Author Archive: Simon Morris

Tools for Understanding Customers and Driving Revenue

New discoveries in science and technology are constantly giving marketers a much-needed boost by making available tools that help marketers better understand their customers, the journey they’re on, and how to create experiences that will keep them coming back. Customers are always at the center of any effective marketing strategy, but several of our recent contributors discussed some of the tools they use to better understand their customers and create experiences that drive revenue.

Andrew Watts, founding partner of KHWS, discussed solutions for marketers facing the challenges of tracking consumer behaviour online. CMOs are challenged with the task of closing “the gap between brand experience and sales experience,” which helps them to drive online revenue. Watts went on to share some of the “cost-effective, technology-driven techniques that marketers can use to understand the purchase process,” such as FMRI scanners and wearable tech. Drawing on a foundation of behavioural science, Watts encourages brands to harness “technology and creativity to provide shoppers with a Brand Commerce experience.”

Christian Ward, head of media and marketing at Stylus, discussed the concept of “third spaces,” a term inspired by the sociological term, “Third Places,” which are the locations that people visit between home and work. Ward described these physical and emotional third spaces as creating untapped opportunities for marketers in any industry. Brands are encouraged to identify these spaces and target their marketing messages to consumers in these spaces.

Catherine Newman, chief marketing officer for 200-year-old newspaper the Times, recently sat down with to discuss how the newspaper is changing in today’s mobile-dominated market. Part of its strategy is learning what it gets someone to read the content provided by the Times. What causes someone to subscribe? “What is it that creates sustained behavioural change, and what makes someone a Times reader?” The Times strives to understand the psychology of its readers in order to stay relevant and provide content readers want.

Harvey Cossell, head of strategy for We Are Social, discussed the potential role that livestreaming could play in your brand’s marketing strategy. Livestreaming offers to immerse the viewer into an experience that takes them deeper than simple text or still images. In fact, viewers feel more involved with the content because the experience is occurring in the moment. Because our brains process video 60,000 times faster than text, livestreaming gives marketers the ability to create content that is more inviting and easier to engage with.

Klaus Sommer Paulsen, CEO, creative director, and founder of AdventureLAB, outlined some key insights for brands to create the next great brand adventure for their customers. Your goal, Paulsen says, is to “a memorable, shareable experience” for your customers. An adventure includes an experience that removes customer from their comfort zones, exposes them to potential risk, and taps into their emotions. Paulsen addressed several questions brand adventure creators need to ask themselves.

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Digital Transformation and Customer-Driven Marketing

Technology is everywhere, and it continues to evolve at a rapid pace. As consumers learn to adapt to new and innovative technologies, CMOs are faced with the challenge of keeping up with changing customer expectations. Several of our contributors on have touched on the importance of digital transformation and a company’s need to embrace technology to meet customers where they are.

Jonathan Simmons, chief strategy officer at Zone, offered some insight into how companies can approach digital transformation given an unpredictable future. He encourages businesses to build a team and culture that is flexible and able to adapt in a rapidly changing world. Creating a culture that embraces change will prepare a company for whatever the future brings. Similarly, Simmons believes companies should develop technology that meets customers’ needs in the here and now while avoiding dependency on systems that can’t quickly change or adapt.

Rob McLaughlin, head of digital analytics at Sky U.K., recently spoke with about the benefits of digital transformation and developing a complete or “omnichannel” view of the customer. McLaughlin’s team operates from the belief that “to understand the customer, [a company needs] to see their behaviour at all touch points with our organisation.” Noting the importance of avoiding silos of information, McLaughlin sees his team’s goal as developing a combined view of the customer, utilising digital data that works alongside offline data to give a more complete view of customer and their needs.

Jamie Matthews, CEO of Initials, discussed the increasingly challenging role of the CMO. Today’s CMOs are expected to juggle a variety of skills and responsibilities while maintaining a healthy focus on growth and innovation. The acceleration of digital transformation within many companies leaves CMOs with a multitude of channels to manage.  As customers continue to adapt to increasing technological change, CMOs “are under enormous pressure to keep pace in order to remain relevant and effective.”

