Why Marketing Leadership Must Drive Change

We’re working on the analysis of our most recent survey, “The Marketing Leadership Survey,” and the big takeaways are starting to coalesce for me. The biggest one so far is this: The marketing leader must drive change in the company. This is now an important part of marketing strategy, and if you don’t take on that responsibility, your marketing department will suffer.

UPDATE: The results of “The Marketing Leadership Survey” have been release. Click here to download the complete report, “How to Drive a Successful Marketing Strategy in 2018: 4 factors reshaping marketing management, and what effective marketing leaders must do to be successful today.”

We’re working on the analysis of our most recent survey, “The Marketing Leadership Survey,” and the big takeaways are starting to coalesce for me. The biggest one so far is this: The CMO or other top marketing management must drive change in the company. This is now an important part of marketing strategy, and if you don’t take on that responsibility, your marketing department will suffer.

Why Change Is the Marketer’s Job

There are a lot of aspects of the research that point to this conclusion, but the most important ones are these:

  1. No other department in the company is as exposed to changes in consumer behavior and consumer technology as marketing.
  2. The marketing department has the most to lose if the company does no have access to the latest technology and data capabilities.
  3. The marketing department, and marketing leaders personally, have the most to gain from the opportunities that come with that change.

We’ve been crunching the data here, and I’ve had the opportunity to discuss it with Patrick McLean, CMO of TD Bank, as we prepared for the midday Fireside Chat on Marketing Leadership at #AADM18 (that’s our virtual show on June 28). And the picture that’s emerging is that change is the marketing department’s friend.

How to Embrace Change to Achieve Your Marketing Goals

Far from being victimized by change, marketing leaders who can use change to make the marketing department more effective — by changing the marketing vision and scope of responsibilities, changing the technology stack, changing the roles on the team, changing the metrics they use to better prove effectiveness against company goals —  are able to deliver a more concrete contribution to the company’s goals. And when you can do that, the marketing department can write its own ticket.

Marketing leaders who drive change are able to win the arguments for budget and buy-in because the bottom line is on their side. Marketers who don’t drive change and have it forced upon them are never more than beggars in the C-suite.

Doing this requires more than just a vision. Successful marketing leaders today must establish strong relationships with the leadership team and other departments so they have crystal clear understanding of what marketing can do to help those other entities succeed.

Then the leader must be able to shift team composition, tools and data to be able to re-orient the department to exceed those expectations. And while that’s happening, you need to develop the reporting capability and metrics that allows you to prove the effectiveness of these efforts and the ROI on the investments the company is going to make in them.

Metrics and Measurement Are Your Tools for Making This Happen

That’s why metrics are super important. When we look at answers from marketers who say their departments are under respected and underfunded, they’re expressing a lot of frustration around what the C-suite and other departments aren’t allowing marketing to do. They can’t get the budget they need, can’t hire the people, can’t buy the tools to empower modern marketing strategies.

At heart, all of those problems are trust and communication issues. And when we look at marketers who say their departments are respected and funded well, they’re focused more on how to prove ROI to the C-suite. they know how to show their strategies will help reach the company’s goals and prove they did once the deeds are done. Measurement and metrics are the tools these marketers use to build those interdepartmental relationships and earn trust.

That’s a sliver of the findings coming out of the research. I can’t wait to show you the rest. You’ll be able to download the full report on our site June 28, the same day as the All About Direct Marketing virtual conference.

What do you think of these findings so far? Do those takeaways make sense with the marketing realities you’ve seen? Let me know in the comments below, and you just might make it into the report.

Customer Experience Is King in 2018, and at #AADM18

It’s one of the major themes we’ve seen this year among the most successful marketers: The customer’s experience is your brand — far more so than anything you say in media, paid or earned. If you don’t deliver a great omnichannel experience for your customer, your brand is going to suffer. So what goes into creating those experiences from the point of view of a CMO or brand leader? I have a great chance for you to find out.

Brand leaders in 2018 are obsessed with the customer experience.

