Recently I had the opportunity to represent SAP and our business unit SAP Digital Interconnect at the MMA Global CEO CMO Summit in Napa, California. The two-day event was designed to join business leaders and marketers from around the globe in this picturesque, family-friendly environment.
More important, there were some interesting sessions and presentations. For me, this newfound knowledge boiled down to five critical lessons:
1. Everything is mobile, and mobile is everything
While the organizer of the summit was the Mobile Marketers Association (MMA), almost everyone attending, including the organizers themselves, recognize that mobile is no longer a channel or a separate consideration in the marketer’s toolbox. Mobile is deeply embedded in all facets of modern life for consumers and businesses, and it must be part of the mainstream strategy for a CEO or a CMO. This means challenging and changing the constructs of ideas and approaches that may have worked in the past but now need to be adapted.
For example, Sanjay Gupta of Allstate shared his company’s experience of creating 15-second videos for TV. When the company edited the same content down to 6 seconds and less for mobile videos, it found engagement to be equal and at times greater. The key lesson: We need to realize the omnipresence of mobile as a channel in our lives and consumer’s lives, and act accordingly. Gone are the days of spending money on creative and formats that are aligned with older medium of engagement.
The SMOX study from MMA clearly demonstrates the impact mobile has on sales and provides evidence that correlations between click-through and sales may not actually be that effective. Hmmm…consider this before throwing down a bunch of your marketing dollars for increasing click-throughs.
2. Contextual—but not creepy—marketing
As with any industry conference, there was a healthy representation of service providers and organizations pitching their offerings. I noticed an overwhelming percentage of startups focused on location and location-based marketing. This contextual approach to marketing and understanding consumer behavior will be increasingly relevant in the digital economy.
However, I continue to be biased toward contextual information based on mobile ambient data like SAP Consumer Insight 365, which helps businesses better understand their consumers at an aggregated and anonymized level, thus respecting the privacy and rights of an individual consumer. I am skeptical about any service that provides information or insight at an individual level where the end consumer is not aware of how her data is being captured, shared or used.
I would caution CEOs and CMOs to use contextual information to make their services and offers relevant to their customers—but to resist the urge to be “creepy” in their tactics. Nothing irritates consumers more than discovering that their movements are being tracked, or receiving offers based on recent online behaviors or actions.
3. Conversations with customers matter more than ever
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are becoming a reality faster than we may have imagined. Consumer interactions that used to take one or two clicks now require zero clicks—case in point, voice assistants like Amazon Echo.
One interesting case study that brought this conversational aspect of customer interaction to the forefront was a presentation by Yin Rani, of the Campbell Soup Company, and DJ Reali of The Weather Company (an IBM Business): Campbell brought its recipes and ingredients to IBM’s Watson and layered these with weather data, which enabled customers to have conversations around “What’s for dinner?” In this way, Watson is helping generate new recipes and enabling brands like Campbell to have rich conversations with its customers.
On that note, the presentation by Andrew Kauffman of Marriott International Inc. showed how Marriott brings together old, new, and emerging technologies to provide customer care and engage in conversations with their customers at all points of their purchase journey. What fascinated me was how Marriott has blended channels like SMS, mobile, chat, and social influencers in its customer interactions and customer care. We at @SAPInterconnect are passionate about ensuring meaningful multichannel customer engagement, as I highlighted in my session: Connecting Everyone, Everything, Everywhere in the Digital Economy.
4. CMO and marketing roles are ever-evolving
A session by Kimberly Whitler, assistant professor of marketing, Darden School of Business, focused on why the CMO has the highest failure rate in the C-suite. Sharing insight on what makes the CMO role difficult to “get right” and why so many firms set the CMO up to fail, Whitler touched upon a key issue: Marketing as a function, and the CMO as its leader, spans multiple groups within the organization and is often held to results without the ability to influence change or impact various areas. I noticed many heads nodding in agreement, and my one-on-one conversations with attendees confirmed this idea. One thing is for sure: As we move into the digital economy, these boundaries will get more and more blurred. For example, one attendee asked, “What is the role of a CDO vs. a CMO in a company?”
5. Family, fun, and work coexist
The most interesting discussions, as often happens, occurred outside the formal sessions and were not included on the agenda, including a beautiful, engaging performance by Daya.
Conferences often get the “fun” part wrong. But whether due to the laid-back Napa effect, the overall California vibe, or perhaps MMA finding a perfect balance between formal and informal agenda items, the greatest achievement of this conference, in my view, was having conversations in a casual setting with attendees and their families. This was equally as important as forging meaningful dialogue and discussions. Perhaps it is something we should hold dear in light of all the advancement in AR and VR.
For more on marketing strategies that boost customer engagement, see Adventures In Marketing: Choosing Customer Engagement Tech.