Joel Book, Senior Director, Digital Marketing Insight, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, examined what it takes to market effectively in the era of the connected customer in his presentation to Argyle's CMO membership at the 2017 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum in Atlanta on June 6. In his presentation, "Marketing in the Era of the Connected Customer," Book explained why marketers need precision-targeted, data-driven digital communications to succeed in today's global marketplace.
According to Book, consumers now have complete control of the customer journey. As such, marketers often face an uphill climb as they search for ways to foster trust with customers.
Ultimately, senior-level marketing executives have to rethink the way that they build marketing strategies and connect with customers. Failure to do so could force a business to miss out on opportunities to differentiate itself from rivals and gain customer trust.
"The CMOs and VPs of marketing are facing a tremendous amount of pressure, and that pressure is coming directly from the customer," Book said. "Customers are steadily ramping up the expectations for the way they want brands to treat them."
Customers now expect always-on, in-the-moment support, Book stated. If organizations can keep pace with rapidly evolving tools and technologies, they may be better equipped than rivals to provide timely, relevant and personalized content to consumers.
"Today's customers … now expect a totally personalized, connected and unified experience across multiple touchpoints," Book stated. "What today's customer wants is pretty simple: they want personalized offers, they want personalized content … and they expect to be able to serve themselves."
Moreover, Book highlighted three trends to watch in the era of the connected customer:
1. Today's customer has become an expert researcher.
The internet makes it simple for shoppers to search for any information, about any topic, at any time. Meanwhile, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices provide consumers with anywhere, anytime access to information in real-time.
"For today's consumer, the customer experience is all that matters. Because today's consumer values the customer experience before, during and after the sale higher than product or price."
At the same time, state-of-the-art technologies offer valuable opportunities to marketers around the globe.
For example, Book pointed out that many marketers are leverage data analysis and predictive intelligence to connect with consumers via web and mobile platforms. By doing so, brands can provide consumers with the products, services and support they need, exactly when they want them.
"The smart brands today are now using predictive intelligence … to monitor what content the user is reading and offering useful recommendations based on this content," Book indicated.
2. Today's customer does not want to be sold to; today's customer wants to be served.
The sheer volume of data available to businesses and consumers alike can be overwhelming. For companies, it is important to avoid overloading consumers with massive amounts of information about their brands, products and services.
Comparatively, companies that "serve" customers rather than sell to them may be able to stand out from the competition, Book said.
These businesses will be able to provide shoppers with pertinent information that can help them make informed buying decisions. And over time, these shoppers may be more likely to return to a retail that empowers them to use the information at their disposal to make the best possible purchases.
"If a business does not understand that today's consumer wants to be served, the consumer will flip the switch and go elsewhere," Book said. "Engage the buyer when he or she is expressing intent."
Businesses also should realize that they cannot take a "one-size-fits-all" approach to customer engagement.
"The smart brands today are now using predictive intelligence … to monitor what content the user is reading and offering useful recommendations based on this content."
On the other hand, companies should go the extra mile to collect consumer data, analyze it effectively and gain the insights they need to provide personalized customer interactions.
"When a consumer goes to a website, they don't want to be exposed to content that's one-size-fits-all. They want to be exposed to content that is relevant based on who they are, what their role is and what their needs and interests are," Book pointed out.
3. Today's customer prioritizes the customer experience.
The customer experience can make or break a business, and perhaps it is easy to understand why.
If a company learns about its target audience, it can offer a wide range of marketing materials and content that suits the audience's needs perfectly. Or, if a business lacks consumer insights, it may struggle to build trust with consumers and risks alienating them altogether.
Customers likely will select a brand that delivers an unprecedented customer experience over others. Plus, these customers may be more likely to stay loyal to a brand that prioritizes the customer experience both now and in the future.
"For today's consumer, the customer experience is all that matters. Because today's consumer values the customer experience before, during and after the sale higher than product or price," Book noted.
Joel Book is regarded as one of the industry’s leading business consultants on digital marketing. His career spans more than four decades and includes extensive experience in database marketing and customer relationship management. He has helped hundreds of companies – large and small -- implement successful digital strategies to acquire, serve and retain customers.
As Sr. Director, Digital Marketing Insight at Salesforce, Joel tracks the major trends that are transforming marketing, sales and customer service and uses this insight to teach companies how to rethink and retool their customer engagement strategies by using data and digital technology to deliver relevant offers and useful information at every stage of the customer life experience cycle.
Recently named by Brand Quarterly Magazine to its list of “50 Marketing Thought Leaders over 50” for the third consecutive year, Joel is well known as a keynote speaker at major industry conferences where he packs his presentations with useful insight, perspective and best-in-class examples of smart and effective digital marketing.
In addition to his speaking and consulting responsibilities, Joel co-hosts The Marketing Cloudcast from Salesforce, a weekly podcast which was named the top marketing podcast for 2016 by the Content Marketing Institute.