When Marketing and Technology Meet

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When companies connect with customers by mastering the intersection of media, technology, and creativity, it can have a noticeable impact on the relationship and revenue. In Converge: Transforming Business at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology, Bob Lord, global CEO, and Ray Velez, global chief technology officer of digital marketing agency Razorfish, share insights about client campaigns that not only brought significant increases in revenue, but that inspired brands to break down silos in their organizations as well. Velez gave Associate Editor Kelly Liyakasa a view of what business transformation looks like when technology and marketing converge.

CRM: You touch on the concept that "marketing is commerce and commerce is marketing" in the book. What does this mean?

Ray Velez: An example that comes to mind is some of the work we've been doing for Audi. We launched the world's largest carless showroom for Audi City, in London's Piccadilly Circus. It's tremendously expensive real estate, and not a place Audi could afford to put a huge amount of cars. [We created a digital] showroom experience that enabled people through gesture, touch, near-field communications, and other capabilities to feel, configure, and decide what they want their new automobile to be like. Audi is now taking that experience and rolling it out to Beijing and other locales. It's delivering a real return on investment. Being in a place like Times Square or Piccadilly Circus is a lot about marketing and advertising value. [Audi City] turned out to be one of the top five selling car showrooms in all of the United Kingdom. Your commerce experience is an opportunity for you to express your brand. The brand promise of Audi is "Advancement Through Technology," and that's what they want to be known for.

CRM: Are companies struggling with the omnichannel experience?

Velez: I think they are, but companies recognize that they definitely have to do it. One of our strategists who came out of the Shop.org conference shared some of his key takeaways, and one was [uncovering companies'] "Amazon strategies." Amazon and now Google have just announced that they're going to do same-day shipping. If you're not taking an omnichannel view of your customer, and allowing him to shop in-store, online, and have same-day delivery, your competitors will, and that's forcing a huge shift. E-commerce grew tremendously, even during the recession, and that growth will continue to happen.

CRM: How can companies break down silos to get a true picture of their customers?

Velez: One of the things that inspired us in the book was a report based off a survey we did with Adobe around targeting. What we found was that most brands are not targeting, and they're not using data. I can go into a local Gap store three times a month and they'll remember me. But if I go back to the Gap site [Gap is just an example], it won't remember me. There's no reason why it shouldn't, and that is a big opportunity. Now it's easier than ever to merge the two through point-of-sale and loyalty programs. I can know who you are in the store and online and make sure your experience online is as good as it is when I go to my corner deli and get coffee every day.

CRM: What does it mean to create a "religion" around convergence?

Velez: We go back to the term evangelist. What we think the evangelist does is drive the thinking that the customer is more important than building your booking engine. It's about customer service to drive the loyalty to have a profitable business. One of the examples we use in the book is Zappos. They have a higher percentage of loyal customers and they use technology in many ways to support that through their core Web property, and they also use a plain old call center to help support that. That enables them to have more loyal customers and their loyal customers to purchase 75 percent more than their disloyal customers. So these are the ways you can see an evangelist driving the agenda around what's important for your customers.

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