It’s one of the major themes we’ve seen this year among the most successful marketers: The customer’s experience is your brand — far more so than anything you say in media, paid or earned. If you don’t deliver a great omnichannel experience for your customers, your brand is going to suffer.

So what goes into creating those experiences from the point of view of a CMO or brand leader?

On June 28 at the All About Direct Marketing virtual conference, we’re going to delve deep into that across many sessions, including keynotes with brand leaders from two top American brands.

Patrick McLean Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, TD Bank – America's Most Convenient Bank
Patrick McLean EVP and CMO, TD Bank

TD Bank CMO Talks Marketing Leadership

You may have heard TD Bank CMO Patrick McLean on the Marketing Garage podcast. In the afternoon keynote, we’ll go deeper into how McLean and TD Bank build those experiences, and what it takes to be a marketing leader today and in the future.

Xfinity Brand Leader Creates Customer Experiences at Enormous Scale

Todd Arata Senior Vice President, Brand Marketing, Comcast
Todd Arata SVP, Brand Marketing, Comcast

But before that, to kick off the show, we’ll be talking to Comcast Xfinity SVP of Brand Marketing Todd Arata about how Xfinity connects with customers one-to-one at enormous scale as their cable offering has expanded to one of the largest in America. It’s a challenge Comcast is meeting with technology, strategy and out-of-the-box thinking, and we’ll discuss how they make that happen.

And More Marketing Strategy and Insights!

Beyond those star keynotes, the schedule is packed with great sessions:

It’s a stacked agenda, we’ve been working hard on it, and I hope you’ll stop by to hear them all for yourself at the 2018 All About Direct Marketing virtual conference.

 

Postal Rates and Internet Sales Tax Present Perfect Storm of Marketing Woes

This week I’m turning the blog over to some old friends at the ACMA. For anyone who uses direct mail, there’s a good chance postage will be going up dramatically soon. Whether you’re aware of that or not, this week’s post will bring you up to speed on the issues and how you can get involved in protecting your postage rates.

Note: This week I’m turning the blog over to some old friends at the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA). For anyone who uses direct mail, there’s a good chance postage will be going up dramatically soon. Whether you’re aware of that or not, this week ACMA’s Hamilton Davison and Paul Miller (former editor of our sister magazine “Catalog Success”) will bring you up to speed on the issues and how you can get involved in protecting your postal rates.

A Perfect Storm Headed Our Way

By Hamilton Davison & Paul Miller

Had enough snow-sleet-rain-wind-fire this past winter? Spring and summer could see even far worse storms in Washington, DC, that will affect all remote sellers — catalogers, publishers and e-commerce companies — for decades. Unless a strong industry push back is made, the resulting consequences will undermine your company’s profitability and add new complexity for both you and your customers.

These two major industry issues should have everyone’s attention:

  1. A potentially significant change (not for the better) in how future postal rates are to be set;
  2. The ramifications of a forthcoming Supreme Court ruling on the future of remote/internet sales taxes that could overturn over 50 years of precedent businesses nationwide have relied upon.

Our industry must mobilize to take action to respond to these industry-wide threats! The time to do so is right now. Inattention will be costly. Without a concerted, coordinated response, the outcome for both will be dire.

In each matter, it will remain with Congress to provide a solution. Moving bills through Congress is a challenge even in the best of times, but at this point in our political history, with charges and counter charges, with facts and fiction being obscured, even more effort is necessary. There are 535 different members of the federal legislature. Members of Congress respond best to the people that vote for them. So we need immediate constituent pressure on every member of Congress to let them know an important sector of the economy in their home jurisdiction is at risk.

ACMA is calling on every company with interests in remote selling, including all industry suppliers and other service providers, trade media to get engaged and help mitigate these very real threats facing our industry today. Whether with ACMA or some other trade group, history shows that professional associations are the best means to coordinate an industry response. Moreover, whether you are an AMCA member or not, ACMA will help you get connected to Congress. It is that important!

Let’s now examine these issues, explore where and how we go from here, and what must be done.

