Message to marketers: Mind the customer before the tech

‘When the map and the terrain disagree,’ conference chair Scott Brinker reminded the audience, ‘trust the terrain.’

Message to marketers: Mind the customer before the tech

Akamai CMO Monique Bonner at the MarTech East conference

“The Universe is made of stories,” the poet Muriel Rukeyser once proclaimed, “not of atoms.”

Similarly, the marketing universe isn’t made of bits or steps in a process, but of stories.

That, essentially, was the key theme during the keynote presentations on Tuesday, opening this year’s MarTech Conference East in Boston.

Map, meet terrain. In other words, conference chair and HubSpot VP Scott Brinker told the audience: “When the map and the terrain disagree, trust the terrain.”

When your data tells you one thing, and the real world tells you another, go with the real world. By the same token, the frequently-used phrase “data-driven marketing” obviously doesn’t mean “drive only by the data.” Marketers who follow the data map without keeping an eye out for real-world conditions — most notably the customers — are going to end up in a ditch.

This is part of Brinker’s recent thoughts on the “Four Forces” that marketers must balance, which he expanded upon during his keynote.

In marketing, data-driven automation has a back-and-forth relationship with humanization, he says, as do centralization and decentralization. Automation is making personalization-at-scale possible, but marketers need to drive by the roadsigns of customer experience.

Automation Anywhere SVP and co-founder Neeti Mehta talked about the values that automation can bring, not only in saving costs and increasing transactions, but by letting the company focus on what’s most important.

“What can be automated should be automated,” she said, “because that allows you to focus on the customer.”

This old ‘MarTech House.’ For her talk on “Developing a MarTech Strategy,” Akamai Technologies’ Chief Marketing Officer Monique Bonner described how marketing technology was like taking care of an old house, which she called the “MarTech House.”

First, you have to make sure the foundation is sound, then fix the necessary working components, like broken windows and leaky roofs.

Methodically finding and then fixing real-world process inefficiencies as she would renovate an old house, Bonner said, allowed her organization to go from five manual steps and two weeks turnaround for passing leads to sales — with no quality control to guard against duplicates — to no manual handoffs, a 24-hour turnaround and a savings of over a million dollars because her firm was no longer paying for leads it already had.

Marketers have to “think outside your four walls,” she said, reflecting the idea that the real world interactions beyond your own shop make the difference.

Message to marketers: Mind the customer before the tech

Shiva Mirhosseini

‘A human exchange.’ When Aetna VP of Marketing Technology and Digital Experience Shiva Mirhosseini thinks beyond the four walls of her enterprise, she thinks of her grandfather.

Ailing, he goes to at least one doctor’s appointment each week. But all the health data about him, she said, does not get to his central need.

“What he really wants,” she told the audience, “is a human exchange.”

When she first arrived at Aetna, Mirhosseini said she had to tackle over 600 different corporate sites and apps that conveyed a variety of messages.

But, even with the focus on paring down messaging and focusing channels, she emphasized it’s not about marketing goals or sales goals, but about “customer success goals.”

All the martech data specs and marketing/sales process specs serve as prelude to the most important metrics, she noted, like Net Promoter Scores, customer satisfaction or customer retention.

In other words, the customer experience of using your product or service may be your brand, but it’s her grandfather’s story.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.


About The Author

Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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