Accelerate Your Digital Marketing Journey

Three digital leaders share their experiences in building digital marketing organizations that listen and give customers the best 360 experience.

Opening the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference, Yvonne Genovese, group vice president for Gartner for Marketing Leaders, told the audience of CMOs and digital marketing leaders that the sales/marketing funnel has been blown to bits.

Digital channels fueled by technology have transformed traditional marketing and communications, and increasingly, marketers are trying to make personal conversations with customers and prospects. The new differentiator is customer experience.

Gartner's Yvonne Genovese, discusses the transformation of marketing during the opening keynote of the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference.
Gartner’s Yvonne Genovese, discusses the transformation of marketing during the opening keynote of the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference.

“The X factor for marketers is to gather and use the right type of data to manage customer experiences and make them exceptional in a very chaotic environment,” Genovese said.

Genovese interviewed three marketing leaders to distill and share the best practices from their digital marketing journeys. After noting that the theory of the right marketing still exists: the need to find the right customers, sell the right product at the right time and right price; she asked them to dive into how they address customer experience, data and analytics, and the digital impact on the marketing organization and role of the CMO.

Tap into the voice of the customer

B2C marketing tactics apply to B2B marketers as they seek to reach around their partners to develop their own direct relationships with consumers. Clay Stobaugh, executive vice president & chief marketing officer at John Wiley & Sons, Inc. commented on how Amazon disintermediates publishers by interacting directly with consumers. “They know the customer, and we don’t,” he said. “Digital has really humanized the customer for us. Through the data we can let the customer speak and understand who they are. Often marketers speak for the customer, but data allows us to understand what they do and give them a voice in the conversation.”

Fara Howard, global vice president of Marketing for Vans, said, “Digital has changed everything. Our social media channels are critically important as a listening platform. We use data to create more compelling content, and have more perspective on what matters to our customers.”

Create customer experiences that solve pain points

Curtis Kopf, vice president of Customer Innovation at Alaska Airlines, said that Amazon and Starbucks have raised the bar for customer expectations. It’s critical to close the gap between the data the airline has about customers, and what’s available to the employees. “We know a lot about almost every customer on a plane, especially frequent fliers. But flight attendants don’t have that information at their fingertips,” he said. “We know you but treat you like we don’t. It’s a simple problem we’re trying to solve.”

Vans’ Howard noted that having data without using it could damage customer relationships. If you don’t capitalize on data, consumers may think, “I love you and you don’t even know my name,” she said. Vans continues to explore how to use customer data in the retail store shopping experience. Putting iPads into the hands of retail employees isn’t necessarily the answer. “We don’t want digital for digital’s sake. We want it to solve a consumer pain point,” she said.

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Combine qualitative and quantitative data

When it comes to customer data, the panelists agreed that it’s essential to match quantitate data with behavioral insights from more qualitative sources. “We deal with a lot of scientific authors and one of the psychographics in academia is they want to be famous,” Stobaugh said. “That doesn’t show up in the data.” It does impact how the company explores author services and ways to meet their authors’ needs.

Ms. Genovese added that it’s important for marketers to focus on the data that will help them reach their specific goals. However, she noted that it’s also “a little bit about the gut. We still have to rely on our experience as marketers.”

New marketing roles bump into each other

Next, the panel revealed their struggles to amass the necessary digital marketing talent as they continue to evolve the marketing organization. Howard said that when she worked in a larger company with a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) or the “name du jour,” new marketing roles would often “bump into everyone else.” This can slow progress instead of helping the organization gain momentum. Instead, Howard said it’s necessary to make ownership and responsibilities very clear and recognize that “everyone owns a piece of digital.”

Mr. Stobaugh at John Wiley & Sons said they’ve had a challenge to understand the difference in ownership between customer experience (CX) and user experience (UK). Mr. Kopf at Alaska Airlines shared that the airline recently changed some titles in their marketing organization because, “You can’t have one director of digital marketing. Everyone in marketing has digital responsibility.”

Who owns customer experience? “Marketing must have a clear leader with ownership to set the strategic path and get the investment,” Mr. Stobaugh said. But in the end, “Everyone is part of the journey, especially to get the 360 on the customer.”

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