As tools and technologies grow, it’s important to remember that humans are still the core audience of any business. In other words, being customer centric means being human centric. To be effective in your organizational growth and build rapport with consumers, it’s key to put the human in every aspect and decision you make. The 2024 Gartner Marketing Symposium drove this point home powerfully.

“Look at your customers like humans with real needs… deliver on the moments that matter!”
Tom Fishbourne, Keynote speaker at the 2024 Gartner Marketing Symposium

The 2024 Gartner Marketing Symposium included over 140 sessions spanning 6 different tracks, ranging from brand management and customer experience (CX) initiatives to AI technology, CDPs, and other Martech. After taking it all in, we’ve identified 3 key takeaways from the 2024 Gartner Marketing Symposium:

  1. Be strategic in your use of AI and MarTech.
  2. Unlock the potential of your MarTech stack with a focus on adoption and understanding.
  3. To grow your business and build customer loyalty, make customer experience (CX) initiatives a priority.

Be Strategic in Your Use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and MarTech

Not every new MarTech tool is the right tool for your needs. If you aren’t strategic in your decisions when it comes to how you select, implement, and utilize your marketing technology, these tools can fall flat or even create more issues.

It’s okay to use AI—but make sure you do it with purpose

AI (Artificial Intelligence) can be a powerful tool, but relying too heavily on AI can do more harm than good. Don’t just implement AI tools to stay ahead of the curve. Instead, focus on truly understanding your needs and those of your customers—then figure out how AI can help you address those needs.

tom fishbourne speaker at gartner marketing symposium 2024
During his keynote speech, Tom Fishbourne told the story of a car dealership’s AI implementation gone wrong: the dealership’s AI chatbot told customers to go to another dealership, driving away business rather than obtaining it.

Another example revolved around the use of AI to generate content. The business in question relied so heavily on AI for this work that their content became compromised and no longer demonstrated the authenticity and understanding users were seeking.

Plan and prepare before you implement new MARTECH

Knowing when to bring new marketing technology in and how to prepare for its implementation are key to ensuring success with any tool, AI or otherwise. For example, don’t roll out a new CDP if you don’t have the underlying data infrastructure to support it. Drive greater impact and minimize headaches by planning ahead and preparing carefully.

When rolled out correctly, a new CDP implementation can deliver spectacular results. Earlier this year, BlastX Consulting worked with a national rental property company to stand up their new CDP. After the implementation was done and the CDP was put to work toward marketing efforts, the client saw a 20% uplift in ad spend and a 30% decrease in cost per click—ultimately resulting in a much higher ROI.

Customer intent is everything—don’t ignore it

Customer data alone isn’t always sufficient for determining intent. Don’t expect your MarTech stack to deliver results unless you fully understand the intent behind your customers’ actions.

suzanne schwartz speaker at gartner marketing symposium 2024
In her talk “Let’s Get ‘Phygital’: Flex Your Digital and Physical Marketing Muscles”, Suzanne Schwartz shared an example of what we miss when we ignore customer intent. In this example, a customer visited a grocery store to buy blueberries; however, the store was out, and the customer settled for raspberries instead. Post-purchase, the customer received a barrage of marketing for raspberry sales—even though they never really intended to buy raspberries in the first place.

The take-home message: Create context around your data to understand how you can best act on it and deliver results for both you and your customers.

Unlock the potential of your MarTech stack with a focus on adoption and understanding

As more and more tools emerge for collecting and using data, many organizations are spending more time acquiring them than they are using them.

Don’t let your MARTECH deployment fall flat

During Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CDPs talk, the speakers noted that of the surveyed North American companies that had deployed a CDP, only 51% were actually utilizing their CDP. Adoption was a common theme among the attendees we spoke with as well, and one learning came up over and over again: MarTech is only effective if it’s utilized, and the data acted on.

As we talked with other attendees and sat in on additional sessions, we noted another recurring theme: organizational silos and ineffective change management are compounding these issues, creating incomplete pictures that drive redundant tool spending, overlapping tools, and unaligned business goals.

When navigating change, clarity and communication are key

carlos a guerrero speaker at gartner marketing symposium 2024
In his talk “A 3-Part Framework for Effective Change Management”, Carlos Guerrero noted that 98% of marketers had experienced an organization change in the past year. Guerrero emphasized that in order to make these changes effective, business must ensure that teams are on board with the change.

