were pleased I had made the extra effort to join them. As we drove up to the log cabin in the woods, I was reminded of my 4-H camping days back in West Virginia. Though I had spent childhood summers barefoot, I was surprised when asked to remove my shoes for a business meeting. But, when in Finland… So we added our shoes to the 9 or 10 pairs already by the front door and joined the others in a family-style sitting room.
If you haven’t kept up with the activity in the marketing technology space – acquisitions, product enhancements, "cloud" wars, et al., then I don’t blame you. The marketing technology landscape is complex, crowded, and confusing. To compete in the age of the customer, enterprises are quickly deploying technology to manage big data, execute contextual marketing, and orchestrate real-time customer interactions.
Whether you are a marketing technology vendor, buyer, or end user, this is an exciting time, and I am thrilled to join Forrester as a principal analyst on the Customer Insights team. I am based in London, and I will cover marketing technology along with my colleague Cory Munchbach. Together we will help Customer Insights (CI) Professionals as they navigate the digital marketing landscape and make marketing technology investment decisions. With a background that includes more than 25 years’ experience in marketing, customer analytics, product management, and product marketing, with both large and small vendors in the marketing technology sector, I am excited about my new role at Forrester and on the CI team.