How The Customer Experience Will Drive MarTech In 2021

By Norman Guadagno, CMO, Acoustic

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When we think about marketing today, automation is one of the primary technologies businesses  leverage to drive sales and brand loyalty. With automation, marketers can create configurable, multi-channel campaigns that use deep audience insights to engage consumers. It allows us, as marketers, to shift from managing repetitive, manual tasks to accomplishing more strategic, creative ones — perhaps it’s no surprise then that 75% of marketers use at least one automation tool today.

Yet as new norms and societal values emerge, we must each evaluate our MarTech to ensure it enables us to keep pace.  Automation capabilities may help us be nimble, but they aren’t enough to address the full influence that changing consumer preferences can have on a marketing campaign or brand.

Rather than focusing on specific tech features, marketers should consider the customer experience first and foremost. Any MarTech deployed in 2021 or beyond should accomplish three key things: 1) place consumer privacy and data ethics at the forefront of all activity, 2) empower marketers to truly personalize communications, and 3) enable brands to launch campaigns and realize ROI quickly.

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Prioritizing privacy and data ethics

Privacy and data ethics are the most important forces shaping the marketing landscape today. We’ve seen this come to the forefront with Google ending its support for third-party cookies in Chrome and Apple enabling consumers to opt-out of sharing their activities with third parties, for example. Brands are beginning to understand that checking a box doesn’t cut it when it comes to storing and utilizing consumer data.

This is because today’s consumers want to be more informed: they want to know what data is being collected about them, how it’s being used, and whom it’s being shared with. This level of transparency and control is quickly becoming the foundation of how brands can build trust — and ultimately, loyalty — with consumers.

Today, most marketers will run a campaign and hope the system they’re using doesn’t violate users’ privacy. But imagine if you could run a marketing campaign perfectly tailored to each individual’s desires, including their privacy preferences? MarTech with advanced privacy and security features will gain momentum in 2021. By giving us the ability to uncover each individual’s set of preferences — what information they want, what they don’t, what kinds of communications they’ve opted into, what messages resonate, and what their paths to purchase look like — marketing can suddenly be driven by what each customer allows and expects. With more control and transparency, customers will feel more comfortable with the brand and more likely to become loyalists.

Personalization on consumers’ terms

Imagine staying in a luxury hotel: before you walk into your room, a fully personalized experience has been cultivated for you. The pillows are feather, not foam. The Wall Street Journal is delivered to your room daily, but staff know not to disturb you until at least 10am. The minibar is stocked with pretzels, potato chips, and sparkling water — your favorite snacks and beverages — while the TV quietly plays mellow music from your favorite artist.

Marketing should function this way, too but today, most marketing is done from the perspective of marketers not consumers. We want to find prospects, develop dazzling content, and put it in front of them to drive revenue. Essentially, we view the consumer as a recipient of our messaging. However, as consumers become more involved in how their data is used and shared by brands, we should really be viewing the consumer as a participant.

Consumers are providing marketers with endless amounts of data each day, giving us the chance to make more informed, personalized decisions. By deploying technology that can uncover what channels are preferred, what each person’s privacy preferences are, and what their purchase history or past behaviors have been, we as marketers can deliver a piece of collateral that fits each stipulation. Rather than developing marketing materials that share the messages you think are important, you’re listening to the consumer and leveraging data to craft a message that will resonate.

By empowering consumers to be the gatekeepers of their own data, you can create a personalized experience that they’re comfortable with. The technology exists, marketing practices just need to catch up.

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Shorter time to value

When considering technologies to support the customer experience, it’s critical to determine what the return on investment will be and how quickly you can get there.

Every marketer should be thinking about themselves as part of the revenue generation team. Our goal is not to simply increase clicks, but rather to drive meaningful interactions that lead to sales. By shifting your mindset to consider sales needs as well, you can deploy technologies that benefit the full revenue team. This will prompt you to begin asking strategic questions:

  • How long will it take to start running campaigns after I deploy a new technology?
  • How easy is it to integrate my existing MarTech into a new system?
  • Is it easy to train others on the new technology?
  • How quickly and seamlessly can I scale my campaigns?

Each of these questions attempt to uncover how soon you can start seeing value from your MarTech. When marketers use as many as 120 different tools to achieve their goals, finding open architecture systems that can seamlessly integrate will enable you to launch campaigns much more efficiently in 2021. No one wants to buy something today that will take a year to implement. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s how much things can change in just a few months.

Aligning consumer preferences with tech capabilities

With marketing being driven by increased calls for privacy and personalization in 2021, marketers may need to reconsider their tech stacks. We shouldn’t have to spend so much time integrating and customizing every technology to get the most basic functionalities to work. Similarly, we shouldn’t have to deploy an entire marketing ecosystem to get value from the technology.

The ability to quickly launch custom campaigns that securely leverage data will separate the brands that succeed from those that struggle to attract and retain customers. Automation,  artificial intelligence, and machine learning will continue to play an important role in achieving this, as long as marketers stop thinking about what they want to say and start listening to what consumers wants to hear.

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