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Marketing to the Data Driven Customer

Customers with digital DNA expect data driven value
The digital native generation is bringing new expectations to brand relationships. They are mobile first, crowd sourced, and data savvy. Their first and most frequent interaction with your brand will be digital and mobile. They find out what’s cool, what’s trending, and what’s most likely to work best for them from their social networks. They don’t have emotional attachments to brands because the product is compelling or the advertising is cool. Their emotional engagement comes from unexpected insights that make them more successful. This is the new basis of customer loyalty, advocacy, and lifetime value.
Of course you still need a compelling product and cool ads (or messaging.) But once the prospect is a customer, continual engagement depends on over the top data driven insights. It’s no longer enough to just sell the hammers and saws and let the buyer go build their house. You need to monitor how they are using the hammer and saw. You need to deliver success by guiding their use of your product based on the behavior of your most successful customers. You need to leverage your position as the center of your customer universe to share best practices quickly and efficiently. The only way to do that at scale is through data.
Data Ownership vs Data Stewardship
In between the lines, you should be hearing a new philosophy with respect to customer data. Even though legally you “own” it, the data driven customer expects you to act as a data steward. You must treat their data as an asset to be used for their benefit, not just as the basis for driving revenue. Everything you provide to your customers should be designed to bring data back. Your customers should learn that the more data they provide, the more value they get in return – without negative side effects like having their data sold to an irrelevant ad network. Give to get and maintain the trust.
This has tremendous implications. Not only for marketers. Data marketing requires coordination with product development, IT, finance, fulfillment, point of sale, customer support, consulting services, sales. All these groups interact with customers and capture data on different aspects of their behavior – product usage, purchasing, problem resolution, planning, advocacy, etc. They all need to be understood to identify the most successful customers and the traits that drive their success. You can create tiers of services based on the level at which customer provide data. You can create cohorts of customers that exclude direct competitors. You can support exchanges within your customer ecosystem that enable strategic accounts to benefit from preferred peers. You can be extremely creative about how you structure your data marketing services.
The message is that in a world of shrinking product cycles, cheap knockoffs, and copycat services, data marketing is the new source of differentiation. No one else has the data you (should) have on how customers can be most successful with your products. Use it to attract and retain the best and leave the rest to your competitors.

To continue the conversation on data marketing and the data driven customer, contact me: gmurray (at) idc (dot) com.

Measuring Sales and Marketing based on Customer Outcomes

Have you ever used Uber X, the freelance taxi service? Half the cost of a cab and twice the level of service. The cars are immaculate. The drivers are almost overwhelmingly nice. They care deeply about your experience. Not because they want a tip. They want your 5-star feedback. That’s so important to their success that they will do almost anything to make sure you are happy. It is a customer first model that works because customers have the ability to give feedback that has direct business impact. It’s the eBay model applied to real world human interaction.
Think of your salespeople as Uber drivers, they interact with customers every day. Your marketing is like the car – is it in the right place at the right time and taking the customer where they want to go? These things matter tremendously to customers and yet we have no means to empower them to drive the behavior of marketing and sales at the moment of engagement. We have customer satisfaction surveys. They are important but lack immediacy and context for sales and marketing.
I recently came across two articles that may be the proverbial starting gun for measuring customer focus. The first from the HBR blog, “Bonuses Should be Based on Customer Value not Sales Targets,” profiles how GlaxoSmithKline no longer calculates sales bonuses based on prescription drug sales but on a basket of metrics related to patient outcomes. The second on the Forbes blog, “The 5-Star Employee, Why we need a Yelp for Business” presents a provocative picture of why employee ratings should be standard practice.
Clearly there are cultural and generational issues at stake and a lot of education needed to make these transformations acceptable and actionable in a way that improves outcomes for everyone. As customer facing technology coalesces around the CX Cloud model, marketers should think about how to get customer feedback more frequently. It will require innovation born of experimentation. Of course, no one wants to rate every piece of collateral. But maybe every third touch or at specific points in the nurturing process. Companies that figure it out will have the great advantage of being able to monitor customer experience and course correct in flight as opposed to relying on satisfaction surveys that are too little too late. Best of all, customers will feel the power of the relationship, something they won’t get from traditional models. Uber X is not better just because it costs less, it delivers more at the same time.

For marketing, the customer is the final score


Today in marketing we are in an exciting phase with so much change happening, but also so much opportunity. The current atmosphere is a scary proposition for some, yet energizing for others. This energy has brought enthusiasm to many areas within marketing that are touted as "the most important." While areas like marketing technology, big data and analytics, and content marketing are INCREDIBLY important, ultimately, they are only a portion of marketing and not the full picture. In the end the most important "statistic" is the customer. The buyer ultimately judges and scores you, so remember, how well you provide value to your customer will determine whether you win or lose.






