Welcome to B2B@Google

 

 We’re in an amazing, unique time in the market. Technology is transforming the way we as individuals operate, the way we’re engaging with each other and the way we’re engaging with brands. As consumers, we all want technology to do more for us.

 

That has a huge impact on us as businesses and marketers. How are we engaging with our audience? It’s completely changing. We’re at a point in the market where there’s real opportunity to innovate, to make giant leaps forward in communicating with our customers and our prospects.

 

 Is your business ready? We want to help you grasp these opportunities by igniting your creativity, igniting your technology, igniting your customer data and igniting your brand to transform your business. Our aim in gathering together experts from the B2B arena is to share with you the fuel and the spark you need to do that.

 

 We’ve brought together a range of thought leaders to inspire change in your organisation. A few of the ideas we’re presenting might seem counter-intuitive or – in some cases – even controversial. Be open-minded; put your day-to-day thinking to one side. Think expansively and be willing to take on new ideas. It will be worth it; my belief is that marketing is in a unique position to take creativity, technology and customer insight to drive innovation across business. Thanks for coming on this journey with us,

 

 

Richard Robinson

Director, B2B & Branding, Google

 

The power of data

How can Google help businesses? There’s one thing I’m thinking about this year: the power of data. Data is helping businesses to explode in ways physical assets couldn’t allow. Take Uber for example; Uber’s use of datasets – rather than taxi fleets – is how it’s produced revolutionary changes in its industry. My contention today is that data is becoming even more powerful in marketing. It’s connecting marketing directly to the cost of sale and to the bottom line in a way that could never have been possible before.

 

People say, “How has marketing changed as the result of the internet?” We don’t think it’s changed that much. From our perspective, the simple function of marketing is getting the message out there to the right people at the right time. Fundamentally, that’s still what it’s all about.

 

What has dramatically changed is the world of media – both in production and consumption. Just think how often you take and share a photo, or consider that over 300 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Media production has been entirely democratised. Meanwhile, consumption has rocketed; many of us use multiple devices at the same time, while Google now handles 100 billion searches per month.

 

How do you achieve your marketing goals in a world of near infinite media production and consumption? Today, the way to get to people at the right time in the right place and with the right message is through the use of data.

 

In Google search, people are writing their intention in a little white box. Reaching the right people depends on combining Google datasets with your own customer data and third-party data. But the hardest part is integrating it all so that it can be used in real time to make the best marketing decisions for your business across search, display, video and more. Technology is the way to achieve this, and that’s why we built the DoubleClick platform. In short, we believe your ability of your business to capture, manipulate and then use data is your core competitive advantage.

 

 

Kevin Mathers,

Country Sales Director, Google UK

 

