CIM Digital Summit: key takeaways
Editorial

CIM Digital Summit: key takeaways

On 17 October, the Chartered Institute of Marketing welcomed delegates to the British Museum for its annual Digital Summit. The theme this year focused on delivering the ‘ultimate customer journey’.

What’s the future and what’s just hype? Does virtual reality (VR) still have too few applications to be a significant platform for marketers? Is augmented reality (AR) – with the recently released AR developer kit for the iPhone – set for a boom? These were three of the questions with which Daniel Rowles, CEO of Target Internet, launched this year’s CIM Digital Summit. What technological trends are marketers likely to encounter in the year ahead?

Daniel Rowles, Target Internet

Daniel Rowles, Target Internet

In his opening comments, Rowles also said that marketing needs to question the level of engagement brands are able to achieve through social media influencers, for example, the teenage YouTube sensation, Zoella. While such influencers can achieve celebrity status, he said, there is also a risk that their success is no equivalent to the ‘authentic’ product endorsements brands need to access personal networks.

Rowles outlined 10 factors that enable brands to succeed in digital – including leadership buy-in, team ability, strategy, infrastructure, innovation and financial elements – and stressed the importance of staying agile: “Don’t hold out-of-date assumptions; a year is a long time in digital.” 

Understand the customer

Elizabeth Knights-Ward, senior manager of content and social marketing, EMEA at Hootsuite, urged delegates to reframe their perception of the customer. “Social media has brought about a fundamental cultural shift. People now want transparent, human responses to their enquiries.”

Elizabeth Knights-Ward, Hootsuite

Elizabeth Knights-Ward, Hootsuite

In our social-driven world, trying to solve marketing problems by investing in tech isn’t the solution, she added. Instead, “if you put humans first, the technology will fall into place.” She also encouraged delegates to “fall in love with customer problems” and foresaw a time when social would be the first port of call for customers, rather than search engines.

Understanding what consumers want

While, Gemma Butler, associate director of marketing at CIM, urged marketers to strive to see things from the customer’s point of view. Consumers are now looking for a simple, uncluttered means of exchanging money for goods or services and marketers should never overcomplicate this key process.

Gemma Butler, associate director of marketing at CIM

Gemma Butler, associate director of marketing at CIM

In this context, she said the main focus for the CMO was to improve the customer experience, it is marketing’s role to own the customer journey within the organisation working across all functions and due marketing’s natural focus on markets, and the customers within them.

“Customer experience is the sum of the parts of the customer journey,” she said, “and marketing needs to take the lead on this.”

Develop your strategy

Ciaran Rogers, co-founder of The Digital Marketing Podcast, said that while it was crucial to map the customer journey, too much attention is often placed on “last-click attribution”. This kind of conversion data was only so useful, he said, since much of the relevant customer behaviour takes place away from an organisation’s website, before the last click.

Ciaran Rogers, co-founder of The Digital Marketing Podcast

Ciaran Rogers, co-founder of The Digital Marketing Podcast

Rogers said it was important for marketers to “relentlessly pursue the space between the customer and the click,” and encouraged marketers to be brave enough to try switching off some activity, such as pay-per-click, to establish its contribution to a campaign.

Understanding GDPR

Alexandra Leonidou, senior associate at legal firm Foot Anstey, briefed delegates on the GDPR legislation. “Don’t treat it as a bolt-on issue,” she said. “Organisations must take it seriously – and be seen to take it seriously.”

She highlighted the importance of establishing processes and leaving evidence of preparations. Once the regulations have come into force, she said, auditors will be checking that organisations have brought in the necessary processes to stay compliant with the rules.

Alexandra Leonidou, senior associate at legal firm Foot Anstey

Alexandra Leonidou, senior associate at legal firm Foot Anstey

However, Leonidou said that marketers were in a stronger position than other departments, in terms of entering into a dialogue with customers regarding the changes. “Marketers are best-placed to lead on consumer risk acceptance, because they know better than anyone else in the organisation what customers are willing to tolerate,” she said.  

Deliver the experience

Stephanie Jarzemsky from Google introduced the capabilities of its Analytics 360 Suite, a successor to the search giant’s widely used analytics tool. Head of analytics at iProspect, El Kanagavel, joined her on stage to demonstrate how his team used the platform to boost the conversion and click-through rates of their client, the hotel chain Jury’s Inn.

Stephanie Jarzemsky, UK sales lead, Google Analytics 360 suite at Google

Stephanie Jarzemsky, UK sales lead, Google Analytics 360 suite at Google

El Kanagavel, head of analytics at iProspect

El Kanagavel, head of analytics at iProspect

The power of online communities 

Vicki Davis, head of customer experience at Universal Pictures, then demonstrated how her team looks to understand the needs of the audience of each film and the unique challenges the latest film in the Fast and the Furious franchise bought her team. Vicki highlighted how nurturing a highly committed online community of fans is key to modern day film promotion. She used research to show how they test themes to ensure messages resonate with fans; and how data helped her team ensure the success of major blockbuster films.

Vicki Davis, head of customer experience at Universal Pictures

Vicki Davis, head of customer experience at Universal Pictures

Look to the future

Closing the summit, Tracey Follows, founder of Futuremade, gave delegates a glimpse into the future of marketing. She began by stating that “there are already pockets of the future in the present; the question is what will actually become mainstream”.

Follows predicted the development of more advanced ‘haptic’ interfaces between humans and technology. She also outlined recent attempts to study customers’ emotional engagement with advertising on a biochemical level. The implication is that content could be adjusted at the time customers are experiencing it, to get a more effective response.

Tracey Follows, founder of Futuremade

Tracey Follows, founder of Futuremade

She also forecasted that the health and well-being sector was likely to grow 17% in the next five years to be worth £668bn. This would be driven by a new generation, who are taking more care of their bodies and minds, and, for example, drinking less alcohol then their parents. “Health and well-being are baked-in to 21st century thinking,” she said. If marketers are to engage Generation Z and beyond, appealing to such attitudes needs to become a priority.

To learn more about building a resilient digital strategy, explore our Level 6 Digital Strategy course.

James Richards
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