Tag Archives: Oracle Marketing Cloud

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018: Do you know where your personal data is?

It’s past your bedtime. Do you know where your private personal data is? Do you know who has access to that data? Your answers are probably ‘No’. That’s because you’ve handed over a lot of private data to service providers on the internet and trusted that they’re protecting you and that data. Recent events have shown that’s not always the case and a new law in California aims to fix that.

New legislation will add significant privacy protections for Californians and place new burdens on businesses. While the new legislation applies only to residents of California, most businesses will have customers in the state and do collect some level of private information from customers, so this legislation has broad implications for marketers even outside the state.

Earlier this year law makers in California introduced sweeping consumer privacy legislation. The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 unanimously passed in the California State Assembly and Senate, was signed into law by the Governor and will go into effect in 2020. The Act is the most sweeping consumer privacy legislation ever passed in the United States and gives consumers broad control over personal information collected by businesses. The law is not specific to any one digital channel, but spans all channels where personal information is collected, stored and used by marketers.

Californians will have the following rights under the law:

  • Right to know what personal information is being collected and whether it is sold or disclosed and to whom
  • The right to say no to the sale of personal information
  • The right to access their personal information
  • The right to equal service and price when privacy rights are exercised

Businesses have enjoyed great freedom in how they collect and use consumers' private information. Consumers have had little recourse when their private information is compromised. Recent high-profile incidents involving private consumer data collected by marketers in the digital realm have rattled users of social media and other internet services. Data breaches exposed millions of consumers' credit information. Consumers' social media data was misused by Cambridge Analytica. Users' trust of these services is eroding.

The law will enact several requirements which will directly impact how marketers interact with consumers in California and manage their personal information across a broad range of marketing media. These requirements include:

  • Inform customers at the point of collection what personal information will be collected
  • Allow consumers free access to their personal information and make the information available in a portable and readily usable format that can be transmitted to another service
  • Delete a consumer's personal information on request
  • Disclose on request personal information collected, the purpose for collecting or selling personal information, and any third parties with which personal information was shared
  • Honor consumers' requests to opt-out of having their personal information sold to third parties
  • Provide a prominent "Do Not Sell My Personal Information" link on the homepage to facilitate the consumer opt-out process
  • Provide the same level of service and price even when a consumer chooses to exercise their rights under the Act

When the Act goes into effect in 2020 marketers must be ready to comply, with new procedures, processes and customer facing tools. Companies will also need to decide if they will treat California consumers differently from those outside California.

The law will be enforced by the Attorney General of California, and the Act creates a "Consumer Privacy Fund" to offset costs of enforcing the Act. Consumers will also have a private right of action if companies fail to adequately protect their personal information under the requirements of the Act. Penalties for data breaches are also laid out in the Act.

This legislation, and others like the recently enacted General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, reflect a rising tide of personal data protection for consumers. The message from these enactments is clear: consumers must maintain primary control over their own personal information and businesses must provide access, transparency and strong safeguards to protect consumers' personal information.

Marketers should study this new legislation and start planning now on how to comply. 2020 will approach quickly, and businesses that are not ready to comply may be subject to penalties if they don't meet the requirements of the Act.

Talking Talent, Creativity, and AI at Cannes Advertising Festival

In a little more than a week, industry luminaries from advertising, media, technology, and fashion will crowd the French Riviera resort of Cannes for its annual International Festival of Creativity on communication, commerce, data, and design. The festival will be packed with executives from the world’s top advertising agencies and influential marketers from a host of industries, and I hope you’ll tune in to see what Oracle has to say too.

On Tuesday, June 19, I’m looking forward to speaking on a panel exploring the impact of artificial intelligence on creative professions. On Wednesday, June 20, I’ll also take part in a discussion on how to attract and keep diverse talent and accommodate a generation of workers who value freelancing over fixed positions. And on June 21, Oracle will join a roundtable talk on the changing definition of creativity in a fragmented media landscape. You can follow the action at the conference web site and on this blog.

I’m excited to share examples from some of the world’s leading brands of how they’re capitalizing on  the Oracle Marketing Cloud. Pirelli, the iconic global maker of high-performance tires and 2018 double winner of Oracle’s Markie Award, is using the software to  transform their digital marketing efforts, shifting their focus from B2B to consumers and keeping in touch with them whether they’re online or on the road.

Heineken’s Urban Polo series in New Zealand is attracting younger audiences to smaller fields to view the traditional game, and using Oracle’s Marketing Cloud for automated chats in Facebook Messenger that convey information about matches and parties in place of a program.

Cannes Lions will host more than 4,700 companies, plus some show business stars to lighten the mood (Kevin Costner and David Schwimmer of “Friends” will speak, as will Smiths' guitarist, Johnny Marr). I hope you’ll join me in person or online to see what my colleagues from the advertising and marketing spheres are saying about their customers and industry trends. 

What GDPR Means for CMOs: Is All the Hype Justified?

By Mark de Groot, Marketing Director, EMEA CX, Marketing Apps & CRM – Regional, Oracle

As a direct link to customers and their data, marketers will be uniquely affected by GDPR. In this Q&A, Oracle’s Marie Escaro and Kim Barlow discuss how GDPR affects marketing teams.

How Seriously Should Marketers Take GDPR Compliance?


European regulators have a clear mandate to tighten controls on the way businesses collect, use and share data, and the prospect of large fines for non-compliance is enough to make companies err on the side of caution. Marketers should take this very seriously, as a large part of their role is to ensure the organization has a prescriptive approach to acquiring, managing and using data.


Businesses increasingly rely on data to get closer to their customers. With data now viewed as the soft currency of modern business, companies have every reason to put the necessary controls in place to protect themselves and their customers.

