Five Tough Truths to Making Modern Experience-led Marketing Work

09 September 2019

Enlighten were proud to attend Sitecore’s SUGCON and Experience Day events in Sydney recently. While there, we were lucky enough to listen to Sitecore’s global Chief Marketing Officer Paige O’Neill keynote speech around the realities of building a digitally and data fuelled customer experience.

In the Asia-Pacific region, businesses lose $325 billion per year to disconnected customer experiences. Yet according to research recent, at least 90% see CX as a competitive differentiator and 89% link to commercial success.

So what is it stopping marketers from realising success in what has become a mission-critical piece of business – and their remit?

Speaking at the recent Sitecore Experience event in Sydney, Sitecore global CMO, Paige O’Neill, outlined several bottlenecks, called “hard truths”, preventing marketers from meeting their CX ambitions. As she pointed out, two-thirds of businesses are at the very beginning of understanding the shift in customer expectations.

The C-Suite is Not That Into You

But one thing O’Neill said is stopping marketers is executive expectation. She pointed to Harvard Business Research showing eight in 10 CEOs don’t trust or are unimpressed with their CMO.

“A wide variety of initiatives accrue to marketing and CMO depending on business, industry, B2B versus B2C, and there’s often a misalignment between what CMO is expected to do, what CEO thinks they’re going to do, and what the c-suite thinks they’re going to do,” O’Neill said. “This stems from not setting the right expectations from the beginning.”

What’s more, while CMO are expected to increasingly drive CX, research shows only 11 per cent of CMOs have budget authority to be able to drive CX, and 80 per cent lack executive sponsorship and broader group understanding about why CX is important. This impacts everything from budget to complexity of the technology, O’Neill said.

The first way of overcoming this is to build trust by being honest and realistic about investments, timelines and expected results, O’Neill said.

Personalisation is Not One-Size-Fits-All

Another aspect of CX is personalisation, and 85 per cent of senior marketers agree its key to competitor advantage. Yet according to O’Neill, just one in four global marketers personalise beyond the beginning level of geo, device, location, date or campaign. Hefty reasons include a lack of budget or executive support holding them back.

So what does it take to make personalisation a reality? First things first, start small, O’Neill said.

“We try to boil the ocean. But the best thing might be to do is test small project, create a personalised segment, then test that segment,” she advised.

Secondly, it’s about failing fast. This helps marketers to understand customer segments and desires to find where personalisation can drive most impact, O’Neill said. Thirdly, scale quickly.

Customer Data is Your Kryptonite

O’Neill’s third hard truth for marketers was the difficulty in harnessing data. Challenges include data fragmentation and silos.

To overcome this problem, O’Neill said organisations must adopt a “No more garbage in, garbage out” approach.

Targeting strategic data sets is another must. “The best thing to do is understand the top priority data segments – for example, target accounts, target segment,” O’Neill said. “Focus on getting that data set aligned so you can take action and see what’s working and what’s not.”

And data needs to be a team sport. “This isn’t a marketing or customer support problem, its company-wide. Those progressing set up data taskforces where everyone has ownership on keeping data clean and prioritising the right insights,” O’Neill said.

The Content Crisis Won’t Solve Itself

Adding to the personalisation challenge is content. According to O’Neill, marketers cannot possibly create enough content to fuel personalisation.

Today, 40 per cent of marketing budgets are being spent creating content in B2B – the highest percentage by far. And there’s a good reason, with companies reporting an 8X increase in first-time visitors to website when they have the right content strategy in play.

One way of helping refine the content play is putting customers at the centre of your content strategy. “Start by looking at customer expectations. This allows us to drive data and business decisions and priorities,” O’Neill said.

AI Alone Won’t Save You

O’Neill’s final truth is artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t the be all and end all solution.

“I think there’s a hope and desire among marketing and technology that we’ll be able to cut past all the hard work in terms of getting data in line, rules established, building out content strategy as we’re going to apply AI, automate and it’s all going to be done,” she said. Unfortunately, it won’t be that easy.”

AI will be critically important and will continue to change the scope of marketing. But questions remain about how to bring AI in the right way into organisations. That firstly comes back to data, O’Neill said. AI is nothing without underlying data to support it.

Use cases today for AI include smart content targeting, identifying patterns in user journeys, facilitating personalisation, and automating routine content tasks. In order to get ready for AI, O’Neill advised first identifying where AI will be most effective. “Get a test project, start small and get a quick win for the business,” she said. “Get your data house in order… you need an actionable data foundation. And put the right team in place".

Enlighten: Helping You Implement Sitecore

Enlighten is a proud Sitecore Gold Partner. We have over 20 years of experience delivering an outstanding customer experience to everyone with whom we’ve worked. To learn more about how you can nurture customers effectively, let’s talk.

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