Executive Q&A: Verizon's Secret Weapon for Next Level Marketing

Chris Hansen, associate director, digital design & development, Internet sales operations at Verizon, talks to 1to1 Media about the company's strategy for adapting to the shifting mobile, multichannel customer landscape.

With more than 1,700 retail outlets in the U.S. and more than 101 million wireless customers, marketing strategies at Verizon must take a disciplined, omnichannel approach to engaging customers.

Through the use of Adobe Marketing Cloud, its internal collaboration efforts, and staying true to the company's goal of delivering the right experience to the right customer at the right time, Verizon is successfully sending dynamic, personalized messages to customers over myriad devices. Chris Hansen, associate director, digital design & development, Internet sales operations at Verizon, discusses the inner workings of the company's omnichannel marketing efforts.

1to1 Media: Over the past couple of years marketing has had to rapidly evolve as customers' changing digital and device habits have changed. How has this evolution influenced Verizon's marketing efforts?

Chris Hansen: Being in the industry that we're in, the marketing and device strategy has changed so much that we had to quickly adapt to what our customers needed. At Verizon, we strive to stay ahead of the curve and offer up what the customer needs and wants from us and adapt our marketing strategies to be mobile-first.

1to1 Media: How has mobile impacted the way Verizon approaches its marketing campaigns? How has the multi-device phenomenon impacted your efforts?

CH: We're broken up into multiple areas. When it comes to mobile, we recognize that that it is an area where the industry is going and where society is going in terms of being connected all the time. We attempt to market and drive our strategy toward providing the right support and the right sales opportunities in any given channel. Working with an omnichannel approach right now allows any given touchpoint to integrate with the customer.

1to1 Media: What does omnichannel mean to Verizon and how are you developing your strategy to deliver on this growing trend?

CH: There are multiple campaigns going on to ensure we offer up the customer what they need when they need it. For us, connecting all those touchpoints along the wayis really to ensure we are delivering an end-to-end experience for the customer and not dictating what they need but when they need it at any given time.

1to1 Media: How is the organization working collaboratively to deliver an omnichannel approach?

CH: My team works closely with TV and the print side of the house to ensure that the roadmap of where our campaigns are going is integrated as tightly as possible so we are truly one Verizon across the board.

1to1 Media: We hear a lot about the necessary union between marketing and IT. Is this happening at Verizon and, if so, what's been the resulting benefit of this partnership?

CH: We have a strong partnership with our IT department. We are a collaboration of marketing and technical so our relationship with IT is extremely strong because we know we have to work together to be successful. As easy as it is to be siloed, we have to break down the barriers. We have marketing folks sitting in IT and IT folks sitting in marketing to have that cross pollination.

1to1 Media: You have more than 100 million customers. How is Adobe's Marketing Cloud helping you to facilitate your multichannel marketing approach with customers?

CH: We have a strong partnership with Adobe and have a number of (the company's products. The products that make up Adobe Marketing Cloud are extremely important to how we do business. The tools we have from Adobe allow us to be faster to market and also provide what the customers want when they want it. It's an important piece of our infrastructure. If I look at the overall integration of profiles and dynamic tag managementthose things will allow us to dynamically serve up more creative and offers that are personalized. Part of our responsibility to customers is to understand what their needs are. With their permission and our available opportunities, we serve them the experience they expect.

1to1 Media: How is Verizon ensuring it delivers those experiences consistently across a consumer's multiple devices?

CH: We are actively doing that today. We are serving all those assets across multiple devices and we're able to launch things faster. We're able to deliver the same experience in some ways and differently in others depending on the devices that they have. We have a mobile-first methodology moving forward and we have to adapt in that sense.

1to1 Media: How are you delivering dynamic personalized experiences for customers?

CH: We have all the tools necessary to do so but it's about tying all those tools together. The new (Adobe Experience Manager) 6.0 will help us connect those dots. We are able to personalize messaging based off different parameters at different times and customize those messages. It's based off all the data we gather.

1to1 Media: Today's marketers are tasked with being data scientists. How do you ensure with all of the added responsibilities of your staff that creative doesn't fall by the wayside?

CH: We've taken a strong approach lately to have data drive most of our decisions. When it comes to creativewe have to continue to make that connection with our customers so the creative aspect of it along with the promotional messaging has to work hand in hand. We can't do one without the other. Part of my responsibility is being creative so we're very much in tune with that to ensure the creative matches the quality. In that way we speak to the customer.

1to1 Media: What's in store for Verizon in the coming year? How will you plan to advance the customer engagement strategies you have in place?

CH: Truly it's personalization. We have to get better. Because things change so fast we have to keep adapting and being as flexible as we can be but we have to do it in a way that is respectful to our client base. Because we have 103 million customers, it's getting to the multi-device scenario. One of the goals of Verizon is to continue to engage our customers in our brand, provide them with the information they need when they need it, and personalize their experiences to ensure they're tailored to them.

1to1 Media: What challenges do you expect to face along the way?

CH: The biggest challenge we face is not to feel like the messaging is creepy. We want to be cognizant of our customers' data. We want to make sure we're not doing things that are disrespectful. I can see how it can be perceived to where people are almost tracking you in that sense. It's really about the right time and the right place. It's not the second you hit submit, we're going to have to test our way into it. It's when do we approach the customer the next time and how often and with what messages. It's about finding the right balance and understanding where those critical touchpoints will affect our business.