A Walker study found that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. With customer attention spans getting shorter and technology creating more ways for marketers to reach consumers, companies need to be constantly fighting for mind share.  

During the Mass Personalization To Elevate The Customer Experience panel at TCS Summit 2019 in San Antonio, Texas, Steve Lucas, Senior Vice President for Business Development at Adobe, Richard George, Global Head, Digital Marketing at Refinitiv, and Raj Pudipeddi, Senior Vice President and CMO of Align Technologies, spoke about how companies need to stop marketing and start engaging to create long-lasting customer experiences.  

Don’t promote. Personalize

“Just because I bought a tent, doesn’t mean I like camping,” said Steve Lucas, when speaking about being inundated with ads after purchasing a gift. While it’s become common practice for companies to use single-event or isolated information to ‘carpet bomb’ customers with ads and messages, it’s not effective. “Making assumptions about your customers based on a piece of data – is not going to help you engage with them,” said Lucas. “We need to get back to that essence of engagement by understanding and identifying customers’ values and then designing personalized experiences at every touchpoint.

Create ecosystems  

While customers might have multiple interactions with a company’s site, the experience doesn’t need to be fragmented. “You need to have a digital-first mindset,” said Richard George. “Ecosystem architecture is imperative for creating a seamless customer experience and building communities that will interact.” Using the right tools and allocating resources appropriately is critical to the process. Once the ecosystem has been created, companies need to integrate data sets and glean insights to inform the engagement strategy and develop the customer journey. “It’s not about customization. Curation is most important,” added George. 

CMOs took to the stage at TCS Summit North America 2019

Know your advocates

Every company has brand advocates and they can be a powerful asset for enhancing engagement. However, most companies don’t know who their advocates are or much about them. To this end, it’s important for companies to not only know them, but to put them on a pedestal. Lucas spoke about how when he was CEO of Marketo, they created programs like Fearless 50 and an entire event – Marketing Nation – to listen, learn and engage with its advocates.  

Lucas also encouraged companies to start with employees, as they “can be powerful advocates, but also the biggest retractors if not engaged.” And considering, “less than 5% of employees are magnifying social messaging from their employers,” there is a lot of untapped opportunity to engage with a community who intimately know the brand.  

Raj Pudipeddi, CMO, Align Technology, at the TCS Summit North America 2019

Hold yourself to a higher standard

Personalization brings up many questions about privacy and how much information companies should use for marketing purposes. While this might appear complex, Raj Pudipeddi offered a simple strategy. “You need to hold yourself to a higher standard than regulations require.” 

Trust is also important, especially for Align, who makes clear teeth aligners. Pudipeddi continued, “earning trust starts by doing the right thing for the customer. Companies must have a specific purpose for the information they’re collecting from their customers.”