What Does This Mean for CMOs and Marketing Teams?


Marketing teams need a clear view of what data they have, when they collected it, and how it is being used across the business. With this visibility, they can define processes to control that data. I once worked with a company that stored information in seven different databases without a single common identifier. It took two years to unify all this onto a single database, which should serve as motivation for any business in a similar position to start consolidating their data today. It’s equally important to set up processes to prioritize data quality. Encryption is a good practice from a security standpoint, but marketers also need to ensure their teams are working with relevant and accurate data.

What’s Been Holding Marketers Back?


There is still a misconception around who is responsible for data protection within the organization. It’s easy to assume this is the domain of IT and legal departments, but every department uses data in some form and is therefore responsible for making sure it does so responsibly. Marketing needs to have a clear voice in this conversation.

Many businesses are also stuck with a siloed approach to their channel marketing and marketing data, which makes the necessary collaboration difficult. These channel siloes within marketing teams have developed through years of growth, expansion and acquisitions. And breaking them down must be a priority so everyone in the business can work off a centralized data platform. 

Is This Going to Hamper Businesses or Prove More Trouble Than it's Worth?


Protecting data is definitely worth the effort for any responsible business. But GDPR is not just about data protection. It’s a framework for new ways of working that will absolutely help businesses modernize their approach to handling data, and benefit them in the long term. If we accept data is an asset with market value, then it’s only natural customers gain more control over who can access their personal information and how it is used and shared. Giving customers the confidence their data is safe and being looked after responsibly, while ensuring that data is better structured and higher quality will be good for the businesses deriving value from that data.

What Should CMOs Do to Tackle GDPR Successfully?


As with any major project, success will come down to a structured approach and buy-in from employees. CMOs need to stay close to this issue but in the interests of their own time should at least appoint a strong individual or team as part of an organization-wide approach to compliance. Marketing needs to be a part of that collaborative effort and should be working in a joined-up way, with finance, IT, operations, sales and other parts of the business to ensure all data is accounted for and properly protected.

Click here to learn more about GDPR and discover how Oracle can help.

Also read 5 Steps to GDPR Compliance - It's Not Too Late to Prepare

From Direct Mail to Predictive Intelligence: Riding the Technology Wave

Makers of Modern Marketing: Bence Gazdag

Welcome back to the Makers of Modern Marketing at Oracle! A new blog series dedicated to the drivers, architects, and risk-takers behind marketing at Oracle to give readers a peek into how they are applying our own products to drive innovation and build the future of digital marketing.

This week we got to chat with Bence Gazdag the Senior Director for Global Marketing Demand Center and Technology at Oracle about the many shifts he has witnessed in data-driven methodology and customer-centric marketing over his nearly 19-year stint at Oracle.  

Since coming to Oracle in 1999, Gazdag has had the unique opportunity to watch the company grow and evolve from the inside. Today, he oversees a team of 170 employees running the Global Marketing Demand Center, a shared services function that provides support globally to marketers facilitating the seamless execution of campaigns. This team spans the globe—from India to Argentina to Bozeman, Montana—covering over 40,000 execution pieces per year.

In addition, Gazdag’s team runs technology and data, customer tools and development, as well as, innovation, which means they are charged with building their own tools to power their products and systems and that they run their own databases, including the Customer Experience Database. To say Bence Gazdag is a busy man would be an understatement, but after close to two decades, Oracle’s ever-changing environment has a way of always keeping him fascinated.

“[Your customer] shouldn’t feel like they’re talking to a different person every time they pick up the phone.”

Customer Data Quality Board

We touched on the importance of quality data over sheer quantity with Patrick McGavock last time, now with Gazdag we are able to delve into who determines the standard for data quality.

Around 2005, Gazdag saw an opportunity for Oracle to gain a greater, more consistent understanding of how data is categorized across the company for improved business alignment. His solution? The Customer Data Quality Governance Board, which set up the standard against which data is ranked at Oracle. In his words it is “a cross-functional governance board at Oracle that has owners from finance, support, sales, marketing—basically, all LOB's come together to agree on common data quality standards, common data definitions.” As the Founder and Chair of the CDQ governance board, Gazdag facilitated the creation and maintenance of this “master” record of rules and standards for different data attributes. Though he has stepped down from his role as Chair, Gazdag remains an active member and is still heavily involved in what the future of data quality will look like.

Gazdag guides us to the larger view of this endeavor: personalization. Providing an outstanding customer experience hinges on a deep understanding of customer behavior, in order to supply content that is timely, relevant and attractive:

“People have a shorter attention span and when they are engaging with content, then they want to engage with a lot of content and they want to binge on the content right there in the moment vs waiting on delivery the next piece.”

It is no longer enough to just get prospects to click on an ad or email, they need to be given the option to engage immediately, then once they are customers they must be treated respectfully as an individual. “You have to merge your customer support, your sales, your marketing interactions, and engagement points so that you can have a confluent view and experience...[your customer] shouldn’t feel like they’re talking to a different person every time they pick up the phone,” says Gazdag, tying it back to the business alignment he envisioned when he founded the CDQ board.


Predictive is The Future

Shortly after joining Oracle, Gazdag got his first taste of Oracle’s propensity to embrace new tech, “Our CMO back then said, basically from one day to another, ‘We’re going to stop doing all direct mail and traditional marketing and advertising and we’re going to switch over to this thing called e-mail marketing.’” And with that, they switched in a matter of weeks.

Now, with a keen eye on the horizon, Gazdag is excited about the possibilities AI, machine learning and predictive intelligence hold for the future of modern marketing. The latest step in Oracle’s journey is using machine learning for lead scoring purposes, leveraging marketing and sales data to optimize lead scoring for conversion. “That’s been proving very promising results,” says Gazdag, his sights already set on scaling this and other burgeoning platforms.