IGNITE YOUR INNOVATION
IGNITE YOUR BUSINESS
Digital's fundamental impact on how businesses operate Capgemini VP and Global Head of Digital Maggie Buggie says that while many brands understand the need to be customer-obsessed, redesigning an organisation’s operations around a customer-centric view in a profitable way is one of the biggest headaches facing C-level executives today. “Digital is not a business outcome,” she explains, “but needs to be used intelligently to build business advantage.” Here she reveals how a contextual view of the customer and single view of the enterprise are key requirements in digital transformation. Taking a customer-focused lens means helping consumers to feel that their experience with an organisation is unique and ongoing, and that in place of one-way messaging there’s an opportunity to co-create content that is relevant and appropriate. Capgemini undertook research to understand how traditional enterprises and industries are digitally transforming, and the results revealed that digital is not just about technology; it’s very much about behaviour. Capgemini’s clients repeatedly cited “culture” as the primary blocker in achieving true digital mastery. To become digitally enabled, a business must find how to manage that not only from a practical perspective (such as which technology investments to make), but also from an emotional perspective. The study showed that “digital masters” succeed because they link these imperatives to a financial incentive. “In redesigning operations and considering the fundamental impact of digital on business, the company must think consumer-first, but also deliver a profitable customer promise.” Maggie Buggie Digital transformation affects three core areas: customer experience, operational process and the business model. For long-term profitability and sustainable growth, investing digital initiatives across all three areas delivers far greater impact on the bottom line than concentrating only on one. Always though, the first step is to look outside in and develop a contextual view of the customer. Very few organisations actually have a business need to invest in a single view of the customer at all times, but what’s more important is creating a contextually rich view of the customer at the point in the buying cycle when it matters. The often neglected other part – if the objective is to truly, deeply transform – is having a single view of the enterprise. This means having access to all data throughout the business and shifting company culture to eliminate silos. In the spirit of internal cooperation, it’s important to improve the internal perception of the marketing function – because this has such an important role to play in helping an organisation to transform digitally. Capgemini reports that less than a quarter of finance directors know what their return on investment from marketing is, and only 39% have confidence in marketers to make good commercial decisions. In order to overcome these attitudes, marketing teams must deliver professionalism and consistency, measurement and accountability, and customer and market knowledge. They must also learn how to collaborate with sales. It is possible to create a complete shift in the perception of the value that marketing brings. For example, far more than simply sending out messaging to customers, marketing teams can share actionable insights that are of use across the business in fuelling operational decisions. This leads on to how B2B marketing can change perceptions externally. It’s critical to use the single contextual view of the customer to personalise experiences, to treat B2B customers as consumers, to use simple, plain messaging, and to market B2B services like products. A brand should seek to become a source of deep, unique, credible knowledge among existing and potential customers; the goal is to be seen as a trusted advisor. These considerations will be even more paramount as B2B industries enter the next exciting opportunity developing on the horizon: going direct to consumers. Practical principles for stimulating creativity As Head of Google BrandLab, Kirk Vallis likes to tell people, “Behaviour eats process for breakfast.” He maintains that how we show up to any given situation and how we behave in that moment has more impact on success than any agenda we might have prepared in advance. In other words, innovation doesn’t come from following a process. Here he shares key behaviours that are essential for fostering innovative thinking and principles for unleashing the creative potential of your organisation. It’s important to realise that you don’t have to be serious to innovate. A relaxed environment is proven to activate the brain. A recent study forced people to smile and found that wearing a facial expression in the shape of a smile releases those brain chemicals that help us to think differently around challenges. Ever heard that expression “I’m too busy to think”? It’s totally true; the busier and more overwhelmed you are by what you’re trying to solve, the less likely you are to solve it or think differently around your problem. When Larry Page and Sergey Brin set up Google, they set themselves the challenge of constantly being uncomfortably excited about the things that we are trying to solve. Get connected with that feeling of butterflies in your stomach, because those butterflies are where innovation comes from, the sweet spot for creativity. If you’re feeling totally safe and secure about your ideas for what to do in your business, they’re probably not going to make a lot of difference. If you’re not uncomfortable about something, it’s probably not new or different to what your competitors are already doing. “Innovation shouldn’t feel easy or like smooth sailing; it’s a bumpy, messy ride.” Kirk Vallis To get uncomfortably excited, there are a few things you can do. The first is this: constantly seek to disrupt yourself, because if you don’t somebody else will. History tells us that every market gets disrupted eventually. The spice trade was disrupted overnight by the ice trade, which was disrupted by the artificial ice trade. Then, thanks to the advent of refrigeration, that too disappeared without a trace. Very rarely does an incumbent manage to disrupt itself. Why? Because we are obsessed with doing the things we do well a bit better. Incumbents tend to innovate incrementally around an established value proposition, but eventually they only succeed in making their product better than consumers can ever use. At that point, it’s time to look for new problems to solve. In Google, we ask, “How do we disrupt our own organisation?” We can’t just assume we’ll always be a search engine, so that’s why we’re entering new fields like healthcare, automotive and exploration. The other tactic to generate those uncomfortably excited feelings is escaping habitual thought patterns. The more information and expertise you’ve accrued, the more your brain develops what Edward de Bono calls “rivers of thinking.” We all have them, and experience only makes them deeper and wider. Every single day your brain says, “I’ve seen this before,” and then it looks in those rivers of thinking for the answer. But guess what? It will never be a new answer, because it’s only based on what you’ve already experienced. Developing fresh thinking and finding new, different ways to solve problems requires you to get your brain out of its habits. To do that, you need provocation and stimulus. Ask “Why?” and encourage collisions with people who think differently from you. Be playful and don’t be wedded to an outcome. And foster a raging curiosity – that’s what will let you see what your competitors can’t.

