According to Marketo CMO Sanjay Dholakia, marketing is on the train to change town, and it ain’t making any stops.
B&T spoke to Dholakia ahead of his talk on Tomorrow’s Marketer at the World Marketing & Sales Forum to find out why it’s changing, what it’s transforming into, and how the hell marketers are supposed to keep up.
“Marketing has changed more in the last five years than it has in the last 500, and it’s going to change even more in the next five and that’s what makes it so exciting,” Dholakia said.
“The root of the disruption mainly is this new digital, social, mobile world that we’ve now started to grow up in, and it has fundamentally changed the way companies, brands and organisations need to interact with their customers.”
Dholakia said marketing essentially comes down to engagement marketing, something that connects with consumers on a smarter, more personal level.
Sixty to eighty per cent of every decision process is complete before a customer ever comes into contact directly with a brand,” Dholakia said.
“So if a brand waits for that mile marker 80, chances are the decision’s already been made. So for a company to succeed they have to find a way to get engaged and build more relationships with people while they’re on that journey, and that responsibility in this digital world then falls squarely on marketing shoulders.”
“The consumer finds things intrusive when they’re not relevant to them. When there are these broadcast messages, that’s just annoying – it’s advertising, and nobody wants to be advertised to. But when tiny relevant and useful information comes to me I welcome it, and that’s we’ve actually been seeing in the market.”
Dholakia said Marketo recently worked on a research study with The Economist, and one standout statistic was that “75 per cent of all CMOs believe that in three to five years they will be the owners or the stewards of the entire customer life cycle and relationship”, representing a dramatic shift in the role of marketing for businesses.
He also said that while marketing was once very “broadcast-oriented”, moving forward we’ve reached peak digital, and customers no longer want to “actually talk to sales people because they have access to so much information themselves”.
“They dictate their own journey,” he said, “And it is up to the marketing organisation to lead the company because that is the function that drives engagement.”
“The early days of digital marketing really ended up being a focus on how to use new technology to make noise, to continue to do the same thing.”
But engagement marketing “stops all of that [noise]”, Dholakia insisted.
“It’s about having a conversation with an individual person across all of these differences so that something you do on the website might inform the email that I send you. Whether you open that email or not, it might inform the next form of communication we have on a social network or the mobile, so it’s seeing the channels as different places to talk to the customer as opposed to a place where I continue to broadcast.”
“The first foundational requirement to being able to have a conversation with someone is memory. Today, the technology for marketers is what I describe as 52 databases that don’t talk to each other… [there’s] no way for me to string a conversation together.”
“The idea that I’ve got this proliferation of channels – the internet, social, email – that will be divorced by the fact that literally everything will soon become a customer interaction touchpoint – my refrigerator, my thermostat, my car. Everything is being connected and so those are all the places that I can be listening for cues to consumer behaviour and then responding, talking, connecting with people.
“The internet of things will be yet another giant disruptive force that will make this notion of engagement marketing that much more critical for marketers to take on board.”