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How to Integrate Customer Experience and Marketing to Deliver Exceptional Experiences

Adobe’s CEO, Shantanu Narayen, started the 2018 Adobe Summit with the theme “People buy experiences, not products.” It has become clear since then that consumers prefer brands that connect with them on an emotional level when communications are beyond simply selling them products. Furthermore, customers expect brands to provide them with relevant and consistent experiences.  

What then, is Customer Experience?  

A customer experience is every interaction a consumer has with your brand. Brands today are striving to create experiences that delight their customers − experiences that are delivered seamlessly and consistently across every channel. 

An experience can be the results of a web search leading to a personalized landing page, or an interaction on a company’s website or mobile app, or a conversation with a service agent. Experiences can happen during all phases of the customer life cycle - from research to consideration, from a decision to purchase to cart-abandonment, and from the cart abandonment generating a trigger email to completing the purchase. Once a purchase is complete, experiences can also include receiving an immediate confirmation email within seconds, and then easily finding product support or service if necessary. All of these experiences should translate to a happy customer who becomes an influencer, vs. one who is frustrated and issues a complaint. Whether your customers stay loyal OR leave your brand for a competitor is something you can improve upon by bringing your strategy and technology together. 

The concept of experience is not new. In 2015 Forbes wrote, “Where customers want to spend their money is no longer influenced by brand messages, but rather by the experiences they get from brands.” Research also indicates that it takes twelve positive experiences to repair the damage caused by a single unresolved negative experience, making it even more important that companies do their best to provide customers with an optimal experience.  

How does Marketing help you deliver a delightful experience? 

In 2018 while discussing “Deliver Customer Experience with Personalization”, I wrote that “Marketing has shifted from product or brand focused, to being customer focused. In today’s digital marketing, experience is how you deliver that promise.” 

Marketing delivers delightful experiences using deep insights about consumer traits and preferences, and then providing consumers with meaningful interactions. It starts with bringing together all the data you have about the customer into a customer profile. It then takes in any customer signals and behavior and combines them with that profile to deliver the most relevant communication for that point in time.

We all know that while you may design and plan for an optimal customer journey, customers eventually choose their own channels and paths which are not always linear. Hence, it is critical to be able to provide customers with the same experience regardless of their current channel. Additionally, an offer that is tailored to the needs of an individual customer with a personalized experience on the company’s website performs much better than a generic offer that is the same for all customers which is why brands want to move towards more personalized journey-based experiences, and marketing teams are best positioned to help brands achieve this. 

How does an organization evolve to delivering 1:1 experiences?  

Merkle uses a five stage Maturity Continuum to help you examine your ability to create 1:1 personalized experiences, with 1 being the same message to all, and 5 being 1:1 personalized messaging. Can you, as a marketer, tell where you are on this scale of 1-5? And based on where you are, do you have a plan to reach your desired target state? 

5 Stages

For example, we could look at which Adobe Marketing Cloud products have been implemented, and what other technology platforms are in play.

Then, we would evaluate your current technology and capabilities in the context of enabling your strategic future state use cases to determine what your target state of technology and capabilities needs to be. We would examine how we might deliver incremental value over time, and then create a roadmap to enablement. 

Here is a sample roadmap specific to the Adobe stack, with a crawl, walk, and run approach to integrate Adobe Marketing cloud products to enable personalized experiences:

Crawl, walk, run

You can look more holistically at your all areas of technology by looking beyond Adobe and using the Merkle tech stack as a framework to develop a multi-year roadmap.


Want to learn more? Sign up for our webinar that will be held on May 13 at 1:00 pm ET here to hear how you can chart your course to deliver better experiences. During this webinar, you will learn to breakthrough your barriers of where to start with what you have, and develop a roadmap for improving experience through personalization.