How can one company -- let alone one person -- do it all? And how should aspiring digital marketers focus their education and training to become competitive in the (near) future? Before we get overwhelmed by everything today’s marketer must be, let’s start with what he or she is not. 

In the first installment of this series, I looked at how siloed internal structures with differing performance metrics can hinder an organization’s ability to deliver great customer experiences. In this post we’ll look at the individuals who execute customer experience strategies, and the key skills marketers need to reach today’s digital audiences.

The Obsolete Marketer

The obsolete marketer takes a short-sighted view of customer relationships. This person will not survive in our rapidly evolving, post-digital terrain because he or she gets overly focused on this quarter’s traffic and sales, and neglects to nurture the individuals who make up his or her audience. The obsolete marketer might have excellent skills in one area, like responsive mobile web, but their narrow expertise blinds them to the multiple other customer touch points.

In short, he or she is one dimensional. She’s really only a technologist. He thinks it’s all about the creative. She understands analytics, but doesn’t get content. He publishes great content, but won’t listen to the data.

The obsolete marketer is unable to bridge creative content, data and technology with an eye toward impacting human behavior. The consequences range from copywriting blunders to confusing site navigation to uninformed sales reps. And it all adds up to poor customer experiences.

3 Key Qualities that Lead to Exceptional Customer Experiences

The skills and characteristics today’s marketer should strive for could fill a novella-length book. He or she is curious, empathetic, versed in human behavior and psychology, analytical, strategic, creative and more. And he or she can:

  • Manage complex projects
  • Perform testing
  • Analyze data
  • Understand and integrate software and technologies
  • Serve customers
  • Think visually
  • Tell great stories
  • Code
  • Optimize
  • Execute a social campaign
  • Design responsive interfaces
  • Recognize patterns

For the purposes of this article, I’ll highlight three key qualities that can significantly impact customer experience.

1. Tech Flexibility

Let technology be a consequence of your customer experience strategy, and not the other way around. Tech flexibility may be founded on solid tech skills, such as the person Michelle Taut describes:

To me, a creative technologist is interchangeable with developer, but what we mean by creative technologist is a developer who understands the creative process and the world of advertising. It's the person who's responsible for actually making and coding. This person is able to build web projects, mobile apps and other digital experiences.”

But tech flexibility may also be found in a person who has learned how to learn. Having the ability to problem solve and pick up relevant skills on the job can prove more useful than the outdated programming language you practiced in college.

2. Constellational Thinking

Constellational thinking is “thinking that focuses on the relations between things ... in contrast to thinking about the individual things themselves.” It’s looking at a star-filled sky and seeing significant patterns (i.e., constellations). It means seeing all the pieces of business and marketing as a meaningful, interrelated whole.

One way to employ constellational thinking is to measure across all customer touchpoints. Telefonica UK:

set up an extensive KPI framework covering all touch points. The customer promises per touch point are translated into KPIs of how the customer shall perceive this promise. In addition, all relevant internal activities are measured to assure that delivery of these promises is on track. In a monthly update, every manager can review specific issues. The subsequent discussion is all about solutions -- not about fighting the figures.”

Others have called for marketers to be “gardeners” tending a “digital ecosystem.” The metaphor is different, but the message is the same. Marketing happens across a diverse network of departments, and it’s increasingly important to cross-pollinate.

3. Personal Relationships

Top marketers are prioritizing and investing in customer service interactions. This includes traditional customer support contacts, and more recent digital advancements like behavioral targeting, content personalization and location-based services. He or she thinks like the user, looking beyond segments and demographics to provide the right offers, services and information at exactly the right moment in the customer relationship.

Today’s marketer nurtures participation in order to build lasting relationships with customers based on value. This value is what defines the customer experience. It’s a move away from an acquisition-first mentality to a relationship-first one that goes far beyond the purchase phase.

Be as Multifaceted as Your Customers

To excel, marketers need skills that reflect the greater complexity of customer relationships, and a demand for deeper engagement. Delivering relevant and remarkable customer experiences takes creativity, daring, communication and a firm but flexible grasp on technology. If we stretch ourselves as organizations, departments and individuals, we can have higher-quality interactions with our audiences, and even derive more meaning and satisfaction from our work.

Title image by Ralf Gosch (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch up on more of the customer experience roadblocks in Roadblocks to Epic Customer Experiences: Organizational Silos, Conflicting KPIs