Highlighting this customer focus, in our 11th annual marketing barometer survey we asked over 75 senior level marketing executives to "compose a tweet on the future of marketing." We then took those answers and created a word cloud (see above). Low and behold, the two largest words that came up were "Customer" and "Buyer". These executives, whether intentional or not, understand that the customer/buyer will determine the final score. So remember, while different marketing practices may have incredibly important functions, in the overall game of business, they are all just offensive rebounds. 



Follow Sam Melnick on Twitter @SamMelnick


Copyright 2011 IDC. Complete articles may be reposted. Reproduction in part is forbidden unless specifically authorized. All rights reserved. Please contact IDC for information on republishing or web rights.
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The Customer: The Most Important Statistic in Marketing – Everything Else is Just Offensive Rebounds

Let’s start with a story that relates to marketing today. When my brother in-law was trying out for his high school basketball team, the coach sat all the players down at the end of one practice and asked them, “What is the most important statistic in all of basketball.” My brother in-law, quite confident his answer would be correct, raised his hand and answered “Points scored.” The coach stared at him for a few seconds and responded, “No. Offensive rebounds.” For those of you who are familiar with basketball, you know that is a ridiculous statement – while offensive rebounds are important, the final score determines the winner, and thus is inarguably, the most important statistic in basketball.

For marketing, the customer is the final score


Today in marketing we are in an exciting phase with so much change happening, but also so much opportunity. The current atmosphere is a scary proposition for some, yet energizing for others. This energy has brought enthusiasm to many areas within marketing that are touted as “the most important.” While areas like marketing technology, big data and analytics, and content marketing are INCREDIBLY important, ultimately, they are only a portion of marketing and not the full picture. In the end the most important “statistic” is the customer. The buyer ultimately judges and scores you, so remember, how well you provide value to your customer will determine whether you win or lose.

Highlighting this customer focus, in our 11th annual marketing barometer survey we asked over 75 senior level marketing executives to “compose a tweet on the future of marketing.” We then took those answers and created a word cloud (see above). Low and behold, the two largest words that came up were “Customer” and “Buyer”. These executives, whether intentional or not, understand that the customer/buyer will determine the final score. So remember, while different marketing practices may have incredibly important functions, in the overall game of business, they are all just offensive rebounds. 

Follow Sam Melnick on Twitter @SamMelnick

Top 3 customer experience challenges for marketers

Customer experience management is fundamentally about providing a seamless and consistent flow as prospects move through different phases of development and points of contact with a supplier. Delivering on this presumes a level of connectedness that many marketing organizations struggle to achieve. The reason for the struggle is that there are three significant forces of fragmentation opposing their efforts: specialization of roles, organizational hierarchies, and tactical technology. These forces threaten every marketing organization with two fatal flaws: they slow everything down and fracture the customer experience.
Three forces of fragmentation that marketers must fight:
1.     Specialization: all areas of marketing execution have become inch wide mile deep endeavors. As a result, there can be many degrees of separation between key roles such as social marketers, event planners, web administrators, technical writers, etc. What do these people talk about when they get in a room together? Does anyone else care how the events person manages food service or logistics?

How to combat the fragmentation of specialization: It is becoming clear that the one thing all marketing roles now have in common is the need to master data and analytics. Each specialized role produces and consumes data from all the others. It is critical that everyone in marketing understand how customer and operational data flows, how others use the data they produce, and the best analytical practices for gaining insight. This should be a key topic of conversation and community building.
2.     Hierarchical org charts: Marketing is no longer a command and control world. Yes, there is an overlay of reporting that has to go “up the chain.” For many marketing leaders that grew up with the traditional B-school approach to management, adding layers to the org chart is a natural approach. However it results in compartmentalization that left untended creates a culture of disconnectedness.

How to combat the fragmentation of hierarchies: Marketing organizations should be defined around processes not activities. Marketing processes must be supported by collaborative environments that foster greater visibility and coordination between contributors. Enterprise social networks are becoming essential for creating a culture of openness and connection. Organic approaches are not enough, marketing leaders need to seed the social network with process oriented communities such as: campaign management, sales enablement, content lifecycle management, etc.
Transforming Marketing From Silos…
… To Systems
3.    Technology: IDC identifies nearly 90 different categories of marketing technology (not including middleware and infrastructure!) That alone should tell you the function and the IT market serving it are unsustainably fragmented. The deployment of highly specialized tools can empower people within their specialties but can leave them on a technology island in the greater scheme of things. Major IT vendors have started to consolidate some of the basic building blocks, but there are still many areas in which niche/best of breed capabilities are needed.

