Look for the single best version of customer truth in your CX journey, survey says

As the race to define the customer experience (CX) for a chief marketing officer has become staggeringly complex, both B2C and B2B marketers must narrow down their understanding of the CX and look for the “single best version of customer truth,” according to a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit and Marketo that surveyed 499 CMOs and senior marketers.

"Achieving personalization at scale is the biggest and most important challenge for us to get right. You're no longer marketing AT people. You're influencing them in an environment where they've already had a chance to form a view. We are seeing that repeat positive experience can build loyalty. The customer experience is the marketing and the experience is what drives performance," noted Kristin Lemkau of JP Morgan Chase in the recent report.

The report states that half of the respondents believe the accelerating pace of technology, mobile lifestyles and an explosion of potential marketing channels are the three factors that will change marketing most by 2020. Driven by billions of possible interactions, top marketing channels by 2020 are expected to be social media (63 per cent), the Internet (53 per cent), mobile apps (47 per cent) and mobile web (46 per cent). Publishing centric channels like television, radio and print score far lower.

Additionally, 86 per cent marketers surveyed from a number of industries including health care believe they will own the end-to-end customer experience by 2020. With 90 per cent of CMOS surveyed saying they plan to be more deeply involved in decisions that affect the entire organization by 2020, 80 per cent added they would exercise that same influence over technology. When asked to rank their priorities to improve, those surveyed said that personalized customer experience is at the top, followed by a fast and efficient experience that feels consistent across platforms.

The report outlined the layers of engagement that applies to CMOs in both the B2C and B2B sectors, and indicates that the initial pressure on the CMO is to ensure that their brand maintains customers who are technically and socially connected to one another. The core asset that is required for CMOs to maintain a two way relationship with the customer comes from "the single, best version of customer truth,' which must reach across any marketing touch point, anywhere in the journey.

However, new types of personalized devices, information and applications suggest that marketing has reached a level of complexity that has picked up speed, scope and scale. Additionally, when asked to compare which trends in B2B and B2C marketing will change the most by 2020, the accelerating pace of technology change, mobile lifestyles and the explosion of potential marketing channels as the top three challenges. The trends that are driving those business environmental changes by 2020 are run parallel with mobile devices and networks, personalization technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT).

"Although it helps, it's not just experience with particular platforms that counts most. It's almost like you need a different kind of thinker because the skills are changing," says Kristin Lemkau, CMO of JPMorgan Chase in the report.

Personalization is defined in the report as ‘a deeper understanding of a customer's wants, needs and desires with timely and tailored delivery of relevant content, products and services.’ Further, while the internal methods and technologies behind personalization help marketers listen and converse with multiple audiences, what is astounding is that while 15 per cent of marketers surveyed said they would rely on television, 14 per cent on print and 7 per cent on radio for personalized experiences, over 63 per cent said that social media would be their key focus in 2020.

However, even sponsored advertising on social media is quickly changing.

"It used to be that you put an ad up on Facebook or sponsored a tweet or similar to drive recognition of your brand," says Chris M. Kormis, associate dean and CMO of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. But, now, as opposed to being another publishing platform, social media is more about finding the people you want for the market you’re trying to reach." In other words, personalization is a key factor in how to find, win, grow and keep customers today, but by 2020, marketers will be focusing more on pioneering new and emerging technologies to engage the audience.

“My success depends on using technology in the broadest sense of the word," says Pure Storage CMO Jonathan Martin. "If I can't combine analytical and creative smarts, it's virtually impossible to be an effective CMO."

The research suggests that marketers should organize around a single, best understanding of the customer to drive personalized CX across platforms and at scale. As data and analytics transform B2B and B2C marketing, CMOs must master a new model of value and exchange based on personalized customer experience.

"Brands need to help people simplify life so we all don't go mad as this world becomes more complex," says Unilever's Keith Weed on customer experience-based marketing. "I believe that people who focus on that will unlock the true power of data."

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