The Connected Customers - Marketing Must Change

There are many drivers compelling marketers to change.  Technology has changed the way customers interact with brands and with other customers and marketers must therefore change the way they interact with customers and with each other.  Some of the drivers of change discussed in the recent CMO Roundtable at Microsoft’s Future Decoded program included

Loyalty is Dead.

Marketers can no longer use asymmetry of information or availability as a differentiator.  Mainstream broadcast messages have now become social conversations.  The customer is connected in real-time to other customers, prospects, the brand and business.  Traditional levers such as reliability and historical track record are now longer as powerful as they once were as references and data can also reduce trial risk.

Targeting The Long Tail:

Marketers have traditionally approached India through the lens of geography (metro vs rural vs small towns) or income (high/middle/low).  With the availability of street-level data and micro-marketing it is possible to target pockets of each of these segments.  This opens up newer markets (say affluent people in rural India) and reduces wastage (for example, by targeting only particular roads in a city).

The Bots are Here.  How do we use conversations as a platform to drive customer experience?

Bots can not just automate routine tasks but simplify access to business and use predictive power to act as a concierge to enhance the customer experience.  As marketing automation moves to the next level how we do stop ourselves from automating the inefficiencies? How do we realise the power of new efficiencies led – not just supported by – technology?

What does all this mean to marketers?

–   The lead time for all customer communication has shrunk

–   The traditional on-and-off campaign model has evolved to become a continuous omni-channel conversation

–   The customer is sensitive to ‘trends’ and brands must respond in real-time

–   Ability to crunch vast quantities unstructured customer data can be a brand differentiator if it can be leveraged to understand their preferences better

–   Consumers still buy from brands they like – and this is achieved through participative, omni-channel storytelling

How does this change the way marketers work?

–   Just as the lead time for campaigns and customer response has shrunk, the cycle time for internal approvals has moved to near real-time

–   Omni-channel campaigns have multiplied the number of external agencies involved in a campaign – significantly increasing the communication load of the marketer

–   Even as powerful machine learning and analytics is available to dice and slice data, marketers are dealing with the task of simplifying ever-more complicated dashboards for upstream consumption

–   Customer data – structured and unstructured – is becoming the new marketing gold  – and marketers must take steps to protect this both for legal and business reasons

–   Marketers are responsible for ensuring that the large, distributed salesforce is in-sync and aligned with business priorities and the latest messaging

What are marketers doing about this?

In the discussion it emerged that CMOs are certainly working on areas such as “social collaboration” and the “connected customer” with tools like Teams, Yammer & Groups. They often have a Corporate Communication lead who is driving the internal synch. Many have invested considerably in digital channels to connect and analyse customer sentiments. Some also expressed the view that they may not be fully aware of their organisation’s technology investments in areas such as Office 365.

The CMO Roundtable was co-hosted with Amitabh Mall of BCG and saw participation by senior marketers from organisations such as Aditya Birla Finance, HDFC Life, Jet Airways, Kotak Mahindra Bank, LinkedIn, Ola, Pepperfry, Purpletalk, Ramco Systems, Spencer’s Retail, Syntel.


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