Marketing has been making a quiet evolution over the past few years. Not long ago, CMOs and marketers focused on advertising, brand and communications, and technology was experimented within spare cycles, but wasn't central to marketing. Today, technology is the driver of new digital capabilities, and marketing finds itself playing roles similar to IT and sales, with communications and branding now joined by equally critical technology and support functions.
In 2013, advertising saw a relatively flat growth market of less than 4 percent. While traditional forms of advertising such as print media are shrinking, newer methods are growing significantly, including digital advertising growing more than 13 percent per year, social at 35 percent per year, and mobile growing more than 80 percent per year. These digitally driven numbers reflect the opportunity and complexity of effective marketing that requires technologically savvy managers and leaders.
Customer service, on the other hand, has continued to shift from a call center-centric methodology to online, but not necessarily just with email. With 59 percent of consumers, ages 25 to 34 years old, looking to social media to share their complaints or reviews of a product or service, marketers and customer service personnel are left in a bind of who should respond to the real-time, very public conversations.
This year will call for marketing to take on complex and targeted one-to-one communications, becoming the ultimate owner of customer experience and customer service. Accelerating this trend is the movement toward private data and its intersection with public sources.
The merger of customer service and marketing
Brands on Twitter and other social channels have already started their journey towards direct dialogues with consumers. As customers engage, online marketers will greatly increase the use of these environments for the purpose of one-to-many (public) and one-to-one (private) communication. Recently, Twitter announced direct messaging capabilities enabling companies to engage in private conversations with consumers within their platform, focusing on particular individuals.
In the coming year, marketers will need to merge private data with social data for a more complete customer picture, making integrated one-to-one targeting the norm for consumers and brands. As marketers own these functions, they will be asked to communicate directly with customers who may have positive or negative feedback, making sure that each individual feels their voice is heard and are an important part of the brand. This interaction will elevate the consumer's opinion of the brand, as well as help marketers understand the needs of the consumers for future products and services.
With social media technology driving greater one-to-one communications, marketing will need the skills and expertise of customer service. Marketing will be directly involved in customer communication and support as these engagements increasingly take place over social channels. With this, marketers will be under pressure to understand the systems, tools and metrics to rapidly assess data and make smart decisions. This will lead them to best-of-breed technology solutions for marketing/sales/support capabilities.
In 2014, customer service will become a multichannel bi-directional operation, presenting messages and offerings, and responding to questions and feedback. This mesh of customer service and marketing will be similar to how sales and marketing have historically been intertwined.
Get in the driver's seat
For marketers, these trends reflect an opportunity to showcase tangible value, deliver measurable results, and drive richer customer satisfaction and revenue. Managing one-to-one customer interactions will surface new product opportunities, improve services, and increase proof of ROI on targeted communications across the new social and mobile channels. This will open customer service to a new kind of leadership-one that integrates dynamic conversations across many channels.
The road is calling the new customer service-aware marketers to the driver's seat. It's time to get technologically savvy and get in the race.