At last month’s Adobe Summit, somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty thousand marketers, technologists, sales, services, and operations practitioners gathered in Las Vegas to hear the latest and greatest in the world of marketing technology, specifically from Adobe. In addition to leaders from enterprise companies such as Adobe, IBM, Microsoft, Marketo, Magento, and others, a star studded cast of A-list celebrities also filled up the keynote slots. Personalities such as Reese Witherspoon, Drew Brees and Mindy Kaling contributed to discussions as they spoke in front of packed houses and cheering crowds.
You might wonder what new and cutting edge topics brought tens of thousands of people from all over the globe to Las Vegas (besides Roulette and Celine Dion). What transformative concepts lured business leaders and celebrities alike? There were many ideas and strategies discussed at the event, but the anchor subject of the week was something very basic and timeless: Customer Experience. It is truly the age of the customer, and everything must revolve around making things easier and more personalized for them.
With Adobe’s recent acquisitions of marketing automation provider Marketo and eCommerce platform Magento, as well as a new partnership with Microsoft, much of the talk was of these grand alliances and how by joining forces they would create a better product and let marketers understand more about their customers than ever before, thereby providing a seamless and personalized experience for all. This is Adobe’s “Experience Cloud”, and it’s unveiling was the highlight of the conference as well as the main theme throughout.
Digging a bit deeper however, the fundamental problem of customer experience remains the same as it has since cavemen were first trying to market the wheel: to truly have a transformative or even a relevant customer experience, brands first and foremost must understand their customers. And to truly understand their customers, brands need two related things--data and insight.
All of the speakers on stage at the Summit preached the benefits and value of customer experience and linking that closely with individualized and personalized communications. Or as marketers say, the holy grail of 1:1 Marketing. Most were quick to note however that achieving this is no easy task, especially for enterprises with legacy systems that can’t keep up with consumers’ Amazon influenced expectations for personalization. In industries such as high tech, retail, travel, manufacturing, and banking, ultimately their ability to put the customer at the center of their strategy will separate the leaders from the rest of the pack.
The solution to this tricky problem of how to achieve 1:1 personalization at scale lies within the customer data that brands have acquired, and the insights and intelligence they can glean from it. This includes attributes such as behavioral information, demographic data, preferences, intent, and many others. Once that data is collected, unified, cleaned, and enriched, marketers have Aladdin-like whole new worlds of personalization possibilities open to them.
As mentioned, most businesses are not currently set up to easily implement this process for many reasons--customer data lives in silos, they may have legacy systems that make it difficult for various data sources to unify, they don’t have an overall customer data strategy, and so on. To the rescue comes the CDP, Customer Data Platform. These platforms do exactly what we’re describing--collect, unify, cleanse, and enrich customer data, giving marketers and their brands the true “360 degree” view of the customer. Then these systems move from data to insight. With segmentation, predictive analytics, and integration through execution channels (email, social, mobile, etc.), automated CDPs can deliver on the promise of 1:1 personalization at scale.
Perhaps next year’s summit will focus on customer data and insight--the two pillars upon which customer experience is built. If so, expect CDPs to have a seat at the table.
Ed Wolf is Head of Sales at Zylotech, where he uses his background in data, technology, and analytics to help organizations bridge the gap between customer data and insight. A resident of Somerville MA, Ed enjoys spending time with family as well as delving into sports and music. In his free time, Ed can be found on the soccer and baseball fields coaching, listening to the latest NBA deep dive podcasts, as well as visiting some local establishments to check out the latest Boston bands. He loves to talk data, analytics, sports, and TV, so reach out anytime for a chat!
If you liked this post, check out more from Ed Wolf in another Wolf tales: Observations from the road.