Adobe Summit Diary #4: Putting the Pieces Together

More news: A Demandbase-Marketo integration

Today at Adobe Summit, ABM leader Demandbase announced a new integration with Marketo Engage making it easier to share account data and audiences between the two platforms. Marketo users will be able to supplement account profiles with intent-related account information from Demandbase’s extensive database. Demandbase will be able to draw on Marketo’s account contact and activity data. A much deeper dive into this announcement on Monday


Okay, so a comprehensive customer experience management solution like the Adobe Experience Cloud might be the hub for creating and executing delightful experiences for B2C, and now B2B (or B2E) customers. But no matter how comprehensive that central platform aspires to be, there are other parts to the jigsaw puzzle. There are desirable, or even necessary add-ons to be found in a broader eco-system of partners and otherwise integrated solutions. As Scott Brinker told me recently, “everyone is kind of realizing that it’s not going to be one ring to rule them all. There’s value to certain tent-pole solutions to provide cohesion and coordination across all the different tools, but what makes those solutions successful is that they are truly embracing the idea of being open, and making it easy for these other capabilities to get plugged in.”

I set off across the giant expo floor at Summit to talk to some of the vendors who are adding key pieces to the experience puzzle.

Online: The content piece

Harnessing the data necessary to pushing the right content to the right customer, in the moment, is a worthy aspiration. But you need to know what the right content is. That’s where Contentsquare comes in, as CEO Jean-Marc Bellaiche explained. 

“For many companies, they produce a lot of content, put it on the website, in advertising, on digital display, but the problem is they often have very limited intelligence to know what is actually seen, and when it’s seen, what impact it has on the consumer.” Does it drive consumers to convert, to read more, to come back to the site?

“Traditional web analytics are good at understanding the clicks, but they’re not very good at understanding what’s happening behind the clicks. In a given web session, 90 percent of the time is spent doing something other than clicking. That’s what we capture.” Contentsquare’s tracking can detect when visitors are reading or hovering, when they are struggling with understanding, and even when people are clicking in non-clickable zones. This intelligence powers optimization, not just for all visitors, but for defined segments.

Outside the four corners of the web page, Contentsquare knows where visitors are coming from (last URL before web-site). The intelligence isn’t restricted to text. For a fashion client, Contentsquare was able to demonstrate that visitors arriving at a web page dedicated to a certain bag were arriving from Instagram because they were engaged with a pair of shoes on the associated Instagram page.

A former Tiffany & Co executive, Bellaiche reminisced about debates between sales and marketing as to whether conversion-driving images or aspirational images (luxuries unavailable online) should dominate a web property. “With Contentsquare now you can finally understand the influence of a million dollar image, whether it drives customers to a store locator, or to buying cheaper goods on the site.”

Clients can access the performance data within Contentsquare’s own platform, or export the data through APIs into their own business intelligence tools. For busy executives, a Chrome extension will generate a visualization of the data as an overlay to the subject web-site: “Augmented reality,” said Bellaiche. “It’s a good way to have a health check of your website.”

Contentsquare is fully integrated with Adobe Analytics, and is working on an integration with Adobe Target to make Contentsquare data available for testing and optimization.

Offline: The live events piece

It’s getting to be table stakes that online customer experiences should dovetail with what happens offline, and that offline data should feed back to the online environment. One space where this is developing rapidly is live events. I spoke with the new Chief Strategy Officer at event marketing software vendor Splash, Amy Barone, and as we’ve covered Splash in some depth in the past, asked her about how the solution is fitting into the Adobe eco-system.

“Most of our integrations are single-directional, so this latest integration with Marketo is a bi-directional integration. By becoming an innovation partner with Marketo and LaunchPoint has given us access to their development team, and to an enhanced sandbox, so we’ve really been able to dig deep into building a very robust API integration. That happened late last fall.” LaunchPoint is Marketo’s app and services network.

“When you’re in Splash, and you create or clone an event there, it automatically creates a program in Marketo. Events marketers can have a level of confidence in the integrity of data passing to the Marketo program, and then on to Salesforce, or whatever else they have their Marketo instance integrated with.”

What are the advantages of passing data in the other direction? “If someone’s unsubscribing on the Marketo side, we want to know they’ve opted out, as we certainly wouldn’t want to be emailing them. Also, if you’re in our host app on site, you can bring in custom fields from Marketo and have them in your attendance list. You can pull in opportunity data, and really see how much money’s in the room. It puts real-time visibility in the hands of your team.”

Offline again: The call center piece

It’s all very being a recognized, valued customer in an online environment, but no matter how sophisticated and personalized the digital experience might be, it’s infuriating to be unknown when you pick up a phone to call the same brand. Call tracking and analytics from a vendor like Invoca can solve for this, as CEO Gregg Johnson explained.

“With Adobe, the Experience Cloud can handle all kinds of interactions as long as they’re digital. Where we really fit in us is with industries where products are flexible or expensive and people still want advice, suggestions, or recommendations on the phone. Typically what happens is that the buying journey begins online, but 50 or 60 percent of revenue for these kinds of companies is driven by the call center. The challenge for the marketer is that they invest money in the website, in Facebook and Google advertising, but they can’t can’t connect the dots when the call comes.”

Invoca’s solution is in some ways elegantly simple. Whether on the web or in apps, Invoca serves a phone number unique to that specific web or app session, so that when the customer dials in, they’re known, and they’re recent engagement is accessible to the agent. “We’re integrated with Adobe Analytics, Adobe Launch, Adobe Target, the Advertising Cloud, and Adobe Experience Manager, because a lot of the decisioning based on the conversational data we bring happens inside Adobe.”