He outlined three critical steps to making this happen:

  1. anchoring the change to an objective truth as to why it needs to happen,
  2. ensuring clarity about what is changing,
  3. and addressing all challenges and concerns regarding how the change will affect internal and external users.

Break down organizational silos to get the full picture

For many attendees at the conference, the topic of change naturally led to discussions about organizational silos. One attendee told us that organizational silos at their company had led to the creation multiple contracts for the same tool. With a little bit more planning and discussion, an enterprise contract would have reduced overall spending and increased data access and tool collaboration.

Further discussions uncovered other impacts of organizational silos: marketing and business decisions made without seeing the full picture, internal trust issues regarding both the data and the business, and more.

From these conversations, one thing is crystal clear: to make the most of your MarTech and your data, you must break down silos, ensure full tool adoption and understanding, and ensure effective change management when implementing organizational or tool changes.

To grow your business and build customer loyalty, make customer experience (CX) initiatives a priority

There are many avenues an organization can take to address customer experience. One of the most important things an organization can do is to make CX initiatives a top priority aligned to business goals.

User personas, customer journey mapping, zero-party / Voice of Customer (VoC) data, and personalization are just a few pathways an organization can explore to help them understand and improve CX. These initiatives are great when taken individually, but they can also reinforce each other the more you use them.

Align and communicate to drive successful initiatives

The first steps an organization should take are to align CX initiatives to business goals and drive cross-team communication. Be strategic in your CX initiatives and keep the customer in mind.

chad storlie speaker at gartner marketing symposium 2024
In his talk “How to Gain Support for CX Initiatives that Drive Commercial Value”, Chad Storlie demonstrated that when organizations align CX initiatives to organizational goals and maintain a strong CX measurement strategy, they’re better able to focus on the right areas, improve customer sentiment and business KPIs, and retain more customers. Once your organization is aligned, you can dig into the details of each initiative with purpose and deliver optimal outcomes.

Keep user personas fresh and relevant

Many organizations tend to use ineffective user personas that are more like user segments than true user personas. They also fail to refresh these personas in response business and customer changes.

halle stern speaker at gartner marketing symposium 2024
In her talk “How to Create, Use and Maximize Value from Personas for Marketing and Customer Experience”, Halle Stern walked the audience through the process of updating and deepening user personas using zero-party data from real customers. This practice allows organizations to move from segmentation based on the business point of view to personas built on the customer point of view.

Listen, watch and learn across customer touchpoints

With improved personas in hand, you can develop powerful customer journey maps that deepen and expand your understanding of your organization’s customer touchpoints.

Suzanne Schwartz urged businesses not to ignore physical touchpoints and to consider how they intersect with digital touchpoints. MarTech may be expanding every day, but physical touchpoints will always be there in some capacity. Ensure you understand your “phygital” customer touchpoints, optimize them, and look for ways to create new ones for a better customer experience (CX).

You can take your customer journey maps one step further by feeding them back into your zero-party data, gathering more information from the customer at the right touchpoints. This enables you to create a more personalized CX with the power to drive both business growth and customer loyalty.

leah reidy speaker at gartner marketing symposium 2024
Leah Leachman delivered a pro tip in her talk “Rethink Your CX Approach to Increase Customer Loyalty”, urging businesses to listen to customers talking among themselves—not just at the business. Social listening can bolster your other VoC efforts by unveiling entirely new perspectives and considerations.

Customer Centric is Human Centric

We live in a world of never-ending innovation, but the human experience is still at the center of it all. Be strategic in your use of new MarTech, ensure your teams are aligned to fully utilize your MarTech stack, and keep CX top of mind when thinking about your business goals.

If you’re not sure where to start, you don’t have to go it alone—with over 25 years of proven experience, BlastX Consulting can help your organization navigate the changing MarTech landscape and deliver powerful CX through:

  • MarTech audits to identify integration and data flow issues, optimize overlapping and underutilized software, and recommend platforms better suited to your business needs.
  • Human centered design thinking workshops that foster internal adoption, collaboration, and alignment.
  • CX strategy and road mapping to improve understanding of current state, future state, and how to get from one to the other.
  • Data analytics and insights to unlock the potential of your data and identify areas for improvement.
  • Digital experience optimization (DXO) services including A/B testing, personalization, and SEO optimization to activate your data and insights.

Ready to find out how you can drive greater customer loyalty and deliver powerful business results? Reach out to start a conversation and discuss your needs with BlastX Consulting today!