Chris Worle, digital strategy director of Hargreaves Lansdown, recently sat down with to talk about the customer journey. World described the need for marketing teams to see, measure, and gain insight from each customer interaction. Digital, of course, plays a major role in this because customers judge brands based on the quality of their favourite digital experiences.

In the midst of all the talk about digital transformation, Tamara Lohan, founder and CTO of Mr & Mrs Smith, recently shared with some of the insights from her session at Adobe Summit EMEA 2017 called, “Does Everything Have to Be Digital?” For brands with DNA firmly rooted in the offline world, Lohan discussed the importance of mixing the digital with the physical world. Brands will find it difficult to touch customers if all they have is a website and digital marketing because customers often want to interact with something they can touch. Lohan reminds brands of the need to touch customers in a variety of ways, both digital and physical.

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Handling Data-Driven Marketing Challenges Now and in the Future

In marketing, data and the insights it provides are often the key to shaping a customer experience that brings customers back again and again. For customer-centric companies, data collection and analysis are vital. Companies rely on data from a variety of different sources and use a lot of technologies to gain insight into their customers and guide them along the customer journey. Data acquisition and some potential challenges for data-driven marketers have recently been frequent topics of discussion in our exclusive content on Read on for some valuable insights you can put into practice today to increase your company’s marketing effectiveness.

John Goulding, global product director at Media iQ, touched on the challenges many companies will face if the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) raises the stakes in 2018 by classifying cookies as personal data. Goulding encourages businesses to take this as an opportunity to explore more “innovative types of data and, ultimately, employ a more diverse data strategy.” Businesses will have to find ways to gain consent for online data capture and create an obvious mutual benefit exchange so that customers will want to opt in.

Pierre Moulin, global head of products and strategic marketing for French bank BNP Paribas, spoke recently with about his new role and the company’s evolving organisational structure. He touched on the role of data in the company and its approach to be as innovative as possible with it. BNP Paribas is combining internal and external data sources to “build some form of predictive aspect in how [they] present products to different client segments.” Moulin mentioned that the types of data initiatives they’re pursuing serve as a source of inspiration for the company.

Customer leadership pioneer and author Thomas Barta shared some important insights to help CMOs draw real learnings from big data. Most of a company’s big data is generated as a byproduct of other activities, such as a “company’s routine operations or consumers’ social media conversations,” and not specifically for insight purposes. Still, big data insights are important, and according to Barta, they’re primarily a leadership challenge rather than a technical one.

In a recent interview with, Eylard Wurpel, chief marketing officer for Netherlands-based holiday homes rental company Belvilla, shared how important customer thinking is to the heart of his company’s marketing approach. With so many touchpoints across a company, it’s important for everyone in the company to care about the customer conversation. Belvilla focuses largely on content marketing and inspiring its customers, as well as being an authority on customer experience.

David Kaganovsky, worldwide CIO of Maxus, discussed the role of technology in a marketer’s toolbox and shared some tips for avoiding bad tech. Technology continues to impact our personal and working lives, and it makes sense for a company to adopt the technologies in which their customers are most likely to be present. In fact, staying ahead of the competition requires adopting technology that makes a company “better and more efficient.” Kaganovsky suggests businesses implement an effective framework for evaluating available technologies and their suitability, as well as finding the right partners to help guide decision making.

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Transparency and Resilience on the Road to Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is increasingly important in today’s continuously evolving digital world. The challenges that come with such a change are many, and companies often find themselves uncertain of what step to take next. For a business to achieve a smooth and successful digital transformation, team members need to be transparent and exercise resilience, as some of our contributors on recently shared. Read on for more insights on how to stay ahead in today’s digital culture.

Dan Brotzel, content director for Sticky Content, shared some insights about personal resilience in the midst of today’s fast-paced digital world. After sharing some of the challenges people face that result in almost crippling anxiety, Brotzel discussed how personal resilience is gaining ground, quoting authors such as Angela Duckworth and former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens. Resilience, or the ability to survive and thrive, is vital for individuals in both business and their everyday lives.

Jonathan Simmons, chief strategy officer for Zone, shared that when he looks at companies that have fully embraced digital transformation, he notices that many of the digital services provided look essentially the same. There’s nothing to set companies apart. Simmons challenges brands to focus on what makes them unique. Whatever sets your business apart and makes it great should be your starting point.