Conversely, when the customer picks up the phone, Invoca can grab the digital journey information from Adobe, and use it to inform the agent taking the call. “For example, if a customer Canada has looked at a paid search ad in French, and scrolled through two landing pages in French, you probably want to speak French when you talk to somebody. We’ll route that call to a French-speaking agent.”

Invoca uses NLP and speech analytics to infer from live conversations how far down the funnel a customer is. “People spend all this time in the digital world trying to infer what you’re interested in, based off micro-segments of data. When you get on the phone and actually tell the brand, ‘I want this product,’ that information can be lost from a marketing point of view.” Automated speech analytics, based on about 30 trained, vertical-specific algorithms picks up those signals and pushes the data back into Experience Cloud (or whatever platform a brand is using as its marketing hub).

“A five to seven minute telephone conversation is laden with lots of rich information, and in the past nobody was capturing that.”

Pulling it all together

It’s easy enough to get lost in the detail of the ways in which innovative technologies are contributing to the management of the entire customer experience.

I wanted to get a high-level view on what CX actually means today, and where it’s headed in the near future, Fortunately, Glen Hartman was at hand. He’s senior managing director for Accenture Interactive in North America, and when I interview him back in 2017 he spoke with remarkable foresight about the coming importance of CX, about brands appointing CXOs, and about how marketing in-the-moment would supersede CRM-driven and static 360 degree view-driven marketing. He was on the money.

Oracle, Adobe, and Salesforce, it seems, a really just embarking on the journey to stitch together the cross-platform data solutions which will finally enable contextual, in-the-moment experience marketing based on all the data. Is it fair to say the architecture is playing catch-up when it comes to the CX concept?

“I think it’s fair, for all of the players, mainly because the way they work is bringing capabilities in through acquisition, which means they have to integrate themselves. I think it takes time for them, within their own stacks, to bring things together. They need to make sure their own stuff works together; then they need other data sets that can to talk to their stack; and then the next part is that it needs to be interoperable with other stacks. A lot of clients will have Oracle, and Salesforce, and Adobe…and, and, and. This is a major challenge for CMOs and brand managers, and it’s a major opportunity for a service provider like Accenture.”

For all the talk of delightful experiences, the last step often seems to go wrong. Brands can track me across channels and devices, understand my behavior, and still end up serving me an irrelevant message. What’s going on with that? “Part of the challenge is that people in marketing are tied to the current metrics they have to hit: marketing ROI, brand affinity, click-throughs. They have not yet established new KPIs and new outcomes that actually define success in the view of the customer. They’re still thinking of optimizing this or that channel, or getting the right offer to the right person. But it’s more fluid than that. Your expectations could change dramatically in the moment, depending on mood or intent. Understanding this requires different operating models, different skill-sets, and different KPIs that are based on the customer. Some companies are getting there, but a lot don’t even know how they would track it.”

It’s like the old mantra of not being able to monetize social, Hartman said. Why seek to monetize it? It’s a whole different thing. “Even the language marketers use: they are marketing to customers, they are acquiring or converting customers. When was the last time you enjoyed being converted? Was that fun for you? There’s a whole other world, which is customer-driven, which is not being addressed yet.”

Uber is an over-used example, said Hartman, but compare it with the emergency room. “About the only thing in the emergency room that’s changed in the last 50 years is that they have wifi in the lobby.” Instead of the stressful experience of needing to use an emergency room, “imagine it could be streamlined like Uber streamlined the experience for cabs. Fear, inertia, siloes are still huge factors.” It’s a dramatic example, but of course Hartman is perceiving the same stasis, the same refusal to transform, in many commercial brands. “You need some courage and leadership.”

The next new thing, Hartman said, is what he’s calling “the new creative.” When we spoke two years ago, he was already emphasizing empathy with the customer. What about emotion? Some marketing messages — and we can each think of our own examples — are still disconnected from experience management. “You’ve got to bring people together. You need to have creative people sitting next to data people, sitting next to business strategy people, to do things to help drive transformation. It’s a whole new way of thinking about what an experience might look like.” Hartman is talking about an approach “way beyond agile.”

That knocked me backwards. Some savvy businesses are just starting to think about bringing agile management to functions like marketing. “Collaboration and connection in the technology stacks? The same thing needs to happen with people and skill-sets to show the CEO how you can actually get some benefits out of this without boiling the ocean, without some massive shift in cost to the company.”

And what about the value part. If we’re talking about empathy and emotion informing the experience, brands surely have to align with what their customers care about beyond the product or service. “You’re absolutely right, and that is what we’re calling ‘the new creative’ in a way. Emotion used to be associated with the brand. Let me tell you about why you care about this brand. But what you just said is, ‘I want this brand to be meaningful to me.'”

That can manifest itself in many different ways, Hartman explained. Take a shampoo brand. A customer might have a deep affinity because the brand is eco-friendly, or because it doesn’t test on animals, or just because it doesn’t hurt your child’s eyes. There may be many reasons for brand loyalty, but the reasons are personal to the customer. “This is the new creative: I have a happy relationship and association with that brand.”

Finally, the future. What’s coming? “One thing to consider. With all the talk about artificial intelligence, robots, IOT, all these kinds of things, brands need to consider the impact of all these kinds of interactions. What do they mean for your brand? If you’re on your Uber app and call for a car, and something goes wrong, most people associate the problem with the driver, not with Uber. That says that brand loyalty, and the effect of the experience, is telling.” With so many components to the customer experience — the brand, the service, the device, the app, the voice or robot — “how do you continue empathy or emotion through all of that? That’s the next thing to get into.”


Adobe covered DMN’s expenses to attend Summit. 

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