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Navigating Disruption: 3 Highlights from the Acxiom Transformation Summit

Drew MayMarch 12, 2019

The pace of change in the marketing and advertising industry shows no signs of letting up. To help our clients navigate this rapidly evolving landscape, we recently hosted the Acxiom Transformation Summit in San Antonio, Texas.

This exclusive event brought together Acxiom executives and 50 of the top marketing and IT executives across the retail, travel, entertainment, automotive, financial services, media and technology industries for three days of networking, discussion and learning.

The overarching theme of the summit echoed the shifting sands our clients have experienced: “Navigating Disruption in the Ever-Changing World of Data-Driven Experience.” While certain industries such as retail are facing more disruption than others, every marketer, regardless of industry, faces the same challenge: To deliver exceptional customer experiences at a time when customer expectations — and concerns around how their personal information is used for marketing purposes — are sky high.

Here are three key takeaways that emerged from the event:

Identity resolution and recognition fuel personalized experiences

In today’s digital age, much of the data consumers generate is anonymous. Yet customers expect brands to know them, wherever they are, so the onus is on marketers to use data to understand customers’ intent and the experience they expect.

The core elements required to deliver these personalized experiences are identification and recognition across channels. Chad Engelgau, Acxiom’s chief marketing officer, echoed this sentiment, sharing how identity resolution has become the next battleground for brands. Those that succeed will do so because they have the ability to recognize consumers in digital channels.

Effective identity resolution is a fundamental component of data governance and stewardship. Recognizing and verifying consumers in a privacy-compliant environment is critical to comply with regulatory requirements across industries. As our clients prepare for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which goes into effect next year, investments in identity solutions will be of critical importance.

Emotional loyalty provides a competitive advantage

Forging an emotional connection with your customers today is paramount. Steve Flaming, vice president of analytics and reporting at Kobie, shared the power of cultivating loyalty on an emotional level with customers. He cited a study that found emotionally connected customers have a 306 percent higher lifetime value (LTV), stay with a brand 1.5 years longer, and are much more likely to recommend brands.

Flaming shared three types of motivations that differentiate a brand beyond price:

  1. Status – When customers feel valued and recognized for their loyalty
  2. Habit – When customers buy on autopilot and crave a frictionless experience
  3. Reciprocity – When customers feel grateful for how they are treated, and their values align with the brand

Traditional loyalty programs often neglect to take these different motivations into account, settling for a one-size-fits-all approach. Brands and retailers must take a more sophisticated approach to data to better understand customer preferences and then layer in experiential components into their loyalty efforts, which are highly effective at creating emotional connections. For instance, a retailer could give its customers motivated by status and/or reciprocity early access to a private shopping event. Although experiences are often associated with millennial preferences, this mentality is not constricted to one generation — all consumers value these interactions.

Data governance must be operationalized

Nearly a year has passed since the enforcement of EU’s GDPR — the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. Some attendees shared how they made the mistake of initially delaying GDPR compliance efforts in hopes their operational burden would be reduced through amendments to the law. These changes never arrived, so executives are not eager to make the same mistake twice in preparation for the CCPA.

CCPA is just the tip of the iceberg. In the United States alone, there are 11 CCPA lookalike initiatives in motion and an astounding 107 more regulations in legislation. Jordan Abbott, Acxiom’s head of data ethics, shared how compliance with CCPA will be a major effort, akin to changing the tires on a moving car. For our clients, the message was clear: Don’t wait for a federal data privacy law or CCPA amendments to come. Robust data governance and data ethics programs with identity resolution at the core are a surefire way to prepare and achieve compliance.

Navigating disruption is no small feat for today’s data-driven marketers. We hope the insights from this summit help our clients transform these challenges into opportunities so they can continue delivering great customer experiences.