DMA 2014: Customer Centricity Must Guide Marketing Strategies Across Channels, Presenters Agree

SAN DIEGO—Mobile commerce and e-commerce are growing at unprecedented rates, and with Millennials being 56 percent more likely to make purchases via these channels, the time to develop more "enlightened" e-commerce and mobile strategies is now, Brian Fetherstonhaugh, chairman and CEO of OgilvyOne Worldwide, said during his keynote address at day two of the DMA 2014 conference here.

Enlightened e-commerce is omnichannel, relationship-focused, and experiential, Fetherstonhaugh said, and Millennials are the driving force behind its increased adoption and utility. For too long, e-commerce has been the "bastard child" of companies' selling and marketing strategies, he added, and urged brands to put it on the front lines of their business initiatives.

To help companies focus their business practices around e-commerce, Fetherstonhaugh shared five key points for attendees to "take home with them." First, marketers must recognize that e-commerce is an unstoppable global force and, second, they must "put it at the center, not at the side" of their selling approach. Additionally, Fetherstonhaugh urged marketers to think about "continuous commerce, not just the transaction," paying attention to the links between online and offline selling. The experience must be fluid and one must feel like an extension of the other, he explained.

For his fourth takeaway, Fetherstonhaugh highlighted the importance of mobile channels to the future of sales and marketing. "Mobile shows the way," he said, emphasizing the speed at which smartphone profileration is occurring. Finally, Fetherstonhaugh urged attendees to make e-commerce a goal and become personally invested in it. "Bet at least one chapter of your career on e-commerce," he suggested.

The reason e-commerce is so central to marketing in the current state of business is because it yields a tremendous amount of data that can be used to better inform future engagements between customers and companies. Marketers are no longer driving the marketing process, Gary Laben, CEO of KBM Group, said during a panel discussion. Instead, customers are "at the wheel," and the impact can be felt across virtually all industries.

In the travel industry, for example, customers have become more impulse-driven and more demanding. "They don't want their bags lost, but if they are lost, they want the most advanced tracking technology available to find them," panelist Ian DiTullio, director of loyalty marketing at Air Canada, said.

Satisfying more demanding customers requires personalization, which presents a variety of challenges, depending on industry. Airlines often have to personalize experiences and offers for customers based on two different contexts—business and leisure. "You can have 

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