Staff Writer
Sep 7, 2021

The future of insights-led customer engagement

Campaign Asia and Salesforce hosted a CMO Circle roundtable with marketing leaders from across APAC to discuss the industry’s biggest challenges and potential solutions when it comes to insights-led customer engagement.

The future of insights-led customer engagement
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The use of insights for customer engagement has shifted the marketing funnel and the way brands speak to their customers. AI and automation continue to play a role by tapping into actionable data to deliver hyper-personalised experiences. This has led to a rise in the importance of ‘moment-based’ marketing from ‘different channels’ to omni-channel.

Salesforce recently released the seventh edition of its State of Marketing report that is based on insights from over 8,000 global marketers. The research found that 78% of marketers say their customer engagement is data-driven.

This insightful research led Campaign Asia and Salesforce to co-organise a fireside chat and roundtable with some of Asia’s top marketing executives to get their thoughts on what the future holds for insights-led customer engagement and the solutions they are each working on.

Jessica Goodfellow, Campaign Asia’s deputy editor and technology lead, launched the event with a fireside chat with Ken Mandel, regional managing director and head of GrabAds and brand insights. The discussion centered around leveraging insights from data and having a positive value exchange between the platform and the people interacting with it.

Mandel shared that this exchange provides a good experience for everyone, “We don't think about it as extracting value from a data perspective. Rather it’s about creating value for people consuming our content. We're more focused on personalisation because if you think about insights from data as a way to enhance stakeholders’ experience, then you always have a true north of where to go.”

Collecting and actioning on data

The roundtable participants were polled about where they are in their data journey and found a mismatch between collecting data and actioning on it. Most businesses need and want more when it comes to their collection of first-party data. However, nearly half are just beginning to action on their first-party data.

Alin Dobrea, head of marketing strategy, marketing solutions and partnerships at Zalora commented on the poll results.

“We look at the data from a customer lens because we think customer first in every single decision we make in terms of marketing. It boils down to understanding what you want to achieve and keep iterating with the customer experience in mind,” said Dobrea.

Prashant Agarwal, head, digital, customer & ecosystems marketing at AIA Group offered an interesting point of view on this disconnect between data and action.

Agarwal explained, “Life stage changes drive changes in insurance needs. This is where the magic of martech merging with data starts to play. The first-party data – things like address changes and beneficiary updating – indicates that people’s lifestage may have changed and lets us get ahead of that cycle.”

Personalisation at a one-to-one level in real-time

When asked to share their best example of personalisation, many of the replies were tech-related such as Netflix and Spotify knowing users’ habits. A few shared experiences that provided more of a human touch.

Christopher Cheung, director, customer engagement, Asia Distribution at MetLife shared the example of an airline’s cabin manager remembering the passenger’s same tea order even though time had passed between flights.

He sees this same level of personalisation at the insurance company. “Our agents have a lot of experience in understanding customer needs, and driving personalised based engagement that is a very human to human interaction.”

Customer data / insight is the key enabler to deliver personalisation in a digitised and replicable way - It is important for insurance companies to enable and empower our agents, to play a critical role in capturing customer data into our systems, and leveraging it to deliver customer engagement

Zenyum is aware of the ongoing digital transformations – including the upcoming cookieless privacy sandbox - which may deprive online advertisers from having the visibility on user insights that they once had.

Aaron Ting, regional head of performance marketing at Zenyum, says they are bracing themselves for it.

“There is no point in doing personalisation when you don't know who your users are, and what they're actually looking for.”  

This thinking aligns with the Salesforce State of Marketing report, which found that consumers are concerned with data privacy, with 61% feeling like they’ve lost control over how their personal information is used (up from 46% in 2019).

Structuring data for customer engagement

The transformation of insights-led customer engagement has resulted in changes to the role of the CMO. CMOs are increasingly being expected to take charge of the entire customer experience from beginning to end.

The Salesforce State of Marketing report shows that 88% of CMOs say their marketing must transform in order to be competitive.

Wendy Walker, senior director marketing, ASEAN at Salesforce has held several CMO roles over the years.

“I think the need for CMOs to be closer to consumer behaviour has never been more important. Data is the most efficient way to see how your consumers are interacting with your brand, or not,” she shared.

Terence Ng, head of core marketing, Nium agreed with Walker’s points about CMOs - especially when it comes to the culture of a company.

“Influencing change within a company is complex when priorities don’t align cross functionally. CMOs, marketing, and product need to come together to solve customer problems unanimously so as to deliver great customer experiences.”

David Harling, CMO, Moneysmart, spoke about marketing making the right investment in the insights technology and tools required to measure success.

“On our first-party data journey, we are moving away from a DMP to a CDP so we can own a single customer view. Our CDP investment is driving customer engagement and experience and is clearly attributed to revenue and sales on a lifetime value basis.”

Salesforce’s regional sales director Chris Jordan wrapped up the roundtable with recommendations for CMOs and marketers to leverage insights-led customer engagement. He emphasised knowing the ‘why’ before you work out the ‘what’ of the data technology you need.

“First, look at what you are trying to do with data - such as a business or customer problem you are trying to solve. Work back from that problem, see if you have the processes and people in place to deliver it, and lastly look at the technology. We often think technology is the silver bullet to fix all our problems but you need that understanding of what you’re trying to do first.”

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