The digital tipping points in B2B

Compared with just two years ago, we’re seeing notable tipping points in B2B buying habits. According to Google B2B Industry Head Hanne Tuomisto-Inch, the real shifts are in who the decision makers are and how they’re using digital during the purchase process. For B2B marketers, the key things to know are that decision makers are getting younger, influencers are more important than you may have thought, mobile plays a role through the whole purchase cycle and video usage is skyrocketing.

Today almost half of B2B decision makers are 18 to 34 years of age – a 70% jump from two years ago. Of course, it’s not just one decision maker but multiple individuals – on average 5.4 people – who participate in a B2B purchase. The C-level audience remains very important, with 64% having final buying authority, but 81% of non-C-suite employees influence purchases and one in four possesses final purchase authority. Brands need to tailor their messaging and marketing mix to reach a younger demographic and should resist the urge to focus only on the person signing the cheques. Instead, they must look at the entire purchase process and all the people involved, then create marketing to influence the influencers.

 

Research shows that 57% of the purchase cycle is completed before a B2B buyer even speaks to a salesperson. The process is largely self-directed and the digital purchase journey is becoming longer and more intense. Search remains the leading source of information, appearing in 90% of purchase journeys. On average, a B2B decision maker performs 12 searches, a six-fold increase over two years ago. In this context, measurement and attribution are more important than ever. Using a last-click model, for example, means brands will miss out on 11 of these 12 interactions.

 

“B2B products and services are so complex. Video offers a simple way to consume complexity.”

 

Meanwhile, people are considering fewer brands than before; 60% of B2B decision makers research only one or two brands before contacting a salesperson, and 75% visit a brand’s site just once before deciding whether to add it to the consideration set. To thrive in these circumstances, businesses need to invest in a strong brand strategy as well as a website that instantly provides excellent content and user experience.

 

From 2012 to 2014, time spent on digital has surpassed time spent on TV. Mobile and video are the key drivers behind this, and they’re as essential in the B2B arena as they are in the overall digital landscape. Today, 42% of B2B decision makers use mobile to research purchases, while there’s been a threefold increase in B2B searches in the past 24 months. It’s not only at the top of the funnel where mobile plays an important role, though. In the same period, the use of mobile to complete the entire purchase journey has grown 91% and B2B purchases on mobile are up 24%. With these trends in mind, it’s increasingly vital that a brand’s mobile presence makes it easy for customers to complete all the activities they want to achieve, from initial research all the way to final purchase.

 

Video is a big story in B2B, with 70% of decision makers now using it in the purchase process – up 40% from two years ago – and nearly half watching 30 minutes or more as part of their research. What are they looking for? They mainly use video to answer their questions. Successful “hygiene content” includes product demos, how-tos, professional reviews and even ads. But marketers must not neglect the top of the funnel; creating great “hero content” is instrumental in getting into the consideration set.

 

