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BW Businessworld

The Dialogue Has Become Personal

Marketers have had access to data too long, but they lacked the skill-set or technology to leverage it. Consumer expectations have changed today as they understand how technology can make their lives better and marketing is trying to respond to those new expectations

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The rise of digital first changed one-way brand conversations to dialogues. Consumers found platforms where their voices were heard, and brands worked harder to become a part of that narrative in the most positive ways. But now with digital platforms evolving, and data and analytics bringing in transparency and new ways of engaging consumers, the open public dialogue is transforming to more intimate conversations. For Epsilon, a player in the data and analytics field, the future opportunity comes in tapping on this change.

According to Amit Deshpande, vice-president, Analytics, Epsilon, the world is evolving from ‘being digital in the world’ to a ‘digital world’. Mobile has become the dominant force. “The next shift will be to social messaging from social platforms due to the conversation style that is more natural to human beings than social media. Messaging platforms would be at the core of brand conversations. As the intimacy of the conversations improves, so will the importance of messaging apps and the chat bots that go along with that,” he says.

Facebook, Mircrosoft, Google and Twitter have all opened up their messaging platforms such as Messenger, Skype, Allo and Direct Messenger to developers for creating chat bots. Marketers such as Unilever, Sephora and the likes are utilising these apps to directly communicate with consumers while they browse, shop or when actively seek to connect with a brand online for feedback or general query.

On the back of this, data-driven marketing has risen to a more pure form, even though there is a long way to go before data can influence marketing effectively to create the right customer experiences.

Customer Experience
To put it simply, all things data are eventually about knowing the consumer. Brands are always trying to anticipate the next need of consumer and provide the experience in the most relevant, engaging and timely way possible. “It is about knowing, from little or big data, who the consumer is, what life stage the consumer is in, the status of relationship with the brand, what moment he/she is in and when the consumer is having an experience with a brand and using all that in creating the next experience,” explains Deshpande.

Augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence are being used to get all that data which can provide for a uniquely personalised experience. The right customer engagement is no longer static, but driven by information which can help in decision making in service, in facilitation or rewards and loyalty programmes. “Tomorrow’s marketers and customer experience managers not only need to have the right tech skills but also the right analytical skills,” says Jeffery Evans, vice-president of Digital, Epsilon Asia Pacific, explaining that “marketing unicorn” does not exist. “Marketing teams that are the most adaptable to change, and can bring new ideas and concepts from other areas to the marketing world are the ones that will succeed,” he adds.

The new leaders, who will master the art of creating the right customer experience, will derive insights from a multitude of data solutions. They will not only need to know how to leverage techology and analytics in driving business outcomes but also the attitude and leadership and communication skills of an experienced manager.

New-Age Marketing
Marketers have had access to data too long, but they lacked the skill-set or technology to leverage it. Consumer expectations have changed today as they understand how technology can make their lives better and marketing is trying to respond to those new expectations.

“Marketers were provided with the opportunity to work data to create engaging consumer experiences. Only some — financial institutions or sectors where the change was forced — are making a headway. There is no market where brands are leveraging data for a more personal experience,” remarks Evans. However, India has a role to play in this.

“India is uniquely positioned to help the mature world in the evolution of data. We evolved from providing tech solutions to analytics. As we think in terms of data, because of our tech and analytics roots, India is deriving insights from data, informing what companies can do next, providing right customer experience, shaping strategies, and generating and impacting business outcomes,” adds Deshpande.

Another data-driven change in marketing has been the opening up of the IoT (Internet of Things) space, augmented reality, sensors, beacons and other multi-way communication between brand, consumer and objects, these are changing the communication dynamics. “Data and analytics is a key component to ensure that all of this is contextual. The future in this space is exciting,” adds Evans.