As the number of touchpoints continues to grow, reaching customers has never been so easy. Yet many brands and retailers aren’t capitalising on the opportunity to create meaningful customer engagements.

If there’s anything brands and retailers should have learned from the past month, it’s that connecting with customers in a human way is critical to success. Those failing to do so should ask themselves why. Most likely the answer will be because they don’t have the right tech, they don’t have the right teams, or both.

Offering customers, a human, personalised and real-time experience is achievable, but only with technology that is agile to its core and the right teams to use it well. We have all received poorly designed customer experiences that take no account of our purchasing history, preferences, previous interactions, last touchpoint or current context with a brand. The most likely reason for such poor communications is the reliance on technology that is purely designed for a pre-smartphone world, and teams that are structured specifically for email. As a result, customers receive out of date, impersonal and inadequate communications.

Brands and retailers are waking up and realising that these legacy platforms are unable to help them achieve their goals and meet modern customer needs. Enter the ‘new’ players – born for an era that’s multi-device, always-on and built ready to scale and adapt to changing customer demands.

The limits of legacy platforms

In the late 1990s, traditional data repositories were built for email communications, the only touchpoint available at the time. Then came smartphones in the 2000s and smart devices a few years later, which allowed brands to get in touch with customers on multiple screens, devices and applications. And the list of touchpoints expands every year.

To cope, email platforms added capabilities through acquisition. Much of this acquisition has led to different databases for different channels, creating the issue of siloed technology – think of a Frankenstein’s monster. Due to this patchwork of databases and applications that don’t communicate with each other, serving a customer experience holistically is difficult, and some would argue impossible. What’s more, implementation time is longer and much more expensive, as brands spend a lot of investment to get solutions up and running before they see any customer communication benefits.

The agile advantage

Consumers want to interact with brands on their terms, and on a schedule that works for them. Agile platforms, built for the always-on era, understand this, and are engineered for nimble teams that focus on driving the customer experience rather than for specific channels.

Marketing platforms free of legacy technologies can combine intuitive, marketer-friendly interfaces with robust, highly scalable architectures that allow valuable customer data to enter the platform, be processed and actioned in seconds. In addition, these agile platforms are completely channel agnostic, meaning it doesn’t matter which channel the message needs to be distributed on, removing the headaches that prevent brands creating campaigns that operate seamlessly across channels. Their modern architecture is a million miles away from legacy platforms, which can have siloed databases. As a result, it enables brands to deliver value to customers quickly and consistently.

But agility needs to extend past the technology and into the teams running campaigns. Traditional marketing teams are no longer sufficient to meet the needs of today’s consumer. Agile marketing teams need to understand growth (acquisition and retention), product (the best source of feedback comes directly from customers, and it needs to be used to improve the product and overall experience), and data (how do we use customer data to create and automate those human and real-time experiences). Combined with marketing, these new agile teams are designed to meet the needs of any consumer, regardless of channel or device.

Although legacy platforms have been significant players in the markets for decades now, they no longer reign when it comes to customer engagement. Communication has moved so far from best practice emails their platforms were built for, and the skillset of a marketing team needing to support campaigns today has also expanded. The current era calls for more tailored, more personalised and more human connections, which only nimble technology and teams can offer.

By James Manderson, General Manager of engagement platform Braze

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