A blog report by Christian Schipp, CBDO, Ambit Group
Real-time marketing - data and processes are the "game changer" for successful CX projects
Many companies and organizations have started to work with marketing tools in recent years. There is software for every marketing need, from social media to sending emails. Marketing teams try to get a handle on the different channels as best they can. With the help of agencies, beautiful websites are built, and great stories are told. These are distributed to the appropriate channels and professional lead management is developed. A lot of money is invested in expensive SEO/SEA measures, as well as high value is placed on elaborate websites. In the last 3–4 years, many have also been busy implementing mobile-first solutions - driven by Google's requirements.
If a lead is generated and served, ideally a so-called "conversion" takes place, where a prospective customer contacts the company using one of the channels. This concludes the process in marketing with the transfer of the information (often manually) and the responsibility is handed over to sales. The basis of these concepts are so-called "Lead2Opportunies-Funnels" with their KPIs such as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL), Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), etc.
All of this is not fundamentally wrong, but it falls far short in the context of a real or future-oriented customer experience (CX). In many marketing departments, there is also a lack of knowledge and skills on the topic of data and processes - and this across the entire company and across the entire process house of the respective organization (Lead2Cash).
Challenges and issues facing marketing departments
- How are the non-integrated or only rudimentarily integrated marketing tools and heterogeneous system landscapes to enable true digital marketing via the end2end process of the company?
- How can transactional data be used from the core systems (ERP, CRM, etc.)?
- How can behavior-based data be put in context with all other data in the enterprise?
- How can marketing develop a customer experience from first touchpoint to long-term loyalty across different lifecycles?
- How can data be used to differentiate, be faster and more accurate in market engagement?
- Which new business models can be designed when customer behavior becomes subject to interpretation?
- How can products and services be touted across unlimited channels in real time, taking customers on multiple individual journeys?
- How can data and application silos be eliminated to create a comprehensive 360° view?
Prospects / customers in charge of the project
The classic business models of the past will no longer be enough in the future. Many customer journeys do not work or work only partially. Another phenomenon is that target groups can no longer be assigned to simple characteristics (e.g., Sinus Milieu, ABC). The behavior of prospective customers can be paradoxical and completely different across the various channels. For example, the consumer goes to buy high-quality organic products for his dog, and on the way home he stops at a fast food store to consume junk food. Nevertheless, the customer wants to be understood and receive customized products and services based on his needs.
Based on these questions, it is obvious that the current concepts fall short and do not represent the future of marketing. A radical change in the field of marketing is imperative. To this end, I recommend that the following points be considered:
- The customer is at the center of the action. We do not tell them how to act (classic customer journey), but the customer or prospective customer controls themselves on the basis of behavior, transactions and data.
- The dialog takes place where the customer currently is. To achieve this, all the necessary channels must be activated and the automated and robotic communication capability increased.
- Conceptually, thinking should be in a real-time approach: Location and time-independent.
- Marketing should have systemic access to all marketing-relevant data of the company. This requires a seamless and natively integrated marketing solution as part of a platform.
- In order to be able to process these different data, applications and processes, instruments are needed for their modeling and analysis.
- It is imperative that all aspects are made measurable: no measure without insight into the results (performance, KPI, etc.).
The heterogeneous application environments are a strategic challenge
Many organizations today still have a heterogeneous system landscape. In the last 20-30 years, people have worked a lot with best-of-breed solutions. In some cases, complex interfaces or classic data warehouses were built. All of this was quite expensive, maintenance-intensive and ultimately not satisfactory for the user. Today, it is still the case that only a small percentage of a company's existing data can be used at all for marketing and later in sales and service. Many organizations also want more agility, better collaboration and cross-silo processes. But the existing system landscape prevents real transformation in this regard.
This is the reason why modern enterprises are turning to cloud-based platforms and gradually evolving the environment towards them. The world's leading provider of a holistic platform for business applications is Microsoft. But does Microsoft also offer solutions for marketing?
Microsoft as a marketing solutions provider?
This question is legitimate. Until 5-6 years ago, Microsoft was unknown in terms of marketing. There were complementary marketing automation solutions such as ClickDimensions for the former Dynamics Sales. But Microsoft itself had several failed attempts and had no solutions to compete against players like Salesforce or Oracle.
