Between March and April 217 Adobe surveyed 1,165 digital marketers in enterprise companies in the United States, Canada, the UK, France and Germany.
The study was to learn about the respondent’s current priorities, plans and tactics for the future.
The study covered the sectors, financial services, media and entertainment, retail and travel and hospitality.
This article is a critique of the 43-page report giving our observations.
The main take out from this study is how a business wide marketing approach to structuring an organisation holds true today as it did decades ago.
The study for example discusses the benefit of being ‘an experience business’.
Nick Christy SVP at Enterprise Technology firm R2i states in the study “An experience business is a business that puts its customers at the forefront. It’s about truly being able to interact with them regardless of channel in ways that are consistent and provide an exceptional experience.”
The survey showed the most important digital capability is taking a whole customer view.
To achieve this complete approach any business has to assess who its customers are, what their needs and wants are and how it should organise itself and communicate its offer to them. This goes to the very core of strategy creation.
As Adobe adds “The effort goes beyond how you do your digital marketing. It needs to be a business priority with a commitment across your entire organisation – from your CEO down. It requires a big picture, strategic approach.”
They add further “with a clearly defined strategy they are using data as a foundation for all of their digital efforts, examining every aspect of the customer journey and evaluating and transforming their internal structures where necessary.”
Adobe note that CRM data is still the top approach to data driven marketing efforts but showed a 30% decline in importance from 2016. More worrying is that their survey showed a 31% decline in audience definition and a 36% increase amongst respondents to predictive analytics.
The reduction in importance of audience definition (target market / segmentation) should be of concern to all marketers.
A reliance on predictive analytics needs to be tempered and used in conjunction with old school practises such as market definition. We human beings are not rational, we make different decisions day in day out depending on our mood and what is happening around us.
Digital marketing is but one of the channels we as marketers use to communicate with our customers and it needs to be seen as part of the marketing mix.
Indeed digital marketing is the unique way we can communicate real time down to an individual level that can be personalised.
Digital marketing should not be seen as an always ‘on’ communication tool but rather means to communicate both ways. A way to broadcast the message or proposition and listen to the customer’s response through social media, text and email and adapt the message accordingly to the customer’s preferences/likes/concerns.
For example the Adobe report points out that while personalised content and responsive emails for mobile topped the list of email investments there has been a significant increase in the number of companies using dynamic content.’
Top capabilities seen as somewhat or very important over the next 3 years almost all placed a high priority on ‘knowing who their customers are and reaching them wherever they are and taking a ‘whole customer view’.
All sectors placed a concern about their customers particularly in the short term. They all chose the following as their top 3 strategic capability needs over the next 8 months:
• Content personalisation • Customer journey management • Customer intelligence
If companies want to increase sales and out compete their competitors in a noisy landscape, then they have to get smarter at not just ‘telling’ customers but listening and adapting. Customer loyalty can be a fickle affair, finding and retaining customers is a never-ending activity.
Understanding the customer journey needs to be a priority for the board of any business. If you want customers to be delighted by interacting with your company the you need to have a clear understanding of how the journey is taken from the customer’s perspective not the company.
A sale might be a sale irrespective of your business sector, its how that sale is achieved from initial customer contact through to delivery and after ‘care’ that counts. For every part of the organisation has to take the view that the customer must be the central point of the company’s focus and how when they interact with any part of the business that their satisfaction is fulfilled, if not exceeded.
As Adobe comment:
“Todays consumers are inundated with more content, more channels and more digital experiences than ever before. I f you want to earn their loyalty you have to go a lot further than just offering products or services. You have to push for great customer experiences – the kind that are personal, relevant and compelling.’