In today's completely digitized, 24/7 world, we increasingly connect with one another through multiple, tightly knit social networks that have become both public square and backyard fence. We are accustomed to instant access, immediate information and convenient service.
Thanks to technology, customers have more choice and power than ever before. One-time competitive barriers such as manufacturing strength, distribution power and access to information cannot assure competitive advantage. As Forrester Research notes in its Oct. 10, 2013, report, "Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer": "The only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers." Yet how can marketers achieve this across a customer journey that is more complex and fragmented than ever before?
The proliferation of channels and the complexity of managing them have driven fragmentation in the field of marketing, spawning a dizzying array of marketing technologies. Marketers routinely need to evaluate dozens of specialized tools, yet are no closer to knowing how to orchestrate their marketing spend across channels to achieve their desired business goals.
Omnichannel: The Quest to Deliver a Seamless Customer Experience
Business has become more than just a transactional moment based on product, price and place. It is a journey in which your customer moves from discovery, to engagement, to purchase decision, to product and service experience and, ultimately, to a decision as to whether it was all worth it or not. Each of these touch points has its own value and can be measured in terms of contribution to sales goals, profitability and overall business growth.
Today's connected consumers expect a consistent and seamless experience with a brand, regardless of the device or context with which they engage. Marketers are now scrambling to deliver on these higher consumer expectations in a way that moves beyond a patchwork of channels to enable seamless and holistic engagement across all.
With the shift to omnichannel, marketers' heavy focus on customer acquisition over retention is at odds with their businesses. While customer acquisition is the top marketing objective for 63% of marketers, 54% of CMOs identified meeting revenue targets as their most important business driver. It is interesting to note that while business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketers both work toward top-line results, BtoB CMOs are much more profit-aware (22%) than their BtoC peers (10%), according to the February, 2014 Forrester Research report, "The Evolved CMO in 2014." The new omnichannel reality mandates the breaking down of organizational and functional siloes across BtoC marketing and operations, online and offline.
Just like their BtoB peers, BtoC marketers must now optimize engagement across each customer's individual journey, and analyze the role of every interaction. At eBay Enterprise we call this new mandate Commerce Marketing.
The Commerce Marketing Mindset
What is commerce marketing in practical terms? If you take this holistic view of the role of marketing in your organization, you are a commerce marketer. You know that to be successful, you must:
- Maximize the value of every transaction;
- Accurately time each step of the customer journey;
- Leverage differentiating insights into your customer;
- Optimize your offers based on the customer type, transaction type, timing and channel;
- Marshal insights into customer behavior and transactional data in real-time to make the right decision.
Commerce marketing strategies allow you to travel the journey with your customer, to see and experience everything your customers are experiencing and to respond accordingly. They allow you to learn, gather relevant data and become increasingly effective at improving every experience and retaining every customer.
Overall, commerce marketing:
- Recognizes that your brand is the sum of the experiences you create. It acknowledges that while marketers spend an inordinate amount of time on customer acquisition, customer retention is the lifeblood of the business;
- Focuses on driving the right message in the context of each customer's personal journey the brand;
- Ensures that you're not leaving money on the table by precisely measuring and assigning value to every single customer interaction and its contribution to the business;
- Transforms marketing from a volume-lead supplier to a full-fledged driver of business growth.
In today's rapidly changing business world, these steps are critical to your company's ongoing survival—and to your success as a marketer. Commerce marketing can get you where you need to be.
Join eBay Enterprise and Forrester Research to learn more about Commerce Marketing in our Ad Age webcast on Nov. 5: "Engaging Customers at the Speed of Retail: Meet the New Commerce Marketer."
About the sponsor
Brian Bolten is the head of strategy for eBay Enterprise Marketing Solutions. Brian brings almost 20 years of working with top organizations to deliver on business objectives through meeting consumers' need throughout their journey.
eBay Enterprise is a leading provider of commerce technologies, omnichannel operations and marketing solutions for the world's premier retailers and brands.