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What every CMO needs to know about digital transformation

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CMO FAQs

Digitisation is transforming the marketing department, creating more ways for customers to interact with a brand. With a seamless omnichannel customer experience (CX) now critical to success, we explore the frequently asked questions every modern marketer needs the answers to.

In today’s digital landscape, loyalty is harder won. How can brands get customer’s attention?

Businesses are competing in an increasingly crowded marketplace, with new technologies giving consumers the power to choose how and when they engage with a brand. To win loyalty, companies must therefore focus on how they can cut through the noise and provide an unrivalled, seamless CX. This means taking the time to really understand the wants and needs of the customer and then using this information to deliver consistent experiences throughout the customer journey – whether its providing initial search suggestions, tailoring their offers and promotions or following-up with a simple thank you.

What’s the biggest challenge with getting the customer experience right that no one talks about?

One of the biggest challenges to providing a seamless, omnichannel experience is the amount of time it takes to collect and analyse customer data. Whether it’s tracking customer log-ins, looking at how they are consuming content or recognising they have opened an app for example, the marketing function must absorb all this information in order to target their communications and ensure they are engaging with customers at the right point in the journey. Finding the right technologies for real-time data handling can also prove difficult, requiring a huge amount of investment from across the business, not just the marketing department.

What do you think the “customer experience of the future” will look like?

The future of CX lies in a brand’s ability to create a real emotional connection with its customers. New technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are helping marketers do this by providing better insights into customer preferences – what they like, what they don’t, what causes them to make a purchase for example. The algorithms that track trends and patterns in customer data can then be used to build and strengthen a company’s ability to offer instant recommendations. Further innovation in AI will give businesses the tools to become more agile and increasingly able to deliver the seamless, personalised and real-time experience that represent the future of CX.

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What’s the definition of a CX-led business?

To become truly customer-centric, companies must have the processes in place to collect and analyse huge quantities of customer data and then use that to add further value. By focusing on ‘smart’ data – essentially what offers them the most usable insights – the marketing function will be able to tailor their communications, deliver more relevant content across every channel and ultimately secure more sales.

What have you seen as the catalyst for digital transformation in marketing?

The changing consumer landscape has had the biggest impact on marketing, with the emergence of new technologies creating an army of digital customers which expect information instantly at their fingertips. If a product or service isn’t convenient for them, they’re simply not interested. Marketers are now having to lead the way through the consumer minefield to ensure they are providing a customer experience that will set them apart from the competition. This will remain a catalyst in marketing and drive further innovation in technology.

What are the barriers for businesses digitally transforming, particularly in the marketing function?

One overarching issue with digital transformation is the view that they need to move quickly to become ‘all-digital’. In fact, doing so could actually cause companies to fail early on. While organisation-wide digitalisation is of course the end goal, the reality is that the digital transformation journey should see businesses update key processes first while also maintaining and improving nondigital workflows for later optimisation. For marketers, the priority is likely to be repairing siloed internal structures caused by different departments taking ownership of different elements of the journey. Silos result in a fragmented customer experience which can in turn cause frustration and confusion within teams. Teams must therefore work together on a Customer Communications Management (CCM) strategy that converges across multiple business disciplines and allows them to improve the creation and delivery of all outbound communications, not just those for marketing.

How will GDPR impact CX in the future, and are tactics like personalisation still possible in a GDPR world?

Customers have long been used to sharing their personal information, whether it’s paying bills, getting their shopping delivered or sending emails for example. However, with stories of data misuse dominating the media in recent months, consumers are becoming increasingly sceptical about who they share their information with. While stricter data protection laws such as GDPR have been put in place to elevate some of their worry, marketers are finding themselves torn between driving better CX, and ensuring regulatory compliance. To get around this, they must become smarter with the data they collect, both in terms of how it’s obtained and what insights it offers. For example, under GDPR, consumers must now actively opt-in or ‘consent’ to marketing communications, helping to eliminate individuals who have no genuine interest in the brand. In this sense, GDPR is a mutual opportunity for both parties – consumers who entrust their data will be rewarded with the personalised communications they have come to expect, while businesses will benefit from an increase in sales and the likelihood that new customers will be willing to share their data going forward.

Does GDPR mean that companies shouldn’t use third-party data anymore?

GDPR has undoubtedly shaken up the third-party data market, especially as consumers must explicitly consent to any business wishing to use their data. This means anyone using the internet, for example, will now see a pop-up box which asks them to ‘opt-in’ to having their personal data tracked and sold[1]. However, while companies should be looking to secure and maintain their own first-party data where possible, it does not necessarily spell the end for third-party data businesses, especially if they act responsibly and securely. In this sense, GDPR will help weed out any ill-players in the industry, favouring those that are transparent about how they operate. The likely outcome is that, although there will be much less data available, what’s left will be better quality, more secure and provide the best possible insights for brands looking to engage new customer bases.

[1] https://www.raconteur.net/business-innovation/gdpr-website-tracking-challenge-third-party-data-market

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