The question that was proposed by the Oracle Marketing Cloud team ahead of this year's event was simple:
“What does it take to be a great marketer in the age of the customer?”
Modern CX 2019 tried to answer it for attendees from 37 countries, with 323 sessions and 424 speakers across 3 very busy days.
My POV comes as a marketer who was part of Eloqua Experience for years as a sponsor and partner, then a speaker and attendee at Modern Marketing Experience after the acquisition by Oracle, and now as a freelance consultant and observer at Modern Customer Experience.
Here are my top three takeaways + action items (with bonus one-liners at the end) for marketers:
1. Oracle wants to help you outsmart time.
New EVP and GM of Oracle CX Cloud, Rob Tarkoff, first asked if there were any clocks visible in Las Vegas.
“Time is the currency of the Experience Economy."
"It’s now. It’s urgent. CX is a race against time… It’s about looking at the world through your customers’ eyes and asking yourself: Is every experience that my brand delivers worth the time a customer invests with me?”
This focus on time was a common thread of the main stage talks.
New updates to the Oracle Marketing Cloud reflect this focus, allowing marketers to make the most of the limited time they do have with prospects, and optimize the “micro-moments” that occur in the process of a buyer engaging with a company.
The best place to read about those is within Ginger Conlon's thorough piece for The Drum:
Updates to Oracle Infinity and Oracle Maxymiser include an integration between the two designed to provide marketers with the ability to visualize user behaviors with heat and zone maps — allowing them to improve the customer experience on their website. [Maximizing their time on-site.]
Additionally, the new Oracle Infinity Action Center provides insight into behavioral data from across touchpoints that marketers can use to improve segmentation and better personalize communications in real time. And a new Recommender engine uses that behavioral data to support one-to-one targeting at scale.
Collectively, these updates aim to provide marketers real-time intelligence so they can respond to customers’ nearly unpredictable actions in the moments that matter.
For B2B, a new Oracle Eloqua integration with Oracle Data Cloud + Oracle DataFox (purchased in October 2018) lends new insight into intent and account behaviors. It allows teams to know the best, most relevant time to engage with target accounts based on their noteworthy behavior across 5M digital properties, 70k daily news articles, and other “growth signals” across the web.
Is every experience worth their time?
[ACTION ITEM 1]
Marketers need to remove our rose-colored glasses, take a hard look at the current experience a buyer has with our brand, and ask (as Tarkoff recommends): “Is every experience that my brand delivers worth the time a customer invests with me?”
2. New UX for sales raises the stakes for marketing’s thought leadership.
From the main stage, Hillel Cooperman, SVP of User Experience Design at Oracle, shared a peek of what is to come within the Oracle Sales Cloud.
He walked through a beautifully designed experience for a sales rep: A Facebook newsfeed-esque layout shows a history of a prospect’s behavior (what they read, downloaded, or what Marketing sent), while AI transcribes their call, conducts a sentiment analysis, and recommends what to say next to move the deal forward.
These contextual insights were instant, prescriptive, and powerful. Oracle’s vision is that more time can be spent “focusing on sales priorities, and less time spent on non-selling, administrative tasks.”
I was impressed by this demo, and felt it looked beautifully constructed for the reality of a sales rep day-to-day.
[ACTION ITEM 2]
From a marketing perspective, none of this very cool tech matters unless we’re able to equip the sales team with original, prescriptive, and relevant insights to help that buyer move forward, and see their world differently.
Tarkoff echoed this sentiment later, saying "If the majority of buying journey happens before a customer talks to sales, how do we ensure they are prepared as experts?”
3. In the experience economy, Marketing must learn from UX
Cooperman’s talk demonstrated a renewed commitment from Oracle on the user experience of their applications.
“Good enough is not good enough anymore. We're reconnecting with design and want to be the best at user experience. Not functional, not just helpful but delightful. We want you to fall in love with it," he said.
His POV is excellent advice for anyone designing or marketing products. We can’t dream about creating a great customer experience without working to improve the process post-sale. A beautiful user experience for our tools is paramount to keeping customers loyal.
It's also what makes or breaks the adoption and success of any tool, a sentiment echo’d by Motorola Solutions’ Andrew Sinclair later on the main stage as he described how Oracle helps them to provide contextual, just-in-time insights to workers in a 911 call center, who daily deal with "moments of terror":
“A dashboard filled with information during a moment of terror helps nobody.”
Here, Motorola Solutions puts the user first, giving them clear guidance on "what to do next."
In a similar vein, marketers need to take a page from the book of UX when we consider what kind of experience we’re creating for buyers pre-sale.
As I shared in a 15-minute talk at this year's show, CEB found that the majority of B2B buyers are well-informed, but overwhelmed and uncertain.
Much of this is because marketing overloads them with information, instead of making the buying process clear, simple, or easy.
Some quick tips here:
1. Make it clear in your content about why change matters in the first place. Your buyer will come back to this point more than any other during the long sales process.
2. Be prescriptive about what their process will be to change. Get ahead of their concerns.
3. Help a buyer sell the vision internally by equipping them with answers for the questions and priorities that all stakeholders will have in the deal (yes, in your marketing content.)
4. Audit your resource library of content every single freaking year. 60-70% of all content churned out by B2B marketing departments sits unused by Sales (SiriusDecisions.) Less is more.
5. Start with the buyer. I know this is old news but I will never stop beating this drum. In a time when all vendors have access to the same tools, the team that knows their buyers best will win. Challenge your assumptions about the people you’re selling to, and ensure every piece of content you produce answers one of their hard-pressing questions.
This is what vendors like Oracle mean when they make big bets to re-focus their products/conferences on the “customer experience.”
We’re being asked to design an experience. That means great marketers are already thinking like their UX counterparts. After all, we have the same goal; make a product as desirable to a customer as possible.
[ACTION ITEM 3]
Marketers, think like UX designers do. Remove what’s unnecessary. Make it beautiful. More is not better. Clear is better. Intentional is better. Customer-centric is better.
My favorite one-liners from the show.
“It takes 80 touches to sell an app to a customer at Oracle. The first 20 are the hardest.”
-- CEO Mark Hurd speaking truth to the need for strong, bold early-stage messaging and content. Amen.
“If asked to lead, do so with empathy, thick skin, and a great team.”
-- Donna Epps at Ricoh
“NO to me are the first two letters of ‘not now’”
-- Mick Ebeling, CEO of Not Impossible
“The Olympics is about people who go from ordinary to extraordinary”
-- Jennifer Storms, CMO of NBC Sports, as she explained the company’s “persona plans” which highlight the amazing stories of athletes. We fall in love with them. Who are your olympic athletes? What are their stories?
BONUS TAKEAWAY: There’s no such thing as TOO dressed up for the Markies.
Every week I send a newsletter on marketing, business, and life. It's free and curated by me. Are you on the list? http://tinyletter.com/katiemartell