Postal Rates Going Up

A big change is in store for the postal rates-making process that may well lead to enormous rate hikes very soon. Here is how it happened:

  • The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, passed in 2006, called for postal rate increases to be capped annually at the consumer price index rate.
  • The system has worked well for most types of mailers since; postage rises only with inflationary pressure, something widely available and understood.
  • But the law called for the USPS’s oversight body (the Postal Regulatory Commission – PRC) to conduct a comprehensive review of the rate-setting system after 10 years.
  • Released this past December, the PRC review determined the price cap system hasn’t quite worked out as well as originally hoped. Medium- and long-term financial stability is allegedly not being achieved. In fact, the PRC proposed a significant change in which catalog postage rates will increase approximately 7% for Marketing Mail Flats and 5% for Carrier Route each year over the next five years. All mail will face significant increases.
  • The following five years, the PRC may elect to continue above-CPI increases or return to a CPI-capped maximum.
  • Assuming a level 2% CPI rate, this amounts to a cumulative 40% increase over the first five years (28% for carrier route) and upwards of 56% over the next decade (42% for carrier route). If inflation rises above 2% annually, total postage increases will be even higher.

The estimated percentage increases listed above primarily apply to mailers of catalogs and periodicals, because portions of these parts the postal system are considered to be “underwater.” Based on questionable data, some claim the Postal Service loses money in delivering such mail. But without question, the reported costs for flat shaped mail have risen rapidly since the purchase of the colossal Flats Sequencing System and now represents an existential threat to catalog and periodical mailers.

The PRC’s December review was termed a “proposal” and requested suggestions for alternatives. More than 100 commenters stepped up; the ACMA submitted four comments — one on its own, and three other joint comments with other industry groups. No time frame for a decision has been released, but the case is expected to be litigated.

Internet Sales Tax

Meanwhile, on April 17 the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) will deliberate for an overturn of its 1992 decision in Quill v. North Dakota, which held that businesses lacking a substantial nexus (or physical presence) in a state cannot be forced to adhere to their sales tax collection and remittance requirements. The case involves South Dakota’s 2017 suit against three online retailers: Wayfair, Newegg and Overstock.

GDPR and the Data Culture War

GDPR and it’s extra-territorial enforceability are about more than some new rights for E.U. citizens. It’s a response to the fast-and-loose privacy attitude that’s fueled the American Internet boom.

We had an internal “summit” about GDPR yesterday here at NAPCO Media, Target Marketing’s parent company. (BTW: The regulations mandate privacy awareness training for everyone involved in processing data. So if you haven’t done yours, you have about three weeks.) Stephan Garcia, founder of GDPR Superheroes, called in from his home in the U.K well after business hours local time to help us get a handle on everything GDPR is about.

On thing Garcia mentioned was that many of our concerns about GDPR compliance aren’t shared in certain E.U. countries, like Germany, because those countries just don’t have the same culture of data collection and purchasing that we have in the U.S.

This law and it’s extra-territorial enforceability are about more than some new rights for E.U. citizens. It’s a response to the fast-and-loose privacy attitude that’s fueled the American Internet boom.

Backlash Against American Privacy Exceptionalism

The E.U. wants to get away from the fast and loose silicon valley approach to data. No more “Collect it all, we’ll figure it out later.” GDPR says privacy must be in your design from the beginning. Systems and business processes must be designed to protect citizen data and privacy rights from the beginning, not as an after thought.

American companies  like Facebook and Google, and really all of the post-social-media digital world, were built on casual, almost accidental collection of data that could eventually be exploited to turn a profit — since none of them launched with viable business models.

Personal data is the market inefficiency these companies exploited to conquer the world. They collected it virtually for free and sold access to marketers for revenue. Users hardly batted an eye at offering data for the services. In many cases, users didn’t even think of follows and likes as a form of personal data. Consequently, they assigned no value to these items and the resource of data was wildly undervalued.

GDPR is a recognition of this imbalance and the pendulum swinging back the other way.

