Whenever I meet with the CMO or a senior marketing executive in a financial institution, the million-dollar question comes up: Can you marry what our end users want with our business and technology strategy for an end-to-end, real-time view of the customer across business interactions?
This is the question that keeps marketing and technology executives up at night because it brings together a vast array of other problems (Am I reaching my customer? Am I maximizing my digital assets? Am I being smart about using the data I have? Have I tapped all of my tech resources? How can I make my operations better?) into one big, bad, difficult to answer the question.
"CRM data via a Salesforce integration might be used to understand repeat customer patterns"
Design thinking—a technique that brings the end user and design strategy into the initial concept session— combined with better marketing automation is the 2-pronged approach marketers need to be thinking about to marry strategic design/digital initiates with ongoing user feedback and analytics across the business.
Balancing Strategy and Production
Marketers today often get tunnel vision. The demands from the business side to increase brand visibility, user engagement, drive traffic to a digital asset, gain more social followers (you name it) have pushed many marketers into an execution loop. Marketers too often become focused on pre-defined, strategic initiatives coming from their business leaders, but these are often set without gaining feedback from their end users.
Design thinking can help reclaim that strategic context to align the business strategy with the user wants and needs. In some cases, marketers will find that the strategy is correct, and in others, that there is dissonance in the original plans that need to be reconciled. The trick is to front-load the research, discovery, and design for all different verticals using a multi-disciplinary approach to come up with a holistic solution—quickly.
How Good is Your Data?
Marketers today are at varying maturity levels with the types of data they collect and their knowledge of their user base. The majority of companies are using data and has analysts in place, but they are suffering through painful processes where it takes business analysts weeks to understand and make decisions using that data.
Core metrics for digital assets like a public-facing website or customer portal are reviewed monthly by a group of analysts, sifting through PDF reports. The process is not real-time or actionable and focuses on historical user patterns rather than future predictions around user needs. An enhanced focus on data quality will be critical to power smarter and more real-time marketing automation and data analysis.
How Well Do You Know Your Customer?
Marketers are thinking about how they create a single view of the same customer across the enterprise rather than a siloed view across verticals where client A may have a bank account and checking account on the one hand but also a mortgage on the other, and is being analyzed separately by different business divisions, when it is in fact the same customer.
CMOs need to think about design thinking horizontally across the organization. This can be achieved by working closely with product leads to understand overlaps in customer data or some have pursued customer archetyping based on anonymized data and demographics. The most affective technique will depend on the broader digital strategy.
How Predictable are You?
This is where marketers can consider bringing AI into marketing analytics and design thinking to create a holistic approach not just on what end users are saying and doing but predicting and planning out future digital strategies based on that real-time data.
This might pertain to predictive analysis around a high-level strategy like media spend based on prior advertising effectiveness to reach a target market, reinforce a product roadmap, or optimize a digital asset. It could also pertain to more tactical recommendations such as creating more video because this content really engages users across the firm’s digital channels based on past historic data.
Depending on what your end goals are this might include deeper analysis of core metrics to increase eyeballs and increase throughput across workflows. CRM data via a Salesforce integration might be used to understand repeat customer patterns and to develop retention strategies and engage customers at drop-off points in the workflow to try to push them through the full workflow.
Strategic design thinking married with marketing automation is great, but at end of day, CMOs are looking for cost-reduction balanced with achieving their goals. Ultimately, front-loading the digital strategy makes for more affective campaigns in the long run and technology frees up analysts for higher-value activity—giving them better data for more real-time reporting and decision-making.