By Heath Barlow, Managing Director UK, Nordics & Benelux, Emarsys
The Gartner Hype Cycle is so well established these days as to be something of a cliché. The simple graphic demonstrates the difference between the value of an idea and how valuable it appears to be. Huge excitement, and then deep disappointment, gradually balance out to demonstrate the genuine usefulness of an idea.
The names of some of the key points in the graph are unusually verbose for a lesson in theory. The ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ and ‘Slope of Enlightenment’ are both personal favourites. But our focus in this piece is the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’: the point at which optimism around a technology is at its height, far beyond what it actually deserves.
It’s at this point in the cycle that such technologies are crammed into predictions pieces that claim to offer insight into the coming year, or two, or five. A tidal wave of articles, blog posts, interviews, and reports crashes upon the shores of sensibility.
This is particularly true for marketers. Uniquely placed to explore both the reality of products and the wider perception of them, it’s ironic that marketers need to be careful not to drown in content.
What makes this even more galling is that, as ‘inflated expectations’ suggests, there’s very little merit in the flood. Emarsys unPredictions research analysed thousands of marketing predictions in 2021, finding that a quarter – more than six hundred – were demonstrably untrue. A sizable portion more are written with enough fluff and bluster to render them unfalsifiable.
So, for marketers looking to improve their craft or their results, how can we help them stay afloat?
What marketers need, more than anything, is a sound technological basis upon which to practice their craft. There’s an exotic, novel quality to suggesting that the blockchain or the Metaverse are going to be the answer to their woes, but in reality there are more accessible and intuitive technologies that could revolutionise their day-to-day.
This starts with data, which many marketers spend their time battling rather than utilising. A recent study from Realise UNLIMITED found that almost four in five UK CMOs (79%) believe that they are between 2-5 years away from actually achieving best-in-class data analytics.
All too often this is because separate departments silo their respective data streams, as opposed to collating customer data into one cohesive repository. Different aspects of a customer’s behaviour, interests and history are siphoned off, making it virtually impossible to build a truly comprehensive profile of that person.
Without that, simply put, you don’t know exactly who you’re marketing to. And that makes it virtually impossible to…
Superficial personalisation is easy these days — anybody can automate a name on an email. But if you have a 360-degree view of a customer, that’s the platform you need to provide a genuinely personal interaction with your consumers as people.
As the old mantra goes, people buy from people. A study by Liveclicker found that businesses using ‘advanced personalisation’ in their outreach see a ROI of 2000% on each dollar spent. Demonstrating to customers that you care about them makes them far more likely to do more business with you in both the short- and long-term.
The ultimate goal here is to incentivise loyalty across all channels, delivering personalised content in real time regardless of the device being used. You can only do so by using the entirety of your customer data as a basis for curating unique content.
The need to do this is reflective not only of the customer data we now have access to, but also of increased customer expectations across the board.
Tens of millions of customers who were new to e-commerce flocked to new brands, channels, and means of purchase as a result of the pandemic. The need to shop remotely for a long period of time has made them savvier than ever – conscious of the wealth of options at their fingertips, and well-versed in navigating them.
The brands that thrived during this period were the ones that could differentiate themselves in terms of customer experience (CX). Paying special attention to CX can boost revenue by up to 50%, and customer satisfaction by almost 33%, according to recent research from McKinsey.
The ability to do so, again, is dependent on a sound foundation of customer data. A healthy obsession with customers is only possible if the data that portrays them is suitably deep and broad. Demographics, preferences, and behaviours are all fundamental to shaping the CX on a personal basis.
Stay on target
It’s this return to the importance of customer data, and its proper use, that should protect us from the barrage of fads marketers are exposed to.
In an environment where customers have higher expectations of brands than ever, and millions of new companies are competing for real e-state, the key to success remains a focus on the accessibility, quality, and application of data. Staying true to the fundamentals allows us to ignore the white noise.