It’s also European governments taking some power back from mostly U.S.-based economic juggernauts. And old world culture re-asserting itself in a digital world that’s been mostly built on Wild West rules. And across the world, it’s people rectifying the value imbalance these data exchanges have exploited.

In other words, this is a culture war. GDPR and a raft of similar regulations in the E.U. and other countries is a sort of data conservation movement responding to Silicon Valley’s data libertarians.

Marketers in the Middle

Marketers are caught in the middle. And, not to sound cynical, but the only right strategy here is to play both sides against the middle.

Make no mistake: Brands must embrace at least some aspects of privacy reform if you want to maintain customer trust. “All your data belongs to us” is not a viable PR position.

At the same time, we need data to do the kinds of marketing consumers want. You can’t deliver personalized, optimized customer experiences without the data.

And there is a huge opportunity here to prove to customers that they can trust your brand with their data. Some companies have even taken wild leaps of data faith to prove it.

For example, Garcia talked about the U.K. pub chain J.D. Wetherspoon that actually deleted it’s entire customer email database — on purpose — to show customer it was serious about privacy. Instead, Wetherspoon told customers to follow it on social media and visit the website for deals. It also launched a mobile app not long after, which of course is another way of collecting data.

Look for solutions like that; solutions that allow you to build customer trust and your data pool at the same time. That’s going to be key to navigating the post-GDPR digital future.

A lot about GDPR looks daunting. But for savvy brands, it’s a great opportunity to prove you’re on the customer’s side while building new ways to work with data and build higher quality customer experiences.

Disruption Drives the NFL to Gamble — Or How to Kill a Sacred Cow in 3 Easy Steps

A couple weeks ago, the NFL discussed gambling and the game. … No, not the impact gambling could have on the game. Actual gambling as part of the NFL — from your seat, at the game or in your home, every Sunday. Why would they do that? Disruption. What will you do when the sacred cows in your industry are brought to the butcher’s block?

NFL considers killing a sacred cow and allowing gambling back ino the game.
Credit: Pixabay by Keith Johnston

A couple weeks ago, the NFL had a summit to discuss gambling and the game. … Not the impact gambling could have on the game; actual gambling as part of the NFL — from your seat, at the game or in your home, every Sunday.

If they do that, it will mark the death of one of America’s most sacred cows: the separation of the big four team sports — football, baseball, hockey and basketball — from dirty, dirty gamblers who could taint the games. It could also bring Brink’s trucks full of even more money into the league coffers.

Why would they do that? Disruption.

Like many industries, the NFL sees a game-changing event on the horizon. The owners need to decide whether they want to stay the course (and potentially see someone else benefit from that disruption), or move first to make the most of it (and potentially ruin everything they’ve built).

If your industry hasn’t faced this kind of decision, it will. What will you do when your sacred cows are brought to the butcher’s block? Here are three steps to think through whether to keep Bessy on her pedestal, or make the hard cut.

1. Recognize the New Situation

This sacred calf has been venerated for nearly 100 years — ever since the “Black Sox” scandal, when the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series. That was when the big leagues realized gambling could undermine the legitimacy of sports in the eyes of the American public (and any sports fan will tell you the referees do a good enough job of that all on their own).

While U.S. attitudes toward gambling have changed in the past decade, for most of my life, the idea of league-sanctioned gambling was absolutely unthinkable. Now, NFL ownership is considering not just whether they could cozy up with casinos, but how they might do it, and how many zeros those checks might have.

It could be the boldest stroke of genius, or the dumbest butt-fumble, in NFL history.

via GIPHY

Gambling exists in a grey area of American entertainment. By and large, sports gambling has been limited to just Las Vegas in the United States. Now the Supreme Court appears ready to allow New Jersey to add sports gambling to its casino and race track games, and that would open the floodgates for other states to do the same.

This is a remarkably new situation for the NFL. Gambling may be coming, and the owners would rather ride that wave than be drowned by it.

