The rise of the Tech-savvy Marketeer
"Behavioral data is becoming more important than declarative data...what your customers do is much more important than what they tell you...Even more so - nowadays it's becoming the new normal that you need to anticipate what they will be doing next, rather than what they have done so far..."
The rise of yet another new category of Martech - Customer Data Platforms (or CDP's) - is again revolutionizing the Martech landscape, after recommendation engines and Marketing Automation did...At the same time, we see Martech and Add tech converging.
Where once the use of CRM systems and Marketing Automation and other high-tech was limited to large corporations, today they are accessible to all and have been significantly democratized. Cloud-based applications and Artificial Intelligence that will help you realize your business strategy, achieve your goals more effectively, that will provide processes and meet conversions sometimes cost just a few euros a month. And with literally thousands of them to choose from - offering everything from marketing automation to social media or data management - it's become almost impossible to know which one is right for you.
Growth Agent is on a mission to guide clients through this increasingly complicated maze of marketing technology. Founder and Managing Partner Renout van Hove injects decades of expertise into this brand new Martech Agency.
Renout van Hove: "Thanks to all these online tools, companies are increasingly taking customer conversations into their own hands, which certainly has its benefits. It was only until very recently that we still entrusted our agency with the email list if we wanted to send out a campaign. Today however it's all about being relevant and take context into account when engaging with your segment of 1. Dialogue marketing and frictionless experiences are becoming the new norm. Chatboxes, voice searches - you name it - there is a tsunami of change heading our way and the proliferation of tools promising this or that proves it. Martech simply brings it all together into something manageable."
"Today's marketing department has a mandate that covers the entire customer journey. We're - thankfully - moving away from the batch & blast (and pray) email campaigns and mass communications of yesteryear. Marketing today is about enhancing the customer journey and creating differentiating frictionless experiences. Today, your customer isn't going to compare their experience with you to the one they had with your competitor. They're going to compare it to the best customer journey they've ever had. And that's the equivalent of the Uber's of this world. This is why platforms such as Uber are so successful: you can consume their service with little to no effort at all, it's a completely frictionless experience." Luckily, this level of experience building is possible for medium-sized businesses of all kind. The rise of Artificial Intelligence and Customer Data Platforms is one of exponential technologies...
"Most of us don't realize how big of a role artificial intelligence plays in our daily lives. But 80% of people wake up and check Facebook before jumping into the shower. Facebook dictates what we consume in our daily feed. In the end, it means we trust that AI will organize our feed for us. We're becoming conditioned from the moment we wake up, right to the moment we till the even when binge watch our Nextlix recommendations, and our expectations are sky-high.
"The way we consume media nowadays has changed,
and it fundamentally alters the way we digest data."
The new normal is that we, as businesses, need to wait on our customer's hand and foot. Another example of this paradigm is Waze: it warns you when traffic is heavier than usual, telling you to leave now if you want to get home at your usual hour. AI brings together all the data and information streams within the context of our behaviour and conditions us to expect a seamless predictive experience as the new norm."
"Spotify cues up recommended playlists based on your past listening behaviour, Instagram recommends accounts you might be interested in. Fancy a pizza? Just talk to Google. It's all driven by artificial intelligence and it's changing the way we as consumers use and consume. It's also creating irrational expectations. To survive and remain relevant, you have to fully understand your customer's context - and on your turn use clever technology to facilitate this. Without a clear, complete and accurate 360° customer view you cannot achieve this. And in order to achieve this, today there is hardly a way around looking at CDP's (Customer Data Platforms).
We're in the midst of an ever-faster accelerating revolution driven by consumer behaviour. The marketing manager who is trying to play catch up with his audience through social media is going to miss out; your customer is already out in the park chasing Pokémon". A striking example of this reality is Aldi's recent initiative with their Emoji's. It went viral. And had a significant bottom-line impact.
The broader and deeper I see marketing becomes, the faster we see it evolving. The CMO is evolving into the chief customer officer as marketing departments start managing the relationship between the company and the customer as a whole. Service is the new Marketing, Marketing is the old sales, and sales is the old service … it's become so complex, it's impossible to make head or tail of it. We're moving towards a place where all forms of marketing merge into one. Customers don't think in silos and we should stop thinking of them ourselves."
The impact on the organisation:
The digital marketer of tomorrow will be a program manager who manages resources to achieve certain objectives. The T-shaped marketer - who knows a little about a lot and has just one area of expertise - will become a thing of the past. We'll start seeing true specialists and companies need to start thinking about how they can integrate these specialists. Companies are going to have to start right-sourcing: engaging the right people with the right competencies at the right moment in time. The impact is that we're moving away from the traditional agency model where you can simply outsource your needs end-to-end. In a parallel - the monolithic technology play is over. This is why GrowthAgent fits so well in the ecosystem of Duval Union. This addresses just that. And technology happens to sit smack in the middle of all of this nowadays."
Companies all around will have to ensure their processes and culture are open to inserting specialist profiles as and when needed. There will always be peak moments when you need a certain competency or knowledge set. The biggest shift however is cultural. Especially here in Belgium, we still think in terms of campaigns way too often. Having the marketer at the switchboard, sending out messages is still a thing here. We need to change our mindsets and company culture before we're truly ready to shift to marketing built on data and conversations."
Marketing has spent decades making companies look sympathetic and branding still has an important role to play in this, but we've shown little empathy so far. Today's reality is that the customer is firmly in the driving seat. Just look at Brexit or Trump's presidency: all the polls indicated Brexit wasn't going to happen and apparently nobody voted for Trump, yet here we are. In today's mindset, you should expect your customers to lie to you. Forget those polls and feedback forms and start looking at behaviour instead of as a primary source of truth. Behavioural data gives you the context that is key to understanding what the customer wants. The biggest challenge is the mindset: start thinking in an extremely customer-centric way and move away from campaigns in favour of programs. Your company culture, your team; everyone needs to be prepared and onboard."
Knowing that today the average CMO already spends 30% of the budget on technology and that this is still increasing every year - and considering the average awareness of the Belgian marketer about the possibilities of state of the art technology such as marketing automation, customer data platforms and the longer-term opportunities that Artificial Intelligence brings with it - there is absolutely a need and relevance for an agency that uses technology in a pragmatic and innovative way. This has prompted us to write down our vision, ideas, methodologies and experience in 'Obsessed' - the book that was published November 2019 and which is about the demystification of martech and the proliferation of the 'AI wired customer'. Many of the other agencies within Duval contributed to - and have their play in the book - which shows a sign on how intertwined technology is into today's Marketing and agency ecosystems - like Duval Union."
In the end, our tagline wraps it all up - we build tech stacks that grow businesses. And our logo adds meaning to this as well: we're not afraid to think outside the box and cut corners. Sometimes Marketing Automation, for example, is not the holy grail as a solution to your problem...it might be a Microservices stack build on Microservices, enabled by a CDP.