SDL CEO: Innovation and adaptability vital to addressing changeable consumer

Head of the billion-dollar global digital customer experience management technology company discusses the importances of listening to customers in modern marketing

In order to survive globalised digitalisation, organisations must not only be innovative, but adapt and respond to changing consumer behaviour in a localised, contextual way, SDL CEO and founder’s claims.

Thankfully, this is easier today than it has been historically for marketers, according to Mark Lancaster. Before the digital age, marketing budgets were allocated but it was a lot harder for CMOs to really listen and analyse customer behaviour to determine the value of their efforts.

"Now it is far more precise," he told CMO during the vendor’s recent Innovate roadshow in Sydney. "With innovations in digital marketing, CMOs can really adapt and leverage their marketing strategy."

Some markets are doing it better than others. Lancaster found the Chinese marketplace particularly fascinating to look at, pointing out that marketers there are building digital infrastructure effectively because they didn't have any legacy infrastructure to deal with.

"They were able to go immediately to the digital channel," he said."In China, social media and influencer-driven purchases, digital media interactions, ecommerce purchases and just general commerce spending is massive. They're of course coming across problems, but solving them far more quickly than the rest of the world."

For SDL, adapting and responding to consumer behaviour requires an integrated solution, and the vendor has been pulling together Web content management, customer analytics, social engagement, ecommerce optimisation, document management online solutions into its platform, all with a language backbone.

"Businesses can run campaigns globally, they can create content and adapt in on a global basis," Lancaster said. "It's about providing an integrated platform that really helps businesses manage their digital marketing channel."

Marketing is increasingly investing in content to build customer connections, but for Lancaster the first step is to continually analyse what customers, prospects and partners are actually doing.

"That means firstly, for every campaign that you run, you need to know how people have responded to that campaign," he said. "View and analyse the customer journey, find out where did it break, what did they look at and for how long, and then what was the outcome of that."

Social listening is a vital step in this process and Lancaster said SDL also has a sharp focus on customer views expressed through social channels.

"The volume of social postings are far too large for any business to really look through and gain insights from that on a real-time basis," he said. "We provide technology that allows businesses to analyse all their posts and then from that understand where the customers have responded.

"We then combine that with Web analytics, customer analytics and then apply that to ecommerce optimisation and Web content creation."

Another big area of focus for SDL is the local impact of digital marketing. In order for global brands to create locally relevant campaigns, SDL's customer experience platform integrates technology called blueprinting, which Lancaster said allowed marketers to replicate the fundamentals of a campaign. It also enables users to customise elements of the campaign to suit a local market and local language.

"Say you're running a campaign to sell sport gear or T-shirt promotion - if you were selling that in the UK and Australia, you can direct that towards a mutually enjoyed sport like cricket, and target an event like The Ashes," he explained. "Whereas if you were doing it to an American, rather than having a cricketer in the image, you'd have a baseball player.

"You maintain the brand, but have slightly different subtleties in how you are presenting that. You can look at factors like the local events, culture, different weather and tailor your campaign automatically, so that you can feed the right selection of images into the campaign to meet local market expectations."

Locally, SDL's customers include Jeanswest and Rebel Sports. Global retailers such as ASOS as well as traditional brands like Hewlett Packard, HP, Canon and Nikon are also part of the vendor’s growing client list.

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