At the same time, some of the underlying realities of the Black Sox scandal have changed as well. Athletes of the time were not that wealthy, and very vulnerable to outside financial influence. Today, professional athletes are some of the wealthiest people in the world, and gambling payoffs large enough to motivate them seem unrealistic. What’s more, Europe’s soccer leagues have been in bed with gambling for years, and the nightmare scenarios just haven’t materialized (although it hasn’t been all clean, either).

All of those factors mean the context that made this cow sacred have changed. And the business people who’ve been holding it sacred need to recognize that, too.

2. Identify the Business Opportunities

It’s one thing to recognize the situation has changed. It’s another to identify the opportunities in it.

The Future of Email Marketing in a Creepy Data World

For years, the future of email marketing has been seen as tied to increasing data integration and personalization. But in a consumer data world that appears increasingly creepy to its subject, not to mention increasingly regulated, what does the future of email look like? At Emma’s Marketing United, marketers working for GasBuddy, Taco Bell and more talked about where this channel is headed.

For years, the future of email marketing has been seen as tied to increasing data integration and personalization. But in a consumer data world that appears increasingly creepy to its subjects, not to mention increasingly regulated, what does the future of email look like?

At Emma’s Marketing United, marketers working for GasBuddy, Taco Bell and more talked about where this channel is headed during the session “The Future of Email.”

Data, Trust and Your Email Program

“If 2017 was about what you could do with email,” said Logan Baird, design services lead at Emma, “2018 is really talking about why we make these choices about our email marketing programs.”

Email Marketing has always been a value exchange. Subscribers exchange their opt-in and personal data for the perceived value of what you’re going to send them. But as the channel has evolved, the nature of that exchange, the data you collect and the value you are able to offer for and with that data has shifted.

“Email at its best uses that one-to-one relationship with the person,” said Baird. “But to do that, you need data.” And using data for marketing today is a conversation that’s gotten to be a little creepy for your subscribers.

“It’s really important that when we are collecting data, we’re really transparent about why we’re collecting it and how it’s going to be a benefit to the user,” said Cher Fuller, senior strategist or eROI, who handles Taco Bell’s marketing.

She emphasized that it’s really a combination of transparency about data collection, and delivering solid benefits in return for sharing it, that mark the boundary between what’s OK and what’s creepy .

Melanie Kinney is the email marketing manager for GasBuddy, which tracks gas station prices and other driving-related data via input from app users. Those app users contribute a lot of data to gas buddy’s efforts, but also see significant benefits.

“This is a difficult topic in general,” said Kinney. “Of course, we’re asking you to share a lot of your data, but when you opt-in, we’re able to tell you important things about your driving.” And of course, the main benefit is the information and the app help users save money on gas.

But Kinney has to be careful in how GasBuddy uses the information it has in email communication. Email is better for ongoing communication, but she said mobile push alerts are better for immediate notifications. For example, if GasBuddy is using geo-location to reach out to a person about gas stations near where they are, that’s a job for push notifications, not really email. Via push, it’s helpful. Via email, it’s feels kind of like stalking — creepy.

‘People Marketing’ vs. ‘Brand Marketing’

“Email is one of the most personal channels that exists,” said Fuller. “Email’s really interesting because we can actually personalize it for the people who we’re sending it to.”

However, Fuller pointed out that the personal touch is exactly why you need to be careful in how you use email.

“I’m a really big advocate for people marketing and not brand marketing,” she said. “Give them content that’s worth engaging with, that they look forward to, so your open rates stay good and your engagement rates stay good.” That’s people marketing.

On the other hand, “brand marketing,” in Fuller’s analogy, is when brand’s use email to force people to consumer the brand’s message, not a message that’s tailored to them.

“When brands try to use their email to say ‘Hey, buy this! But this! Buy this!,’ it’s a little annoying.” Fuller compares it to the friend who asks you to help them move again and again, and you stop answering the phone. “If I know the only email I’m going to get from you is asking me to buy something from you, I’m going to get annoyed.”