Klaus Sommer Paulsen, CEO, creative director, and founder of AdventureLAB, discussed the increasingly important role of experience design for brands in 2017. Paulsen encourages brands to keep an open mind and treat their experiential activities as “a continuous trial-and-error exercise.” What works now may not work later. What works for a business similar to yours may not work for you, and what works for a business completely outside your sector may be just the solution you’re looking for. Paulsen also shared an invaluable list of technologies and ideas that are currently influencing experience design, such as augmented reality (AR) and quests.

As a part of Advertising Week Europe 2017, several contributors shared the need to keep human relationships a priority in a digital world. Feilim Mackle, chief executive of Dixons Carphone, spoke about the need for diversity in the workplace, citing that it creates an environment for better decision making. Lisa Gilbert, CMO of IBM UK and Ireland, challenged businesses who are going through a digital transformation to speak honestly with one another, cutting back on wasted time and ambiguity.

According to Thom Noble, CEO and founder of NeuroStrata, advances in neuroscience are now making it possible for marketers to “measure consumers’ deepest, unconscious desires and emotional triggers.” With new neuro and biometric methodologies being adapted for the marketing industry, marketers are able to understand how decision making is guided “at the nonconscious level.” This provides unprecedented opportunities to identify insights and apply those insights to trigger certain responses in consumers.

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The Journey to Customer Centricity

Customer centricity is a priority for today’s marketers, but the challenges it presents can differ from company to company. Some common threads for the most successful marketers, however, involve analyzing data and using insights from this analysis to shape the customer journey from beginning to end. Several recent contributors to shared some helpful insights on the kinds of data to focus on, directions for content marketing, and how a focus on customer centricity can help CMOs have a lasting and successful career with a company.

Tom Kelshaw, director of innovation at Maxus, shared some insights on emotion analytics, which is “the process of recording and analysing emotional responses to ads.” Emotion analytics gives marketers additional opportunities to measure and adapt their marketing messages quickly. Kelshaw shared that it allows marketers to capture valuable system 1 data, which is defined as “people’s immediate, visceral and emotion-driven responses.” This kind of data can be difficult to articulate outside of emotion analytics.

Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing, shared that, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 report, 87 percent of companies in the UK have adopted content marketing. This is good news, but a 2016 study by Conductor found that a surprising 38 percent of content marketers rarely use data to guide their editorial planning and “45% of B2C content marketers don’t target their content.” Odden pointed out that companies who utilise data insights to focus on understanding and impacting the customer journey will be in a much better position to achieve their content marketing goals in 2017 and beyond.

Fred Prego, group insight director for gaming retailer GAME, recently sat down to speak with about GAME’s approach to shaping the customer experience. GAME’s mobile app is designed to be useful to customers both in and out of the store. The app gives customers game trailers, buying options, and augmented reality experiences. In fact, Prego shared how his company teamed up with Xbox 2015 for the launch of Halo 5: Guardians, allowing people to use augmented reality to pose with characters from the game. GAME continues to evolve its digital approach to provide people with a great customer experience.

Further commenting on the challenges marketers face with content marketing, TNT’s head of digital content, Denise Kuschewski, shared how TNT is delivering “delicious content” to its customers. Drawing from Adobe’s recent report, “Mass Producing Deliciousness,” Kuschewski defined good content as content that “not only provides value to the viewer, it answers their questions … and builds their confidence.” Furthermore, she laid the groundwork for a “snackable content strategy” that companies can use to give customers useful and relevant content.

Thomas Barta, customer leadership pioneer, keynote speaker, and author, discussed reasons why CMOs leave companies so often, either because they choose to do so or as the result of being fired. He also shared some insights on how today’s CMOs can last longer and be more successful in their companies. Barta pointed out that the CMO’s success is good for the company as well because the adverse is usually true: failure of the CMO usually means failure of the company. Although being a CMO requires a complex set of skills, a focus on customer centricity is key.

