This year, artegic has again visited the The Next Web Europe, arguably the most important digital conference in Europe. In our first post on the conference, we were looking at the identification of trends, at success factors for digital business models and artificial intelligence. Since one post on The Next Web Europe 2016 is not sufficient, we are providing more insights in this second post by recapping two interesting talks on controlling the customer experience, as well as the question on the Next Big Thing in the digital economy.

Controlling the Customer Experience

Marketing has never been more complex than today. Customers use more and more channels on more and more terminal devices. According to Mark Josephson, CEO at Bitly, the customer journey today is no longer a funnel but rather resembles a labyrinth. The challenge for marketing consists in following the customer through this labyrinth, i.e. to identify him at each touchpoint and be able to understand his path in order to optimise communication in a targeted way. The aim is to provide an individualised customer experience for each customer.
Mark Josephson believes that marketers do not talk enough about the “Big Three” in this context: Facebook, Apple und Google. These three companies aim at controlling large parts of the customer experience, making it more difficult for marketers to create the customer experience themselves.
Facebook tries to become the central point of reference for internet use, including content use. A current example are Facebook instant articles, articles of (news) publishers which are no longer hosted on the publisher’s website but on Facebook. Even videos are more and more frequently hosted on Facebook instead of being embedded from another website. The result: The user stays in the Facebook walled garden instead of visiting websites of other providers. Facebook controls the customer experience including the user data. Marketers have only limited access to this data and therefore only limited insights for their own communication.
Apple with its latest operative system iOS9 increasingly forces the use of mobile web via apps. So-called universal links do no longer link from apps into the mobile web, but into other apps. This produces app to app journeys. The traffic always remains in the iOS9 walled garden and does not reach the mobile web. Marketers can therefore no longer capture and analyse this traffic across several touchpoints. In addition, Apple’s own Safari browser blocks web analytics software by default, i.e. Safari users cannot be tracked. Mark Josephson goes even further to say that Apple wants to destroy the mobile web in favour of its own app-based customer experience.
Google does not only dominate the search engine market in many countries, but together with Google AMP, it follows an similar path as Facebook with its instant articles. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and is a technology which reduces the code of mobile websites and thus accelerates the loading of these websites. In contrast to Facebook instant articles, the content remains on the publisher’s server. Tracking is still possible. Although Google is not trying to completely control the customer experience, it significantly influences it.
90% of marketers view an individualised customer experience as important, but only 80% of customers feel individually valued (IBM/eConsultancy). The advances of “The Big Three” demonstrate how important it is to control the customer experience of  your own users. Only if you are able to capture data of your users, you can use it to optimise marketing and service communication and therefore the customer experience. Companies should pay attention not to become too dependant on other providers and instead focus on their own channels. This includes, in particular, digital dialogue marketing. A corresponding opt-in allows companies to create their own user profiles, analyse these and translate them into their own communication measures in order to keep complete control over the customer experience. The consistent retrieval of opt-ins at all touchpoints is therefore becoming an important task for companies who are looking at offering their users an individualised customer experience.

Mark Josephson at The Next Web Europe 2016

Mark Josephson at The Next Web Europe 2016


The Next Big Thing Is Not a Thing

In his talk, Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher at Microsoft, was also looking at complexity. According to him, the hunt for the Next Big Thing (the next successful app, the next trailblazing terminal device, the next indispensable service, etc.) is one of the drivers of complexity. The next big thing will be less important itself, but it is rather about changing the relationship between existing things. Buxton established three rules which should be followed by each new product/service. The product/service should:

  1.  offer an excellent customer experience and a true benefit,
  2.  seamlessly blend into the eco-system of existing /en/en/en/en/en/products/services,
  3. decrease the complexity of all other /en/en/en/en/en/products/services and increase their benefit.

Buxton gives the example of the technology-supported assistance of a meeting. When a user is sitting in a meeting room together with his colleagues, other participants who are not present, are included via video or conference call. If the user leaves the room early in order to go to another appointment, his smartphone automatically dials him into the telephone conference so he can continue to assist the meeting on the way to his car. When he enters his car, the on-board computer automatically connects with his smartphone and he can continue participating in the meeting via the hands-free equipment and possibly via video function. When he gets out of his car at his destination, the technology switches back to his smartphone. The technology used interlocks in such a way that it adjusts to the relevant context of use in real time and thus enables the user to have a consistent customer experience. The individual technology moves to the background. Important is the seamless interplay with other technologies and the reduction of complexity for the user. The user is at the centre.
From Buxton’s statements, we can derive three essential learnings for digital dialogue marketing:

  1. The user is always at the centre of the marketing and service communication. Communication needs to adjust to the user, i.e. provide the desired information at the right time via the right channel.
  2. To do this, marketing and service communication needs to include the current context of use in real time, e.g. the location, the terminal device, the channel, the time or weather.
  3. Marketing and service communication must be consistent across all touchpoints. A single customer view is necessary for this.