TractionSF Conference: How to create a modern B2B customer experience

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In the age of Mad Men, advertising anti-hero Don Draper ruled supreme. He knew almost on pure instinct what would influence purchasers. He didn’t carry the title of chief marketing officer (CMO) but he may as well have.

Today, however, customer data drives marketing more so than ever. In fact, so much customer data accumulates from mobile devices and web behavior that it would make Don’s head spin, according to Meagen Eisenberg, CMO of MongoDB, provider of open source database solutions for modern applications.

Now, Don would need a chief information officer (CIO) to pair with his CMO, which comprises the thesis of Eisenberg’s presentation at the recent Traction Conference in San Francisco, where she and other experts offered startups and entrepreneurs ideas for growing revenue and users.

CMO + CIO: partner or perish

CMOs must either have technologist backgrounds or “marry” technologists (e.g., CIOs), according to Eisenberg. The prediction that Gartner made in 2012 regarding CMOs outspending CIOs on IT by 2017 is coming true, she notes. “It is these converging trends that lead me to believe the CMO and CIO must partner or perish,” Eisenberg says.

Simple truth: B2B marketers and others need all this data to tell a good story. With that necessity in mind, Eisenberg pointed out Hilary Mason, data scientist in residence at Accel Partners and formerly chief data scientist at URL shortener bitly, as the present archetype for the marketing hero.

As an example of the need for more marketing data to tell a compelling customer story, Eisenberg talked about how MongoDB itself bulked up its marketing technology stack. From a few core martech solutions such as Salesforce, Eloqua and Demandbase in 2012, MongoDB blew its stack in 2015 to include Bizo, Gainsight, Influitive, Lattice and many more.

Personalization not the pigeonhole

The point of all this marketing technology and accompanying data remains the need to build and improve a personalized experience for each customer across the sales funnel, according to Eisenberg.

The handwriting’s on the wall for digital personas and other techniques that try to pigeonhole customers. “The consumer is in control,” Eisenberg says. So B2B markers among others must invest in the customer to retain her and gain her renewals, according to Eisenberg.

The key to retention and renewals? B2B marketers must create a contextual experience in real time to reach the customer who’s constantly connected. As an example, Eisenberg cited how when she was a vice president at DocuSign after customers had completed a digital signature activity, the martech stack there would recommend additional templates appropriate for future signings.

Expectations of the modern customer experience

At this point in the presentation, Eisenberg laid down some basic expectations that B2B marketers and other practitioners should have about the modern customer experience. For any application, the customer can be expected to be connected all the time across any device. This will happen wherever she is at the moment—whether on a bike ride in Palo Alto or standing in line to get into the Kennedy Center. And she will not tolerate stale content. She wants contextually relevant customer story information in real time. To reinforce this message, Eisenberg went through a number of examples of companies who do it right, in her opinion.

As the lead example, Bosch gained note for its connected world campaign to bring the Internet of Things (IoT) to life. Eisenberg shared how Bosch, a leading global supplier of technology and services to industry and consumers, uses data from embedded sensors to tell how tight screws are on the devices it has sold to customers. Presumably, if the screws are too tight or loose, Bosch will inform the customer and have the unit restored to proper specifications.

A leader in contextual customer service, MetLife had a citation for creating a one-look-view at customer records for representatives to expedite calls. Prior to this the insurance company had 70 separate databases and it took “forever” to access them all, according to Eisenberg. Beginning as a two-week trial, MetLife created a “wall” based on the Facebook wall. By speeding presentation of customer data, agents will improve their call productivity stats and customer satisfaction.

When you’re on your way to the next B2B conference, United Airlines and Aer Lingus have apps that can make flying there a breeze, Eisenberg says. Whether you’re looking for a discounted seat or upgrading your ticket to first class, they have the customer experience strapped in.

Modern apps with new DNA table stakes

B2B marketers and related professionals must modernize their applications to fully engage the customer and convert her from a prospect to a client to an advocate.

To do this, the CMO and the CIO will stand together or fall separately. “The CIOs will have the valid information on the technical side, while CMOs will have data on sales, marketing campaigns and innovative ideas,” Eisenberg says. “It’s absolutely vital to combine these elements to make the most of technology and deliver the outstanding experience modern customers demand.”

Modern apps will make the experience effortless, anticipate customer needs and provide instant gratification, according to Eisenberg. Marketers will build them to work with petabytes of data and in all its forms and formats.

Regardless of which channel the customer comes to the B2B enterprise, a customer experience architected to deliver personalized content in real time will enable elastic demand insofar the elasticity of the app.

For more TractionSF coverage, check out this session recap on revenue generation

Photo via Derek Handova

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Derek Handova

Derek Handova

Derek Handova is a veteran journalist writing on various B2B vertical beats. He started out as associate editor of Micro Publishing News, a pioneer in coverage of the desktop publishing space and more recently as a freelance writer for Digital Journal, Economy Lead (finance and IR beats) and Intelligent Utility (electrical transmission and distribution beats).