7 ways CMOs can improve their customer engagement game
- 09 December, 2020 16:19
Customer engagement is the name of the game for modern marketing teams, and digital, data and customer-centric ways of working are key to realising this ambition.
How brands drive customer engagement and the role personalisation plays in achieving success took centre stage during a recent ‘Meet the CMO’ session at CMO Momentum 2020. The intimate discussion was led by the real-life experiences of ABC director of audiences, Leisa Bacon, and featured Tealium’s VP and general manager for APJ, Will Griffith.
From crafting personalised audience experiences to voice of customer panels and data insights from audience support team interactions, Bacon has built a comprehensive approach to customer engagement that’s delivering dividends for the national broadcaster. In addition, Tealium's Customer Data Platform (CDP) solution, which allows brands to connect data in order to connect better with their customers, has seen the vendor build up a wealth of best practices around what it takes to truly engage with customers.
Seven key learnings emerged from the discussion, valuable to marketing leaders looking to lift their engagement game.
One: Engagement is a balance between customer expectations and brand differentiation
For Bacon, the combination of listening to and understanding your customers is critical to engagement. But having a clear perspective on what makes your brand distinctive is equally vital. After all, if everyone in a category just listened to the customer and did the exact same thing, you would have a highly productised, uninspiring category.
“I completely believe in investing to understand your customer, and to do that, you need to leverage the best data and analytics you can,” Bacon said. “I also firmly believe in talking to customers and gathering feedback, watching how they use your products and services. All of that will help optimise your offer. But you still need to understand the things that make your brand distinctive.”
An example can be found with ABC’s Triple J. “Our aim as a brand is not just to play music from now, but also great new Aussie music that also surprises you. It’s part of our brand offer,” Bacon said.
“The sweet spot of meeting audience needs and connecting them with brand offers is having those two things working well together in combination. That is what will build you a strong business.”
Two: Know when personalisation is and isn’t appropriate
Meet the CMO session participants agreed defining what personalisation is for your organisation and how it generates a value exchange between brand and customer is another must in ever-evolving customer engagement. At the ABC, personalisation is about better understanding audiences to ensure it delivers a better and useful product experience.
“We think about personalisation as helping understand audiences and helping us play a curatorial role. But there are caveats and rules around that,” Bacon explained. “When you make a lot of content like we do, personalisation enables us to narrow that down to what will be most relevant to you, without stopping us giving you either the surprise and delight factor or things you should just know.”
A good example is putting your postcode into the ABC news site so you can be served up relevant local weather and local news stories. “It’s about better understanding your needs and ensuring content is as relevant as possible, while continuing to have a bit of a curatorial layer sitting over the top.”
Three: Make personalisation a choice
Personalisation is clearly a journey and no one organisation has the silver bullet. But letting customers have control on how you evolve interactions and use data for personalisation is vital in building the right kind of value-driven engagement.
Tealium’s Will Griffith pointed out audiences and consumers are becoming used to content being served personally, leading both them and organisations to get better at correcting data and putting data back into the experience delivered in continuous improvement loop. The guiding light should be making sure that every time a brand asks a customer for additional information, they provide value back.
“We all know the example of Netflix and how its algorithms work to provide more personalised recommendations of content. It’s a dual game of meeting expectations while not being seen to be too enthusiastic in how you approach using data to do that,” said Griffith.
Four: Take your team on the journey with you
Alongside the technical and data aspects vital to delivering more personalised, relevant customer engagement is evolving the skills of your marketing teams. A common approach is to source external subject matter experts for specific insights and learnings while building internal team skillsets is a vital combination.
At the ABC, Bacon has built out internal digital capability with a data and insights team with data scientists, analysts, broader real-time data access to everyone, brought in Tealium’s CDP to help optimise audience journeys, and lifted SEO and SEM capability. She’s also brought in experts in specific areas where needed.
“Sometimes you do need that thought leader to come in, challenge what you are doing, look at your tech stack and bring that experience and level of expertise,” Bacon said.
Five: Foster cross-functional collaboration to better harness data
This combination has enabled Bacon and her team to have a seat at the table when talking to different departments across the organisation also instrumental to engagement, such as legal and technology teams.
“You are all having a discussion about what you can do with the data and balancing the risks to provide the best outcomes for audiences,” Bacon said.
Griffith agreed marketing teams are increasingly required to evolve and collaborate with other functions to achieve data-led engagement ambitions.
“One of the things we see with our first-party data strategy work is that very quickly, a thought bubble is what about the people I have today, can they make it on this journey with me? How do I help them evolve?” he said. “Who do I need and what skills do I need? What does the new org structure look like? And how do I work with IT more effectively? They’re the guardians of data in many instances. And as a marketer, I don’t need to necessarily own the data, but I do need better access and use of it.”
Six: Recognise engagement is an exercise in test-and-learn
Hand-in-hand with data is a test-and-learn culture. Griffith highlighted online beauty brand, Adore Beauty, as a great illustration of building personalisation through a test-and-learn mindset.
“Typical customers have specific needs and those can drive different types of engagement – things like personas, where they are in a life stage, maturity in terms of using beauty products and spending power,” Griffith explained. “What Adobe Beauty is doing is trying to be relevant with content for this persona, and if they’re interested in this content, then trying the next piece of content. The journey by learning is based around that value equation – if you found X useful, you might find Y useful too.
“It’s the know me, show me approach to personalisation based on a value exchange.”
To get to this point, Adore Beauty has set a vision based on core objectives, designed a strategy to support that vision, then executed with campaigns that allow the brand to pick up data and then take another forward step.
“The team tests the hypothesis to see if it works and can close the loop to see if it didn’t. And if it didn’t, that’s fine, they learn from that as they have built up the right culture,” Griffith said.
Seven: Build advocacy across your customers
As a final point, meet the CMO session attendees pointed to the criticality of advocates with your customer base for improving customer engagement overall. To achieve this, brands must foster cross-customer engagement and community mindedness.
As one attendee shared, having customers willing to advocate as a media channel for their brand was more impactful than any other advertising tactic or execution. Yet one of the biggest challenges is brand discussions often aren’t on owned platforms. How you get into that discussion and that engagement is by building and engaging with communities and groups and building brand ambassadors.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, this saw the ABC actively embracing user-generated content supporting its services.
“You want to make sure you’re listening and hearing your customers and playing that back,” Bacon added.
Tealium revolutionises today’s digital businesses with a universal approach to customer data orchestration – spanning web, mobile, offline, and IoT devices. With the power to unify customer data into a single source of truth, Tealium offers a turnkey integration ecosystem supporting over 1,300 client-side and server-side vendors and technologies. The Tealium Universal Data Hub enables organisations to leverage real-time data to create richer, more personalised digital experiences across every team, technology, and customer touchpoint.
For more information, visit https://tealium.com/