Smarter Data meets CX 2023 focused on progress over perfection, last Thursday at Eden Park, where hundreds  of NZ’s top data driven marketers, CX professionals and marketing analysts gathered to talk about their successes and challenges over the past few years in the fast-changing world of data driven CX.

International keynote, Alberto Fernandez, Head of Insights at Latitude Financial Services in Australia, kicked off the day, sharing his insights on designing a robust insights function over the past 3 years, amongst the challenges of Covid lockdowns. Fernandez's approach was all about building credibility and creating a fanbase within the organisation, and he did this by being more human with his colleagues. The Covid 19 lockdowns actually helped him with this, as he got to know the key stakeholders and their goals and needs.  

To test out new ideas, Fernandez turned to online communities as a rapid testing ground, quickly finding ideas for future product development that were based on insight. He developed key customer segmentations around mindset and moment segmentation and introduced these to the organisation one at a time.  

Overall, Fernandez's presentation was a breath of fresh air in the world of finance. He reminded us that it's essential to be human, build credibility, and create a fanbase within our organisations.  

The morning continued with Lewis Billinghurst, Head of eCommerce at Mitre 10, talking us through the rapid ecommerce journey that they went on due to Covid lockdowns. From no ‘click and collect’, to an online-only model overnight, alongside a massive SAP upgrade, sounds like a nightmare in transformation projects. But this rapid channel switch allowed the team to learn the skills to move quickly which they are still using.  

Mitre 10 started small on their personalisation journey with quick and dirty trials that had provable value, such as regional based lead products on the home page, allowing for relevancy when NZ is hit with heatwaves at one end of the country and a cold snap at the other. This showed the value of personalisation to the brand and got it on the agenda, and they have continued to innovate with recommendation feeds and other personalisation tests since. Key learnings that Lewis talked about were showing value, even in early testing, celebrating wins and failures equally, making shit fun and taking everyone on the journey.

The highlight for me of the pre-lunch session was the energy, confidence and excitement from the B2B marketing team at Trade Me, Jess Warring and Sobia Mughal, showing how they built a new RVM segmentation for customers of Trade Me Property (Real Estate Agents) - without any budget! By again taking a test and learn approach, Jess developed and tested the new segmentation and worked closely with her colleagues in the sales team to develop a useful strategy to use it, one which aligned marketing and sales teams on what the best messages were for each segment. The results were proof enough for other business units to take notice, a rise of 223% in CTR, increasing to over 700% with further testing and refinement of journeys and a doubling of the size of the most valuable segment, all in 2 financial years. A great example of starting simply with well tested segmentation strategies, communicating value to the business to get buy-in and aligning with stakeholders planning to amplify the effect.

As we moved into the afternoon, the panel debates gave us comfort that yes, everyone else was putting off GA4 transition, too, and everyone else in the room was just as obsessed with trying out ChatGPT. But more seriously there was concern from the panel that so many companies in NZ relied on Google Analytics as their free source of truth for web analytics but had not made the urgent move over to GA4, which does take a change in mindset, moving from sessions and pageviews to users and events.

Managing consent and the future of data privacy were also hot topics for the panel, with new Australian privacy laws out for consultation. Proposed large fines for breaches (calculated by # customers impacted) and a more stringent regime than GDPR, certainly got some marketers realising they needed to understand the new legislation and impacts further. CDP’s and a privacy-first culture were seen as key to working effectively within future privacy regimes that may impact NZ marketers, so 2023 is the time to get closer to your legal and IT teams on what this means for customer identity, single customer view and your technology and data strategy going forward.

Paul Hickey from SpeakData and Lucy Eru from Te Pūkenga, then took us through their journey so far in implementing a CDP to bring together customer profiles and activities of over 250k learners across 25 business divisions in the fledgling tertiary merger, that has created the 35th largest tertiary education institute in the world, here in NZ.  

Their journey and demonstration of the product was engaging for the audience (we are data geeks in our heart), we could see the efficiencies being created and how the technology would start to bring together a new skills-based learning system with demand planning at the centre. The technology has already enabled Te Pūkenga to make massive leaps forward in personalisation of the web experience, with live segmentations from Tealium being pushed through to an AI content layer to personalise prompts and content, including AI generated imagery, populated on the fly in the main Te Pūkenga website.

