Hitting a Digital Experience Home Run

When it comes to wooing online customers, brands have a defining moment—the Last Millisecond—to use personalized digital experiences to get customers to act. So said Adobe Systems‘ SVP and General Manager Brad Rencher when he kicked off the 2013 Adobe Digital Marketing Summit this morning.

“Every day, a new normal is set in terms of availability of content and speed at which we can access that content,” Rencher said.

Before becoming Adobe’s SVP, Rencher dreamt of becoming a professional baseball player. While he admitted that he was nothing more than a “very average” pitcher, Rencher told the audience of more than 4,500 attendees, he gained firsthand knowledge of how one moment can make all the difference in a game. He associated the defining millisecond a batter has with the ball to the millisecond a marketer has to deliver an experience to a consumer. The main difference is that a ballplayer can hit four out of 10 pitches and still be admitted to the Hall of Fame, while a marketer who strikes out six out of 10 times won’t be considered a legend—at least not in a good way, Rencher said.

“[Marketers] understand how complex [delivering an experience] is. [But] as a consumer, when something doesn’t live up to your expectations, do you care how hard it is?” Rencher asked. “You don’t. You want it your way.”

For marketers to hit a grand slam, they have to follow four key steps, he said. First and foremost, marketers have to listen to consumers’ signals. Rencher acknowledged that marketers touch what can be an overwhelming amount of data and said that it’s imperative for them to gather data from its siloed origins in real time to get a better understanding of who the target consumer is.

By adopting a better understanding of their consumers, marketers can then predict what their consumers want. To deliver these results in real time, Rencher noted that marketers have to rely on mathematical algorithms, given that humans cannot make these predications fast enough on their own.

Once they’ve accumulated the necessary data and anticipated their consumers’ wants and needs, marketers can put the pieces of the puzzle together in preparation for delivering an experience. Those pieces are elements like engaging content or an inventory management system.

Finally, it’s the 9th inning, and marketers can deliver a relevant customer experience based on the gathered context. But with consumers being plugged into a multitude of channels, it’s critical for marketers to deliver experiences designed for their particular device or scenario, such as for their desktop at work, their Kindle Fire on the couch, or their “31 flavors of Android,” Rencher said, adding that working in siloes will only slow marketers down and that providing a seamless experience is an absolute must.

“Data in digital marketing must be able to flow from system to system….Content is the same way,” Rencher said.

During his presentation Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen added has been on a mission to better combine the arts and sciences of marketing. “I think more retailers need to think about every touchpoint they’re having with consumers,” Narayen says.

Like Rencher, Narayen also had a few words to the wise, and advised the Summit audience to pay attention to consumer touchpoints, embrace the “rocket science” of sifting through data to predict and execute personalized experiences through the use of technology and analytics, and connect the dots of organizational, internal change needed to support the first two steps. In fact, Narayen says the CMO is just the employee for the job to better predict and execute personalized experiences.

Narayen cited Delta Airlines and ESPN as two digital experience power hitters. For example, not only can consumers check the status of their flight via their mobile device or purchase tickets via their tablets, but Delta also has an interactive in-flight seat screen that allows passengers to listen to music, play games, and watch TV shows that they enjoy, Narayen said. Likewise, when consumers take the action of searching for the Utah Jazz on ESPN’s website, they’re greeted with an integrated, relevant experience filled with photos, stats, and videos, he added.

Adobe also used this first session to announce the introduction of its new Adobe Marketing Cloud developments, including a new touch interface, new mobile marketing capabilities; an integration between Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Marketing Cloud; upgrades to the Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Social; the release of Adobe Media Optimizer; and enhancements to Adobe Analytics. Rencher added that these additions reinforced that marketers don’t necessarily need to add more tools to their tool belt, they just have to get their tools work better for them.

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