IGNITE YOUR ACQUISITION
The profit-driven marketer There’s a new trend driving successful digital advertising campaigns: approaching marketing as a profit centre instead of as a cost centre. Profit-driven marketers have a healthy obsession with measuring the full value of their digital investments. One advocate for setting this new standard is Google’s Performance Commercialisation Expert Dave Byrne. For him, the benefits of better measurement take marketing efforts beyond performance – sharper insights translate to smarter bidding, which in turn leads to better investments, more customers and increased profits. So many different variables come into play in digital marketing – or any form of marketing. In certain situations, a company that focuses purely on efficiency could actually be missing out on the greater profit that’s available. It’s a matter of shifting the gaze to take in the bigger picture. By moving away from efficiency metrics, an advertiser can discover what’s more important to the business. To go about achieving this, there’s a three-step process companies should follow. The initial phase is about recognising, measuring and assigning value to all conversions and to the full customer journey. Today’s multiple touchpoints, channels and devices make the customer journey as complicated as a flight map. It’s therefore important to not narrow the measurement focus. For example, it would be wrong to assume that mobile ads will only impact mobile sales, that TV ads will only impact TV sales and so forth. A holistic perspective takes in the whole marketing mix. “Right now in the industry, it’s the profit-driven marketers who are really achieving the success.” Dave Byrne The next step is targeting outcomes. Bidding for profit means empowering digital teams with the means to drive the best business outcomes. Advertisers should experiment with shifting the bidding focus away from efficiency metrics to earn more profits by balancing volume, and to transition away from narrowly defined targets, which can stand in the way of the new main objective: profit from digital. In other words, start looking at profit as the main digital marketing key performance indicator, because only focusing on cost per acquisition or return on investment means opportunities are going to waste. Just looking at that one click, that one search or that one conversion fails to consider the whole customer journey. Targeting outcomes can be achieved by defining a formula that makes sense for the business. In its most basic terms, the formula simply multiplies sales by margin, subtracts investment and calculates profit. What’s important in devising an appropriate formula is participation from key stakeholders throughout the entire organisation, from buyers to finance, so that all of the necessary information is included in the calculation (not just performance marketing metrics). The final part of the process is actually the simplest: going out and capturing every profitable opportunity. Many advertisers say they’re not able to track everything; the fact is that no one will ever fully understand every single user 100%. The aim is to get the best idea possible of who the company’s customer are, where they are and what they’re doing. That’s the time to capture demand, which means reaching every potential consumer in the moments they’re researching. If the digital team is restricted – by fixed budget or by incorrect key performance indicators – the brand is almost certainly missing out on chances to win customers. With new touchpoints and channels emerging all the time, marketers must not only do away with fixed budgets, but they must also generally learn to be more flexible to follow the customer. There’s more to marketing than only search, only YouTube or only mobile; it’s a mix. Flexibility makes it possible to capture demand whenever and wherever it’s there.
Winning strategies for boosting B2B customer volumes As winner of the Hiscox Tech Track 100, MVF was recently recognised as the UK’s fastest growing tech firm by the Sunday Times. The five-year-old company is in the business of generating huge volumes of high quality prospects and customers for clients spanning 60 countries, 25 languages and 80 B2B verticals. Here, MVF’s founder and CEO Titus Sharpe offers his simple and actionable strategies that marketing teams can employ to dramatically improve customer acquisition in their own businesses. It’s really important that digital marketing teams can get information fast enough to react to circumstances in their profitscape. For example, this drove one manager at Expedia to reorganise teams by city instead of language. He realised that improving the physical proximity of marketing and sales teams enhanced speed and therefore profit. Another example might be that a firm is selling well into one industry but not another. If its sales reports aren’t comprehensive enough, the company might not even be able to see this. But shifting the digital marketing team to work more closely with the salespeople creates a situation where it’s possible to make adjustments and bid more aggressively in one industry than in another. Humanising the content is really vital in the B2B space. An enterprise will always have to accommodate a bit of the mundane – slightly dull but important information – but this is actually very important for improving search listings. Complementing this with exciting human-interest content enhances a brand’s social footprint and link profile as well, while utilising video hosted on the company website will drive conversion rates up, increase time on site and drive bounce rate down. “The reactivity of the marketing team to a company’s sales landscape has a huge impact on profit.” Titus Sharpe Marketers need to take the time to nurture customer relationship management. For instance, one approach would be to trial increases in volume and regularity in email campaigns. Another is to work out the optimum send times for a given market; in some verticals this will be during office hours midweek, while for others it could be evenings or weekends. For B2B, html always works best for email, and the call to action needs to appear above the mobile fold. This has a huge impact on click-through rates on outbound communication. Another key strategy is