Digital Marketing In The Era Of The Empowered Consumer

Even though Brinker's passion is marketing tools he says at the end of the day they are but a means to an end. The real focus is how marketing is changing to deliver a better customer experience with digital technologies, which comes down to the people and process.
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The marketing function will undergo the greatest IT-driven business transformation, research per IDC which I referenced this week during my presentation at Interop. The main point of my presentation was to strongly emphasize the need for collaboration between CIOs and CMOs in order to successfully champion digital marketing initiatives. In my presentation, I pointed to a marketing technology supergraphic that was developed by Scott Brinker, highlighting nearly 1,000 marketing technology companies. Spanning a career that sat at the intersection of marketing and technology, Scott Brinker, CTO of ion interactive is one of the most knowledge marketing technology experts that we have had on our weekly CXOTalk show. Brinker is the blogger of the Chief Marketing Technology blog, author of an eBook on the history of the empowered consumer and the state of technology today.


Even though Brinker's passion is marketing tools he says at the end of the day they are but a means to an end. The real focus is how marketing is changing to deliver a better customer experience with digital technologies, which comes down to the people and process. According to Brinker, "You can have a mediocre set of technologies but if you have really good people and a really good process you can get tremendous results."

Brinker gives great advice to CMOs for using digital marketing to deliver an exceptional customer experience in this era of the empowered consumer, one touch point at a time.

5 Ways to Grow Marketing in the Era of the Empowered Consumer:

1. Use digital to improve things over a specific period of time - Brinker has a slightly different opinion of "digital transformation". It's a term that sounds so big, yet for a lot of companies digital transformation is not about having the fundamental business changed overnight by digital. He thinks that people would be better served if when they hear digital transformation they think about how they can use digital to improve things over the next quarter or two rather than getting overwhelmed with thinking that their whole industry is going to fall out from beneath them.

For most companies, digital transformation is about the steps a company needs to take to respond to customers who have come to expect a certain level of interactions at the digital level. Companies need to think about how to start to incorporate all this data into making better decisions incrementally and at a better pace.

2. Employ a point person in marketing for leveraging technology - At the end of the day the point of technology is not the technology itself, but how to leverage it to deliver remarkable customer experiences. To help the CMO accomplish that objective, the role of the "Chief Marketing Technologist" (CMT) comes in. Brinker says that the title is not important; what is important is to have a point person in marketing for organizing how marketing is leveraging technology. This person reports to the CMO and acts as the right hand to the CTO for how technology can accomplish specific marketing missions.

Brinker does not advocate for the need of a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to help make the digital transformation. He believes it is better if can be accomplished with a strong partnership of the CIO and CMO because "digital doesn't stay in a box". He advises that the CIO and CMO sit down regularly to collaborate regarding the priorities of the organization and leverage the role of the CMT to act as a liaison to operationalize their plans at the next level.

Analyst Laura McLellan of Gartner recently published the study, "How the Presence of a Chief Marketing Technologist Impacts Marketing." The report shows that in 2013, 81% of organizations surveyed had the equivalent of a chief marketing technologist, compared to 70 percent in 2012. Another 8% of organizations plan to add a chief marketing technologist during the next two years.

3. Deliver a consistent converged media experience - In the digital age we live in, customers are able to quickly and seamlessly move between marketing touch points and they expect consistency in their interactions. From the customer perspective the forms of media in which we interact with them are converged, challenging marketers to work on living up to that expectation. Marketers know that a converged media content strategy that includes earned, paid and owned content is needed to connect to customers in today's digitally-savvy world, but many marketers struggle with how to connect the data that comes in through the various media channels back to the sales organization. This dilemma demonstrates why technology alone is not sufficient to drive the type of digital transformation that many companies want to take. There needs to be a set of organization and process changes and someone to needs to act as the steward to drive this set of coordinated responses to the converged media. The good news is that the technology does exist for that to happen as long as you have the right process and right people to capture those buying signals.

At Extreme Networks, we are using social listening tools (Radian6), social CRM tools ( and social collaboration tools (Chatter) to deliver a consistent, converged media experience for our customers. Our community manager is able to pick up customer comments in real-time with Radian6, then use Chatter to let the right sales team know so they are in the loop.

4. Hone the skills needed for digital success - Technology is always changing and evolving and this is especially true with digital. People who have an orientation toward being willing to try new things, learn, experiment with new capabilities and embrace change will have a huge advantage.

Another useful skill for marketers, says Brinker, will be analytics. Apart from having an analytical specialist or data scientist, CMOs should work to develop the analytical capabilities within the marketing team. Brinker says it is more valuable to have the marketing team as a whole get comfortable with managing with those numbers, knowing what to optimize and what questions to ask.

The bottom line is that marketing in an organization of any real size is a team sport. As more and more things get put under the umbrella of marketing, marketing it is getting very large. Brinker says that each person does not need to be brilliant at everything, what's important is that the team as a whole collectively has all of these capabilities and is organized in a way where they can tap into the strengths of each one at the right time.

5. Get past the Zero Moment of Truth
- The rise of search has put so much information at the consumers fingertips that by the time a prospect calls sales they often know more about the product than the salesperson. And thanks to social, their experience can be shared to influence others and their choice of whether to engage the company or not. Brinker talks about "moments of truth" in his must-read eBook, "A NEW BRAND OF MARKETING: The 7 Meta-Trends of Modern Marketing as a Technology-Powered Discipline".

Brinker explains that there are moments of truth in purchasing a product, using the product, etc. But in the age of the empowered customer, customers won't even make it to the first moment of truth if they don't get past what Google's Jim Lecinski calls the "Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)". The zero moment of truth is when someone has an interest in a brand and goes online to google it and the impression they get from all these online touch points will influence if they even make it to the first moment of truth - choosing your brand. Content marketing may be the holy grail of marketing these days, but what matters most is what content consumers are finding, because that heavily influences their decision making process.

In this era of the empowered consumer, organizations have to be smart and find the right technologies and employ them to deliver great customer experiences. With high customer expectations of the quality and sophistication of customer experiences with marketing, success in digital transformation will come from bringing together the right culture, people, process and technology. I encourage all CMOs or anyone in Marketing to follow Scott Brinker.

You can watch the full interview with Scott Brinker here. Please join me and Michael Krigsman every Friday at 3PM EST as we host CXOTalk - connecting with thought leaders and innovative executives who are pushing the boundaries within their companies and their fields.

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