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What it takes for marketers to thrive in the experience economy


By Dawn Colossi, Chief Marketing Officer

April 9, 2019 | 5 min read

Fueled by digital transformation, the experience economy has shifted the needs of businesses today. Once considered a “nice to have” element from a brand perspective, customer insight has become critical in igniting customer experience initiatives. According to a study by IBM, these initiatives increasingly fall in the purview of the CMO. In fact, in its State of Marketing 2019 report, Salesforce found that 45% of marketers are leading CX initiatives across the business.

What it takes for marketers to thrive in the experience economy

In today’s competitive business landscape, where customers are spoiled with seemingly endless options, marketers have learned that providing customers with truly personalized experiences across all touchpoints is absolutely essential. In recent years, brands informed customer experiences with a limited set of data that revealed very little about the customer, but they quickly learned that this wasn’t enough. To truly resonate with customers and increase loyalty, brands have found that understanding their customers holistically is the best way forward. This means having a glimpse into the customers’ lives, attitudes, opinions, and values to uncover their truths. By doing so, brands are able to align their story with the customer’s, to cultivate an emotional connection.

But how does a business get to their customers’ truths? Below I’ve outlined three strategies that I’ve implemented as chief marketing officer of FocusVision.

Supplement big data with small data

In the experience economy, big data, or the transactional data born out of online shopping behaviors, is no longer enough. Big data reveals the “what,” but lacks context around “why?” That’s why I augment big data with small data. It allows us to successfully create an experience that is tailored to each of our customers.

While big data provides insight into human actions and behaviors, small data (described by Martin Lindstrom as “the tiny clues that uncover huge trends”) provides insight into the attitudes, emotions, and motivations that drive actions and behaviors.

The insights that marketers can glean from the combination of big and small data are invaluable. In addition to gaining an understanding of customers’ experiences with a brand, product or service, marketers gain an understanding of the motivators that drive behaviors and decision making. Leveraging qualitative and quantitative research approaches, brands can equip themselves with these insights, and as a result, gain a comprehensive view of the customer that enables marketers to effectively inform customer experiences in a way that resonates with target audiences.

Remove silos to facilitate collaboration with researchers

To effectively leverage big and small data, I collaborate closely with our research team. Long seen as the staff who conducted large studies once or twice a year to inform different functions — e.g., product, culture, brand — researchers have become an essential part of the business to help drive transformation. Given that all departments within an organization increasingly rely on insights, tapping researchers for their expertise can empower marketers and other departments to work with data from a growing number of sources, and ultimately, make data-driven decisions.

But the marketer and researcher are very different in their methodology, approach, consideration, and personality. Marketers — under the strain of disparate demands and mistrust from the business and inundated with talk of marketing stacks and big data — tend to look for the automated and easy way to target, batch, and blast. But the researcher looks to the small data to tell the story, understand the human motivation, and get to the “why.” It’s this “why” that needs to inform the marketer’s “how.” By collaborating, marketers and researchers are able to learn from each other and work towards a unified goal.

Establish an always-on approach

It’s human nature for perspectives, opinions, loyalties, and behaviors to change. In this digital world, with so much information and immediate responses, perspectives change faster than ever. That’s why experience insight is never a one-and-done strategy. Rather it must be always-on and actionable.

I’ve established an always-on approach to listening to and engaging with customers. This allows me to keep a pulse on the ongoing fluctuations of customer sentiment.

By asking customers for feedback, and checking in with them on a regular basis, marketers are able to build out qualitative data that can help their brands anticipate and understand shifts in behaviors. As a result, marketers are able to effectively create a better customer experience, and in turn, connect and cultivate positive relationships.

The new narrative

As brands continue to invest in company-wide insights strategies, the responsibility of navigating customer experience initiatives will fall on marketers and researchers. In this new landscape, it’ll take an always-on approach, driven by both the marketer and researcher, together with big and small data, for companies to design experiences that attract and retain customers.

Dawn Colossi is chief marketing officer for FocusVision


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