It goes without saying that Covid has moved our world to engage more digitally and there are numerous examples in each industry to prove it. What I have noticed though, in some cases about how specifically people are responding to it and what this means in terms of how you should change your approach and technology stack to accommodate this.
Firstly, those that are slow to respond or are struggling to do so are not asking themselves the right questions. The ironic thing is that Covid itself has not changed the questions you should be asking yourself it is just shining a huge spotlight on them and causing some trends to rapidly accelerate.
Some questions I like to ask when engaging with clients:
- What changes do you see? Do you think those changes are here to last? What data do you have to support your views on these changes?
If you know what changes are happening (or even better going to happen (Covid aside in this case of course) then how are you shaping your marketing tactics and the tools that enable you to deliver those tactics? An example here might be the ability to serve a customer’s end to end needs online which requires integration in the back end to your inventory tools or 3rd party delivery partners.
- What crisis are you trying to avoid as a result of Covid?
- How has your SWOT changed? What is the impact vs effort required to exploit the new opportunities, combat the threats and improve on your weaknesses? How can you work with other stakeholders to reduce the effort or increase the impact?
- How have you customer journeys changed? Will they change? Here I am not thinking about a blanket ‘they’ve moved to digital’ I am referring to understanding how their pain points, feelings and ways of interacting have changed at each key moment within the journey and as a result do you, for example, have the content ready to serve up to alleviate their pain points. If not then how can you go about creating content in an agile manner (e.g using personalization tools and breaking down your key content into smaller snackable pieces alleviating the stress on your SMEs).
- Many people use the Uber or Netflix examples to show how an industry can be revolutionized but are there any examples in your industry? They may not be so disruptive, particularly in B2B but there are many examples that are evolving industries if not revolutionising them. If so how can you respond to that digital first competitor?
Of course it is relatively easy for me to sit here and throw a number of questions out, the hardest part is in the work required to answer those but they have to be on a case by case basis given your use cases and scenarios. The key here is to make sure you go down a level or two deeper quickly in order to fashion out a response strategy. As I said this is not a Covid-only solution, going through this exercise on a regular basis allows you to predict more ‘regular’ trends.
A few colleagues of mine recently did a Q& A on the experience economy, if you haven’t seen it check it out here. One of the important factors Dave touched upon is by operating in silos you’re exacerbating the effect you have on being able to respond more digitally so it is critical that you understand what data (both profile and engagement) you need, where it should reside and where it should be mastered. I can guarantee this is a conversation that has to be held between both the business & IT. In terms of how difficult it is, well it is actually fairly easy if you understand what data you have why you should be using it and have the back-end capable of crunching that data. If you do not have these then it is incredibly hard so you should focus your efforts on concretely answering those questions across each of your use cases, campaigns and journeys.
Now onto measurement and tracking. With the move to online it means of course that everything is moving to more trackable mediums, therefore more pressure to being able to monitor these.
Specifically I want to address the ability to be proactive through data. This is something that is very difficult to do without technology, namely AI. Before we go into the technology though it, as always, is not the entire answer. You first need to understand whether you are in a position to glean the benefits of an AI tool. You need to determine whether your data is complete, consistent and duplicate free. You should also understand if there’s enough of the right kind of data to make predictions. If you adopt this approach and find that you are ot yet ready, you’re in the majority so no worries you just need to assess and create a recommended path forward or alternatively take a pilot/ POC approach adoption to AI. Now onto the technology, for your customer 360 view and orchestration Einstein is a fantastic tool that can help you get the very most out of your CRM and marketing data both from a reporting but also a response point of view. For online capabilities, Sitecore has just announced their brand new AI tool in October’s symposium event.
The second area to address around data is being able to show your proof of investment. This can come in a number of areas but is most most prominent in being able to prove your marketing spend. Proof doesn’t mean a cost per impression, it means going all the way through to closed business and everything in between. It also means generating an understanding of the channels to use, the campaign types to use and how this differs by stage in the journey and persona for example. Unfortunately with the complex engagement a consumer or customer can take on a linear approach just won’t cut it here, you need to truly be able to understand what the multi-touch attribution is through unifying your data. From there, ideally you should be able to adjust your spend according to the data.
So ultimately as I said these trends are not ‘Covid-only’ trends Covid has simply made the impacts more profound as it was so sudden and so far reaching. Therefore if you take the approach to give yourself enough time for planning and up-front thinking, you understand how to manage your data then how to report and respond to it you will be setting yourself up for long term success. The timing of course is paramount because whilst this is a future-proofing plan it is also highly likely you need it right now in order to respond to this pandemic we’re all subject to.