This means there is a greater need now for marketers to roll up their sleeves and get hands-on with customer data. However, this is easier said than done, and not all brands get it right.
One factor complicating the data equation is the rising desire for consumers' data to be protected by privacy and compliance. As some of the biggest consumers of customer data, marketers must ensure it's used safely, securely and ethically—not opening the broader organisation up to risk or non-compliance.
The deprecation of third-party cookies, for example, has caused an industry-wide scramble to acquire first-party customer data. In addition, a recent study by cloud communications company Twilio revealed that most businesses (94%) agree that first-party insights lead to a better customer experience, leading to a gold rush as companies seek to bolster their customer data coffers.
New tech that generates even more data
Marketing and technology are inextricably linked, which is why it is often among the first departments in an organisation to pilot new technologies. This trend will accelerate in the coming years as organisations strive to understand their customers more intimately than their competition. Inevitably, it will be data that fuels this future.
NFTs, for example, promise to revolutionise content marketing and digital media with both monetisation and democratisation. Brands like Roblox, Coca-Cola and Vans are already tapping into token-friendly communities like gaming, the arts, and the metaverse. More marketers will join the bandwagon soon.
Blockchain technology also has the potential to head off privacy concerns with anonymity and immutability. There's no denying its possibility for marketing and the customer data value exchange. For example, "attention tokens" could be a way to compensate customers for sharing data and preferences. Customer data tokens (CDTs) could give customers an anonymous way to share the data they choose, resulting in targeted experiences without privacy concerns.
In our post-pandemic world, virtual experiences make consumers and businesses more at ease. As a result, consumers are increasingly seeking experiences that mirror and augment in-person interactions.
As marketers, this is our sandbox to enhance engagement via virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) technologies.
AI has also disrupted customer service organisations, notably in retail with recommendation engines, cashier-less checkout, and AI-based call centres. In addition, conversational AI with sophisticated speech recognition and speech-to-text capabilities are increasingly widely deployed (and vastly improved), adding to the complexity of the data mix that marketers have to contend with.
You've got the data. Now what?
IT will be an essential ally as marketers explore these data-intensive projects requiring robust data infrastructures.
This data must be appropriately stored, managed, and secured. Marketers cannot work in their silos to make that happen. Instead, CMOs must collaborate with CIOs and CISOs to establish the best compliance, privacy, and governance strategies.
At this point, marketers may realise that as much as 90% of this data is unstructured. The tools used to collect customer data do not always conform to structured data models or fit neatly into the columns of a spreadsheet.
Other unstructured data can be text, video, images, social media posts, server logs, and so on. For example, it could be the notes typed into a customer's online account by a call centre agent.
Enterprises—and marketers—need to seek and deploy a data management solution that can help them consolidate, manage, and analyse data gathered from multiple systems to get a complete picture of what's happening at all times.
Choosing the proper storage is just the starting point. For example, choosing all-flash storage solutions over traditional spinning hard disks can make all the difference, leading to faster performance for critical marketing apps like your CRM. CMOs will also have to work with IT to consider how well the data is protected against ransomware and whether it supports rich data services like analytics and AI.
Elevating customer experience with data
In short, data-driven marketing is now at the forefront of marketing strategies, and data has become an essential building block that elevates customer experience and relationships.
Take Domino's Pizza as an example. The pizza chain was able to generate insights into customer preferences and behaviour to deliver better CX than before by identifying how customer engagement has changed according to the data ingested and analysed from the 3 million pizzas it sold every day at over 17 thousand stores worldwide.
To generate these significant data insights, the company needed to analyse data at both speed and scale and translate them into the delivery of proactive and contextual CX tailored to its customers.
Enterprises need the data firepower to be customer-obsessed. So it's no longer enough just to be marketing experts. CMOs also need to be data experts, leveraging analytics to test strategies, creativity, and CTAs ruthlessly—and to embrace the innovations that reshape marketing campaigns.
As a function, marketing has undergone a phenomenal transformation over the last decade, and this change is only just beginning. Fuelled by data, marketing has metamorphosed from an art to a science. Gut feel has been replaced by measurable and repeatable, and it's data we have to thank.
Matthew Oostveen is the chief technology officer and vice president for APAC and Japan at Pure Storage.