Marketers are turning the customer experience into their rallying cry. At the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit, discussions about the future of marketing were peppered with references to "meeting customer expectations" and "improving the customer experience." "The customer experience is your brand and your best gauge of success," said Brad Rencher, SVP and GM of the Digital Marketing Business, in a keynote address kicking off the Summit. At a time when it has become difficult to compete on product capabilities and price points, focusing on the customer experience has become one of the few remaining differentiators for both consumer-facing companies and vendors like Adobe.
So what does the future of marketing look like? As technologies and customer expectations rapidly change, here are several trends for companies to keep in mind.
Diving into the IoT
Interconnected devices will eventually be the norm as more devices and machines become Internet-enabled. But instead of focusing on digitally connecting as many devices as possible, companies should consider how they can improve the customer experience. "The future isn't the Internet of Things, it's the Internet of me," said Aseem Chandra, vice president of Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Target. "I don't want millions of connected devices, it's the experience that matters."
Adobe is taking a stab at connected devices and introduced a new software development kit (SDK) that's an extension of its existing mobile offering. The new SDK, which is part of Adobe Target, supports the measurement and analysis of connected devices and wearables.
The SDK also includes location capabilities for both iBeacon and GPS data, which could help retailers build in-store connected solutions. The idea is to enable brands to serve customized content across a wide range of devices and machines from ATM machines and gas stations to car dashboard screens and appliances.
"Addressing the IoT side is huge as new channels are emerging," commented Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research "ATM machines and wearables are a start but as the OS battle moves to the home and the car, expect more channels in the future."
Authenticated television, where viewers sign in to access content from TV networks through Internet-based services, is a rapidly growing area, maintained Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at Adobe. "People are moving from sports to watching other content," Gaffney noted. "Our research shows that it [authenticated TV] is at 13 percent penetration right now, and will probably reach 20 percent penetration by the end of this year."
To help marketers leverage the targeting opportunities behind authenticated TV, Adobe unveiled a platform that it dubbed Adobe Primetime. The platform, which was added to Adobe's Marketing Cloud, allows media companies to import first-, second- and third-party audience data into Audience Manager and execute ad campaigns targeting audience segments across devices.
Connecting the Dots
Delivering a seamless experience across channels continues to be a challenge for marketers and many of the enhancements to the Adobe Marketing Cloud were designed to help companies deliver consistent and continuous experiences, Rencher noted. "Marketing doesn't finish when someone clicks on an advertisement and buys a product. Marketing continues in the store, online, in the call center and beyond."
To deliver a consistent cross-channel experience, marketers need a comprehensive view of their customer data and data management platforms (DMP) are gaining traction as a solution. Adobe unveiled its DMP, Audience Manager, which it added to its Marketing Cloud. Audience Manager lets marketers build audience profiles from various data sources and create segments that they can apply across digital channels. From there, marketers can also use customer segments from other units of the Marketing Cloud like Campaign and Target to better inform their programmatic ad buys and ideally deliver more relevant ads to consumers.
Investing in the latest technology is not enough to win loyal customers, of course. As Forrester Research analyst Carlton Doty noted in a presentation, "your only competitive advantage is to be customer obsessed."