CRM Evolution 2014: Modern Marketers Must Focus on Context, Content, and Revenue

NEW YORK—The digital transformation is forcing brands to break down the silos between marketing, sales, and customer service to deliver consistent cross-channel experiences, presenters agreed on day one of the CRM Evolution conference held here at the Marriott Marquis hotel. To keep up with this changing market, however, companies must transition their focus from selling products to delivering outstanding experiences driven by context, content, and revenue.

For businesses born in the digital age, such innovation is often not a product or service, but rather the context in which that product or service is delivered. "If you look at a company like Uber, the product is not that innovative. They're a transportation company," Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research, said. "But at the same time," he added, "they're using social technology to generate driver reviews, mobile technology to deliver the app, cloud technology to power the whole thing, and big data analytics to track surges that alter their pricing. It's a very innovative business, but it's not about replacing taxis. It's about removing an intermediary that gets in the way of inefficient transportation, and making the process simpler."

Context is a differentiating factor for companies that succeed in the digital age because it can be the difference between real time and right time, Wang said. Though new technologies have made real-time marketing more lucrative and attainable, taking a contextual marketing (or right-time marketing) approach is often more rewarding because the product becomes more relevant. "We're not there yet, but we're getting closer and closer to marketing to a segment of one," he said. "Businesses need to use context to improve analytical insight and make better decisions. They need to anticipate what a customer needs and when he's going to need it before a call ever comes in," he added.

But relevancy shouldn't just apply to the context that marketing messages are delivered in; it should also dictate the messages themselves. "Marketing activities are shifting away from banner ads and pay-per-click, and towards sharing valuable content," Jim Berkowitz, founder and CEO of CRM Mastery, said. "Content marketing should make you feel something that guides you to take an action on your own, instead of being told to take that action," he added.

Content marketing beginners should "figure out where they stand before they try to run," Berkowitz urged, suggesting that evaluating a company's current content strategy is the first step toward success. Subsequent steps include identifying the types of content that will resonate best with the brand's audience, determining the best channels for content promotion, and integrating multimedia pieces throughout. Berkowitz also suggested that businesses leverage new content-driven approaches to advertising, including native content and sponsored content.

Publishers are adopting new advertising models, which opens the door for businesses that want to advertise through quality 

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