Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) understand the need to make technology central to their strategic approach to customer management. They need consistent messaging across digital and traditional channels to deliver the required experiences to their audiences. To generate new growth, they are finding new ways to increase the lifetime value of their customers. The digital channel has created many new opportunities to engage with customers — complicating and changing how companies communicate, collaborate, manage expectations and experience, and how products and services are defined to align with customer needs.
Digital customer engagement is a strategy and practice for managing customer experiences online (including web, mobile, social and e-mail) and offline (including call centers and branches) to acquire, retain, and turn customers into satisfied, loyal brand advocates, and ambassadors. Creating authentic, lasting relationships requires being able to provide the right product, at the right price, in the right place, at the right time, to the right person, and using the right channel for the right benefit. Sound confusing? This rapid change can be difficult to implement. Most clients are simply trying to keep up competitively while regulatory and mandated policies are taking away from budget that could be used for strategic transformative initiatives.
The CMO and CIO need to be aligned with each other and connected to their suppliers, partners, customers, and others in the ecosystem. According to Forrester Research (The Evolved CMO, February 2014) only 41% of CMOs feel that they share a common vision of how marketing and IT should work together. In addition, only 29% of them partner with CIOs when procuring marketing technology. While the CMO typically can communicate the business case, they may not fully understand the technology implications across the enterprise and the company’s enterprise architecture. On the flip side, the CIO needs to invest time and energy to truly understand the businesses that they support and align themselves with the business initiatives.
Partnering with a digital integrator can help companies bridge the CIO/CMO chasm. It is important to look for a technology partner with a strong background in technology execution coupled with industry focused digital customer engagement capabilities, and a proven track record of delivering creative solutions that are sustainable in a world of shrinking I.T. budgets.
Forward-thinking companies understand the importance of Digital Customer Engagement and are embracing new technologies to build loyalty and fully leverage the potential of each customer or client. While it is a critical initiative to undertake, it doesn’t have to overwhelm resources and network capabilities. With the confluence of emerging technologies, an aligned digital strategy and integration of enabling technologies allows businesses to deliver a superior customer experience that is simple, personalized, and available across any channel at anytime, anywhere. This helps CMOs execute their customer engagement strategy and turn potential customers into loyal buyers and, just as importantly, brand advocates.
A versatile digital integrator will never offer a “one size fits all” approach — some clients want a turnkey solution, from branding to technology management, other clients want specialists for each solution. Also, the solution doesn’t always have to entail brand new application development, which often comes at a high price point, as it’s critical to audit a company’s technology capabilities with an eye towards effective re-usability of existing assets that may not be fully leveraged. A digital integrator with the ability to build innovative and powerful in-house technologies that work seamlessly to compliment a company’s existing enterprise architecture can deliver the best results in the most efficient manner.
Robert T. Kelley, PhD, is a founding partner at LiquidHub.