Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
A new study by IBM into the behaviour of marketers has detailed a significant gap between leading marketers and their peers around personalisation, optimisation and cross-channel utilisation.
The results of the latest The State of Marketing 2013, IBM’s Global Survey of Marketers are based on responses from 500 marketing managers globally.
Given the choice of nominating their top three marketing challenges, acquiring new customers proved the most significant, with 42 per cent of votes. This was followed by retaining existing customers and improving loyalty and satisfaction (36 per cent); creating consistent, relevant and positive customer experiences across all channels (34 per cent); understanding social media and using social channels effectively (34 per cent); and managing, collecting and making use of internal and external data (29 per cent).
Further down the list was measuring ROI (21 per cent) and protecting customer data (21 per cent). Alongside its top-line findings, IBM used the survey to compare ‘leading marketers’ against their peers in an effort to detail their ability to generate better outcomes and performances. IBM defined leading marketers as the top 20 per cent of the survey mix, who are proactively influencing the customer experience across channels as well as using marketing technologies to help with cross-channel optimisation.
The survey claimed leading marketers are financially better performers, coming out 1.8 times stronger in terms of three-year gross profit growth, 3.4 times for net profit growth and 2.4 times in stock price growth.
One of the key contributing factors is their use and action of big data to better personalise the customer experience. In turn, these leading marketers are taking greater responsibility for all customer service interactions as brand stewards.
IBM’s report analysed a range of actions between ‘other’ and ‘leading’ marketers and found leading marketers were adjusting real-time offers based on context by a difference of 2.6. They were also more likely to act on insights from optimisation technologies across all channels (45 per cent of leading marketers versus eight per cent of all others), apply advanced analytics to determine media spend (69 per cent vs 31 per cent), integrate inbound/outbound and online/offline (92 per cent vs 68 per cent), and two times more likely to track customer lifetime value.
Tailoring the message to individual behaviour was another differentiation point. In customer service and call centre messages for example, 85 per cent of leading marketers are personalising messages in real-time compared with 63 per cent of all others. There is also a big gap in mobile channels, where 62 per cent of leading marketers are personalising messages compared with 43 per cent of all others.
Leading marketers also make better use of automation decisioning processes in emerging digital channels by at least a factor of 1.3 such as online display, video, social media, mobile apps and mobile display.
There is still a way to go however, as only 35 per cent of leading marketers say they have fully integrated cross-channel campaigns, and eight per cent are not currently integrated. In comparison, just 12 per cent of all other marketers have integrated channel campaigns, and 39 per cent do not.
The figures suggest those with the data and analytics skills dedicated to driving customer experience are winning the war. IBM claimed the top findings from the survey point to leading marketers taking greater responsibility over customer service interactions as they become the official brand stewards company-wide.
The IBM survey also asked respondents how they use statistical and predictive techniques to understand customers and found 65 per cent of leading marketers, and 49 per cent of all others, are using segmentation. The next most used method was upsell, cross-sell and next best action, followed by contact optimisation (50 per cent of leading marketers versus 32 per cent of all others), and response modelling (48 per cent and 35 per cent respectively).
At the same time, leading marketers are also looking to use location-based services to target more digitally-savvy, on-the-move customers and deliver seamless, intuitive customer interactions.