How to combat the fragmentation of technology: The two centers of gravity for your marketing IT infrastructure are your integrated marketing management solution and your website. They should be intimately tied to each other and all other marketing systems/tools should integrate with one or both of them. This becomes a forcing factor for integrating processes and data flows. Marketers also need to demand more of their technology vendors to accelerate the evolution of platforms that tie together the systems of engagement, content, administration and data.

The most successful CMOs will ensure the pervasive deployment and adoption of technology increases collaboration, socialization, and systems thinking. They will design marketing organizations around customer-centric processes and exert deliberate efforts at all levels to combat the forces that threaten the connectedness needed to serve up a seamless customer experience. 

Busting the Myth of Sales Disintermediation

Are IT Buyers so self sufficient that sales people will no longer be needed? Much was made in 2013 of the notion that IT Buyers make a large percent of their decision before engaging with sales. Every major market research company had its own number but they all ranged north of 50%, a scary thought especially if it represented a rising trend.
As shown in the figure below, enterprise IT buyers actually rely very heavily on vendor input for enterprise solutions. Buyers can make categorical decisions like “we need a new CRM or billing system.” But they need a great deal of information from marketing, sales and technical sales in order to complete their decision making processes.
Finding the Right Mix of Marketing and Sales Engagement
Q.        What percent of your decision for an enterprise-level purchase when multiple vendors are competing for your business has been made by the time you first speak with a salesperson?
Source: IDC’s 2013 IT Buyer Experience Survey, n = 193
The implications for supporting customer journeys is significant. For purchases that are low cost, familiar and low risk customers want to be as self sufficient as possible. And sellers need them to be because it costs too much for even telesales or online chat to support these transactions. At the other end of the spectrum of course it gets far more complex and that translates into opportunity for vendors – if they are truly aligned with the buyer’s journey
One of the most important value adds that most sales and marketing lacks is the need to educate customers on how to buy as much as what to buy. For costly complex purchases, customers need guidance on:
  1. How to evaluate the strategic priority of the solution as well as the technical and business benefits
  2. How to build consensus across line of business, corporate IT and other key players in the decision making process.
According to our latest IT Buyer Experience research, marketing and sales teams that provide this insight early and often will help buyers make their decisions up to 40% faster, putting them ahead of the competition and ahead of forecast.
For more information on this and related research please contact me at gmurray(at)idc(dot)com.

Next Gen Marketing Teams: From Silos to Systems

Automation has revolutionized marketing. It has brought new insights, capabilities, and methods of engagement. It has demanded new skills, thrust us into the omni-channel universe, and opened new levels of visibility and accountability. But these are all ripples in the pond, so to speak, only the most immediate after effects of a rather large splash down. The most profound change is just beginning to be felt. Automation has introduced the notion of an enterprise customer creation process, a horizontal function that cuts across all marketing activities. Effectively implementing and managing this process requires next generation marketing teams to be much more integrated and coordinated. 
Despite its mystique as a freewheeling, creative and dynamic function, corporate marketing is in reality a deeply fragmented hierarchical organization. Specialists typically function in separate domains moving from project to project with great urgency, rarely having time to consider the big picture. The need to be highly responsive to changes in direction has created a culture adverse to structured workflows. However, as marketing automation solutions consolidate into an enterprise system, a diverse set of marketing roles, process definitions, and data structures are brought together. In response, marketers are beginning to redesign their organizations around workflows instead of activities. Rather than having social, web, advertising, content, partner, analytics, systems admin, etc. in separate organizational buckets, these roles are being reformed into cross functional teams responsible for executing entire campaigns. 
Marketing solutions are starting to be designed around a multi-disciplinary community model. Adobe’s marketing cloud offers a collective view of the campaign workflow for each member of the team and unique workspaces for the various roles in content production, campaign management, analytics, etc. Each member can see what contributions have been made and why. They can communicate in real time on key issues and how they affect the overall process. IDC expects this trend to become pervasive. Providers such as Salesforce.com, Oracle, IBM, SAP, and others are driving their solutions around a vision of the “customer facing ERP” which integrates all customer facing functions in what will most likely be a hybrid cloud for managing customer experience. The implications for organizational design will be significant and CMOs should start instilling the culture of workflow based communities as soon as possible. 

