“Lead from Within” was the theme of this year’s Connections user conference, and appropriately so. Terms like “transformation,” “revolution,” and “new age” were thrown around constantly, referring to the shift in power to the consumer and the fact that marketers are at the forefront of this movement. As Scott Dorsey said in his keynote speech:
You are closest to the customer. You have the technology, and the tools, and the team, and the content that connects your company to your customer. That’s a very powerful place to be.
Let’s look at four key points that marketers need to understand in order to lead the way towards a more customer-centric way of thinking.
It’s all about data…
To connect with your customer, you first have to know your customer — and guesswork is no longer a viable option. This emphasis on making data-driven decisions is nothing new, but as Marc Benioff said in Monday night’s “fireside chat,” it’s now about using this data to build a complete image of the customer—who they are, where they want to go in life, what’s keeping them from getting there, and how you can help.
…And using this data across multiple connected products.
Targeted, personalized messages are great; conveying targeted, personalized messages across multiple touchpoints and platforms in one, unified voice is even better. Dorsey used the example of his Smart Scale from Fitbit, where the simple act of weighing himself causes an app to pull historical data to calculate his BMI, updates a dashboard on his phone, and triggers an email congratulating him on his weight loss. True, if stepping on your scale is a dreaded activity, this particular example may sound like your personal nightmare, but think about the implications of being able to build a relationship with your customer across multiple channels and platforms.
Mobility is key…
It’s all about the customer, and the customer is on their smartphone. In a world with nearly five billion smartphone users, marketers can’t afford not to consider mobile-friendly content in every initiative they take on. Dorsey referred to the smartphone as “the dashboard of your life,” and Connections 2013 was a perfect testament to this fact. Everywhere you looked, attendees were glued to their phones, catching up on emails, networking with other attendees via Twitter, or registering for sessions on the Connections app. In fact, the single most retweeted post of the conference concerned mobility:
Among all opens of ExactTarget emails, 76% of subscribers view an email at least once on a mobile device. #et13
— ExactTarget (@ExactTarget) September 17, 2013
…And so is agility.
Another common theme throughout the conference: don’t be afraid to try new things. As one of the most passionate and innovative business leaders of our time, Steve Jobs’ name was mentioned multiple times throughout the conference. Walter Isaacson, author of Jobs’ biography, talked about how Jobs had a habit of staring (without blinking) and repeating, “Don’t be afraid. You can do it.” when persuading someone to get something done. The message here? Don’t get hung up on doubts. In order to truly connect with your customer, you need to be fearless in trying new things — then reassess and adjust your approach.
A final thought for marketers on building a customer company: be passionate about what you do. You can’t create something that customers will be passionate about unless you’re passionate about your own product. As Isaacson noted, “true passion for a product means connecting beauty and technology. If you have a passion for the product you’ll succeed; if you have a passion for the profits, you’ll cut corners and eventually fail.”
What were your key takeaways from Connections 2013? We’d love to hear from you in our comments section!