Putting the basics before the techno-babble: Thomas Funk

There is little doubt that data has now conquered the world of marketing. There is an acceptance in boardrooms that data can empower marketers and that, used properly, it drives business success, especially in the context of a move away from acquisition and towards retention.

Companies have spent years focusing on gathering more and more data and trying to feed that into a single customer view. Then it was all about how to use and interpret the enormous amount of data and turn it into actionable insights.

Now, it seems, the big thing is technology. Which is complicating and enabling in equal parts. The emergence of digital channels is throwing up data in greater amounts than ever before. But technology is also allowing us to filter and react to that data in real time, track how consumers navigate the web, and enable better targeting and personalisation.

Technology is also empowering the consumer. Take, for example, the recently introduced Red Laser iPhone app which allows you to scan barcodes in shops and then, by using a Google or Amazon product search, compare prices from rival outlets. Think of how that impacts on the customer journey! Yet when faced with all the excitement of what technology can do, there is a danger that we can lose sight of our original objective as marketers – which is to initiate a conversation between a brand and an individual based on knowledge and relevancy.

We need to keep that context in mind. The greatest challenge now is simplicity.

Because, despite the complex nature of this new marketing world, what still drives advocacy and loyalty is an emotional engagement between a consumer and a brand. In fact I’d argue now, more than ever, consumers respond best to emotional engagement.

Technology gives us the means of engendering that in new exciting ways. The challenge for us is to ensure that we use that technology intelligently, not just for the sake of it. That our use is underpinned by insight that tells us the use of whatever technology it is will help us create that all important emotional engagement.

Let’s not forget the basics, let’s not forget that technology is merely an enabler. A way of helping us deliver what we must always ultimately deliver – return on investment.

Thomas Funk, CEO global data solutions, Rapp

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