Providing Value for the Data

There’s a school of email thinking that has always said send more, make more offers, and you’ll make more sales. And in many tests, the raw numbers hold up. Even when over-saturation drives up opt-outs, the bottom line can look like a win.

But if you’re not delivering personal value for permissions, data and trust those subscribers have given to you, you’re damaging your brand.

Survey: Marketing Leaders Responsible for More Than Ever

The early results from our Marketing Leadership Survey are in, and a shocking percentage of marketers say the job has changed dramatically in just five years. Marketing leaders have acquired (or been loaded with) more responsibility in almost every area.

The early results from our Marketing Leadership Survey are in — there’s still a week to go, so don’t forget to take it yourself and enter to win a $100 AMEX gift card! — and a shocking percentage of marketers say the job has changed dramatically in just five years. Marketing leaders have acquired (or been loaded with) more responsibility in almost every area.

Have the roles and responsibilities of marketing leaders changed in your organization over the past 5 years?
Credit: Target Marketing and NAPCO Media Research

More than half of respondents say marketing responsibilities has changed greatly or completely over the past five years. And five years really isn’t that that much time, essentially since 2013. All this change has happened in less time than Snapchat’s been around.

Looking specifically at how responsibilities have changed, the movement has only been in one direction: up. In fact, after our first survey email, the “much less responsibility” answer column has yet to be touched, and even “less responsibility” has only been selected a handful of times.

Notice that orange does not appear on this chart, and there are only slivers of light blue. | Credit: Target Marketing and NAPCO Media Research

The area of marketing responsibility expanding the most is technology, where over 80 percent report increased responsibilities. That comes as no surprise, as marketing technology is expanding and marketers are controlling, or at least demanding, more and more enterprise technology spending.

Metrics/reporting and data responsibilities aren’t far behind, with over 70 percent of respondents saying those responsibilities have increased.

Surprisingly, none of those lead the “much more responsibility” column. That went to Innovation, where over 40 percent of our respondents say they now have much more responsibility.

How do those answers stack up to your own evolving roles and responsibilities? Take the survey and let us know, and you’ll be entered to win $100!

And keep an eye out for the final report we’ll be putting together from this research. These are only two of the insights we’re developing; the final report will include how marketing leaders are spending their time, how they’re spending their money, how they base their KPIs, whether or not they feel respected in the corporate hierarchy, and more!

Adobe Calls for a ‘Customer Experience’ Coup

“People buy experiences, not products,” so “focusing on experience design is an absolutely worthwhile effort.” To follow through on this, Adobe President and CEO Shantanu Narayen called for companies to align around the customer experience in order to cut through the red tape and silos that undermine positive customer experiences. He also proposed a new, marketing-lead enterprise technology architecture: “The Experience System of Record.”

In the opening remarks of Adobe Summit, Adobe President and CEO Shantanu Narayen gave one of those welcomes that seems innocuous until you unpack it: By calling for companies to align behind the customer experience, didn’t he really call for marketers to take the lead of their companies?

Customer Experience in the Driver Seat

“Every business should think of themselves as a subscription model,” said Narayen. Meaning, they should understand that after every interaction, customers can cancel or go elsewhere with a single click if the experience doesn’t convince them to come back.

“People buy experiences, not products,” he said. “Focusing on this experience design is an absolutely worthwhile effort.”

Brad Rencher, Adobe’s EVP and GM of digital experience, put it differently: “It’s time for marketers to change from experience thinkers to experience makers.”

Adobe calls this “Architect for Action,” and it would align your company around the customer experience in order to cut through the red tape and silos that undermine positive customer experiences.

They also propose a new architecture: “The Experience System of Record.”

A Marketing Power Struggle?

This new vision would put the customer experience at the center of the whole company, not just marketing.

Some companies already work this way, but I think you’ll agree that most do not. This idea, as more companies adopt it (and I do think more are adopting it, both according to my own customer experiences and what I hear from the people talk to in the industry), has the potential to transform the corporate landscape.