conversion rate testing. It’s easy to set up event tracking in Google Analytics or another package like it to discover where in the funnel consumers are dropping off. Marketers should keep the layout simple – with less text, more pictures and lots of white space – and ensure the clarity of the key benefit that the product, service or company is promising to deliver. Lastly, smart marketers always optimise and test separately on mobile and desktop. It’s also key to constantly pursue channel expansion. For example, MVF now uses 46 channels to generate volume in the UK B2B market – up from just two when the company started. Spreading investment across channels is a really good way to minimise risk. There are very interesting platforms coming out all the time that are worth testing. And when they first launch, there often aren’t that many competitors on them so it’s possible to get quite good cost per acquisition. A final essential strategy is to speed up response times. How quickly a company responds to leads can have a huge impact on marketing campaigns in B2B as well as B2C in almost every industry. The first five minutes are so critical, both for long and short product sales cycles. Even if the buying decision takes six months, delivering a response in the initial five minutes has a pronounced effect on sales.
IGNITE YOUR BRAND
In the digital age, B2B brands must think B2P Not long ago, B2B marketers only targeted BDMs – business decision makers. The typical BDM occupied the C suite, wore a grey suit and played golf. Digital has given us a better, richer understanding of B2B audiences, so today we know that lots of non-C-level individuals influence business buying decisions. To form meaningful connections with this diverse crowd, Google’s Head of Brand Activation Johanna Gerhold urges us to drop the B2B mindset and instead focus on B2P – business to people. B2B marketing traditionally has emphasised functional attributes over emotional connections. But research actually shows that emotional involvement in B2B brands during the purchase process is much higher than in B2C. This makes sense because no one ever got fired for buying the wrong soft drink or lipstick. In contrast, choosing the right B2B brand is connected to a person’s career and reputation, so it’s just not something one can afford to get wrong. How can brands successfully create human connections with buyers and influencers? Ultimately it comes down to the same thing as in B2C – find the right people to talk to, tell them a great story and build relationships with them over time. “The challenge is how to speak to audiences as real people – because that’s ultimately what branding is all about.” Johanna Gerhold Thanks to the internet, finding the right people is easier than ever. Brands are able to have two-way conversations where audiences – through their online actions – constantly reveal who they are, what they want and what they need. When marketers use these audience signals to target ads, the effect is increased relevance and effectiveness. Choice-based advertising is another great way of finding people who are interested in what a company has to say and wishes to sell. For example, a TrueView unit is more than a skippable ad – think of it as an invitation to users to connect with content. If a customer accepts the invitation, a brand can then seek other ways to give them more of what they like, want and need. As for great stories, the secret here is giving people something interesting that they can relate to, which enables brands to get much closer to them. Some of these stories already exist and are just waiting for brands to find and share them. On the other hand, brands can also go out and create stories where they’re needed most. In B2B, product features are of course important, but even these can be turned into a narrative to drive interest. This is where video can be especially powerful, giving brands the chance to actually show what a product does and how it fits into human life. Finally, when it comes to building relationships over time, the internet again gives us incredible opportunities. Relationships are built via recognition and reaction. When a brand recognises, acknowledges and responds, customer love and trust are accelerated. As a B2B brand, you’ve got an amazing range of signals to put to use here, from newsletter signups to video views to website visits. Volvo Trucks is a good example of a B2B brand that’s employing some of these intelligent techniques. First, it launched a piece of hero content featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme on YouTube, which is at 77 million views and counting. Then it created further content, including clips of Volvo engineers illuminating technical features and the “Welcome to my cab” series showing real Volvo drivers in the place they spend much of their working lives. This kind of compelling messaging succeeds because the brand has chosen to shift focus away from generic golf fans in grey suits and instead adopt a true business-to-people approach. Thanks to the internet, finding the right people is easier than ever. Brands are able to have two-way conversations where audiences – through their online actions – constantly reveal who they are, what they want and what they need. When marketers use these audience signals to target ads, the effect is increased relevance and effectiveness. Choice-based advertising is another great way of finding people who are interested in what a company has to say and wishes to sell. For example, a TrueView unit is more than a skippable ad – think of it as an invitation to users to connect with content. If a customer accepts the invitation, a brand can then seek other ways to give them more of what they like, want and need. As for great stories, the secret here is giving people something interesting that they can relate to, which enables brands to get much closer to them. Some of these stories already exist and are just waiting for brands to find and share them. On the other hand, brands can also go out and create stories where they’re needed most. In B2B, product features are of course important, but even these can be turned into a narrative to drive interest. This is where video can be especially powerful, giving brands the chance to actually show what a