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The customer can no longer be nameless, faceless

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Today’s fitful starts at marketing personalization are remarkable for how much they take us back to the future. It wasn’t that long ago when many of us could still remember that a shopkeeper knew every single customer—and not just by name, but also about knew their family, shopping history, and preferences. As we moved to cities and shopping shifted from small stores to large ones, and then to the shopping malls, that personalized experience was left behind. Customers became nameless and faceless in the rush to streamline processes and serve ever-larger numbers of people. It would have stayed that way if not for a few changes in technology that forever altered customer expectations.

The Age of the Customer

Expectations have been rapidly changed by social collaboration, mobility, cloud, and the access to larger amounts of data. The more marketers respond to the opportunities technology enables, and with more personalized interaction, the more customer expectations rise. This virtuous cycle is the reason many say we’ve entered a new era best described asThe Age of the Customer. It is no longer enough today to have a transactional relationship with those you serve. Customers are demanding to be treated as individuals, expecting to be heard and to interact with you at their convenience. They expect to receive personalized and relevant offers for products and services. As a result, marketers who are still using batch-and-blast methods are increasingly recognized as dinosaurs. The problem isn’t just the use of old methods—customers are evolving rapidly, and even well-intentioned marketers are slow to respond.

What Isn’t Working for Marketers

Marketers are struggling with separate systems for every aspect of their customer interaction. Data is coming from everywhere, but too often ends up in storage silos that prevent a 360-degree view of the customer. Without a way to pull data together and too few data scientists to manage complexity, marketers can’t find deep, actionable insights that would allow easy interaction with customers. Beyond the lack of a single view, those data silos are a marketer’s ongoing nightmare of conflicting data sets, inefficient use of resources, and, worst of all, inconsistent customer experiences. These challenges are part of the vicious cycle facing those who are trying to keep up with their customers.

Creating Successful Marketing and Satisfying Expectations

Becoming competitive isn’t a matter of simply spending more. To compete, marketers need to take a new approach that includes new requirements around integration and elimination of information silos. Better technology helps enormously to address the needs at the core of personalization, which include:

  • Strong data discovery capabilities
  • An ability to quickly develop hypotheses
  • Efficient test and learn approaches

These needs require CMOs to actively recruit strong analytics talent, but to also look for marketing platforms with built-in analytics. Only a well-conceived platform can allow marketers to take full advantage of big data, the DNA at the core of understanding customers’ emotionally based, deeply-rooted buying decisions. These are the decisions that are below the surface, less rational, and price-based than those brought on by the consumer’s access to mobile computing. By now you know I write for TIBCO, and you may have guessed that TIBCO Engage is a platform built specifically for these problems and opportunities. 

The field of marketing is rapidly changing and I’m fortunate to be working at the forefront. Forgive me if I get excited about what we do.

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