It also heralds a bit of a power struggle. Who controls that customer experience? Usually that’s a marketing function. So, does that mean the marketing department controls the company? Or does it mean the CEO and other departments should be taking responsibility for the customer experience for marketers?

If and when this plays out, marketers will either take on more powerful roles or cede power. Things will not stay the same.

The ‘Experience System of Record’

Narayen’s and Rencher’s wider point was a swipe at the dominant IT architecture of modern business.

“Enterprise and IT systems were designed for a different time and a different world,” said Narayen. “We think a new architecture for enterprise architecture is required.”

ERP and CRM systems are fundamentally insufficient for handling the data and actions needed to deliver today’s customer experiences, said Rencher. The old system of record is inadequate, with each system treating the customer individually. You either need to recombine their data elsewhere, or — like many companies — you never do and they are effectively different people in each system.

This undermines the consistent, instantaneous experience customer expect and crave today. It also worsens headaches around data-focused regulation like GDPR, where identifying records across the may different customer data systems if a significant challenge for companies trying to comply.

Adobe proposes that today’s experiences require an “experience system of record.” And that would mean a new structure for your enterprise data: Connecting data + semantics and control + machine learning + action + content workflow and content pipeline to create a seamless customer experience.

Adobe wants to do all of that for you. In fact, Narayen, Rencher and a number of other speakers during the opening keynote claimed Adobe is the only company that can do that for you. (I imagine other cloud makers would differ with that, but it’s the gauntlet Adobe threw down.)

“It’s a far more complex world than when adobe was first started,” said Narayen. “It’s no longer just about that Web page. … It’s now about anything that has a surface or a digital interface.”

“Adobe experience cloud is an engine to get the right data and the right content to the right places at the right time,” said Rencher, putting a new spin on the old saw that good marketing must put the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Adobe now sees this as the role of all enterprise systems, and is aiming to position its system as the way to do it.

And by the right time, Rencher means under 100 miliseconds — the speed of the Web. “It has to streamline integration of any system you might have on the back end and in the front end, the front office” around the customer journey.

Is It Time for an Enterprise Tech Revolution?

I’m not going to evaluate whether or not Adobe has the tools in place to replace your entire data architecture and become the defacto “experience system of record.” Right now I’m only interpreting this based on what was said in yesterday’s keynote, I haven’t been hands on with anything. (Not to mention, being “hands on” with a proposition of this size would be difficult without a full installation and several years invested.) Adobe also announced a lot of new initiatives and features that are worth checking out on the Adobe Summit website.

But you’re in the trenches. You’re working between disparate systems standing between your customer data, real-time customer activity and the kind of customer experiences everyone is saying you need to deliver.

Can that experience be done with the ERP-based enterprise architecture we have today? Do you need an experience system of record?

I think most marketers would say the vision Adobe has outlined would be a big improvement on the capabilities hey have today. … Even if it takes a bloody coup to become realty.

Marketing Technology vs. Marketing Strategy

Coming into the second annual All About Marketing Tech virtual conference, one question has come up again and again: Are you just buying marketing technology, or are you empowering a marketing strategy?

Coming into the second annual All About Marketing Tech virtual conference, one question has come up again and again: Are you just buying marketing technology, or are you empowering a marketing strategy?

We are in an age when marketing technology can let us do amazing things, as you’ve seen me and all the editors and writers here on Target Marketing discuss many times. But they’re all tools, and even the best tool is only useful when you have a plan to use it.

Kids at Santa’s Workshop

It’s like when you were a little kid, and “Santa’s Workshop” came to school. Did you have these? The school would bring in a vendor to sell Christmas presents for the kids to buy for their families? (Come to think of it, it does seem a bit exploitative now that I type it out …)

Anyway, I remember one time seeing a tool that I thought looked so cool, so I bought it for my dad. It was this handheld thingy with slim little nails and a plastic tube with a magnet. The nails would go in the tube, and you’d push the top down to drive them. It looked so cool! But I had no idea what it did.

So I bought it for my dad anyway.