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Designing the Customer Experience to Encourage Brand Loyalty

Marketers today know the value of creating relevant and exciting experiences throughout the customer journey. It’s how brands win the hearts and minds of their customers, but it’s also more than that. When you win the win the heart and mind of a customer, that customer is more likely to recommend your product or service to someone else. In contrast, when customers are disappointed with a brand, they’re unlikely to keep their disappointment to themselves. Customer loyalty can be a valuable marketing tool, making the customer experience even more vital to a brand’s marketing strategy. This was the focus of several recent contributions to

Pete Markey, brand communications and marketing director at Aviva, shared some of the strategies Aviva is using to win the hearts and minds of customers in the digital space. For Aviva, the focus on building the best frictionless experience for customers is a top priority and one they’re achieving with MyAviva, the digital space where all of the company’s products come together. According to Markey, the key to winning customer loyalty is to put the customer first by designing the products, services, and experiences they want and need.

Jon Bains, founding partner of What & Why, discussed the importance of truth in marketing. He shared that although people often view marketers as having a relationship with the truth similar to that of real estate agents and recruitment consultants, marketers have been forced to enter a “golden age of truth.” Customers value brands that are honest and direct, and because information spreads so quickly in today’s digital age, disappointment in a brand is rarely limited to a one-to-one conversation between the customer and the brand. Truth is a necessity for brands that want to win customer loyalty and recommendations.

Jason Miller, global content marketing leader for LinkedIn, revealed that many brands are creating content that ends up being “just clutter” in the vast amount of content available to consumers. According to Miller, there’s just too much content, and much of it is just “noise that is pushed out in isolation of any coherent strategy or insights.” Miller is quick to advocate for content marketing, but there’s a missing component from many brands’ content strategy, which is asking “so what?” from the customer’s point of view. The goal with content marketing should be creating content that “educates, inspires, and provokes potential buyers right from the start.”

Michael Brunt, CMO of The Economist, recently sat down for an exclusive interview with to discuss the publication’s recent change in focus from advertising to subscription income. He described how the publication has capitalised on the growing demand for high-quality journalism. Then it became about “finding those audiences and optimising the customer journey to encourage them to subscribe.” For The Economist, customer experience is about the reading experience, and the brand is built around giving customers great reading experiences that encourage them to subscribe for more.

Alastair Cole, chief innovation officer for Partners Andrews Aldridge, discussed the roles of creative technology and product development in developing experiences that excite customers. Creative technology can be used to support and enhance short-term marketing campaigns. Cole cited a recent campaign by Charity Women’s Aid that utilised the technology within digital billboards to engage people looking at the screen and raise awareness of domestic violence. Cole also pointed out that technology is vital in product development, often aiding in creating tools “that improve people’s lives on a longer-term basis.”

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Deepening the Conversation for a More Personalised Customer Experience

Customer expectations are always rising. Fortunately, many brands are rising to the occasion by pursuing new and creative ways of delivering relevant and personalised customer experiences. In fact, customer experience has been a common thread through our exclusive content on over the last couple of weeks. Marketers are looking for ways to get their brand in front of customers and deepen their conversations with their customers.

Rick Jones, general manager in the UK of Adform, discussed the challenge of providing an unobtrusive, seamless customer experience in the age of ad blocking technology. Jones encourages marketers to embrace a digital advertising strategy that combines creativity, data, and automation. While ad blockers are a significant challenge to marketers, Jones offers hope that the best antidote to ad blocking is providing consumers with creative and relevant personalised content.

Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst, marketing and strategy at Forrester, shared the opportunity brands have to deepen the conversation with consumers through instant messaging (IM) apps, such as WeChat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. He encourages European marketers to learn from their counterparts in China, where consumers are already using the WeChat app “to book a doctor’s appointment, pay a bill, or control the light in their hotel room, leading them to spend more than a third of their total mobile time in the app.”

I had the opportunity to share some of the insights from the Econsultancy 2017 Digital Trends Briefing. As expected, the report found that most marketers believe that providing an optimal customer experience will set their companies apart from the competition. Delivering these experiences, however, often requires a complete organisational shift in culture, strategy, skills, and processes. While the report found that many companies struggle in these areas, it provides plenty of insight into how companies can move in the right direction.

In an exclusive interview with, Stephen Wind-Mozley, director of digital at Virgin Media Business, shared his company’s strategy of presenting a compelling and infectious narrative to its customers. An important insight shared by Wind-Mozley is the idea of targeting the environment that decision makers inhabit rather than the decision makers themselves. It then becomes about making the decision makers aware of what the company offers and adding value to the conversation.

