Imagine you’re hired as the chief creative officer of an organization with an unmistakable brand voice in an industry you haven’t worked in. Your remit is change; to shake things up.

That’s the challenge that Landis Smithers faced when he joined Standard International, parent company of The Standard and Bunkhouse hotels, at the beginning of this year. Not having a background in hospitality may have seemed like an obstacle, but it wasn’t an issue at all. In fact, the company’s goal was for Landis to bring the moxie – and success – he had previously brought to Grindr, Pepsi, and Playboy Enterprises.

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Woman peering into a box

Let me start by saying: I’m all about the data.

I’m an advocate of one-to-one marketing. I think behavior-based targeting is an essential part of the marketing mix. And, I’m certain that machine learning and other forms of AI will become so core to marketing as to be a virtually invisible element of areas such as personalization.

But, please, marketers, I implore you: Don’t get so caught up in all that contextual personalization has to offer that you overlook the art of discovery.

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Millennial and Gen Zers expects businesses to be responsive and relevant, according to “The Digital Lives of Millennials and Gen Z.” The study, conducted by LivePerson, surveyed more than 4,000 people ages 18 to 34 from Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the United States.

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breakfast sandwich on bagel with egg bacon cheese

Good morning! One bacon, egg, and cheese or two?

That’s how I’m welcomed whenever I walk into Andrew & Frank’s Deli in Astoria—even when it’s more like lunchtime than breakfast hour. And, believe me, this place has far more frequent customers than me. Even so, the guys who run the deli know my favorite order, and know there’s an equal chance I’m getting breakfast just for my daughter (long after I’ve eaten) or for both of us.

That’s the kind of one-to-one experience many marketers strive to deliver at scale, and that Don Pepper and Martha Rogers, Ph.D., predicted would be reality—at scale—in The One to One Future. For years, Don and Martha’s message changed the outlook and career direction of countless marketers. Based on recent conversations I’ve had, it still does. In fact, to me, one-to-one marketing has never been more possible, relevant, and in this time of ever-rising customer expectations, vital.

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Blurred city scene

CX is a whirlwind of change.

  • Personalization is improving areas such as marketing communications, promotional offers, and recommended next-best actions.
  • AI and machine learning in marketing (e.g. retargeting) and service (e.g., chatbots) is helping companies to provide more relevant experiences.
  • Vendors impacted by business model changes such as the growth of the subscription economy and by disruptive competitors are increasing their focus on customer success to improve retention.
  • Mobile is spurring and supporting the growth of proactive service and support.
    And so is AI.
  • Customer journey mapping is experiencing a resurgence, buoyed by new supporting technologies and access to more and better data.

These are just a handful of the trends impacting customer experience leaders and their organization’s CX practices.

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Compass in the hand against rural road

“Really? Start with strategy, not technology.”

That was the epiphany from an attendee I overheard during a conference on CRM technology a few years ago. With a heavy sigh of relief, he added, “That makes so much sense.”

Not much has changed. Flashy new technologies catch our eye—as they should—but sometimes they become the proverbial cart pulling the horse. This situation applies to all types of technologies, including those that help to create, host, and distribute branded content, as well as those that help to measure its impact.

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The Unintended Consequences of Siloed Metrics

Measuring the return on marketing spend by channel is essential, but done in a vacuum it can lead to misinterpretation and unintended consequences.

During a recent conversation on the topic with Steve Bonnell, director of digital analytics at unified.agency, he explained how marketing performance falls short of its potential when marketers are too focused on what he calls middle metrics: diagnostic metrics used in isolation for one part of the customer journey, such as click-through rates and landing page conversion rates. If, for example, marketers focus too much on email open rates, they may not pay the needed attention to click-through rates and landing page conversions.

Fortunately, Bonnell also explained how marketers can refocus, viewing channels and campaigns more holistically to optimize marketing efforts across the customer journey.

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