According to recent research from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and SAP Hybris, more than a third of marketers believe their technology investments are falling short in connecting content, commerce and conversation with back-end operational realities. While technology and data have met expectations in measurement and customer interaction, marketers feel their technology strategies aren't yet fully integrated in reaching sales, service, product and support.
Data that's critical to understanding a customer’s entire journey and engagement with a brand is being trapped in silos across the organization and beyond. This inability to consolidate customer information across various sources is holding brands back from gaining deeper insights into customers. To bridge these gaps, marketers need the ability to collect and enrich customer information on a real-time basis and to leverage these insights to drive meaningful customer engagements. Marketing technologies can help drive this convergence of context, commerce and customers, providing a competitive differentiator that ultimately fuels purchases.
Moving Beyond Silos
Today’s customer has expectations for connection and relevance each time they shop. Data is the fuel to that engagement, and organizations must take advantage of all available data to effectively engage with the modern customer. One way to achieve this is to ensure past, present and future (predictive) behavioral information is collected and stored in one place. Instead of storing information across sales, customer service and marketing, brands can use it to create a single view of a customer across all channels and departments.
With this, organizations can take advantage of “dark data” — i.e., the operational data that's collected from everyday business activity but rarely used for other purposes. Instead of storing this data separately and with no actionable intent, brands can use it to create a single view of the customer to build a stronger understanding of their personal journey.
Creating Real-Time Touchpoints
Organizations must then apply these insights to move from real-time marketing to right time marketing. Just because you know a customer is interested in purchasing a widget doesn’t mean that you should be bombarding that customer every “real time” chance you get. You need to understand the context of the customer during every engagement to ensure that it's the appropriate time to have a selling message. The customer may have a pressing service question or a frustrating account question; both of these aren’t the best moments to be cross-selling the widget. Right time marketing is understanding the customer’s full context of the situation at the moment of engagement. It’s about helping to meet the needs of the customer, and not about marketing/selling to them at every and all opportunity.
This 360-degree view of the customer also allows brands to bring together data from both physical and digital touchpoints, converging online and offline experiences. Stored in one place, brands won’t send a primarily in-store shopper online discounts, and vice versa. Understanding customers’ rate of consumption and preferences helps to close the gaps and connect all of these disparate channels.
Overall, the CMO Council and SAP Hybris study points to the need for an entire organization — from HR to operations and the supply chain — to be connected and aligned around a live view of the customer as an individual. To succeed in 2017, businesses must have a view that takes the past, present and future state of their customers into real-time context.
Bernard Chung is the head of global solutions marketing at SAP Hybris, an e-commerce and omnichannel software provider.