Marketing Must Lead the "Customer Experience" in B2B – Thoughts from #Inbound13

Is all this talk of “Customer Experience” within B2B Tech fluff?
This is the question I asked Hubspot’s two cofounders Darmesh Shah and Brian Halligan after their keynote speech at Hubspot’s annual Inbound Conference. Their answers added to the momentum I have been observing and hearing. Yes, they felt Customer Experience, or whatever your organization names it, is massively important and is here to stay.
At Hubspot their shift to a Customer Experience Company, or an Inbound Company as they call it (for a great detailed overview on this read @thesaleslions recent blog post), is just another signal that providing and mapping a full Customer Experience will be an important part of the future of B2B companies. I believe marketing has an opportunity set the path to success.
Below are some areas I see patterns around “Customer Experience” as it continues grow in B2B Tech:
  • Marketing > Sales > Services: This is a trio that the HubSpot executives spoke about and it’s also something that we have consistently seen from salesforce.com and Marc Benioff. These are the 3 key areas of interaction with the customer and like it or not, one can’t live without the other.
  •  Continued rise of Vice President of Customer Experience and the Chief Customer Officer: My colleague Rich Vancil bloggedon this topic a few weeks ago. The title and role are still undefined, but where I see some patterns is sales, services, and marketing (yes those three again), rolling into one person. This person owns these areas and assures the departments are working seamlessly together. Sometimes product or the channel/partner org reports to this person, but sales, services, and marketing are always present.
  •  Technology is Making the Customer Experience Possible: At IDC we have seen digital everything continue to grow, and on the marketing side, see leading companies aggressively investing in all things digital. The more conversations I have, the more I hear about context, personalization, and data. While these topics are not new, the difference is advanced technologies are now available. These technologies provide the opportunity for companies truly wanting to focus on the full customer experience to be exceptional in execution.   

Why Marketing is in position to be a leader with Customer Experience:

Marketing is the first touch point for each customer, each relationship, and each person a company encounters. With around 50% of the purchasing process complete before a buyer even engages, this leaves a huge opportunity for marketing to set the stage for what will be a long and (mutually) fruitful relationship. Not only is that first touch and experience important, but marketing’s job is also to identify and label each prospect so they are placed in the correct persona.  This ultimately will send prospects down the path that will provide them with the most value and the best customer experience.
Without marketing’s knowledge of the prospect, sales is blind as there would be minimal context and more challenges in providing the best solution for prospects. In turn, even when deals get closed, service teams would be starting at a huge disadvantage with minimal information on the type of account they are now managing.

Marketing sets the expectations for the customer, Marketing provides the playbook for sales and services, Marketing must take the lead in the Customer Experience.

The "Customer Experience" Job Role

A few years ago, IDC opened up a new research area within our “role-based” research area. We sought to understand, and define, and then Advise on an emerging role that we were seeing pop-up within the IT vendor community: The Customer Experience executive.

It was a difficult area to research, as we were not able to get a consistent “fix” on the job description. In some organizations, the Customer Experience executive was the head of product quality. In other organizations, the newly-appointed Customer Experience executive was just a re-titling of the head of customer service. And, there were other, “loose” job descriptions across many vendor organizations.

It has taken some time, but today the Customer Experience role (and mission) is becoming clear. This executive (and team) is charged with serving-up a unified and integrated buying experience for smart shoppers. The experience needs to fully encompass the “omni-channel” environment. The experience needs to *anticipate* the channel traversing that is the reality of the consumer’s movements.

Customer Experience “Worst Practices”, might include these scenarios:

  • The customer is offered a price promotion for an item that is advertised on the web; but the same offer is not acknowledged in the physical retail channel.
  • The customer purchases on-line, but is un-able to return or exchange the item off-line.
  • The customer makes a purchase from a franchised retail channel and then wants to exchange the item at a “corporate” location, but the corporate store (Verizon in this case! This week ! When I was buying a new smart phone!) won’t accept the exchange, and sends the customer back to the franchise.
  • The customer is practicing “Show-rooming” offline, but receives multiple and confusing offers for the exact same product, on-line.

The list could go on. Excellence in customer experience should be defined as offering the customer consistency, rationality, and *anticipatory* interaction capability, regardless of channel.

One ISV that is rising to the task to help this very complex Customer Experience job role, is SAP. Last week, I had the opportunity to listen to SAP CMO Jonathan Becher outline this major, “open” white-space which might be paraphrased as the “Omni-Channel Customer Experience”. SAP (with its hybris acquisition) is doing a nice job of articulating the challenges and opportunities. Actually “fixing” the experience is going to be a challenging combination of executive and team talent; heavy process improvement; plus the help of some very capable tools provider such as SAP.