Brands have always wanted to put customers at the center of their marketing.

The convergence of three technology developments now gives marketers the opportunity to do this;

  1. Marketers can continually build profiles of customer or prospects fusing together the different devices, logins, social platforms, loyalty or ecommerce systems. Almost anywhere data is generated.
  2. This data can fuel automated , individualized communications through email, mobile, web, digital ads.
  3. Always connected consumers are available to be reached by these message via their smartphones, ipads, PCs and other screens any time and any place.

This is happening today. Consumers are hit with triggered emails if they abandon a shopping cart, SMS to remind them of a weekend sale, push notifications to redeem and expiring coupon or display ads that follow them from site to site imploring them to buy something they recently browsed.

There’s a problem however. Many of the different parts of this complex array of technologies are disconnected. Data silos make it hard to determine with accuracy the true identity of consumers, and systems are often dispersed and under control of different managers, and increasingly different companies. Consumers my browse a product on one device, buy on another and the marketer can’t connect the two.

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The initial approach many marketers took was to try and solve this problem themselves building  do-it-yourself marketing platforms that loosely tied these disparate elements together with varying degrees of success.

Mistakes would be made or compromises accepted in the pursuit of increments of improvement and the end result was still unsatisfying and likely to simply add to the underlying cost structure without necessarily delivering the return.

The emergence of marketing clouds that offer the foundational technology in one integrated system addresses this problem.  The marketing cloud platforms provide the facilities to distribute through the communication channels and to orchestrate messages across the key channels as they evolve. Importantly they also tailor the experience through those channels from conversion and content optimization while analytics and automation helps to improve and scale their marketing. And they are open systems that  integrate with the advertising and marketing technology eco-system that Chiefmartec’s Scott Brinker says has swelled from 150 companies in 2011 to 3700 this year and he expects it to top 5000.

Marketing cloud providers also have the scale and the partners to provide the support of technical experts, training, forums, best practices and localisation of product that covers the end-to-end opportunity.

That’s a big improvement on the do-it-yourself approach.

Today many marketers are reviewing their marketing technology to see if they pieces they have today support ‘putting the customer at the center’ and generally are finding they do not.

As the landscape grows, the cost and the expense of managing disparate platforms and the integration risks just expand exponentially.

Companies that pursue the fully bespoke approach risk spending too much time and investment maintaining their systems and not enough on delivering communication programs that build market share and competitive advantage.

CMOs know they’re not there yet. They are re-platforming onto marketing clouds slashing the number of vendors they need to deal with, reducing costs, increasing capability and going forward with confidence that their team have access to word-class technology and partners with the capability to support them. Then they can get back to placing their customers at the center of marketing.

About the authors

Paul Cross is the Group Vice President, Customer Success, Oracle Marketing Cloud (OMC), ANZ, Asia and Japan.  Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Oracle Marketing Cloud is a corporate member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members contribute their expertise and insights to Which-50 for the benefit of our senior executive audience. Membership fees apply.

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