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Econsultancy has been discussing digital excellence on an ongoing basis for a while now, as digital concepts increasingly permeates business operations, capabilities and structures.
Ahead of ExactTarget's Connect tour, where Econsultancy is a media partner, I managed to catch up with one of the key members of their APAC operations, Regional Marketing Manager, Ryan Bonnici, to get his thoughts on the topic, as well as the peripheral issues of digital innovation, data and technology.
How would you define digital excellence?
There's a few different ways, but I'd say the focus on customer experience represents the next evolution of marketing - and this will define excellence.
Brands that create a seamless personalised experience across channels will drive engagement, brand loyalty and deliver business results.
Hyper-connected consumers create new opportunities for marketers to deliver customer-centric, real-time experiences, both online and offline; brands that capitalise on these opportunities will drive innovation and redefine digital excellence.
Do you think the Australian digital (and wider marketing) landscape differs from other regions? And if so, in what ways?
We’ve found that Australians are among the most actively engaged consumers on email, Facebook and Twitter, which certainly is key element for marketers to be aware of.
ExactTarget’s Digital Down Under research found that 96% of Australian consumers subscribe to at least one email marketing program, 55% interact with brands on Facebook, and 50% of followers always read tweets from their favorite brands... Consumers expect interaction and will reward brands that create conversations across the channels they use most.
I think it's important to recognise that within this, though, email continues to be the connective tissue between digital channels and online and offline experience - and shouldn't be neglected.
What’s the hardest lesson marketers have to learn in the digital environment?
Digital is a game-changer and never stops evolving, but mobile seems to be causing the biggest disruption at the moment.
For example, the rapid adoption of mobile creates new opportunities and challenges for marketers to create experiences across email, mobile, social, and the Web.
Marketers must transform the way they connect experiences to meet consumers’ expectations: Static campaigns and online-offline segmentation strategies will no longer be enough to build successful and profitable relationships with their customers.
As mobile continues to grow as a communication channel for consumers, marketers can capitalise on the opportunity to engage in real-time, accelerating the process of connecting with their audiences.
What types of company and business sectors do you see excelling at digital marketing and ecommerce at the moment?
The line between business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing is blurring.
Companies that integrate the precision of lifecycle campaigns most commonly deployed in B2B with the consumer-focused, branded campaigns of B2C will emerge as the leaders – both in terms of innovation and in delivering measurable business results.
Given that marketing is becoming more data and technology-driven, how can suppliers (and their clients) ensure the right balance between creative thinking and scientific marketing?
With an increasing emphasis on delivering customer-centric campaigns, marketers can leverage actionable data to deliver a unique customer experience.
By leveraging data with creative thinking, marketing campaigns can shift from static campaigns to highly personalised, engaging experiences.
What are the core elements of inspiration to be found within marketing?
For marketers now, it's worth considering that inspiration is driven by a focus on the customer.
Companies have the ability to improve the lives of customers, but they must transform their marketing to deliver what we call "inspired marketing".
By focusing on the customer, businesses can leverage data to drive customer engagement, increase business value, raise conversion rates, and obtain positive reviews – all of which lead to increasing reach and brand recognition - and of course, continuing inspiration.
What things do you think have impacted digital marketing the most over the past few years?
Hyper-connected consumers and the proliferation of smartphones have massively impacted the digital marketing world.
Consumers are always connected and have access to multiple channels, wherever and whenever.
Because of this, companies are finding that more consumers are opening emails, checking Facebook, tweeting from smartphones, etc., which really highlights the importance for optimising digital experiences for mobile.
What are other hottest trends you are observing in the landscape?
I don't think it's any secret that digital is transforming how consumers interact with brands, which is disrupting age-old business models.
Beacuse of this, CMOs are closest to the transformation and as time progresses, will increasingly lead the re-engineering of businesses to serve today’s hyper-connected customer.
As the lines between B2B and B2C continue to blur, CMO insights into empowered consumers will drive a revolution in marketing - one which is especially focused on delivering an unparalleled customer experience to drive solid business results.
Ryan can be found on Twitter (@ryan_bonnici)