Gazdag has also been monitoring the progression of predictive intelligence, which activates both external and internal data sources. There are three key components in effective predictive intelligence platforms, according to Gazdag: fit, intent and engagement. In short, they gather and analyze data to determine key indicators for each point, then overlay that data to find out exactly when and which products to approach a prospect with. “We’re seeing two to four times increase in win rates.” As both account and individual digital footprints swell in size, Oracle steps up with computing power, keeping in mind data privacy restrictions that are under constant re-write with each change in the market.

These concepts can put some marketers on edge, though, will there be a point when machines can do it all and us marketers are obsolete? Gazdag isn’t worried, “Machine learning is a tool to help you digest and understand vast amounts of data and provide you with recommendations and decision points that can empower you as a marketer, to be way more nimble and way smarter with your marketing strategies. It's a tool that you need to be able to use.” It behooves us marketers to strive to understand all the different kinds of tools out there now, while the technology is in its infancy, to maximize our own capabilities.

“You don't have to be a PHD data-driven scientist to be a good marketer who's using data or machine learning…but you need to understand the concepts and how to leverage it as a power tool.”

A Marketer’s Tool Kit

It takes a versatile, ambitious and open-minded person to survive with one company through its many ebbs and flows (or downright tidal wave shifts), Gazdag has done it with marked success. He is a strong proponent of agile marketing, in fact he was featured in the book The Agile Marketer, which details a style of working that emphasizes flexibility and an openness to change within projects and plans. Gazdag suggests having a constant feedback loop with your customer to understand what they want and ensure that you are delivering on that, then adjusting regularly to provide the best results and experience.  

Gazdag encourages marketers in this data-driven world to broaden their scopes and gain at least a general grasp of data analytics and statistics, “You don't have to be PHD data driven scientist to be a good marketer who's using data or machine learning…but you need to understand the concepts and how to leverage it as a power tool.” It is essential both for understanding how best to leverage data in unique situations, but also how best to ensure that we are using customer data respectfully.

On a personal level, the freedom to function in this way is one of the main things that has kept Gazdag with Oracle for so long. It also helps that the technology stack he has access to “is a modern technology marketer’s dream.” The constant change in technology allows him to be forever learning and growing and innovating.

Besides these, perhaps, more obvious up sides, Gazdag sites another reason he has stayed put: the people. Recalling some of his first meetings back in 1999, “eight out of 10 people would be from a different country, had a different accent. They were all incredibly smart. That was just so impressive to me at the time, still is, that you've got some of the best and the brightest people from all over the world at the company that you can work with on a daily basis. That's pretty amazing.”

Are you ready to get the most out of your data but don't have a data management strategy? Download Maximize Your Marketing to learn how to use the right data at the right time to drive real results.

Maximize Your Marketing: Eight Questions to Ask as You Introduce a Data Management Strategy

Picking Up the Pieces: How Companies Rebuild Brands Post-Crisis

Every company makes mistakes every now and then. It’s inevitable. Whether it’s a marketing campaign that falls flat and generates backlash, a serious collapse in services or a faulty product, it’s bound to happen sometime. Careful vigilance will prevent many of these disasters before they explode, but eventually one will get through and everything will go wrong. And once crisis strikes, no matter how you’ve defined and cultivated your image over time, confidence in the brand is going to take a hit. It doesn’t last forever, however, and it’s certainly possible for a brand to fully recover from such a crisis.

Being able to recover from a brand crisis or a public relations disaster requires distinct actions in three phases. It helps to have an active reputation management system working before the crisis itself, it requires a measured response in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, and it depends on a longer-term strategy afterward for the recovery. You should take the crisis seriously and make an effort to honestly and transparently listen to customers and respond. For the long-term strategy after the crisis you need to be patient and careful about going back to marketing-as-usual, and you need to take real action in the long-term to prevent similar crises.

Some companies even consider re-branding entirely, although this may look suspicious to consumers if it attracts attention, and it has the potential to backfire.  It might help to look at a few examples of how companies have handled this recovery for better or for worse.

Takata Airbags and Automakers

When something serious goes wrong with one brand, it can have dramatic effects not just on confidence in that brand but on all brands that are linked to it. The Takata airbag recall is the biggest car recall in U.S. history, and it involves airbags in vehicles from 19 different automakers. These airbags have the potential to malfunction in the event of a collision and explode upon inflation, shooting deadly shrapnel around the inside of the vehicle. In the United States at least 15 deaths have been linked to Takata airbags as well as hundreds of injuries. The recall is still ongoing, meaning that many of these cars are still on the road. The problem is that there are so many airbags that Takata and automakers are not able to rapidly provide fixes.

For car companies including GM, Mazda, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and more, however, this is a dangerous brand crisis that came about through no obvious fault of their own. But compared to these auto-makers, Takata is a relatively unknown brand that consumers will rarely interact with directly. Takata may have a long way to go to win back confidence from car manufacturers, but those car manufacturers will also have their hands full rebuilding their brands with upset consumers.

In a crisis like an automotive recall, the recovery from the brand crisis depends a lot on the immediate response. Some automakers are getting little to no press attention on their brand and have had few or no reported accidents so far that can be linked to them. For them, dealing quietly and effectively with the recall and then waiting for the media coverage to pass is the best thing they can do. For the car companies getting more attention, however, their image depends on the quality and speed of the recall and their service to affected customers. This isn’t going well so far for many of the car companies, which may make for a long recovery and a drop in sales and loyalty, at least among affected customers.

