How Artificial Intelligence and Cross-Channel Can Reinvigorate E-Commerce Marketing: An Interview with Jennifer Wise, Sr Analyst at Forrester

By: Kahuna | April 12, 2017 | Artificial Intelligence, B2C Marketing, Cross-Channel, E-Commerce, Webinar

Previously, we announced an upcoming webinar with guest Forrester, taking place on Wednesday, April 19th at 11am PT, which features Mihir Nanavati, SVP of Product & Marketing at Kahuna, and guest speaker Jennifer Wise, Sr Analyst at Forrester.

We interviewed Jennifer to get her take on how the mobile landscape is evolving from being app-centric to being channel-holistic—and why e-commerce marketers no longer can approach mobile as a siloed channel, but instead, must approach it as an ecosystem of channels—an ecosystem for engaging with customers across channels in relevant, meaningful ways.

The “relevant, meaningful ways” part of this is critical. Speaking to consumers on the channel that best works for them is one step in the right direction towards providing a more personalized experience that goes far beyond [first name, last name] message personalization. So, what exactly facilitates what we call context personalization, which not only personalizes based on the right channel to send the message on, but also the right time to send it? The answer is artificial intelligence-powered marketing automation.

Below, we share some more of Jennifer’s insights from our candid interview:

1. How will artificial intelligence and a cross-channel approach play a role in the future of mobile for e-commerce companies?

Jennifer: Customers have hundreds—or more—of mobile moments happening every day, and they expect this high degree of real-time relevancy in them. To keep up with these mobile moments, brands are going to have to manage cycles of real-time, two-way, insights-driven interactions with individual customers. These interactions require a holistic, cross-channel view of the customer and speed to deliver as the right mobile moment is present. As such, we expect to see:

Automation becoming crucial. Delivering on these expectations demands speed—speed to ingest data about the customer and their context in real-time, turn that raw data into insight about their context and needs, and then deliver the most relevant communication to them.

Engagements becoming smarter. Customers expect experiences to be so personalized—so relevant and contextually aware—that soon they will occur before the customer even asks for them. Marketers will need to rely on artificial intelligence to vet and act upon customer data to deliver these highly personalized, anticipatory interactions.

Channel silos breaking down. Customers view mobile as a touchpoint and not as a discrete channel, and they expect interactions to follow suit: per Forrester, 69% of U.S. online adults say they tend to shop more with retailers that offer consistent customer service, both online and offline. Yet while most marketers agree that mobile represents a strategic shift in their ability to close the gap between offline and online worlds, per Forrester, only 15% strongly agree they have used mobile services to transform their overall customer experience offline. This mindset will have to change.

2. What does this all mean for e-commerce marketers as they re-evaluate their marketing strategies and tools in order to deliver the highly personalized experience that their consumers are demanding?

Jennifer: E-commerce brands and retailers have a strong stake in this game. While mobile purchasers themselves represent a small portion of commerce, we see that mobile’s influence over purchases that happen elsewhere is huge. In fact, Forrester forecasts indicate that mobile influenced over one-third of total online and offline sales in 2016. This really drives home just how important mobile is along that cross-channel customer journey, and how companies that deliver in that moment can see strong ROI-driven results. And marketers have many mobile engagements to deliver: for example, a push notification to drive awareness of a sale, a location-based message to provide store information or promotions, or a mobile coupon to be used to drive purchases.

To do this, these brands are going to require that their marketing engines can deliver which will require the ability to ingest and process data about the customer from multiple channels and system of records, turn that data into insight which will require artificial intelligence and machine learning over time, and then be able to deliver in that moment right when it’s happening, requiring partners with automation capabilities who can fire off the right message on the right channel to that customer as soon as the solution identifies the moment.