Vijay Chittoor, Co-founder and CEO, of Blueshift talks about the inspiration behind the Blueshift platform while sharing a few observations on the evolving current-day B2B buying journey:
Welcome to this MarTech Series chat, Vijay, tell us about yourself and the Blueshift platform…how has it evolved over the years?
Thank you for having me! Blueshift is a Smart Hub for Cross-Channel Customer Engagement. The idea behind Blueshift was borne out of problems that my co-founders and I noticed first-hand prior to founding Blueshift. We saw the customer journey getting increasingly fragmented across multiple channels, and that marketers were struggling to understand their customers through the lens of the diverse types of data generated on all these touchpoints.
This problem we set out to solve has become even more relevant today, due to a few trends. To start, first-party data, that is obtained with trust and consent, has become increasingly important. Secondly, with the acceleration of digital transformation, there’s a growing imperative to connect offline and online channels, and to unify digital marketing channels with human-assisted customer experience channels. This means that marketers have to focus on activating their first-party data to drive consistent experiences across every channel.
While the customer journey is complex, the marketer’s job shouldn’t be! That’s why our mission is to unlock every marketer’s potential to drive consumer-centric, cross-channel engagement, by making data and intelligence effortlessly actionable on every channel. To deliver against our mission, we have evolved our AI-powered platform to activate more data, enabling marketers to deploy intelligent engagement on the growing amount of touchpoints. Our platform, based on a foundation of AI, helps our customers realize the potential of cross channel engagement.
Additionally, we continually develop new innovations working with select partners to ensure a marketer’s success.. One of our recent innovations has been to help our customers activate data with a bi-directional integration with data cloud providers like Snowflake. We have also made it dramatically easier to activate this data on more channels with our re-imagined journey builder and an App Hub which connect any destination channel into marketer-orchestrated journeys.
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What are some of the biggest challenges you still see marketers face when it comes to cross channel marketing efforts? How can marketers work better to align their martech and data to bring more unified views of customer data into their internal processes: : a few takeaways from how you see industry leaders do this?
The biggest challenge marketers face today is scaling their personalization across millions of customers, on multiple channels. In order to truly deliver personalized engagement, marketers need systems that can enable making smart decisions in real-time based on the fullness of customer data, plus also deliver those intelligent messages to customers on the right channels.
In legacy martech systems, data (customer profile) and decisions (segmentation and 1:1 recommendations) were decoupled from campaign execution and delivery. This limited marketers’ ability to intelligently respond to customers in real-time, and made them highly reliant on IT teams to process customer data and insights. Marketing decisions were rule-based, and marketing analytics were used offline to improve the rules every so often.
In order to truly scale their personalization, cutting-edge brands are leaning in on the next generation of martech where campaign execution is tightly coupled with 360-degree customer data and AI-based decisioning. This new approach of fusing “analytics” (or rather, AI-based learning models) with decisions in real-time enables brands to intelligently orchestrate customer experiences across their owned and paid channels.
What key optimization tips should B2C marketers be focusing on when it comes to improving cross channel marketing fundamentals?
As marketers shift from channel-centric approaches to customer-centric ones, they must also shift their mindset around optimization. This involves embracing two significant paradigm shifts:
- Shift froma “one-size-fits-all” to “AI-powered relevance” approach: Marketers can now use AI to optimize various parts of the experience. AI can help with the who, what, when and where of marketing. Using predictive segmentation, marketers can determine who to target for various campaigns. Using AI-powered recommendations, marketers are able to ensure that they deliver the what — the most relevant content and products to every customer. Finally, marketers are also able to fine-tune the customer experience by using predictions for the optimal engage time (when) and optimal channel (where).
- Shift from using “marketing data to optimize channels” to “customer data to optimize the customer journey”: Traditionally, marketers have used channel-level optimization. For example, optimizing the subject line based on an email-open metric, which are typically set up as A/B tests. The data used in these tests is limited to the specific channel, such as ad click data or email open data. While these kinds of optimizations may improve channel metrics, it’s unclear if they have a significant impact on a customer’s lifetime value (LTV). To truly impact LTV, marketers need to think about optimizing the entire customer journey. In order to do that, the success metrics need to incorporate the entirety of customer data, including conversion and purchase events on multiple channels. The nature of testing and optimization shifts to “holdout” testing, to validate that there is true incrementality in downstream metrics like purchase conversions and LTV.
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Five thoughts on the future of B2C marketing and how martech will cause more evolution in core marketing processes
I think the future of B2C marketing is all about unified and intelligent customer engagement, powered by AI. Specifically, here are five thoughts along those lines:
- Marketing will become more intertwined with customer experience. It will be driven by a holistic understanding of the customer and connect all touchpoints in the customer journey.
- The focus on first-party data will finally drive convergence between martech and adtech (Madtech). Traditionally, these were in separate silos of acquisition and retention, with acquisition leaning more heavily on third-party data. The future will be all about a unified approach centered on first-party data, spanning the entire journey from acquisition to loyalty.
- As mentioned earlier, customer insights and marketing execution will fuse together and this will help drive intelligent real-time engagement.
- AI will empower marketers to holistically orchestrate the entire customer journey. Instead of siloed communications, AI will enable marketers to make decisions on who, what, when and where at every step.
- Marketers will fully embrace AI because it stops being a black box! This will unleash the full power of creative marketers at scale.
Some last thoughts, takeaways, before we wrap up!
It’s an exciting time to be a marketer! Never before has marketing had so many opportunities to engage with their target persona with a message that resonates at a time that is most impactful. This allows marketers with the opportunity to supercharge their powers of storytelling using AI, to make a meaningful impact on their business.
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