Jim Clark, research director for Econsultancy, offered further insight from the firm’s 2017 Digital Trends Briefing while speaking at Adobe’s CX Forum in London. To illustrate that the focus on customer experience shows no signs of abating, Clark mentioned the approach taken by Domino’s Pizza. They’ve shifted their perspective of what they are from a pizza company to an e-commerce company, which has resulted in “60% of orders coming through digital, and half of those coming through mobile.”

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Digital Experiences that Put the Customer First

Sunrise Communications Group rolls out new digital experiences using Adobe Marketing Cloud.

Consumers today rely on digital for almost everything, whether it’s for work or fun. At the core of every experience is the expectation for fast and reliable connections, placing tremendous pressure on telecom companies to deliver on promised technology advances.

Sunrise Communications Group is the second largest telecom in Switzerland, offering mobile, landline, internet, and digital television services to more than three million customers. Diverse product lines give the company an edge over competitors, but Sunrise Communications is always looking for ways to improve services. The company decided to redesign its digital experiences around what customers want: fast loading times, personalized websites, easy mobile access, and self-services tools that make paying bills or adjusting services as simple as clicking a few buttons.

Sunrise Communications powers its digital transformation with Adobe Marketing Cloud, including Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Target, Adobe Analytics, and Adobe Campaign solutions.

With Adobe Campaign, the company automates marketing campaigns, allowing marketers to reach customers across email, text, mobile, and social. Working within a single tool boosts productivity and encourages a faster time to market for information about services. Metrics measured through Adobe Analytics provide valuable insights that help teams determine what customers are looking for and provide them more of the experiences they want.

By integrating Adobe Experience Manager with the SAP Hybris e-commerce platform, Sunrise Communications is providing customers with dynamic product pages and personalized experiences. Creating new websites with Experience Manager is so simple that designers no longer need to wait for developers. They simply select content from a central content management hub and customize responsive templates designed with mobile accessibility in mind. The result is accelerated delivery of information, with multi-segment and multi-language websites created in as little as four hours.

“We wanted to develop one of the most efficient processes for online stores in the telco business to enable customers to achieve their goals in just a few steps,” says Dr. Janos Heé, Digital Business Director at Sunrise Communications. “We accomplished the mission in record time.”

Read the full Sunrise Communications story here



A Focus on Building Customer Loyalty in 2017

2016 was a taxing year for many people, and marketers are sure to see some of the negative effects of the year’s challenges as they reach out to consumers throughout 2017. Although the future might look uncertain, CMOs can still be encouraged by the many opportunities for redefining brand purpose and continuing to shape genuine customer experiences in 2017. Several contributors of our exclusive content on touched on some of these opportunities and how marketing leaders can make the most of their efforts this year.

Alastair Cole, chief innovation officer at The Engine Group, began the week by discussing several of the challenges marketing leaders will face in 2017, not the least of which is an area where they can generate significant value—the customer experience. Because creating customer experiences is not just about satisfying the demands of customers, but also about boosting a company’s bottom line, CMOs are tasked with discovering where to focus their efforts make the greatest impact. Cole shared five pillars for CMOs to prioritise this year make the most of their efforts. asked senior marketers to identify the trends CMOs should be looking out for in 2017. John Allert, group brand director at McLaren Technology Group, described the turbulence of 2016 as a time when people learned they could no longer trust the people they once blindly looked up to. Marketers, he said, shouldn’t brush this off but watch out for the aftereffects of this realisation in 2017 as customers struggle with brand loyalty more than ever before. Simon Carter, vice-president and head of field marketing for sales, EMEIA at Fujitsu, echoed Allert’s warning of a “potentially bleak future for brands.” Given the outlook, it seems clear that brands will need to focus on customer satisfaction in 2017.

Michelle Mitchell, strategy director at Five by Five, discussed the challenges marketers face with product launches. It can be a stressful experience for many CMOs, given that, on average, 40 percent of all product launches fail. Mitchell shared the results of a Five by Five study that highlighted the significant impact digital and social have had on the marketing landscape. To help brands maximise their launches, Mitchell outlined five key concepts for CMOs to follow.

