AI is the great connector. From internal operations to customer loyalty, AI-driven tools are bringing together systems, data and individuals to enable a deeper understanding of customers and processes, fueling growth by doing so. There’s probably no area in our industry that remains indifferent to the potential for AI enhancement—and if there is one, that will probably change soon.
For all these reasons, the praise for AI among marketing experts is ceaseless; but while much ink has been spilled about it, we’ve merely begun to scratch the surface. This month, our team was part of Salesforce Connections, where the topic of AI and its impact on customer relationships dominated conversations. The two jam-packed days of sessions were all about creating strong, lasting customer connections with meaningful interactions—using AI combined with the power of first-party data to ideate, create and deliver them.
As the event kicked off, Salesforce unveiled their new AI-driven tools for personalized customer experiences, and we were honored to be featured in their announcement as one of the partners contributing to their generative AI ecosystem. If you want to learn more about AI and its impact on customer relationships, here are some of the main takeaways from our people’s keynotes and panel discussions.
AI empowers CMOs as their roles evolve.
On the first day of the event, our Chief Innovation Officer, Henry Cowling, and S4 Capital Group Executive Chairman, Sir Martin Sorrell, shared the main stage. Together with industry experts such as Salesforce President Sarah Franklin, they unpacked the role of AI in consumer engagement at the CMO+ experience, which convenes an intimate group of the world’s most influential CMOs for hyper-relevant networking.
Sir Martin Sorrell, S4 Capital Group Executive Chairman, shares the stage with Salesforce President Sarah Franklin for a fireside chat.
As we know, the role of the Chief Marketing Officer has undergone a significant transformation. The CMO is no longer solely responsible for overseeing marketing campaigns; instead, they have become a crucial strategic partner to the CEO and the C-suite. Today, the CMO’s role is to take business insights and bring them to market so that value can be realized. But in an always-on environment, that value can only be realized through personalization at scale, data-driven decision-making and the addressing of regulatory pressures and privacy concerns.
To unlock all of that and more, the aid of AI is key. For years, data experts have banked on predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms to help identify patterns, trends and customer segments, leading to more targeted and effective marketing strategies. Now, we’re finally approaching the promised land of hyper-personalization, where real-time insights inform each customer’s experience on a granular level and personalized content can be generated at scale.
Enhance customer experiences with cross-functional data systems.
Cowling puts it simply, “In an AI-enabled marketing landscape, the smartest data set wins.” First-party data is at the center of any journey of digital transformation, and through their marketing leaders, brands have an opportunity to capitalize on their unique data and intellectual property. By doing so, they can strengthen customer relationships and offer groundbreaking experiences that are key for success.
However, leveraging your data to its full potential also demands that CMOs partner with peers within and outside their organization. It’s important for teams to look beyond their specific perspectives and collaborate with their counterparts in IT, data science, product development, customer service, sales and even external partners who can provide valuable solutions.
On top of that, the transformative potential of AI is fundamentally changing how we see, understand and use data. Therefore, it raises new ethical, social and legal questions, requiring a reevaluation of our current systems and frameworks. The sooner brands address those with the input from their different teams, the sooner they’ll be able to leverage AI as a customer engagement tool.
Now is the crucial time for every team to familiarize themselves with AI, the various tools that are available, and their increasingly sophisticated capabilities.
Directors of Go-to-Market Ashley Musumeci and Nich Seo share a presentation on building loyalty for brands.
Activate loyalty with a strong data strategy.
Hot on the heels of Cowling and Sorrell’s insightful chats, our customer relationships experts and Directors of Go-to-Market Ashley Musumeci and Nich Seo shed some light on the future of loyalty. Their presentation emphasized an important fact: in today’s ever-elusive landscape of consumer attention and loyalty, brands have a golden opportunity to set themselves apart by delivering exceptional customer experiences.
Contrary to outdated notions, true customer loyalty goes beyond a rewards program and requires ongoing, meaningful interactions with your customers. It hinges upon the emotional connection customers develop through their collective experiences with a brand—and there are three approaches to consider as you strive to create those bonds:
- Forge deeper connections by making sure consumers feel your brand values and understand them. Achieving this entails aligning personal values, creating impactful content, implementing personalization strategies and fostering a sense of community. It also requires the ability to anticipate customer needs and desires, exceeding their expectations at every turn.
- Offer meaningful experiences that provide genuine and relevant value for people’s interaction with your brand. This can be achieved by creating unique branded moments that leave a lasting impression, tapping into exclusivity, enhancing gamification elements to make interactions more engaging and embracing a purpose-driven approach.
- Building integrated ecosystems that expand the customer-brand relationship in innovative ways. For example, by connecting all physical and virtual touchpoints and forming an accessible universe that consumers can seamlessly navigate.
Now, you may be thinking: this sounds great, but where do I even start? As we discussed earlier, data plays a crucial role in the marketing lifecycle, enabling the delivery of enhanced value. Therefore, the initial step toward creating seamless, personalized and meaningful experiences is to establish a robust data strategy. Customer data resides on various platforms, and collection points are scattered throughout the entire customer journey. To overcome this challenge, identify integration points between existing technologies and unify the ecosystem.
The importance of cross-functional collaboration and leveraging first-party data to enhance customer experiences cannot be overstated. With AI enabling hyper-personalization, real-time insights and effective decision-making, it’s crucial to embrace AI-driven tools and establish a robust data strategy as a foundation for success. Now is the time to harness the power of AI and unlock its full potential in driving customer engagement and empowering CMOs.
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