Chipotle and the E. Coli Outbreak

Popular Tex-Mex restaurant chain was hit by a serious string of E. coli and norovirus outbreaks in 2015 in locations across the United States, producing a serious drop in confidence in the brand. After many locations closed and customers in seven states reported getting sick after eating Chipotle, Chipotle’s sales dropped 14.6 percent and its income dropped 44 percent in the final quarter of 2015.

This outbreak became a serious issue for the Chipotle brand because of how widespread media coverage of the issue was, and because the problem seemed to clash so directly with Chipotle’s existing brand identity. The quality and integrity of the ingredients of their food has always been one of the core values in Chipotle’s marketing, from the ethical sourcing to the way the food is prepared. This led to an even greater drop in consumer confidence after the crisis, and it created more media interest and thus widespread coverage.

In the wake of the crisis, Chipotle temporarily closed many restaurants and put some operations on hold. They returned to business as usual by December 2015, but largely kept their heads down in marketing and public statements. Several months after it was over, they closed Chipotles across the country for a morning of training and planning. That event, plus an open letter to the public from the CEO, marked Chipotle’s attempt to begin moving forward and leaving the crisis behind them. Not only did the letter accept responsibility for the food safety failure, but it promised a wide range of specific measures they were taking to improve food safety.

After these statements and actions addressing the crisis, Chipotle almost immediately started a new marketing blitz to encourage customers to return to Chipotle, including promotions for free entrees. Several years after the crisis, Chipotle has now fully recovered and restored their brand to what it was before without falling into another disaster since.

Restoring brand reputation starts with rebuilding trust. There is nothing more important than creating exceptional customer experience to help rebuild trust and build a strong brand reputation. Download Customer Experience Simplified: Deliver The Experience Your Customers Want to learn how to craft an outstanding experience for your customers​.


Great customer experiences rely on robust identity management

With an ever-growing demand from consumers for personalised engagement, it is becoming increasingly important that marketers appreciate the importance of identity management as a piece of bedrock marketing infrastructure.

Put simply, without effective identity management, there is no ‘People Based Marketing’. In fact, identity management is the foundational component of concepts like cross-device identification, multi and omnichannel marketing, and the all-important ‘Single Customer View’.

These days all marketing and advertising technologies rely on successful identity management to enable application integration and data sharing.

But what is identity management?

It is a descriptive term that means the ability to link identifiers to a single person or household. Those identifiers could be a marketing channel, a database key or a device such as mobile phone or web browser.

For marketers to execute a consistent customer experience strategy, they need technology that understands and measures how consumers interact with their brands. For instance, they need to identify that a customer has visited their website, opened an email or gone into the store.

And to deliver personalized experiences across any channel, marketers need technology that can uniquely identify each user and their personal profile.

In both these use-cases, marketers will be well served if they have some technical understanding of the issues.

Targeting and suppression

There are two key improvements for a brand when they implement effective identity and access management: better targeting and better suppression.

Better targeting increases the ability to convert prospects because the brand can communicate with the person in more channels such as connected digital direct channels like email with paid media channels like display retargeting. This ability to reach a person across more channels with the same brand message increases the opportunity to convert and capture a greater share of wallet.

Conversely, the ability to suppress customers from acquisition strategies is one of the premises on which data management platform return on investment cases are built. Implementation of identity and access management in paid media channels allows a brand to stop messaging to loyal customers or hot leads.

So what might create identity and access management concerns at a technical level?

Start with your technology infrastructure.

Software as a service based marketing and advertising technology has revolutionised marketing. Marketers can now focus on doing what they do best - creatively and effectively telling their company’s stories while leaving technology companies to worry about the mechanisms of keeping the infrastructure up to date.

Cloud-based models also mean that brands benefit from the economies of scale of the vendors and from the continuous upgrade cycles and security management practices of their SaaS providers.

And for many companies, the ability to manage costs on a monthly or annual subscription basis de-risks technology choices as it removes lengthy and often hefty capital expenditure cycles.

However, there is a problem. In large enterprises, companies will have multiple SaaS suppliers and those suppliers might well provide technology to computers on-premise as well as in the cloud.

Identities and access need to be federated across all these environments within a Trust Fabric or else they risk creating data ghettos housed in isolated silos.

Applications come with their own identities. There needs to be seamless and very fast integration from one SaaS environment to another, from SaaS to on-premise and between different applications whether they be SaaS or on-premise and it can’t matter if it’s Oracle or non-Oracle.

To address this problem, Oracle created an integrated portfolio that provides the ability to drag and drop without coding. This means companies can do things like build federated integrations between a Salesforce or SAP system and a SaaS application like Oracle ERP Cloud.  This makes it very easy to do these integrations so that now you have your identities and access, federated in a consistent manner across the on-premise and cloud divide.

The problem - in terms of the customer's experience is that as each of these applications comes with their own identity, brand, and risk offering, resulting in a disjointed experience as they do not have the full picture of the client relationship.

And there is a wider issue than simply single sign-on both for customers and for staff.

Without the proper identity and access management, it is difficult to understand what is really going on inside your systems, e.g. who has access to which resources with specific entitlements and how that access is continuously reviewed and verified.

Getting insight into user behavior is an important consideration and then that needs to be connected to security systems. So if I see the inappropriate behavior I can step up authentication or I can turn off access via Multi Factor Authentication and User Entity Behavior Analytics. The outcome here is a reduction in the Mean Time to Detect and also the Mean Time to Respond in such a case of Anomaly Detection.

The reality is that information systems are complex and brands want to recognise their customers across multiple clouds either on their own premises or delivered by a SaaS vendor, and they need to manage identities across applications from multiple and often competing suppliers within a Unified Identity Trust Fabric.

