Marketing automation is hard. Great customer experiences make it worthwhile.

An interview with Dana Toering, former MD of Adobe Advertising Cloud.

By Ariela Freed of CMA's Digital Marketing Council

This year, the CMA’s Digital Marketing Council, #cmadigital, is speaking with Canadian business leaders to discuss the prevailing issues affecting marketers today. Among the most pressing is marketing automation. In December, we sat down with Dana Toering, the former Managing Director of Adobe Cloud Solutions, to get his perspective on this evolving channel and what business leaders and CMOs need to know in order to successfully harness its value. Here’s what we discussed:

The customer experience wave

As businesses began to adapt to leverage digital in more efficient and commercially viable ways, so too did Adobe. Over the last decade, the brand that was known as a creative software shop grew to become a digital marketing services powerhouse. Dana pointed out that like many other businesses that successfully navigated the 1st wave of digitization, the IT/backend services revolution, they have since capitalized on the last decade’s 2nd digital wave – the customer experience wave. Adobe, and other marketing automation platforms, seek to help marketers better leverage and coordinate the mountains of digital data gathered from a multitude of digital touchpoints to create better, relevant, ROI-positive customer experiences.

What makes marketing automation platforms so sought after by marketers?

While creative customer engagement is central to developing a relationship between brands and consumers, it can affect any number of touchpoints meaning consumers should be addressed in a multitude of ways. This means that marketers need to closely do/monitor the following:

  • Track content
  • Distribute content
  • Personalize content
  • Target content
  • Monetize content 
  • Measure the effectiveness of content
  • Optimize content
  • Repeat

At their core, these automation platforms offer a range of features that:

  • Speed up operational processes improving response and iteration times
  • Enable data collection and consolidation from various sources
  • Allow for creative variability for improved targeting and scalability
  • Delivers intelligent execution, based on data, improve relevancy while   

In short, automation platforms bring simplicity to marketers in a complex, diversified digital world. They bring consistency to disjointed experiences and channels; this applies to both the operational side as well as the customer journey.

It’s so expensive! Who should invest in marketing automation?

In some way, shape or form, every business benefits from automation; they need only to execute in ways that work for their business.

Dana noted that large enterprises with multiple business arms that interact across numerous channels are currently undergoing some of the largest multi-platform marketing automation implementations.  These implementations are supported by a business case that sees the potential for advertising budget savings, the identification and rapid capitalization on business opportunities (by getting closer to the customer), and removal of operational complexity. The big 5 banks and telcos across Canada have already made large strides in this area, though it will some take time to further refine the solutions and algorithms.

Small and medium-sized organizations with a tighter budget need to consider the individual components and determine which will create the biggest customer-bang for the budget buck. From my own experience, I’ve seen that marketers need to more thoroughly consider their requirements, detail the expected benefits of new technology versus their legacy platforms and attempt to quantify the business impacts. By weighing all this alongside the ease of implementation, businesses can prioritize and determine the low-hanging fruit opportunities.

Tip to start improving the customer experience

While many marketers are excited about the promise of an improved customer experience through the implementation of marketing automation platforms, digital transformations of this magnitude have impacts that extend beyond marketing’s traditional area of responsibility. With that comes project complexity and risk.

Marketing’s business requirements are but one piece of the puzzle. Consider also the technical requirements, integrations with existing legacy systems, customer identity and data architecture, measurement and analytics, media planning/buying, operations, support, and so on.  Improving the customer experience must ultimately be a company-wide initiative.

I’d like to leave you with a valuable tip from Dana for companies hoping to start down this path, “CMOs should bring all departmental stakeholders to the table to present the idea and business case. With buy-in from the department heads and alignment from the C-suite, you will have mitigated one of your biggest barriers and set yourselves up to make your business’ customer experience goals a huge success.”

Get to a great customer experience. Invest your brand’s time and money in marketing automation, the future state of marketing.

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Tags: customer experience, programmatic, media, marketing automation, business, CMO