This content is part of the Essential Guide: Guide to customer experience management best practices, technologies

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Invest in people for better customer experience in marketing

At the MarTech conference, analysts discussed the importance of customer experience in marketing, customer data protection and designated martech leadership.

Creating a frictionless customer experience -- the ever-elusive goal of all marketers -- may be as simple as investing in people whose job descriptions explicitly include customer experience-related tasks.

Two recent surveys, one conducted by IDC and another by Gartner, highlight the importance of clearly defined CX roles and martech leadership within marketing teams.

"Over the last 10 years in marketing, we have heard this word context a lot. Our data and our actions and our processes are designed around context," Gerry Murray, research director at IDC, said during a panel session at the MarTech conference in Boston.

But that is shifting now, and the buzzword is continuity. "We need to make sure we understand the context of the customer," Murray continued. "Now, we are talking about making sure we transition into continuity and stitching together all these little bits of context into a continuous -- and, hopefully, continually improving -- customer experience."

CX roles

To underscore the importance of customer experience in marketing, more and more businesses are adding CX-specific staff.

We are starting to see more and more staff resourcing applied to roles that have true CX, customer-facing, customer touch responsibilities.
Gerry MurrayResearch director, IDC

"We are starting to see more and more staff resourcing applied to roles that have true CX, customer-facing, customer touch responsibilities," Murray said.

The IDC study looked at eight categories of CX -- earned social, audience marketing, customer advocacy, customer intelligence, behavioral/predictive analytics data science, customer journey management, cross-channel analytics and customer loyalty -- and found that 35% of respondents have customer-oriented staff in at least six out of eight categories. Meanwhile, only 20% had customer-oriented staff in fewer than two categories.

"That is a very strong commitment from marketing organizations to staffing up for roles that are going to be responsible for managing bits and pieces of the customer experience in marketing," Murray said.

customer experiences roles

Leadership roles in marketing technology and CX

Any push in the direction of better CX requires buy-in from leadership. But leadership within marketing teams is not always clear-cut, particularly when it comes to martech.

"The majority of marketers that we surveyed have some level of tech responsibility," Bryan Yeager, research director at Gartner, said in another session at MarTech. "What we find is that having a dedicated martech leader actually helped advance marketing maturity."

However, there is little consensus on who should take the lead on this role. The Gartner survey found that 26% of survey respondents had a dedicated marketing technology leader or team, another 24% had a cross-functional committee, 24% had no formal leader and 23% shared responsibility between marketing and IT.

IDC found through its survey of some of the world's leading high-tech companies that there is similarly little consensus on who should lead customer experience in marketing, if not the CMO.

Answers ranged from product and delivery manager, COO, and sales to customer support and CEO. In all cases, the best choice will vary business to business, but who is responsible for leadership is a question all marketing departments should be asking.

"There is a lot of experimentation. This is an emerging area," Murray said. "You can't have innovation and best practices at the same time. You have to be willing to try out new things, have a few false starts and then develop best practices as you move down the journey."

Consent is key

Meanwhile, in the era of GDPR, Canada's antispam legislation and California's data privacy law, consensual use of customer data is not just legally required, but will drive brand preferences and customer experience in marketing, the experts said.

"If you think of your customer data as something you own or your company owns, that is going to be exploited for profit; that is going to be apparent to your client," Murray said.

But this creates a new problem for customers: They must manage their consent relationships with every brand they interact with at every point of interaction. Murray predicted that, in the future, marketing teams will include staff to help customers manage the brand's use of their data.

"I think we are going to see these consent mediation layers," Murray said. "It is going to require that we as marketers think about content and the value of the exchange that we are having at each step of the process."

MarTech is one of two annual conferences hosted by Scott Brinker, HubSpot's vice president of platform ecosystem and editor of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog. It was held in Boston on Oct. 2 to 3.

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