The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the roadmap most of us had for modernizing our technology stacks. Within a matter of days, all of us needed to transition to fully digital business models.
And with customers moving most of their business online, they interacted more than ever digitally. The good news is, this has increased your opportunities to engage with them. In the United States alone, 10 years’ worth of e-commerce penetration growth was witnessed within just 3 months, according to McKinsey.
Now comes the bad news. Customers are consuming content in more ways and through more fragmented channels than ever before – from the moment they are exposed to an ad all the way to making the decision to purchase, use, or review your product. That makes it more challenging to keep their attention.
So having the right technology in place for advertisers and marketers alike is critical to engage these customers along their journey in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, many organizations are still pursuing the marketing strategies of yesteryear, when customer-facing employees had no way of accessing combined relevant data from back office and front office systems. That makes it harder for them to cement a relationship or create a new one.
The same dichotomy is true of advertising technology and marketing technologies—two sibling technologies that behave as if they’d grown up in separate foster homes.
In fact, companies use, on average, 17 different technology applications for customer data, and 28 different data sources for customer insights and engagement, according to Deloitte. This creates a tangled, complex web that rarely connects what matters.
Bringing those technologies together, and combining them with relevant data contained in ERP and other back office applications, has to be front and center for any CMO’s priorities for 2021.
Three CMO priorities
Here are my three big priorities to help my organization do a better job of connecting with customers in 2021:
1. Create a single view of our customers
First and foremost, you have to invest in understanding your customers, or you won’t be able to capture and hold their attention. Creating a single view of your customers lets you address rapidly changing customer expectations and provide personalized experiences at every touchpoint, every single time.
Obviously, maintaining the highest standard of data security and privacy is table stakes. One of the best things you can do to retain customers is to demonstrate you value their time. Seventy-three percent of US adults online say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good online customer experience, according to Forrester Research.
2. Integrate adtech and martech systems
The great promise of a compelling and a differentiating customer experience requires understanding and acting on the signals a brand’s prospects and customers are sending. The future of customer experience is to help brands improve that experience from advertising through marketing through service by bringing together these two worlds.
To reach the right prospects, convert them to customers, and gain the single view of those customers, it’s critical to have systems that communicate with each other and are fully integrated across the customer journey.
Advertising and marketing technology solutions were often developed by vendors who had no interest in helping customers use complementary applications made by their competitors. But it’s critical to have systems that fully integrate those functions—so you can send your customer or prospect the appropriate message at the right time.
Most marketing leaders expect moderate to severe cuts to their marketing budgets as a result of the global pandemic. But with great crisis comes great opportunity, and in this case that means simplifying technology around a single, holistic suite of applications that are purpose-built to provide data, analytics, and proactive selling suggestions.
3. Marketing leads CX
CMOs can and should lead their brands to a period of recovery and growth by focusing on the entire customer experience that includes everything, from consideration (think ads) to purchase, to service. We cannot afford to think in silos anymore and need to partner closely with product and sales.
By gaining a single view of the customer, integrating adtech and martech, as well as simplifying your stack and automating the right workflows with AI, you’ll be able to satisfy your customers’ needs when (or even before) they need it, and lead your organization to new growth.
Customer expectations have changed forever
People’s expectations have changed. The pandemic that forced them to stay home and stay glued to their screens will hopefully end soon, but their newly formed digital habits are here to stay. That includes virtual events, video communications, and even a newly discovered appetite for podcasts.
Generation Z, who according to ZenBenefits will make up nearly 30% of the workforce by the end of this decade, expect brands to provide authentic interactions and engage in conversations. That’s a change for many marketers, and it’s one that’s here to stay.
It’s incumbent upon marketers to get our technology ducks in a row so that we can more effectively sell our brands and retain the loyalty of customers we have so assiduously wooed.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments section about your experiences and new strategies you’ve tried out.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.