product does and how it fits into human life. Finally, when it comes to building relationships over time, the internet again gives us incredible opportunities. Relationships are built via recognition and reaction. When a brand recognises, acknowledges and responds, customer love and trust are accelerated. As a B2B brand, you’ve got an amazing range of signals to put to use here, from newsletter signups to video views to website visits. Volvo Trucks is a good example of a B2B brand that’s employing some of these intelligent techniques. First, it launched a piece of hero content featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme on YouTube, which is at 77 million views and counting. Then it created further content, including clips of Volvo engineers illuminating technical features and the “Welcome to my cab” series showing real Volvo drivers in the place they spend much of their working lives. This kind of compelling messaging succeeds because the brand has chosen to shift focus away from generic golf fans in grey suits and instead adopt a true business-to-people approach.
How HP made its brand matter again Decades before Palo Alto had been restyled as Silicon Valley, two electrical engineers started a company there in a single-car garage. Since its 1939 launch, Hewlett-Packard has become a successful multinational technology leader. Chris Carmichael, Media & Digital Marketing Director for Hewlett-Packard in EMEA, describes how HP’s vast range of products and campaigns created a challenge in managing brand perception. Here he reveals the key elements that went into HP’s recent journey to reboot the brand in the B2B space. The HP marketing department was seeing worrying declines in key brand health metrics. HP had become very efficient at using digital to generate demand at the bottom of the funnel, but the limited number of end-users in some vertical markets meant that audience fatigue was becoming an issue and there was little to no brand halo. A large company like HP tends to have a lot of silos, verticals, products and campaigns – leading to huge overlap. Many campaigns were simply targeting variations of the same person. The key catalyst for change was the creation of a pan-HP council to look at marketing communications across the entire company. The objectives were to increase effectiveness and efficiency by taking an end-consumer point of view rather than an inside-out point of view. The council piloted the Make It Matter campaign in the UK and Ireland, where the first step was to start thinking about customers as human beings. The cost and impact of technology today means that purchase decisions are rarely down to just one person, with most decisions taking place over an extended period of time. Also, HP realised that many IT decision makers aren’t interested in just IT or defined by their job roles alone; they are also interested in topics like sailing or golf. As a result, the team understood it needed to change the way it spoke to these human beings, how often, and which channels it used to do so. A new marketing challenge emerged: to make HP matter again by creating communications as smart, intuitive and rewarding as HP products. “We’re always looking to arm IT decision makers with reasons to believe in our products; the difference is, now we don’t just talk about it, we show it.” Chris Carmichael The cost and impact of technology today means that purchase decisions are rarely down to just one person, with most decisions taking place over an extended period of time. Also, HP realised that many IT decision makers aren’t interested in just IT or defined by their job roles alone; they are also interested in topics like sailing or golf. As a result, the team understood it needed to change the way it spoke to these human beings, how often, and which channels it used to do so. A new marketing challenge emerged: to make HP matter again by creating communications as smart, intuitive and rewarding as HP products. Fundamental changes underpinned the campaign. First, HP adjusted its media mix. For instance, rather than pushing the same content to the same audience using the same channel, the brand deployed a highly visible above-the-line brand campaign that spanned digital as well as offline strategies. To engage people more effectively, the brand also improved its content. As an example, interactive ads and video delivered unprecedented performance metrics. Once the content had shifted to become more end-user focused, this led to greater emphasis on social conversations, too. HP’s strategy of engaging with their prospects as humans was to connect with an audience passion point. The Ryder Cup provided a perfect opportunity, leading to an in-depth collaboration with the Guardian. The newspaper’s editorial team used HP software to power the backend of its social analytics, while online readers could view a real-time interactive scorecard driven by HP. The brand also commissioned the Guardian to produce articles that solidified the link between technology and golf, showcasing some of HP’s unique capabilities. Across the board, HP’s Make It Matter campaign produced huge impact, with improvements across digital performance, social metrics, traffic, calls to HP call centres and even employees’ brand pride.
IGNITE YOUR DATA
Harnessing the power of insights DoubleClick Head of Client Development Rick Jones maintains that data-driven marketing is nothing new – it dates to the advent of market research in the 1920s. But back then, surveys tended to sit in filing cabinets and only get dusted off from time to time. The transformation today is that customer insights don’t have to languish in files. Powerful technology means it’s not only possible to collect more insights than ever, but they’re becoming more actionable and available to use in real time. Data is the oxygen that fuels marketing; it always has been. As technology has evolved, we’ve become better and better at using it. In the 1980s, database marketing emerged and in the 1990s online and customer relationship marketing took off. In today’s era of big data – with more being collected than ever before and on an exponential scale – it’s important to remember that data simply equals customer insight. How you use those insights and how you put that data to work for you is