Customer-centricity, content and the battle between creativity and data are the three topics that have dominated marketing discussions in 2015. But none of them should be seen in isolation.
That was one of the themes that ran through Adobe’s Amsterdam Symposium last month. Introducing the event, Adobe President EMEA Mark Zablan made explicit the links between the three topics (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company).
“Creativity is key to maturity in customer experience,” he said. “It takes great design to deliver great content, and it takes great content to deliver great experience.”
And he reinforced the point by stressing the role of the modern marketer, who he said operates “at the intersection of content and data”.
Customers, Data And Content
The inter-relationship of customers, data and content was addressed by a number of Symposium speakers, who talked about how they’d approached it in their own organisations, and how it related to larger digital and cultural transformations.
Wouter Goedkoop, European director digital products at telecoms and television company Liberty Global, talked about the about-face the company had made.
“Traditionally we’ve focused on product innovation. Now we have a relentless focus on customer experience,” he said.
This was echoed by Denise Kuschewski, head of digital content at delivery giant TNT, who also talked about the change in approach required by a customer-centric approach.
“This is a really new way to look at things, moving away from traditional marketing to managing experiences,” she said. “Data will tell you what your customers really want, when the people in the business only think they know.”
Managing The Micro-Moments
Goedkoop too stressed the need to understand the customer as the first priority. At Liberty this has manifested itself in the concept of micro-moments along the customer journey which--if dealt with correctly--can create great customer experiences and boost loyalty.
“We’d been doing journey mapping using personas, which showed the key actions and moments of truth, but it takes time, it’s expensive, and it fails to render the complexity and fragmentation of digitally supported journeys,” Goedkoop explained
“So we looked for magic moments, and we found two types: saving time and spending time. And if you do saving time moments well, you get the chance to maximise the spending time moments.”
Goedkoop gave the example of a “waiting at the airport” moment.
“If you understand the delay someone has, then you can tailor content to fit that time, making it a magic moment for them.”
And he cited a number of benefits to the approach, including the ease of understanding among employees and the way it used short-term results to build momentum. But he also revealed a surprising outcome about the number of magic moment scenarios.
“We thought there would be hundreds of moments,” he said. “We brainstormed 50, but we found that there are only 12 that you need to make magic.”
Confidence Through Content
Kuschewski also talked about customer experience in the context of the shift from online to offline, saying that shift could only be achieved “with the right content”. Describing herself as TNT’s “content advocate”, she described her approach as “building customer confidence through content”.
Her starting point was to look at TNT’s content landscape.
“Content was not being treated as a business asset,” she explained. “It was also being created inside-out, not from the customers’ perspective.”
Citing a Gartner blog post that argued “In Customer Experience, Consistency is the New Delight”, Kuschewski described the response as a content factory, imposing central control on the company’s content to improve consistency, quality and velocity.
“We created a master terminology list to avoid confusion, and we adopted the Neilsen Norman rules of simple word choices and writing to the reading level of a 13-year-old,” she explained.
Consistency Is King
Jeremy Curtin, director of digital at Belgian telecoms services provider Telenet, also discussed the importance of consistency in customer experiences.
“Consistent messaging keeps quality constant,” he said. “We’re a mature business, so a key driver for us was transforming customer experience, from awareness to engagement to interaction.”
According to Curtin, the transformation began with the identification of the right road, the prioritisation of goals and the agreement of success metrics. Once the journeys were identified they were optimised by a combination of testing and listening to customers. The result is a dynamic approach that builds a profile of the customer as they move along the journey.
“We use behavioural data to retarget anonymous visitors onsite and off,” Curtin explained. “Then as we learn more about them, we can start to engage with them in a more relevant way.”
“Our key lesson was that you always need to be testing.”
Another company applying this approach of dynamic optimisation is Philips Personal Care. Lenze Boonstra, its VP head of global marketing, talked about the organisation’s real-time marketing approach to social engagement, which he described as a tactic to deliver business results, rather than a strategy. And he too stressed the importance of content in the process.
“There are two pillars to the process: hard-working ideas that will cut through the clutter, and smart targeting. With Facebook you can target at an almost individual level, but to do so you need engaging content. Then once a customer takes an action, we can retarget and optimise.”
To trial this approach, Boonstra launched what he calls a real-time marketing centre, bringing together creative, media and social experts.
“We take the customer through the journey, creating different content depending on the stage they’re at. We need to deliver value to the customer when they expect it.”
And the results are striking.
“Our KPI is driving down the cost per lead (CPL), and we’ve proved that we can bring down our cost per lead by 50% compared to the traditional approach,” Boonstra said.
Customers Demand Perfection
Adobe’s VP of Strategy, Business Development, & Marketing, John Mellor summed up much of the day’s discussions when he argued that the way people interact with companies has changed fundamentally, because they’re now interacting digitally.
“Customers expect their experience to be consistent and continuous. They demand a perfect experience across touchpoints,” he argued. “Perfection is a high bar, and no-one’s doing it yet.”
But the key lessons from the businesses speaking at the Symposium--understand what customers want, test constantly, centralise control of content, bring different disciplines together--should serve those companies searching for perfection well.