And for the customer, this needs to be quick, easy and seamless.

Want more?

Download our free Guide to Advertising Accountability to learn how consistent identity management can help you improve marketing accountability, cut costs by reducing waste, and dramatically improve your ROI.

Is Content Marketing Still Relevant In Today’s Marketing World?

Over the past 24 months, content marketing has swept over the digital marketing world. Brands have been encouraged to think and act like media companies, pushing out content at a prodigious pace. Content marketing has become the new marketing paradigm, pushing aside former marketing favorites such as search engine optimization (SEO).

Understanding paradigm shifts in the marketing world

In many ways, the success of content marketing was based on it being able to prove that “inbound marketing” was better than “outbound marketing.” In other words, posting new blog content, creating new podcast content, and developing new video content was a more cost-effective way to attract potential customers than simply covering the Internet with ads.

Content marketing offered a fundamental choice of “pull” vs. “push.” Content marketers made the argument that it was more effective to “pull” a customer towards you than to “push” him or her into your arms with a bunch of ads.

But something interesting has been going on recently. We may be witnessing another paradigm shift. That’s because the type of content that marketers are creating has shifted almost exclusively to video. Check out what any of the big social media platforms are up to these days, and it almost always involves video. Check out what types of branded content is showing up in your social feeds these days, and it’s usually video content.

Of course, you could make the argument that this is still content marketing — it’s just that all the content is video content. From this perspective, it’s not so much that a new paradigm shift is going on, it’s more of an evolutionary step. Video content is better than visual content (i.e. photos), and visual content is better than text content (i.e. blog posts). In the Darwinian jungle of digital marketing, video marketing won the evolutionary battle for survival.

Ideas on what comes next for digital marketing

So which is it: Is content marketing and “inbound marketing” still relevant in today’s marketing world, or are there signs it is fading and changing in response to the new content environment in social media?

One possible answer is that the role of brands in today’s digital world is shifting and evolving in very profound ways. Take the phenomenal success of the Amazon Echo, which is a new way to interact with consumers. First of all, instead of using a keyboard or mobile phone keypad, you’re using your voice. That’s new, right? And secondly, brands are racing to create “skills” for the Amazon Echo, like the ability to order a pizza while watching a baseball game.

So maybe this is the new paradigm – brands are more like invisible tools that remain in the background of your daily digital life, waiting to be activated at the sound of your voice.

Or, here’s another idea: maybe brands are evolving into a way to enhance your everyday “reality” using virtual reality, augmented reality and other forms of mixed reality. All of the activity around augmented reality would seem to suggest that the most forward-looking brands should be looking for ways to help people live better in reality.

For example, shouldn’t big automakers be looking for ways to overlay augmented reality screens on windshields of cars? Shouldn’t big consumer brands be looking to create fun, mind-bending experiences using augmented or virtual reality? (Oh look, honey, there’s a big chocolate tree growing in our backyard! Let’s go buy some candy bars!)

One thing is certain – it’s important for digital marketers to keep at least one eye on new trends that are bubbling up in the technology sector. Nothing stays the same for long. Just as adopting a “mobile-first” mentality took some getting used to, so will whatever comes next in the digital marketing world.

Oracle’s Content Marketing has solutions to simplify the process of creating, distributing and promoting your content. Visit our website for more information.Also, make sure to read Larry Myler's, How Content Marketing is Evolving Heading into 2018 for top trends in content marketing and tips on how to stay ahead of the curve. 

*This article originally appeared on Social Media HQ

Forget The Hype And Really Understand What AI Can Do For You

Technology is transforming marketing faster than ever before. Add AI to the mix and marketers experience another layer of complexity. But according to the latest research, marketers who successfully adopt and adapt artificial intelligence into their digital marketing strategy will most certainly rise above the rest. eMarketer recently published a report, Artificial Intelligence for Marketers in 2018: Finding Value Beyond the Hype. Their research highlights benefits of brands who have already implemented AI.

But before looking at the data, let's look at what falls under the umbrella of artificial intelligence. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company defines AI under eight categories:

  1. Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  2. Natural Language Generation (NLG)
  3. Speech Recognition
  4. Machine Learning
  5. Decision Management
  6. Virtual Agents (chatbots, etc.)
  7. Robotics Process Automation
  8. Computer Vision

So what kind of advantages have organizations experienced since implementing AI? eMarketer reports:

The overall benefits are encouraging. To dive even further into real-world applications of AI, eMarketer found that retail marketers are using this technology to craft a better customer experience across the board.

While this data is promising for organizations to see, the question some grapple with is, where do we start? eMarketer shares some solid advice to those looking to incorporate AI into their business efforts.

I think the best advice the research revealed is to forget the "hype" and really understand what AI can do for your brand. Allen Nance, Global CMO of Emarsys, suggests asking questions like:

  • What data sets can we use to inform AI systems?
  • Who will develop the algorithm?
  • Will we have on-staff data scientists?
  • Show me how it will change my role and my organization?

While AI is in a growth stage, it is clear to see it will be one of the most important investments marketers can make for the future. And as you can see from the data, many have already started down that path. Is your organization ready?

For practical tips on how to bring AI into your marketing, don't miss Adaptive Intelligence: Practical Tips for Bringing AI into Your Marketing from David Gutelius, CEO of Motiva AI, a machine learning company dedicated to adaptive customer experience and an Oracle partner.

Here are the 2018 Markie Award Finalists

We are excited to announce the Markie Award finalists for 2018! This year marks the 12th year that we have celebrated the best in Modern Marketing. We were pleased to invite Oracle Commerce customers to submit for a Markie Award and they proved that great marketing can be done with Oracle Commerce products, too!

