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Being Customer First At The Upcoming Gartner Digital Marketing Conference

By Augie Ray | February 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

What does it mean to be “customer first,” and how can companies adopt a more customer-first mindset? That is the focus of one of the tracks at the upcoming Gartner Digital Marketing Conference, May 10 to 12, in San Diego.

Many companies talk about being “customer first,” but how many achieve this goal? In organizations aligned by product or region with aggressive quarterly financial and business goals, the challenges to being customer first are profound but not insurmountable. My peers on the Gartner for Marketing Leaders team have a series of informative presentations to help marketers tackle these challenges.

One way to start is to listen–really listen–to the customer. Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs are vital sources of data and insight about customer wants, needs, experiences, sentiment, and journeys. My presentation on how to launch, run and measure a VoC initiative will help marketers organize programs to align to specific use cases and capture the sorts of metrics that demonstrate the performance, value and safety benefits that VoC programs deliver.

Another way to encourage a customer-first mindset is for marketers to create, distribute and support customer personas. Personas can help leaders across the organization to better understand the needs and preferences of their most valuable customers, resulting in better customer-centered decisions. My peers Jane-Anne Mennella and Jake Sorofman will discuss how marketers can create personas and use them to execute front- and back-stage customer experience (CX) strategies.

Before becoming “customer first,” marketers must determine on which customers to focus.  Brands that try to be all things to all people struggle, and recognizing which customers represent the most value helps marketers to concentrate on the needs and expectations of their most critical customers. Ewan McIntyre will address value segmentation at our upcoming event, discussing the data sources you need to understand customer value and how to focus your marketing and CX investments on the right audience segments.

Of course, the entire discipline of customer experience is dedicated to helping firms become more customer first. Toward that end, Jane-Anne Mennella will cover the foundations that marketers need to understand as their roles expand to include ownership and optimization of the customer experience. Our surveys of marketing leaders indicate that CX is one of the top three growing expectations of the marketing department, so we expect this presentation will be well attended.

Improving CX demands an understanding of the customer journey, and Jennifer Polk’s session at the event will share how marketers can use data to identify and measure each step of that journey. Only by aligning the right data to the right step through the Buy, Own, and Advocate cycles can you recognize the problems and opportunities your customers experience and then rank the many conflicting priorities and investments.

Noah Elkin will present another interesting perspective on journeys. He will speak on how companies must consider both external and internal journeys.  While starting with an outside-in view of the customers’ journeys is key to being customers first, organizations still have to execute against those journeys. Complex organizations, such as those with distributed marketing responsibilities and those that sell through partner channels, must not only consider their external customer journeys but also their internal company journeys, as well.

Another challenge to being customer first is the growing number of channels in which brands must listen to, capture and serve customers.  Take, for example, the experience of attending a live sports event; at one time, this was simply about the venue, the seat, and the contest, but consumers’ growing adoption of mobile technology has changed all that. Mike McGuire will reveal how the Sacramento Kings arena deployed a mobile-first strategy to provide sports fans with an improved customer experience.

Providing the right content to the right customer at the right time is another way of being customer first. The old days of one-size-fits-all content are dying, and as the number of touchpoints and channels multiply, marketers must deploy content in increasingly personalized, data-driven and fluid ways.  Christopher Ross will discuss his approach to “atomic content,” a method to design, deliver and measure more dynamic content experiences.

And finally, in a session I look forward to attending myself, Jay Wilson will convey the ways that marketers can achieve a more compelling and differentiated brand by focusing on social impact. In our era of decreased trust in business and leaders, brands that align to customers’ desires for a better world can create strong relationships and more awareness. Of course, done wrong, this strategy can also increase risks, and Jay will share how brands avoid and mitigate those potential hazards.

The diverse content in our customer-first track is only a small portion of the content and experiences at the Gartner Digital Marketing conference. We also have two other tracks bursting with actionable insight, one on orchestrating multichannel strategies and the other on leveraging technology to create stronger marketing outcomes. Attendees also can join peer roundtable sessions to share and hear insights from other practitioners, get access to Gartner’s analysts through one-on-one sessions and Ask the Analyst events, and enjoy keynotes from the world-renowned photographer, Platon, and serial entrepreneur and VC investor, Josh Linkner.

I hope to see you at the event.  If you have questions, please visit our website or feel free to post to the comment section of this blog post.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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