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Q&A: Laura Brown, The IBM Marketing Cloud

What will you be speaking about at RBTE next week?

Our marketing platform allows marketers to generate campaigns across their different channels. So we've gone out to our customers and looked at the market, and come up with a set of ten digital marketing trends, which I'll be sharing at RBTE next week.

Give us a snippet of the two most interesting trends you've discovered?

The first is how retailers are trying to better understand their customers, using modelling to come up with more personalised campaigns. The way you do this is by getting a single customer view, but retailers have lots of data stored in lots of different systems, so we help them get all that data in one place and try to bring all that together on one platform. To get all that information, retailers can use progressive profiling – the first time a customer engages, they ask for their name and address, the second time they might ask for their Twitter handle. We're also finding more and more customers are using social sign in because people are sick of coming up with new passwords.

The second trend is how we think marketers have overlooked video engagement. The amount of time people are spending on YouTube and Facebook Video has grown dramatically and there's a big opportunity. Half of all YouTube views come from mobile accounts, and it's not something all retailers have considered.

How is the cloud affecting retail?

It goes back to that single customer view, you can start plugging different systems in one place and the cloud gives you that flexibility. It also allows retailers to be more agile, get campaigns out quicker by not relying on physical services.

Name some of the retailers that you are working alongside? And what are their biggest challenges?

We've worked with Studio Moderna, a European consumer electronics retailer with around 300 million customers, creating 8.5 million orders per year through 150 websites, 100 Facebook pages, as well as physical stores and call centres. They wanted a way of joining that up because they were leaving a lot of money behind, so we've helped to automate campaigns, without being resource heavy.

We also recently worked with Café Nero to help them with their loyalty programme and joining off and online through the emails they send which generate in-store purchases – they're not really an eCommerce retailer, and their obvious goal is to get people into the shop to buy more coffee, so we send customers monthly statements with points, and measure the influence the campaigns have, as it tries to move away from its stamp card.

You're sponsoring the eCommerce Theatre, what do you hope to get out of RBTE 2016?

We'll have quite a few customers at RBTE, so we'll catch up with retailers we're already working with and we're looking to talk to new people in the market. We spend a lot of time talking to marketers about the challenges they face and see how our technology can solve those problems.

What will be the future of eCommerce? How will consumers be shopping in the future?

The really interesting thing is how you join the mobile experience up, and join together on and offline customers. How online influences offline purchases and vice versa, through things like showrooming. That's going to be interesting over the next year to make sure the customer experience is consistent, not to mention technologies like Apple Pay and iBeacons.

What's the greatest example of retail technology you've seen this year?

We're seeing lot more people being able to use mobile properly. A retailer might have had an app not joined up to website in the past, but companies are getting much more better at that. Marketers are starting to put customer experience at the heart of what they do again. And as consumers we're more savvy.

What consumer technology has revolutionised your day-to-day life?

Mobile technology, definitely, being able to keep in touch wherever you are and using social media channels. I love Hootsuite and Twitter for real-time information, like when I'm traveling to check on the train times or if I see something crazy on TV, I like to check Twitter to see if everyone is talking about it.

I also like travel apps like Citymapper and BA, and finance apps, like Amex and Natwest which means you don't have to stand in a bank or use telephone banking anymore. I'm on Android, so I'm still waiting for Android Pay, enviously watching people on the train paying with their Apple Watches.

What keeps you up at night?

When you work in marketing there's always a feeling you could be doing more. There's so much going on you think you could be building more campaigns and doing them better. But sometimes getting things launched and out the door doesn't have to be perfect, 'done is better than perfect' is what we tell a lot of people. People tend to think marketing has to be big sophisticated programmes, but you can do the basics, the first couple of emails and then add complexity later on. 

For more information, click below:

IBM Marketing Cloud

IBM Marketing Cloud is sponsoring the eCommerce Quarter at RBTE and Brown will be speaking at the conference on 9 March at 15.30. Click here to register for free.