6 lessons in marketing strategy and technology from a customer experience chief

Endeavour Drinks Group head of CX shares his lessons learnt while building marketing technology and customer engagement strategies


Technology might be critical in delivering superior customer experiences, but it doesn’t replace merchandising and key factors such as price, relevancy, creative quality and emotive connections.

That’s the view of Endeavour Drinks Group’s head of customer experience, Sean Smith, who took to the stage at the Oracle Modern Marketing Meetup event in Sydney to discuss the lessons he’s picked up on digital marketing and customer engagement excellence.

“Technology only goes so far, you have to also merchandise your products and have your customers engaged,” Smith told attendees.

Traditionally, merchandising has been a product-led or even supplier-led exercise. But in the customer-centric universe we live in today, it’s about what the customer is interested in, Smith said.

“They want you to provide products to them that are interesting to them. If you don’t, the value exchange of me accepting your marketing fails and I’m going to say no and disengage with the brand,” Smith said. “Never has that been more critical than today.”

Brands also can’t expect to create the product or determine what today’s consumers are going to buy. “The problem is you have to have a product set that matches your personalisation strategy,” Smith continued.

There are two sides to that equation that must be considered, he continued. The marketing side, which usually cares the most about the customer, is increasingly looking at personalisation to determine what messages and products to put in front of customers. But you also need merchandising teams to build similar algorithms and rank products within categories or interest spheres in order to put the right product in front of the right customer, Smith said.

One sector Smith said had managed this well is online travel. “So many things are going into the algorithm to make it relevant to you while profitable to the business at the same time,” he said.

During his presentation, Smith also shared a number of war stories from his 15-year career running digital marketing and customer experience platforms and programs for the likes of Dimmi, HotelClub, Woolworths Liquor Group and Ticketek. Based on these, he offered six lessons to marketers looking to achieve customer experience excellence.

Number one on the list is to clearly define what you’re trying to do and what success looks like. “It sounds obvious, but it’s not that clear for many people,” Smith said.

“Every organisation is in different phase of strategy – some are startup businesses, and in a growth phase – it’s about acquiring customers and building awareness, investing heavily, and they don’t worry as much about profit at that point in their life.

“Or you might be reinvigorating the brand and looking at if you’re doing customer experience right. These are company strategies you may not be thinking about, but if you don’t align with those, you’re going to run into problems later.”

Metrics are vital in understanding and responding to key business objectives. But while sales revenue seems to be a top priority for many, it’s often a short-term measure, Smith warned. Another core metric he advocated for is customer lifetime value.

Second of Smith’s lessons for marketers is getting buy-in from management, including legal teams. “You need them to understand what you’re doing and why,” he said, adding marketers must find and speak in a language major stakeholders understand. This could be things like revenue, EBIT, or return on funds.

The third lesson is the importance of governance. This stretches from data definitions to business rules around data and how that’s captured, customer contact rules, and legislative requirements. “Tied into that is the state of your data – is it usable, does it need to be cleansed?” Smith asked.

As an example of how things can go wrong, Smith pointed to an experience he witnessed where an emphasis on customer acquisition saw one organisation’s marketing teams using bad database lists. This led threat intelligence service, Spamhaus, to add the brand to its global blocklists for ISPs, crippling its corporate IP network. Only through strict rules around what email addresses were safe to use was the company able to overcome these issues, he said.

Smith’s fourth lesson for marketers is to know your internal capability and the skillset of your people. “There’s no point grabbing fantastic technology if you don’t have capability to use it,” he said.

“Don’t panic, you can buy it, or use a hybrid model and get those skills, but you need to know what it is you need. Part of that is about staff development – it’s critical to what we do.”

Smith’s fifth lesson is recognising the difference between technology capability and mechandising. “Tech is great, but don’t forget price, relevancy, creative quality, emotive connections,” he said.

As a final point, Smith said marketers must keep one eye on the future, even as he admitted it’s easy in business to get bogged down in the day-to-day.

“Remember when mobile was the future, then one day it was just standard for everything? You need to always keep an eye on the future and what’s happening,” he said.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Microsoft's Pip Arthur

​In this latest episode of our conversations over a cuppa with CMO, we catch up with the delightful Pip Arthur, Microsoft Australia's chief marketing officer and communications director, to talk about thinking differently, delivering on B2B connection in the crisis, brand purpose and marketing transformation.

More Videos

The versatility of Live Chat is really what surprises me. I’ve seen it being used not only for customer support, but also as a tool to in...

Drishti Shah

Why Bupa tapped WhatsApp for new customer messaging channel

Read more

Hi This is George, Thanks for sharing this nice information about foodpanda blockchain. During this pandemic situation food delivery indu...

George David

foodpanda launches blockchain-based out-of-home advertising campaign

Read more

Did anyone proofread this document before it was published?

Beau Ushay

CMO Momentum 2020: How to embrace agile marketing

Read more

An honest and hardworking conveyancer doesn't need a marketing strategy. His past clients will spread the word for him. These days the ho...

Bagen Andrea

What this millennial marketer is doing to shake up conveyancing

Read more

Love the post. It is so insightful for companies getting stuck in their habits and missing out on the role innovation can have on revenue...

Alessia Del Genio

How Lego built its culture of innovation, brick by brick

Read more

Blog Posts

Innovate or die

It’s hard to know if famed management and marketing guru, Peter Drucker, coined this phrase for dramatic effect. My belief is he was emphasising the notion that few products and markets are static and few organisations can survive without innovation.

Michael Valos

Senior Lecturer, Department of Marketing, Deakin University

Commissioning personas that get used

How to avoid the bottom drawer, and how to get value from the work you’ve paid for

Melanie Wiese

Chief strategy officer, Wunderman Thompson

Why It’s Going To Be A Bumper Holiday Season Despite the Pandemic

Behavioural science expert Dan Monheit, co-founder and strategy director of creative agency, Hardhat, writes that marketing chiefs should hold their nerve, as they have reason to be optimistic

Dan Monheit

Co-founder, Hardhat

Sign in