Andrew Rogerson, founder and MD at Grist, shared some tips on how brands can do content marketing well in the future. According to Rogerson, content marketing often fails when it spends more time promoting the brand than addressing readers’ needs. Rogerson encouraged brands to find the content marketing sweet spot, which means understanding and delivering on what the brand wants and what the client wants. Furthermore, brands need to take the opportunity to work collaboratively with key clients to shape content programmes.

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The 2017 Digital Intelligence Briefing

Our latest Digital Intelligence Briefing is out and promises to bring a broader-based perspective to understanding digital and marketing trends. We saw a record number of respondents this year with over 14,000 people around the world sharing their thoughts and opinions.

The 2016 report, which you can view here, described a year where digital integration appeared to decelerate as companies sought to develop strategies and toolsets to deliver customer experience.

In our new report, we highlight a few shifts indicating that digital transformation is on the move again as companies and agencies make customer experience a top priority again in the coming year.

The Push for Customer Experience Continues

A compelling customer experience and the content to support it continued to be a leading priority as over one-fifth (22%) of client-side respondents ranked optimising the customer experience as the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead. This category came in ahead of creating compelling content for digital experiences (16%).

The excitement is seen in the list of marketers’ top priorities:

  • Content marketing (29%)
  • Social media engagement (28%)
  • Targeting and personalisation (25%)

While most of the priorities make sense, there are some potential disconnects revealed in the responses. For example, “optimising the customer experience” ranks as the single most exciting opportunity, but data-driven marketing lags behind with only 12 % citing this area as an opportunity. Marketers must have the right data to get great customer experience, and they cannot afford to under-invest in capable data analytics.

Design: The Not-so-secret Strategic Weapon

Marketers consider design as the next level on the path to digital transformation, with 86% of survey

respondents agreeing that design-driven companies outperform other businesses. This design-centric mindset comes as no surprise considering that those surveyed place the highest emphasis on creating customer experiences that are as personalised, relevant, and valuable as possible.

While marketers acknowledge the value of design in their marketing strategies, many report challenges yet to be navigated in this area. 82% believe that creativity is highly valued within their organisations and 77% of them are investing in design to differentiate their brand. However, just over two-fifths (41%) of those surveyed don’t think that they have the processes and collaborative workflows to achieve a design advantage. In fact, 36% of client-side respondents rate having well-designed user journeys that facilitate clear communication and a seamless transaction as difficult to master.

Organisational Structure: The Foundation for Success

Organisational structure and a firm grip on culture, collaboration, skills, data, and technology is also vital to getting customer experience right. Client-side marketers consider improving data analysis capabilities (63%), optimising internal collaboration between creative and marketing teams (53%) and optimising internal workflows (53%) to be ‘very important’ for delivering a great customer experience.

The results indicate that some progress has been made regarding the level of digital integration across an organisation’s marketing activities. A small majority (53%) of organisations have made a great start by optimising collaboration between creative and marketing, but it is only a start. If organisations really want great end-to-end customer experience they will need to break silos across the entire enterprise, not just between two teams.

Marketers have also set their sights on multichannel marketing. Optimising the customer experience across multiple touchpoints will be the single most important opportunity for organisations in 2017, according to 22% over client-side marketers and 18% of agency respondents.

The report highlights some regional differences. Marketers in Asia-Pacific (APAC) are more likely to prioritise mobile app engagement, with 14% citing this area as a top priority compared with 12% of North American respondents and 9% of European respondents. This is not surprising given the prevalence of the mobile internet and the presence of WeChat and other advanced mobile apps in the region. APAC marketers are also more likely to view social media engagement as a top priority (31% vs. 28% of North American respondents and 27% of European respondents).

Looking Ahead to 2020

It appears that 25% of marketers are most excited about engaging audiences through virtual or augmented reality as well as the Internet of Things and connected devices.

Regional comparisons reveal that marketers in Asia-Pacific are slightly more excited about using enhanced payment technologies such as mobile wallets and e-receipts compared with their European and North American counterparts, while European marketers are on the whole more excited about using artificial intelligence/bots to drive campaigns and experiences.

Overall, payment technologies and voice interfaces such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are regarded as less exciting prospects for 2020, with 15% and 6% of marketers indicating their anticipation respectively.

Read the report today  for a more detailed analysis and additional insights.