January 09, 2017

IT and Marketing Are Converging to Drive Customer Engagement

Marketing and IT professionals have much to learn from each other. And the time is right for marketers to take advantage of IT knowledge, as success in today’s digital marketplace requires technological savvy—particularly when it comes to engaging more customers. Toward this end, marketers are utilizing IT know-how and modern technology to aid in the strategic collection and application of customer data.

Collaboration with IT helps marketers gain valuable expertise about tools for monitoring the performance of marketing channels, and provides insight on optimizing infrastructure to reliably support users and programs. IT can also provide advice and procedures to ensure critical business functions, like securing private customer information.

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On the flip side, marketers must ensure that IT understands their business goals and why certain infrastructure and data access is necessary for achieving them. Then IT can help integrate marketing tools with other company systems, such as e-commerce and inventory, which can help minimize data loss and create better user experiences.

After all, today’s real-time marketing campaigns require qualifying and simplifying data to make it actionable. IT will help you find a modern data management platform that provides easy access to data and reporting from various stakeholders and channels. Use the platform to merge new data and automatically structure it across systems. This will give you a more accurate view of what your customers want and where to find them, so that your campaigns have a better likelihood of hitting their marks.

Tech knowledge should also help you enhance the user experience with your website. With assistance from IT, use customer data to make your website more effective at engaging customers. Start by tracking how customers navigate your site, including the journeys they take to get to specific locations and what they do while there.

Also, collect data on the attributes of visitors who reach specific levels of engagement, and use that information to improve engagement tactics. For example, personalize calls to action that build on visitors’ recent actions. Apply this thinking to any digital customer interaction with your brand.

As you strive to advance technology solutions that ultimately drive business profitability, be wary of inadvertently threatening IT—traditionally, the conservators of everything related to data and systems—with urgent requests for new technology, especially unsanctioned (aka “shadow”) tools. To build collaboration, defer to IT when it comes to high-risk areas.

The CMO’s Expanded Role

No one will be more impressed with your tech knowledge than your CMO, whose role has evolved in the digital age even more than yours has. Beyond crafting brand identity, today’s CMO has responsibilities that span technology, analytics and measurable impact. He or she must be comfortable employing technological tools and methodologies that encompass big data, social networks, mobile technologies and digitization.

The Internet has profoundly altered the way consumers buy products. For example, 58 percent of global retail appliance shoppers made at least some purchases online in the last year, according to PwC’s “Total Retail Survey 2016” report. The vast majority of them conduct research online before buying, particularly for durable and high-priced categories (e.g., consumer electronics and travel services)—whether purchases are completed in-store or online. Because customers are the primary drivers of market disruption, CEOs naturally looked to their CMOs to spearhead a response. 

Part of that response has included transforming the marketing function along with product development, manufacturing and distribution models. Delivering growth beyond the market average now hinges on differentiating the customer experience and building tighter customer relationships. And that relies on not only stellar marketing capabilities, but also connecting marketing with the entire organization.

Integrated systems, in turn, improve the ability of customer analytics solutions to derive more-precise data-driven insights into the market and the customer journey, which can improve marketing ROI. According to a McKinsey survey, companies using customer analytics are more than twice as likely to generate above-average profits as those that don’t. For new customer acquisition, they are an astonishing 23 times more likely to outperform non-analytical companies.

Data-driven customer insights give CMOs the power to set business strategy for their companies, helping them meet CEO expectations that they contribute to top-line growth and revenue-generation.

Together, CMOs and their marketing teams that collaborate with IT to leverage modern technology can resolve their most pressing marketing challenges and help keep their companies ahead of the pack. 

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