The afternoon was rounded out with a fireside chat from Datacom, Adobe and IAG, looking at some of the trends from the latest edition of Adobe Trends and insights into continuous innovation and testing to improve customer experience. You can have a look at the Adobe Trends report here.

We rounded out the day with the tale of the 2-year transformation project that has taken 6 years, from Adi Wickramaratne, National Manager - Digital Marketing & Experience, St John. Adi told us about the long road they had taken to enable whole-of-life engagement, and like all good stories it started with creating a vision for the stakeholders on what that would look like for the customers they served.

Demonstrating early value came in the form of creating simple marketing automation campaigns and building on the wins. As ecommerce and a new CRM were implemented, the engagement strategy extended to more complex lifecycle comms and introduced self-service and new common product structures that would be key for future strategies.  

As budgets allowed over the next 4 years, key products were moved onto the eCom platform and simple cross-category automations could be enabled, enabling much better customer and financial insights. While the transformation has taken longer than imagined, St John are now very close to being able to develop a full omnichannel customer experience with high levels of personalisation, understanding and supporting their customers over their whole life.

The big winner on the day at Smarter Data Meets CX 2023 was AI though, and every session had questions or examples of how AI and especially NLP (Natural Language Processing) and LLM (Large Language Models) such as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, will change the face of marketing and advertising across how we seek insights, develop propositions and strategies, and produce copy and imagery. All speakers agreed that learning how to become an AI prompt engineer by trying out the tools and iterating is the best option to ensure future employability. If you want a more guided path to becoming an expert prompter, then check out the recommended read PROMPT A practical guide to brand growth using ChatGPT, by Richard Bowman and David Boyle.

Whatever the next year brings in the Data, CX and AI world’s, I’ll be heading back to Smarter Data meets CX in 2024 to see how NZ companies are putting these new tools and approaches into action. 

Written by Gabby McLean, Founder & Chief Strategist at Maven Loyalty and a member of MA's Digital Special Interest Group.

Check out the re-written Chat GPT version of this article below!

NZ Marketers Ignite Progress Over Perfection to Get $h!t Done: A High-Energy Recap of Smarter Data Meets CX 

Last Thursday, Eden Park came alive with the buzz of over 300 top-notch NZ data-driven marketers, CX professionals, and marketing analysts as they converged to discuss their triumphs and challenges at Smarter Data Meets CX. The theme of the day was "progress over perfection," setting the stage for an electrifying exchange of ideas and experiences. 

Alberto Fernandez, Head of Insights at Latitude, kicked off the event with a riveting account of his journey in designing a robust insights function during the tumultuous times of Covid lockdowns. Fernandez's human-centric approach to building credibility and fostering a fanbase within the organization struck a chord with the audience. 

The morning continued with Lewis Billinghurst, Head of eCommerce at Mitre 10, who recounted their rapid ecommerce transformation amid the pandemic. The agile Mitre 10 team demonstrated the power of starting small, testing, and iterating to deliver personalized customer experiences. 

The Trade Me B2B marketing duo, Jess Warring and Sobia Mugal, stole the show with their energetic presentation on their zero-budget RVM segmentation strategy. They showed how a test-and-learn approach, clear communication of value, and stakeholder alignment can yield remarkable results. 

The afternoon panel debates tackled the urgency of transitioning to GA4, data privacy, and the future of CDPs. This led to a fascinating showcase of Tealium implementation by Paul Hickey from SpeakData and Lucy Eru from Te Pūkenga, who enthralled the data-geek audience with their account of unifying customer profiles across numerous business divisions. 

A fireside chat with Datacom, Adobe, and IAG rounded out the day, diving into continuous innovation and testing to enhance customer experience. The event concluded with Adi Wickramaratne from St John, who captivated attendees with a story of a 2-year transformation project that took six years, emphasizing the importance of demonstrating early value and building on wins. 

The real star of the day, however, was AI. Every session touched on the potential of AI, NLP, and LLMs like ChatGPT and Google's Bard, in revolutionizing marketing and advertising. The consensus among speakers was that becoming an AI prompt engineer is key to future employability. 

As we look forward to Smarter Data Meets CX 2024, it's clear that NZ marketers are eager to embrace new tools and approaches to drive progress and growth in the exciting world of data, CX, and AI.