On the heels of Media Week, delegates gathered at a very successful Customer Engagement Technology World (CETW) event in New York, November 6-7, 2013. The mind can go numb easily on omni-channel, 360 degree marketing, transmedia, big data, convergence, etc. etc. etc., but these concepts and the language that expresses them are central to future marketing and communications. Location-based/aware technologies, including kiosks, digital signage and mobile increasingly serve brand and consumer engagement goals.
CETW is attractive as an event because it gathers several hundred diverse exhibitors that span the engagement spectrum, along with an even more diverse group of end user and agency presenters who put the big picture of digital screenmedia disciplines into focus. The Digital Screenmedia Association content awards and various networking receptions offer the opportunity for in-depth discussions and introductions. The result is a potent mix of currently applicable approaches and a forward-looking view of viable technology-enabled options. The focus is on the application of contextually relevant, location aware, enabling customer messaging, interaction and engagement communications.
Laura Davis-Taylor, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Shopwork, BBDO noted, "The code on "experience" has not been cracked, but there are some principles that we know are important". These top 10 principles (to paraphrase Laura's presentation points) include:
- The brand must be more than their product
- The experience of the use of the product/service must inspire the brand and affinity with it.
- In building worthy experiences, you must know the life pattern, influence upon and wants of the targeted consumer.
- "Participation" is intrinsic and fundamental to experience.
- Experience must solve a problem or make it easier.
- Making people happier increases brand loyalty.
- Involve others (and all) stakeholders and possible contributors.
- Prove it out. Experience analytics must be applied.
- Focus on the experience factors that matter in the buying decision. For example, a baby stroller buying decision is made on social media influence.
- Make it a moment that matters - or don't waste your time.
"Content: is the atomic partical of engagement", declared Rebecca Lieb, Media Analyst with the Altimeter Group and author of Content Marketing - Think Like a Publisher - How to Use Content to Market Online and In Social Media. She used many examples to illustrate how customer engagement truly exists at the convergence of paid, owned and earned media.
"Without multi-channel planning and execution", she declared messaging can be fragmented and branding inconsistent. Marketing efforts are often redundant and departments end up competing for budget, while a lower level of customer engagement is actually realized. Media cacophony serves nobody's goals. Planning at the convergence of paid-owned-earned offers the opportunity for owned and earned media to inform the paid media strategy, while assuring the integrity of brand attributes and closer to real-time messaging optimization".
In describing participant engagement during the 60,000-delegate South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, Scott Wilcox, Executive Director SXSW, admitted, "Everybody is trying to figure out how to engage customers. The "backchannel" in earned media is what can ultimately drive and become the main engagement content." He reflected on the technology challenges of providing adequate engagement technology infrastructure where, for example "Wi-Fi is expected to be available, and where as many as 7,000 people attending a conference session or concert could place extraordinary demands on Wi-Fi and connectivity. "Let us realize", he said, while the iPhone was released in 2007, by 2009 we were seeing the massive demands that iPhone and mobile apps place on those seeking to engage consumer on mobile".
The active presence of exhibitors offering mobile solutions was a welcomed addition to CETW. Urban Airship, Vibe and Mogiquity each distinguished themselves in presenting comprehensive mobile engagement offerings. Look into these providers.
"Analytics" were part of every discussion because they are the key to gaining budget/investment and to optimizing results. While data is the foundation of growing levels of value that include statistics, information, knowledge and wisdom, the breakdown in data value is occurring at the information level. "More often", said Jeff Dickey, Managing Director of OmniChannel Marketing Project, "analytics are used as a predictive tool, but the true value of data from multiple inputs is in being able to adjust actions in real time based on the insights that aggregate data (i.e. information) can provide."
Customer Engagement Technology World (CETW) is a very different event since it focuses fully on the issues impacting consumer interaction with messages and brand attributes. A lot of water will go under the technology-enabled bridge over the next year, so put CETW in New York, November 2014 on your calendar and plan to be part of these conversations.
Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon) is a analyst, advisor and educator in North America's digital and enterprise media sector. In August 2013 he was recently named as one of the "11 Most Influential People in Digial Signage" and in October 2013 was recognized as one of the "Innovators and Influencers" of the static sign industry.