The Human Touch: How Well do you Know Your Customer?

December 19, 20186min

Is the increase in martech spend at the cost of Customer Experience?

There’s a growing challenge in marketing that we’re not speaking about nearly enough. For all the investment brands are ploughing into technology to increase capability and visibility, many still seem to be failing to gain the focus to truly place customers at the heart of the brand. Now is the time to have this conversation (and, in fact, I find myself having this conversation with Simple customers increasingly often).

Martech spend has surpassed that of labour this year as Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey for 2018-2019 reports, with the growing popularity of software-as-a-service tools across many industries pushing spending up by almost one-third in just a year.

According to the report, “marketing technology has accounted for an increasingly significant share of marketing expense budgets in recent years. In 2018, this march of martech shows no signs of slowing down. Up from 22 percent in 2017, martech now accounts for a whopping 29 percent of the total marketing expense budget, making martech the single largest area of investment when it comes to marketing resources and programs.”

So how can brands harness the power of so much martech to get closer to their customers? And what’s the best way to ensure technology is enabling marketers to get closer to – rather than further from – their customers?

At a recent event hosted by Simple in London we put these questions to a panel of senior marketers and technologists responsible for some of the highest profile brands in the world over the past two decades. Here’s what they had to say:

Engage on a human level

With so much required of modern marketing departments it’s easy to lose sight of who the company is targeting and why, said Abigail Comber, CMO at Oyster Yachts.

“You should be able to ask of any colleague in marketing, ‘When was the last time you saw the whites of your customers’ eyes?’ Because if they haven’t then they don’t know their customer,” explained Comber, who formerly held roles as Head of Brand, Customer & Marketing at British Airways.

“Hearing customers tell stories about their lives helps marketers remember that they are dealing with human beings as opposed to data and digits.  Without that context, money is being wasted on flowing data into the wrong channels and building frequency for a customer that ultimately isn’t that interested in the brand because you haven’t scratched the surface of who they are as a person.”

Use data to your advantage

It’s now not uncommon for a marketing department to use upwards of 90 tools and apps to drive transformation. While this might be seen as an opportunity to be 90 times more connected, so much technology is fast exhausting marketers’ time, budget and sanity. After all, with 90 times the tools and technology comes 90 times more data, 90 times more cost and 90 more things to draw your time and attention away from your customers.

“Data is a support and we are drowning in it,” said Comber. Now more than ever before marketers’ need to understand the difference between research or data and insight, she explained.  “We focus so much on data that we often lose sight of where our customers are in their brand experience journey at any one time.”

Eliminate complexity

While there are many niche tools that purport to give brands the insights necessary to drive this change, much of the focus to date has been on campaign execution, said Simple’s global CEO Aden Forrest.

“Everyone wants a digital transformation, but what they’re really saying is that they need to put the customer at the centre of their universe,” he explained.

“The questions marketers should be asking are, ‘How can we be more relevant to our customers? And how can we get our brand more consistently delivering to those customers?'”

In 2019 marketers need to align, focus, and understand the customer in order to create the right outcomes.


Joe Jarrett

Joe Jarrett

Joe Jarrett is Managing Director EMEA at Simple.

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