B2B marketers are in the hot seat. As the customers’ buying journey shifts online, B2B marketers must exert influence and build trust with their prospects in a new way.
Marketers are in prime position to break down organisational barriers and lead the transformation to customer-centric, real-time enterprise necessitated by digital disruption, Adobe’s digital leader claims.
The reinvention of business through digital, and the central role marketers are playing, took centre stage during the opening session of Adobe’s annual Digital Marketing Summit in Salt Lake City. In his welcome address to the event’s 6500 attendees, Brad Rencher, senior vice-president of digital marketing, said digital has put pressure on businesses to adapt their approach and create new policies around how they deal with customers.
“Because of this, customers are bringing marketers into the centre of this revolution,” he said.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to re-image marketing in a way that’s much broader and more encompassing than ever before.
“Organisations are looking to marketers to lead the way in this real-time customer enterprise and make customer centricity the most important objective. We must all reinvent ourselves to reinvent our businesses.”
Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen, agreed that the central point of every business today needs to be the customer.
“Every business’ relationship with the customer is defined by the cultivation of all the interactions that add to your overall customer experience,” he commented. “As customers, we expect differentiated experiences, whether it’s through our PC or tablet device; we don’t want to receive information on something we’ve just bought, for instance.
“We all know focusing on our customers drives good business. But it’s easier said than done.”
While this need to transform has been recognised by marketers, how to actually achieve it remains a significant problem. According to Adobe’s latest Digital Roadblock, Marketers Struggle to Reinvent Themselves report, also released at the Summit, 64 per cent of marketers surveyed see their role changing in the next 12 months, but only 14 per cent know how to achieve such a change successfully.
For Rencher, an ongoing problem is the siloed nature of business and disconnect between digital, technology and marketing functions. He pointed out that every new channel, such as social or digital, has seen new job title emerge across the marketing team.
All staff must now focus on making that connection with the customer, even if the way they get there is different, he said.
“The problem is that marketing has been focused around the means, not the end game,” Rencher claimed.
He also pointed out the days of an analogue versus digital approach are over. “Every analogue touch point has a digital interaction. But the seams between the functions and teams are preventing us from marketing effectively,” Rencher added. “Marketers today struggle with fragmented views of customers and channels walled off from one another.”
Adobe is endeavouring to help marketers overcome these silos through its Marketing Cloud, and announced several new product innovations at the Summit designed to unify the view of customers by tapping into all channels and interactions. The aim is to bring marketers closer to the Holy Grail of real-time marketing.
Highlights include the introduction of Master Profiling capabilities under Adobe’s Marketing Cloud platform, allowing marketers to create an integrated, holistic view of a customer using data and interactions across all offline and online channels.
But while technology is key to meeting the needs of the real-time enterprise, successful customer engagement also still requires creativity, Rencher said.
“Without that emotional connection, there’s no loyalty. Creativity inspires customers to engage with us,” he said. “Digital is not the end of creativity – it’s creativity and the customer that are at the core of the new real-time enterprise.”
Adobe invited several Marketing Cloud customers on stage to discuss their approach to customer interaction and marketing in light of digital’s pervasive role.
For senior vice-president of digital retail at cycling retailer, REI, Brad Brown, marketing has completely changed over the past decade thanks to the rise of ecommerce and digital engagement. The onus for retail brands now is to provide omni-channel experiences to customers “on their terms”, he said.
“In-store was easy: You’d get to know people a little bit at a time, and ideally get to know exactly who they are,” he told attendees. “This is harder to do digitally. We’re now using Adobe tools to do just that – learn more about them so we can see exactly who they are, and have a real and personal conversation with them.”
Audi of America also flagged the importance of integrating digital into customer experience, not only in terms of its marketing and communication efforts, but also in its vehicles and product delivery.
“We are trying to bring new technologies that manage digital experience in a seamless way, then innovate at the back-end with key integrations to help with real-time enterprise,” the company's general manger of digital technology and strategy, Jeff Titus, explained.
To do this, Audi as a company has embraced continuous delivery principles to enable more rapid and regular test and development.
Audi also wants to recognise the research customers have done through digital means before they come into the showroom, he said. “We want this not to be a confrontation, but to be easy for customers.”
Nadia Cameron travelled to Digital Marketing Summit as a guest of Adobe.