He smiled and accepted it, and I don’t think he used it once. In retrospect, it was probably for hanging wall paneling, which we never had.

How to Empower a Marketing Strategy

One of the things I’ve heard from multiple speakers heading into this show is that marketers sometimes buy technology a lot like I bought that nail thingamajig for my dad. They wind up with a cool looking tool, even when they don’t have a plan for how to use it.

And beyond the plan for how you’re going to use it, you need to have plans for how to integrate it into your marketing processes, train personnel to use it and plug it into your existing tech stack.

Tomorrow, All About Marketing Tech will introduce you to new marketing technologies — six of them, in fact — but also help you put together the marketing strategies that really determine what technology you should be investing in to begin with.

Andy Markowitz will talk about why marketers win or lose in the age of AdTech and MarTech convergence.

Jerry Bernhart will show you how to find the best marketing tech talent.

Peter Gillett will lead an international panel of experts on how the EU’s GDPR regulations will impact your tech stack.

Beerud Sheth will show you how to build an AI chatbot that doesn’t suck.

PLUS: Mitch Joel of Mirum, Rob Pinkerton of Morningstar, Samuel Monnie of Campbell’s Soup Company, Jonathan Levey of Flexjet and more!

So, if you want to know more about cutting edge marketing technologies, how companies are building strategies to be empowered by technology, how to find the people who have the skill and vision to use those tools, how to avoid one of the biggest fines your company would ever see and more, be sure to register for All About Marketing Tech, happening live from 10 AM to 3 PM EST tomorrow.

If marketing technology or strategy is a part of your job, or part of the job you want to have, you can’t afford to miss it.

The Omnichannel Customer Service Gap

As part of our analysis of the omnichannel experience today in the report “Omnichannel Marketing: The Key to Unlocking a Powerful Customer Experience,” we asked marketers how they provide customer service in each channel, and whether or not they are getting AI involved.

As part of our analysis of the omnichannel experience today in the report “Omnichannel Marketing: The Key to Unlocking a Powerful Customer Experience,” we asked marketers how they provide customer service in each channel, and whether or not they are getting AI involved.

The Extent of Omnichannel Customer Service

Here’s what the marketers had to say:

Omnichannel Customer Service chart from the Omnichannel Marketing Report, 2018.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 82 percent of marketers offer live customer service over the phone, 73 percent through email and 52 percent through social media. But only 28 percent offer live service through website chat, and almost none do via virtual assistants (which is an emerging field).

Very few respondents are dabbling in AI or AI-assisted customer service. However, 14 percent do so through web chat — which means half of all web chat is being handled by AI. That’s followed by social media and email.

Outside of website chat bots, AI customer service is still a rare experience. Also, marketers do not yet seem to consider virtual assistants and smart speakers to be important service channels.

Is That Futuristic Enough?

I was a bit surprised that service was not offered more frequently in more channels. Only half of respondents said they offer customer service reps via social media. Tiny numbers offered it through website chat or virtual assistants.

Is that a wide enough spread of service options to satisfy today’s omnichannel customer? Is it enough to be considered “Omnichannel Customer Service”? On the flip side, does limiting those options make for a better service experience?

Beyond the number of channels service was offered in, it seems that very few marketers are leveraging AI for customer service in any channels. Helping customers still means connecting them with live CSRs. Is that really the most efficient way to do things?

The slower customer service is, the higher the chance you’ll lose that customer to a competitor. Offering service on more channels should help you ensure a great experience. Using good AI to assist your CSR’s should reduce friction and make the process more efficient.

What’s holding marketers back here? Is it the fear that an already damaged experience is going to be made worse? Well, I certainly don’t think the robots are going to do a worse job than crowdsourcing that service.

If you’re nervous about creating a chat bot, we’ve got a great session coming up at the All About Marketing Tech virtual conference that will help you learn the basics and build a chatbot that doesn’t suck. Check i out.

And for more about how marketers are building their omnichannel customer experiences, click here to download the complete report for free.