“If you’re a CMO and you’re reliant on somebody else to tell you about technology, you’re seriously disadvantaged,” that’s the core message OpenText’s global CMO Adam Howatson drove home to B&T while in Sydney last week.
In town to speak at OpenText’s Innovation Tour, Howatson took time out to speak with B&T one-on-one and share his views on marketing and the marketer of the near future.
“I work with my teams and I tell them they have about five years to get off of email. It will no longer be accessible to you. Number one is that people are over saturated, number two is that it’s going to be legislated away from you. By the same token telemarketing will be less effective as well as time goes by,” he says.
“So how do we leverage digital marketing? In the future it will be less about pure advertising, although it plays an important role, and more about delivering something of value to your target audience.
“So from a marketing technologists perspective, if you’re not capable of talking about a marketing automation system, leveraging an analytics system to gain insight from the huge amount of customer information that every organisation has these days, you’re massively disadvantaged. You just are!
“Why would any CEO or president be seeking a marketeer who isn’t conversant in the tools of their trade, which are becoming and will become almost exclusively digital tools? If your putting things like you’re proficient in Microsoft Office, you may find yourself disqualified for the role.”
In tomorrow’s marketing organisation, teams go beyond creating digital assets that describe and persuade consumers. They should be creating and delivering content-driven channels that shape how products and services are digitally experienced.
Content, the king for the last decade, is now dethroned. Contextual customer experiences – the merging of digital content, interfaces, technology and even physical spaces – now reign.
OpenText’s Howatson says time, relevancy and the value of the content are the determining factors for whether someone will engage with you or not. Doing something that is meaningful for your target demographic.
“We’re in a period of great change. We’re seeing the emergence and commercialisation of extreme automation, predictive analysis and artificial intelligences along with cognitive computing. What excites me every day is that the best Sci-Fi I’ve read (I’m a big fan) is now becoming reality, and it’s organisations like OpenText that are paving the way!
“The digital world is about digital engagement. Automation, integration and experience. If you’re not digital, you’re simply going to be left behind as we have seen in many prolific industry examples over the past five years. The digital world is exactly as it’s described; taking the best business and services available to our society today and ensuring they are fully equipped and transitioned to be key players in the future to come.”
Howatson talks of his own experiences as a marketer. “In our game, if you get to me in a way that engages then you’ll get my attention,” he says. “And a couple of them have done it, and they get a phone call directly back from me. . . I’ve even had telemarketers call me and say I understand you did X and Y yesterday, I also understand your strategy for the next five years is precisely this. I have four recommendations for you . . . and it hits home. You’ve done your research, you understand me. You’re not wasting my time.”
While email will remain as a communications tool, it simply won’t work in marketing, says Howatson.
“Email is going to remain the primary communication mechanism for work for quite some time, but as an advertising tool, I think it’s losing its impact. “We’re all becoming immune to it,” he says.
So if you don’t have a major marketing automation play implemented as an organisation in the near future you’re not going to survive?
“Yes. It is that. I know that’s very binary, but it’s not immediate, it’s not today, it’s not tomorrow, it’s probably not in the next 12 months. Today I think B2B enterprise marketing are email and events as your number one and number two tactics. That still persists, but it’s changing and we can see it changing.
“I think those CMOs, those marketing organisations who are able to get to that level of personalisation whether that is through social API integration paid placements, martech/adtech integration . . . … those organisations are going to be more successful.
“If I can do some predictive analytics on you based on the data that’s available to me I can understand where you are online and I can position some very pointed messages that are relevant to you. That’s going to become more and more important. I think tailoring offers and promotions by using cognitive computing so they’re not just customised to a particular demographic, industry or segment, but to you as an individual human being, those are what are going to work.”
So his advice to marketers?
“Get educated and don’t rest on your laurels. What worked yesterday, may not work tomorrow. What is your plan for the next five years to get off of email? What is your plan to supplement that? What do you need to supplement that? Tools, talent etc.
“Stop looking at your consumer bases, segments, demographics etc as targets, but as individual human beings. What is your experience with the organisation? Not just did you get an eyeball on the ad, do you know what my brand is and are you going to buy something from me. Have I manufactured demand in your own mind?
“To what was your experience from the time you first engaged, whatever mechanism or channel that may have been over, to the end of your buying cycle, post sales support and the next time you’re looking for a solution, was it overwhelmingly positive? I just had the best experience, it was amazing.
“We all have those experiences. This is true today, and it will always be true: there’s no higher converting tactic than a customer reference. If someone you trust in your life and you’ve developed a personal relationship with says ‘you’ve gotta get one of these things, it was an incredible experience, you will not be disappointed, you’re going to trust that recommendation more so than you’re going to trust any advertisement that’s placed in front of you. It’s pretty fundamental.”
Being digitally adept doesn’t start and stop with a responsive website or media play. Achieving ongoing customer experience excellence requires a combination of robust digital platforms and systems, smart use of content and rich media assets, an evolving focus on personalisation and optimisation, and a healthy dose of analytics.