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Good morning, Marketers, and let’s think about B2C digital transformation.
I admit, I’ve been talking and writing about B2B transformation for the last six, nine, twelve months. How the B2B buyer journey became almost wholly digital, and about how the convenience of a well-structured digital journey makes it unlikely we’re about to turn the clock back and go in-person first again.
My mantra has been that B2B is learning from B2C about digital marketing. But I had a healthy reminder from Margo Hahnrose, CMO of Skai (formerly Kenshoo) that B2C is not just Amazon and its lookalikes. There are huge consumer brands accustomed, essentially, to selling to retailers, and they’re having to raise their D2C game fast. That’s our second story below, following Chris Wood’s piece about transformation in the vacation rental industry.
Me? Don’t worry, I’ll get back to the B2B perspective tomorrow.
Vacation rental companies hope CX will give them an edge
As life begins to transition back to pre-pandemic normalcy, a new class of travel companies focused on rentals is betting that the CX and digital marketing investments made in the past year will keep them ahead as traditional hospitality picks back up.
A lot of these changes are here to stay. For instance, 74% of Americans say they plan to continue to favor contactless experiences after the pandemic is through.
“Guest expectations have changed to prefer a new type of accommodation with flexible, multi-length stay options and a ‘house away from home’ experience with high tech features,” said Will Lucas, CEO of Mint House, a service that rents out luxury residential apartments to business travelers.
Mint House, which operates in several U.S. cities, orchestrates a hotel-like experience digitally. This included a contactless visit, keyless entry, the ability to pre-stock a fridge with groceries, and smart thermostat settings that could be saved on the traveler’s account and repeated during future Mint House stays in other towns.
To keep up with expectations, Mint House used CX platform Kustomer, which bills itself as a customer service CRM, to help anticipate what the new wave of customers were looking for through predictive modeling.
“We want to further our predictive guest service using our digital concierge, accessible via the Mint House app, and proactively offer services, amenities and travel tips to our guests as they need them,” said Lucas.
App features are also important for AvantStay, which sells short-term stays at vacation homes in over 50 U.S. markets and counting. From their app, guests can order concierge, massages and other comforts. The company is growing, and with that so are customer requests.
Using AI-powered chatbots helps triage requests that can be automated, setting them aside from issues that need more attention. Meanwhile, the CRM personalizes and contextualizes the experience.
Skai offers consumer brands a birds-eye view of customers and markets
Last week saw a re-branding which erases a familiar name in the martech landscape. Kenshoo, the marketing insights and media activation platform, founded in 2006 and serving major consumer businesses like Pepsico and Walgreens, rebranded as Skai. The new name, which hints at the AI capabilities of Signal Analytics, acquired by Kenshoo in December 2020. But to Margo Kahnrose, Skai’s CMO, it means something more.
It’s the ability to set Kenshoo-style marketing insights in the context of broader intelligence about the market as a whole, that is captured by Skai. “It gives us this birds-eye view which we’re hoping to give brands help with — to get out of the siloes of data, out of the narrow view of the customer, and understand the patterns you can only see from a distance.”
A cohesive offering. “It’s really a cohesion of our mission around something broader than what it was — digital performance marketing. We’ve spent the last almost 15 years doing that as best as we could, spreading our wings across the channels that were most important in the adtech universe. By acquiring Signals Analytics and incorporating their capabilities, we could touch more than just the digital performance marketers within the companies we work with, and create value for broader parts of their go-to-market organization, from product innovation and development through to the strategy and planning teams.”
The linear customer journey is a joke. “Think about the way we behave today as consumers,” said Kahnrose. “This idea of linear shopping is a joke at this point; we’re bouncing around between channels, we’re clicking away, tapping and swiping and making decisions all the time, even if we’re not conscious of it.” The continuous cycle of behavior might spark a purchase, but also a conversation or a social share or the discovery of other products. “Brands have to be more agile — continually testing and learning, taking insights and applying them to the next campaign, taking results and applying them to the next planning session.”
Why we care. It’s this two-sided trend again — for individual vendors, broadening their offering, for the martech space in general, consolidation. It’s an established and well-known point solution presenting itself as a comprehensive go-to-market proposition. And it’s driven by the accelerated importance of digital marketing, even to brands accustomed to just stocking the shelves and watching consumers show up and buy.
Despite Amazon, there are still large parts of the B2C space that have not been digital-first. With consumers now expecting to research, discover, compare and purchase online — able to buy any time and from anywhere — digital is not a nice-to-have anymore. It’s foundational.
Innovid welcomes digital audio into omnichannel fold
Advertising and analytics platform Innovid announced the addition of audio ad serving to its omnichannel portfolio. With usage of digital audio rising since the pandemic lockdowns, and even earlier, advertisers are looking to leverage audio, and publishers are looking to monetize.
One key to attracting more advertisers to audio is to measure and prove its impact. By bringing audio into the omnichannel fold, Innovid aims at measuring audio alongside TV, video, display and social ads. Digital audio ad spend in the US is projected to climb to over $5 billion next year.
Nationwide is among the dozen clients locked in for digital audio at launch of Innovid’s new capabilities.
Why we care. The race to measure audio, and to attract more advertisers to buy and capitalize on it, is now a sprint, as streaming giants in the audio space are consolidating. If you’re a smaller publisher of indie podcasts, you have to prove your audience can impact the numbers. Otherwise, it would be easier for a large advertiser or its media agency to plan an audio campaign within a single larger conglomerate like iHeartMedia’s Private Marketplace.
Programmatic buying in digital audio still has room to grow as the space evolves. According to the same study cited above, the programmatic slice of the audio pie is growing to only 21% in 2020, up from 16.5% last year.
Quote of the day
“I tell every one of our employees: ‘How and when you get your work done is entirely up to you.’ Because human beings are not chair warmers. We are much, much more than that.” Carly Martinetti, co-founder, Notably