Giving Power back to Marketers in 2023

By Joanna Milliken, CEO, Emarsys (an SAP company)

Here’s some good news. In 2023, 89% of businesses are planning to increase their marketing budgets. For all the talk of recession and reduced consumer spending, marketers, retailers, and brands are leaning in and investing in the power of marketing to grow their bottom lines.

Here’s the bad news. That investment is meaningless if marketers at retail brands aren’t being empowered to use it. In the year ahead, giving power back to marketers must be priority #1.

It’s easy to say. But what does it actually mean? Let’s look at the facts.

Nearly half of marketers brands (42%) spend more time segmenting data than actually doing marketing. A third of these say that they’re trapped working in ineffective silos, while 4 out of 5 are being held back by outdated marketing tech. When asked what they want to be doing with their time, the overwhelming majority say “getting to know their customers”. When asked what they actually spend their time doing, it’s admin, data entry and managing disjointed tech. Clearly, something has gone wrong.

We’ve got to break that cycle and the stress it puts marketers under. With more complex customers buying across more channels than ever before, it’s no longer enough to be ‘customer centric’. Today’s marketers need time to be customer obsessed!

To me, that’s what this is all about. Customer obsession is the key. It’s the key to efficient marketing, to customer loyalty, and to success in the difficult times to come. If you can empower your marketing team with the tools, insights and time required to get customer obsessed, then half of the battle is already won.

With more complex customers buying across more channels than ever before, it’s no longer enough to be ‘customer centric’. Today’s marketers need time to be customer obsessed!

Unfortunately, customer obsession is a hard balance to strike. You need to be there for customers, understanding their wants and needs as people, on each and every channel they choose to interact with. It’s the Nirvana of omnichannel, always being present and personal, while still putting your customers’ privacy and permissions first.

Right now, this level of customer obsession is something that only a handful of brands achieve. In fact, Forrester’s data shows that only 15% of businesses — not even one in five — are there right now.

Let’s talk about a couple of retail brands that have made the grade, and how they have managed to put customer obsession at the very heart of their businesses:

Reformation: Reformation started life as a company selling vintage clothes in a small Los Angeles storefront, but its customer obsessed attitude has seen it grow into a leading fashion brand. For Reformation, customer obsession means understanding how people used its original store. By having real insight into the in-store elements that shoppers already loved, Reformation was able to recreate these experiences online. Customers get the experiences they love, through the very best channels for them. Best of all, with the right technology, Reformation has empowered its marketers to manage all of these experiences from one place.

Replacements Ltd: From personal collectables to family silverware, Replacements Ltd understands the powerful emotional connection that people have with products. For this crystal and tableware brand, customer obsession means remembering that behind every spreadsheet and every screen is a human being. By connecting with these customers on a truly personal level, giving shoppers the same personal service and attention to detail they’d receive in a physical store, Replacements Ltd has created an experience that goes beyond ‘online’ or ‘in-store’ — a human-first experience.

With budgets back on the rise, now is the time for retail brands to invest in the empowerment of their marketing teams. That means giving them the tools needed to get to know their customers, escape the data silos, and ultimately, to build an obsessed approach.

The State of the Retail Industry 2023

JAN 2023