A lot goes into great marketing - from leveraging data for insights, to creating personalized messages and reaching target audiences through multiple channels. The Markies submissions reflect the changing nature of marketing and the fact that our customers are demanding better customer experiences in exchange for brand advocacy and loyalty.

Thank you to everyone who submitted and shared their inspiring stories with us. Our judges enjoyed reading through them all. The caliber of the submissions showed just how savvy our Oracle Marketing Cloud and Oracle Commerce customers are when it comes to Modern Marketing.  Congratulations to our finalists!

Winners will be announced at the Markie Awards dinner ceremony at Modern Customer Experience in Chicago on April 10th at 8 PM. All attendees to the event are welcome to attend and celebrate with us.

And now…the finalists!

Account-Based Marketing Team of the Year

These teams have embraced an end-to-end view across the entire buyer journey and across all channels. They know their buyer profile, have created targeted campaigns that drive engagement and ROI and have created visibility into which accounts have the greatest propensity to buy.

This year’s finalists achieved phenomenal results with their account-based marketing strategies. With focused, methodical and well-executed campaigns, these organizations were able to increase open rates, build pipeline and tightened the overall experience, providing seamless touchpoints for their target audiences. At the same time, they were also able to create cross-functional relationships within their organizations.

  • Cisco
  • Clarivate Analytics
  • DX Marketing
  • NEC
  • NTT Communications Corporation

Best B2B Commerce Experience

These data-driven Modern Commerce or Marketing professionals have proven ways to deliver personalized buying experiences for every B2B customer. They have provided their customers with relevant content, merchandising, personalized search, customized marketing programs, and tailored websites across all channels. At the same time, they enable self-service with custom catalogs, custom pricing and account-specific experiences.

The finalists below are delivering integrated experiences, streamlining processes and providing seamless commerce experiences for their B2B customers. Some have even mastered B2C-like experiences for their B2B audience and increased their conversion rate in the process.

  • Calix
  • Dubai World Trade Center
  • Integra Life Sciences
  • The Chefs Warehouse
  • WestRock

Best B2C Commerce Experience

These data-driven Modern Commerce or Marketing professionals are delivering personalized buying experiences for every B2C customer, connecting the online experience to the in-store experience by exposing inventory availability and offering click and collect. This award recognizes the supremely enlightened organization that truly gets the power of personally engaging consistently delightful, and seamlessly integrated experiences where the customer runs the show.

These finalists have created strategies to align and unify their brands, designed beautiful visual selling websites, leveraged mobile in engaging and easy-to-use ways and provide a variety of their users with targeted experiences.

  • Ascena Retail Group
  • Moleskine
  • PureFormulas
  • Public Broadcasting Service Distribution
  • Vermont Country Store

Best Digital Marketing Ecosystem

These organizations are taking advantage of digital marketing integration to enhance processes or improve analytics. They have created an integrated ecosystem with CRM, third-party cloud apps, or other applications to automate, streamline, and enhance your marketing efforts and are often using APIs in interesting ways.

This year’s finalists show how integrating with either multiple Oracle products or other third party products to build their marketing stack can help improve efficiencies and significantly increase revenue, sales opportunities and customer interactions.

  • ADP
  • Atea
  • Infosys
  • Jetstar
  • Vodafone Group Enterprise

Best Email Marketing Campaign

Email can be extraordinary. In fact, there are some email communications that are so well written, so masterfully designed, that it's only a question of when people will respond, not if. Achieving extraordinary response rates isn't luck – it's the result of great targeting, content, personalization and timing.

These finalists show just how extraordinary email can be. They were able to personalize emails for their target market, adopt A/B testing, analyzed their data to make customer experience the forefront of the campaigns that ultimately, drove revenue contribution.

  • Aer Lingus
  • Certiport
  • Olav Thon Gruppen
  • Tech Mahindra Limited
  • Wine (Dia da Saudade)

Best Emerging Company Marketing Campaign

Doing more with less? These fast-growing, emerging companies of $100M in revenue or less have lean, mean, marketing teams that have executed masterful marketing campaigns using marketing automation to do the work of ten people.

This year’s nominees proved that size doesn’t matter. They were able to create targeted customer experiences with clear objectives, organizational alignment and collaboration across different departments.

  • E-commerce Enablers Pte ltd /Shopback
  • Mist Systems
  • Second City Works
  • TurnKey Vacation Rentals


Best Integrated Mobile Experience

For these organizations, mobile is the platform of choice for the majority of their ideal customers. As such they have created personalized experiences with messages and promotions optimized for mobile.

These finalists have adopted a customer centric approach to their mobile experience, developed creative and modern looking responsive designs and designed mobile apps to connect online and offline data for complete end-to-end experiences.

  • Moleskine
  • Mountain America Credit Union
  • Public Broadcasting Service Distribution
  • The Vitamin Shoppe
  • Vermont Country Store


Best International Campaign

The Best International Campaign award will go to a company with a successful marketing campaign outside the United States - in multiple countries in multiple languages, modification of a program originally created in the U.S. and re-launched in another country, or any variation in between.

The finalists this year truly built international campaigns by incorporating multiple campaign canvases designed for multiple languages across multiple countries, resulting in impressive ROI and pipeline revenue.

  • American Express
  • HCL Technologies Ltd
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Morningstar
  • Philips Lighting

Best Lead Management Program

Finalists in this category have a sophisticated lead management program that delivered measurable results. They demonstrate the use of lead scoring and deliver compelling results. In this award, people, process and technology all come into play.

The 2018 Finalists in this category managed to coordinate leads across complex enterprises and multiple campaigns, creating alignment between sales and marketing and increasing revenue and pipeline at the same time.

