Digital Essay 2019: .CX by Cumai Aboul Housn, C2 Native

By Cumai Aboul Housn, Chief innovation officer, C2 Native

Our industry is rapidly changing. The borders of business consultancy, marketing, advertising and technology are getting blurrier. Customer experience is becoming the focal point of everything. Because today brands are not selling products or services any more; they are selling customer centric ‘experiences’. Our role is to design, improve and communicate these experiences. Simply put, we provide CX.

Data-driven advertising.
Does it work? Does it guarantee business growth? How accurate is the result estimation? It was difficult to deal with these questions with factual and scientific answers but now, after years of applying technological integration to the process of communication, we have answers to most of them. Because the outcome is measurable and far more accurate than before. Being data-driven means we are able to communicate to individuals by matching the brand’s prospective buyer’s characteristics to a product that a brand offers. Every individual has a different profile and a different mindset. The state of mind is constantly shifting and changing over time. Therefore, the brand needs to be ready to act and react suitably.
Creativity here is not about one big idea; it is about finding several keys to the individual’s mind and heart and communicating appropriate content at the right moment to establish an engaging and sustainable relationship, which directly affects business growth.

It starts with a deep understanding of the customer’s journey, identifying pain points and creating strategies to make that journey seamless. Brands are increasingly required to see things from their client’s point of view, and strategise their business processes and communication with this in mind.
Current technologies empower us to understand the client’s needs and respond to them at a granular level, which wasn’t possible before. This requires a lot of data analysis and visualisation, and that’s why the younger generation of creatives can make a big difference.
With .CX, we produce communication assets driven by data analytics coupled with a deep understanding of the individual’s needs. One of the barriers we overcame is the silos between the analogues and the digital within the team. Digital empowerment is one of our main priorities, and the integration between C2 Native (our data-driven communication lab) and C2 Comms is our mid-to-long-term strategy to bridge this gap.
It is not about the technical understanding of these platforms; rather it’s about thinking differently and applying analytical methods. It’s the new culture of collaboration and integration with a more scientific creative mindset at its core, the very definition of being “the architects of the next”. Embracing the change in online media at an early stage enabled us to deliver many benefits to our clients. The integration with offline data signals allowed us to build a real 360-degree customer experience in several cases. Some of our clients are already experimenting with a customer data platform (CDP) model, with a full integration of CRM, sales, automated marketing, DMP and DSP platforms. The data flow and how it is mapped to the customer journey is amazing.

Always-on communication.
This is a set of communication mechanisms always ready to listen to specific triggers and initiate trigger-based personalised messages to the individual. In traditional communication, the launch of a new product had several phases – teasing, revealing, creating need, conversion, and retention – which could go for days or even months. But in ‘always-on communication’, the customer goes through all the stages in a few seconds. In always-on communication the comms assets of all the phases are active and coexist simultaneously on all channels. We control what is delivered to each individual based on the signals we receive from that individual. So at a given moment we’ll have one customer at the conversion or retention stage while another is in the teasing stage – the way forward for a customer-centric approach to advertising.

New challenges.
There is a trend where brands are moving on to in-house operations and this is an industry challenge to be taken seriously. The best strategy here is to embrace the fact that this is happening and at the same time maintain the added value of the agency by investing in continuous competency development programmes.

At C2 Native Lab, we are investing in a lot of resources and many of our solutions are currently active servicing our clients while several are progressing in the research and development stage. Until recently, online communication was seen as a low-cost alternative to traditional marketing spends. This is not completely true anymore, but nor is it wrong. To explain that, we should start by differentiating between expenditures, cost of sales and investment in the business profit and loss. By applying the modern marketing model to a business and by investing in technology, we can reduce media spends from traditional methods. To succeed, we need an intense business transformation that helps avoid inflation of the total operation cost and trims other non-functional traditional expenditure to accommodate the increasing cost of generated content (communication assets), resulting in the conversion of advertising spends to direct sales conversions.

Modern marketing is not another way to run campaigns; it is a new way to run a business. Our industry has undeniably changed from passive to active and ‘personalised customer experience’ is undoubtedly the key to effective brand communication.