In 2018, Microsoft launched Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing, based on an event and marketing automation solution acquired in the US, which was completely redeveloped as a Dynamics application: a fundamental step and an important basis for the success of today's platform. Step by step, the suite has been built and expanded, with many applications added, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Voice. In addition, there is the native integration of LinkedIn, which is an important part of the Microsoft platform.
From 2020, another key application was introduced. With Dynamics 365 Customer Insight, a no/low code CDP framework for data analysts could be launched. With this, unique company as well as contact views can be created and the segments and KPI deriving from them, in turn, can be made available to marketing.
Another aspect of Microsoft's platform in the area of marketing, in addition to direct access to over 400 peripheral systems, is the entire Power Platform with elements such as Power BI, Power Automate and Power Apps. All of these different building blocks are based on one platform - Azure. And this gives businesses an unprecedented way of handling data and processes. And it's also key to leveraging Artificial Intelligence as well as ChatGPT.
With this platform, companies can realize a new way of dealing with data and processes, also in interaction with Microsoft 365 (Productivity and Collaboration) across the entire company, and enable a true Digital Transformation.
Microsoft is introducing real-time marketing with the current releases in 2023/ 2024. This will break down previous boundaries and enable completely new approaches to digital marketing. Marketing automation is no longer designed with a classic outbound approach. Now it is event-based triggers or dynamic/static segments that enable direct access to all data and the use of AI for unprecedented marketing automation.
This new type of marketing automation is only possible thanks to a platform approach. Marketing is no longer limited to the front end of the process chain, lead management, but can be integrated across all process areas. As a result, customer experience and perception (CX) can be rethought and seamlessly implemented from initial interest through to the field service process and on to loyalty programs.
With the approach of "Do more with less" Microsoft shows how across all these areas with the support of artificial intelligence:
- Content created
- channels and content controlled
- Optimal timing determined
- segments can be formed
Microsoft has developed the Dynamics 365 Marketing Copilot specifically for this purpose. Please find below a video with concrete examples:
All of these solutions are based on the Azure cloud platform and can be used in Switzerland with the local Azure Centers in Zurich/Geneva or in the EU in Amsterdam/Dublin as SaaS applications. The solutions meet the highest requirements in terms of data protection (DSGVO/DSG), compliance and security.
The platform is not a monolith or a closed system. On the contrary, Microsoft focuses on the core applications and complements the overall portfolio with more and more integrations to important special disciplines. For example, a standard integration with Sprinklr is offered for CXM (Customer Experience Management) and with Twilio for communication via SMS / messenger services. Over 400 systems are already directly addressable and usable via the Power Platform. This means that information on contact points such as transactions, campaign responses, in-store visits, loyalty rewards, customer service contacts, social interactions, sentiments or IoT signals (IoT, Internet of Things) can be used directly.
Measurability and analytic level are important factors regarding ROI
For the analytical level of the entire measures, also with the use of data from Google, social medias, web, etc., there is the use of integrations on Azure. This allows this data to be analyzed with Azure Synapse and visualized via Power BI.
Microsoft is the leader for marketing automation platforms
In just 6 years, Microsoft has managed to go from being an unknown player to being recognized as a leading vendor (Microsoft has been recognized as a leading vendor by the Gartner® Magic QuadrantTM for B2B Marketing Automation Platforms in September 2022. https://dynamics.microsoft.com/de-de/marketing/resources/
But this is just the beginning. Microsoft will continue to expand and build solutions and further strengthen integrations and the use of AI every six months. That's why more and more companies are turning to these solutions to benefit directly from the innovations. Here you can get an insight into the current Release / Wave 1 2023
Ambit Group – Your partner for your CX project with the Microsoft platform
Our promise is: we make your ambition work. As a leading Microsoft partner for business applications, we have specialized in the process areas of CX projects with our Marketing & Sales business unit. We provide consulting and implementation services from the initial idea to the implemented project and support customers during ongoing operations.
Our drive is to powerfully support your company in becoming the best possible version of itself. Learn more about us
Our offer: Dynamics 365 Marketing 4h-Experience Workshop
If you are interested in learning more about Ambit Group, the Microsoft platform for marketing / CX, we recommend our half-day workshop. This will give you all the relevant information to decide for you and your company about the implementation of a project like this.
Are you interested in this topic? I would be pleased to answer any queries you have.
Christian Schipp, Business Development CRM & Group CMO
+41 79 954 17 09