In an era of heightened consumer expectations and media fragmentation, the only way marketers and advertisers can reach and engage the audiences of today is to create intelligent, personalised marketing journeys – thankfully, advances in technology is making this possible.
This is a really exciting time to be in marketing, with transformational technologies creating brand new market opportunities and ushering in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing and artificial intelligence (AI) are fusing the digital and physical worlds, creating new and powerful connections that are fundamentally changing our economies, societies and daily lives.
As marketers, we’ve been on our own journey of late, using the technology in front of us to get closer to consumers than ever before, and seeing the advertising and marketing functions really converge.
We’ve transitioned from mass marketing to personalised digital marketing, and now we’re entering the age of intelligent marketing. This is a time where these transformational technologies, particularly AI, will enable us to connect with consumers at a scale never before possible.
Digital advertising in 2020
In two years’ time, as a brand, you’ll be marketing to a consumer who has on average 10 connected devices – and that’s not just mobile phones and connected TVs, but also voice-activated virtual assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, and virtual reality environments.
Many of you are preparing for this – our Digital Advertising 2020 report revealed that 73% of advertising leaders are already using smart TVs to advertise or plan to in the next 12 months. There are similar adoption rates for voice-activated virtual assistants (74%), wearable devices (67%) and augmented or virtual reality (68%).
Findings from the State of the Connected Customer report identified that 56% of customers (including 66% of business buyers) actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies, and that 71% would buy products and services they didn’t know would exist five years ago.
In this always-on, always-connected world, consumers share an immense amount of signals with brands – from emails they open to purchases they make. As marketers, we need to be able to capture and make sense of these signals, and then implement brand interactions that meet consumer expectations. Most important, it’s imperative for marketers to understand that consumer expectations are constantly evolving, and quickly – we must keep up.
Artificial intelligence in marketing
The big opportunity for marketers will come from AI. As the technology is going to make advertising significantly more effective, giving marketers the ability to communicate with the right audience, using the right message, at the right time.
Although this probably isn’t a surprise for ANZ marketers, as you’re more advanced in AI usage than your global counterparts. According to the State of Marketing report, 60% of you are currently using AI and 23% are in the early stages of adoption. This compares to 50% of marketers using AI globally, and another 27% piloting or planning to use AI in the next two years.
The State of the Connected Customer report also showed similar findings, highlighting that customers are 9.5 times more likely to view AI as revolutionary versus insignificant, and that 59% of customers are open to companies using AI to improve their experiences.
AI will also have a huge impact on the allocation of marketing investment. Marketers will continue to use major advertising channels, but as the effectiveness increases, you’ll be able to take the spend saved and reallocate that into other brand experiences.
3 steps to intelligent marketing
There are three steps that every marketer must take on the path to intelligent marketing:
Know your consumer – this means bringing all of the information you know about a consumer into one place and making sense of it.
Engage them across the entire consumer journey – this involves connecting with the consumer through marketing channels, but also service, community, sales and commerce channels.
Personalise every brand interaction – consumers increasingly expect consistent, personalised experiences – the only way to achieve this at scale is with the use of AI.
Technology underpins all three steps. A marketer can’t connect and make sense of the available consumer information and realise personalised engagement if technology is an afterthought.
Cotton On: reframing customer experience
Cotton On Group has built a reputation as an iconic Australian brand, and has a retail presence to match with seven brands and more than 1400 stores in 19 countries.
After launching its ecommerce platform, however, Cotton On found that its customers’ digital experiences did not match high-quality in-store experiences. Technology held the key to keeping pace with the international network of brick and mortar retail outlets.
With Commerce Cloud, Cotton On re-designed its ecommerce platform, combining all seven brands, streamlining and personalising digital engagement, and creating a true omnichannel experience.
It was able to combine ecommerce and outlet experiences, giving customers the option of purchasing online, and allowing pick-up and free returns in-store. As consumers increasingly engage with ecommerce on their phones, Cotton On’s mobile-first approach has also proven to be a key factor in creating a seamless online experience. Since then, online sales have increased significantly.
To find out more about the trends driving customers’ experience, download the State of Connected Customer research report.