  • Basware OYJ
  • Covance Inc
  • HCL Technologies Ltd
  • Saison Information Systems Co., Ltd
  • Samsung Electronics France

Best Omni-Channel Marketing Program

Finalists in this category create personalized experiences with messages and promotions across web, social, mobile, email, display, or other digital channels to attract or retain their ideal customers?

This year’s finalists are leveraging multiple Oracle products, leveraging all channels to build complex marketing programs that result in uplift rates, cost savings and improved customer experience.

  • Aon
  • Lojas Renner
  • Medtronic
  • National Roads and Motorists' Association Limited

Best Overall Customer Experience

Every company says they are customer focused. But few actually deliver. These finalists have created a customer retention or loyalty program that has successfully transformed their customers into fiercely loyal brand advocates. They have shifted their culture from consumer transactions to customer relationships to drive loyalty.

The following finalists are making the digital shift and personalized their customer journeys using various technologies and integrated data, often connecting their customers offline and online resulting in increased customer retention, sales and conversion rates.

  • Axcess Financial (Check n Go)
  • Cisco
  • Schibsted Media
  • Vermont Country Store
  • Visma Software Oy -  Tutka

Best Social Campaign

For finalists in this category, Social Media is more than just a buzz word. They have found creative ways to utilize both new and traditional social mediums in order to build sustained dialogs with customers and prospects, and have seized the opportunities available through social media to generate proven results.

These finalists incorporated social media in innovative ways to promote their product, generate leads and drive results. They used visually appealing creative, leveraged influencers and put customer experience at the forefront of their campaigns.

  • Axcess Financial (Check n Go)
  • Bajaj Finserv
  • Sage
  • Technos
  • Texas Instruments

Best Testing and Optimization

These Marketers have optimized the online customer experience with testing, insights, and personalization. They have maximized revenue potential across web, mobile, social, apps, and other digital channels as a result and have taken the leap to multivariate sophistication. Nominees for this award have incorporated testing and optimization of their campaigns and programs to mitigate risk, drive better decisions, increase revenue, and improve the customer experience.  

The finalists in this category took testing to a whole other level by starting out with testing theories before implementing, as well as testing across different country sites. They analyzed and optimized personalized content on the web, resulting in significant revenue increases.

  • American Express
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hilton
  • HTC
  • Signet Jewelers

Best Use of Data

The data-driven Modern Marketer targets and engages their ideal audience for specific business initiatives These finalists are successfully using data to target, personalize, measure and win. They are using data in innovative and strategic ways, and have seen their efforts pay off with improved customer experiences and ROI.

This year’s finalists used data science and predictive modeling to uncover segments and opportunity with a great realization and achievements. They used different data sources to lower costs of acquisition and created highly targeted campaigns using a strong mix of implicit and explicit data points.

  • Jones Lang LaSalle Property Consultant Pte Ltd
  • LTI (Larson Tourbro Infotech)
  • Passarela
  • REA Group
  • Samsung Business America

Best Use of Insights and ROI

These Marketers are interpreting data for actionable recommendations that improve business results and customer experience. This award recognizes an organization that has moved beyond reporting (old methods of organizing data into informational summaries to monitor performance) towards analysis (new data and meaningful insights that improve performance).  

These finalists used analytics and data science to proactively engage customers throughout the entire relationship lifecycle with personalized and optimized communications; establish enterprise-wide reporting strategies to create complete and actionable stories and determine ROI from campaigns to justify additional development of campaigns within their organizations.

  • Cisco
  • Covance Inc.
  • Hitachi Consulting
  • La-Z-Boy
  • Morningstar

Modern Marketing Leader of the Year

Just as great people are the foundation for successful businesses, innovators are often the driving force behind exceptional marketing. These nominees are the passionate senior people that push their teams to succeed, lead decisive change, set the vision for the entire marketing organization and introduce innovative concepts.    

This year’s submissions demonstrated impressive and inspiring leaders who are taking their marketing to the next level by aligning changing business environments with consumer behavior and bringing a “digital-first” vision into the organization. They have broken down silos and implemented ground-breaking marketing and testing new technologies.

  • Brightcove - Chris Bondhus
  • FIS - Alisa Barber
  • Pirelli - David Alemani
  • Sage - Kevin Cassidy
  • Stein IAS - Marc Keating

Most Creative Marketing Campaign

Sometimes all of the pieces align to create a fantastic marketing campaign – the perfect idea, the right target, the memorable artwork, the personalized follow-up, and of course, the measurable results.

These finalists have innovatively used segmentation and gamification to both educate and nurture their customers, increase interest in their product and leveraged celebrity to increase activity across multiple channels.

  • Cisco
  • Desert Financial Credit Union
  • Eaton
  • FIS
  • Texas Instruments

Rapid Transformation

Enabling a high-performance marketing culture isn’t always easy. For most organizations, it can take time to master the intricate blend of messaging, segmentation, data orchestration, organizational alignment and other disciplines. The Rapid Transformation award honors those who have successfully implemented any Oracle Marketing Cloud technology in the past year, for their superb planning, execution, and results.  

Within their first year, these finalists were able to both rapidly transformed their marketing and their corporate culture, successfully implement more than one marketing technology and use data analytics to drive their campaigns.

  • Banco Votorantim
  • BMW New Zealand
  • Carlson Wagonlit Travel
  • Movember
  • Pirelli

People's Choice Award: Best Video Submission

This award honors the best video submission with a people’s choice award voted on by your peers. Finalists in this category submitted exceptional videos enhanced by creativity, humor or human interest touches.