what stands to make a real difference in your business. According to former GE chairman Jack Welch, “There are only two sources of competitive advantage: the ability to learn more about our customers faster than the competition, and the ability to turn that learning into action faster than the competition.” That’s exactly what advertising technology is enabling us to do today. Think of the ad technology that’s now available as a marketing brain. It takes all of the insight about any customer or prospective customer and puts this together in one place, then uses its own neural networks to automatically make decisions and take action based on the insights. Effectively it’s a move toward artificial intelligence. “Technology has transformed the way we use insights and the amount of insights we can collect.” Rick Jones This brain metaphor is essentially what programmatic marketing is all about. Google’s VP for Northern Europe Matt Brittin defines programmatic in this simple, jargon-free way: “Using technology to do more faster, and to get smarter as you go.” Programmatic lets you determine what ad to put in front of a person, where that decision is automated and performed in real time. So, where do you start in order to capitalise on these opportunities? It’s essential to collect data on your customers at every touchpoint. It’s the fuel that makes the “brain” work, so you just can’t get enough. Then, the aim is to achieve a single view of your customer and of your data, blending all the available resources in such a way that you’ve got truly valuable insights that you can put to use. At Google, we’ve built our infrastructure to support this aim. It’s an open system built on a single platform, which means that all the insights we collect can be seamlessly integrated not only with each other, but also with data from other sources. The result is a 360-degree view. Then, with this kind of platform in place, it becomes possible to activate the data to automate your marketing decisions. Today, 75% of the top 100 UK advertisers are using DoubleClick, and the simple reason is that marketing works better when it’s unified. Efficiency increases when everything is in one place, because you can eliminate duplication, minimise manual tasks and automate actions. Insights increase as well – in terms of volume, quality and speed – meaning that you can produce richer reports and react to them faster. And when your efficiency and insights improve, then the obvious outcome is better performance both for your ads and for your company.
Creating 1:1 customer journeys Jeremy Waite, Head of Digital Strategy for Salesforce Europe, warns that businesses have become so focused on transactional relationships that they are not slowing down enough to build loyalty. For marketing, this results in fragmented, untargeted one-to-many communications, in contrast to the ideal of seamless and targeted one-to-one messaging. There is a single solution though to both building loyalty over time and overhauling customer communication: brands must unlock their data to deliver the personal touch on every channel for every customer. Companies are no longer competing against each other; they’re competing against speed. As the world moves faster and faster, there is a trend for businesses to generate marketing messaging and advertising as quickly as possible. But this may come at the expense of the critical step that should precede it: building a customer relationship based on trust. With help from technology, many companies have become experts at optimising conversions, driving click-through rates, improving return on investment and so on. Achievements of this kind are laudable, but it’s important to realise these activities tend to focus only on transactions; there is still vital work to be done around building a loyal, trusting connection with a consumer who is going to stay with a brand for a long time. A case in point: 37% of CEOs don’t know how to measure lifetime customer value – which is how it has come to be that so many feel their best option is to simply optimise to the quick wins of transactional relationships. The challenge today is how to build a relationship with a consumer faster. Inside an organisation, boundaries between sales, services and marketing need to come down – this is essential for maximising efficiency and increasing speed. But the other fundamental requirement is to get all available data together in one place, and get data sets “talking” to each other to create a much richer view of the customer. “Things have got faster, but we’ve still got to build trusting relationships. We’re using data to do that.” Jeremy Waite With consumers’ attention spans diminishing all the time, how successfully a brand manages to achieve “storytelling in a swipe” depends on establishing a central repository for data. That way, the second the brand has got someone’s attention on any device and on any channel, exactly the right message can be generated in an instant. Companies that fail to get data working for them will be less productive and less efficient, and will see decreases in customer loyalty and satisfaction. Failing to align messaging across devices will inevitably lead to a lot of separate customer conversations going on at any given time. Rather than relevant, tailored messaging, these businesses will have to resort to uninspiring click-to-buy marketing – which can annoy users and engender lack of trust. Consider the traditional local shopkeeper who knows everything about his customer; he doesn’t try to sell the customer products the second that person walks in the door. He knows about his customer’s dog, his holiday, his family. Brands need to think more like this, essentially using big data to become today’s version of the friendly local shopkeeper. It is true that data is being generated in greater volumes in far shorter spans of time than ever before. Just having a huge body of data however is obviously not the goal. Big data is made up of four components – customer data, social data, purchase data and connected data. The key task is joining it together in such a way that useful insights can be produced. As Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinash Kaushik puts it, “Information is powerful, but it’s how we use it that will define us.”