  • BMW New Zealand
  • DX Marketing
  • Hilton
  • PETStock
  • Samsung Electronics France

Voting will be open soon! Check Topliners to watch the videos submitted by our finalists and cast your vote for Best Video Submission!

Note: Voting requires registration to Topliners. New to Topliners? Click here to get started.

Congratulations to our finalists! Watch the replays of the Markies Finalist announcements by visiting the Markies website.

3 Digital Trends Driving Improved Customer Experience in 2018

Customer Experience (CX) is not just a buzz word. Businesses are operating in a saturated market where brand loyalty is decreasing, price competition is rising and consumers are distracted and exposed to several media, devices and a lot of information.

In this complex ecosystem, CX is becoming crucial for companies in order to differentiate themselves, improve customer satisfaction, foster loyalty, reduce churn and ultimately increase revenue.  

Just to provide few examples, according to a KPMG study (2017) there is a positive correlation between CX and financial results. A report by McKinsey (2014) found that companies focusing on maximising satisfaction of the entire customer journey can potentially increase customer satisfaction by 20%. And again, Forrester (2016) showed that superior CX drives superior revenue growth. When they compared the total growth rate of all CX leaders to that of all CX laggards they noticed that the leaders collectively had a 14-percentage point advantage.

So CX is not just the latest trend, but what is it exactly and what makes a CX outstanding?

There are different opinions on what the key elements of a good CX are. In my view, a good CX must be Consistent, Useful, Personalised and Delightful. I like to think that it’s not a coincidence that if you play with those words, you get CUPiD, the Latin God of attraction and love who would strike you with an arrow and make you fall in love with someone…or in our case with a brand!

So, if in the eyes of the consumers, CX is trumping price and products, what are the areas where companies are investing to make their CX unique and respond effectively to consumers’ needs?

According to a recent survey by eConsultancy (2017), over one-fifth of client respondents ranked 'optimising CX' as the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead. In order to deliver differentiated CX, brands are looking at: engaging audiences through virtual or augmented reality, using artificial intelligence/ bots to drive campaigns and experiences, enhanced payment technologies and finally internet of things.

In fact, the industry agrees that there are at least three prominent trends that are driving CX to the next level: VR/AR, AI/Bots, Mobile/IoT.

1. VR/AR

VR and AR will play an important role in connecting the online and in-store experience.

For example, it will enable customers to try before they buy. Amazon has just patented a mirror that dresses you in virtual clothes. Ikea has recently launched Ikea Place, which allows users to place virtual Ikea furniture into their own home to see how everything might look once assembled.

Another home interiors-related app, Dulux Visualiser uses AR to see what your walls will look like when painted a different colour.

AR can also be utilised to improve the experience in-store. Home Depot, for example, has launched an app that allows customers to find products inside a shop using real-time inventory and visual search. The Home Depot App has the ability to sense when the customer enters one of the stores and it activates the in-store mode, allowing them to find any item where they are. You can even use your camera to take a picture of an unfamiliar item and the app will show you a list of similar products and where to locate them.

2.  AI/Bots

AI is taking the personalisation to the next level. Chatbots, for example, are making every one-to-one interaction completely tailored, allowing customers to engage 24/7 with a “virtual” representative that mimics the way a customer support representative would talk.

Levi’s, for example, has announced a chatbot on Facebook Messenger, Levi’s Virtual Stylist, which will help customers find the perfect pair of jeans, providing shoppers with fit, rise and stretch recommendations in order to increase satisfaction and reduce returns.

Another example of how AI will change CX is through an improved ad-relevance and on-site experience.

In the last Shoptalk Europe, Topman explained how they are optimising conversion rates by serving different messages to shoppers when they are at risk of leaving the website. The notifications use machine learning to address issues that will help retain the consumers. For example, letting them know an item is low in stock is providing an uplift of 3-5%.

3. Mobile & IoT

Mobiles, wearables and smart devices will help provide a consistent and seamless experience for customers.  Let’s just think about how mobile payment has impacted our lives and how easy it is today to browse, choose and pay all within the same app.

In the UK alone, mobile payments spending tripled in the first half of 2017. In China Mobile payments totaled 81 trillion yuan ($16.7 trillion) for the first 10 months of 2017, nearly 40 per cent more than the whole of the previous year.

As smartphones became ubiquitous, they became the perfect device to act as the hub of CX. But mobiles are just the beginning. According to Intel, there will be 200 billion connected devices by 2020. A market that will reach $1.29 trillion. Future IoT-enabled devices have the potential to allow marketers to uncover new innovative ways to understand and influence customer activity, behaviour, and consuming trends.

Some great examples of how IoT is driving truly connected and omni-channel experiences is Amazon go, where customers place items in their baskets and simply walk out of the store when they have finished shopping.

OfferMoments has developed dynamic billboards that change as you walk by. They turn digital screens into an interactive experience with adverts customised to you.

Another great example of IoT in action is Rebecca Minkoff’s dressing room with smart mirrors enabled to read information from RFID tags placed on items brought into the cubicles.


CX is not the latest buzz word. It’s determining customer loyalty, influencing churn and ultimately has an impact on revenue and profits.

To be successful, CX should be Consistent, Useful, Personalised and Delightful.

Companies see optimising CX as the main opportunity for the years ahead. They are investing in new technologies to transform their CX and make it unique. Virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and Internet of things are at the forefront of these investments and are increasingly playing a key role in defining the future of CX.

Register for Modern Customer Experience 2018 here

ModernCX is the only conference where you get to see end-to-end solutions from marketing to sales, service and commerce. Your Marketing Community Pass will give you access to all 4 tracks. Join other marketing professionals, industry influencers, product experts and Oracle executives to learn how you can use the entire marketing ecosystem to impact customer experience.

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