Management Focus Group “Return on Marketing Digitalization”

On September 15 & 16, 2016 our management focus group on „Return on Marketing Digitalization” took place in Berlin, Germany. In our first workshop we discussed intensively what challenges today`s companies face in order to plan, manage and control their digital marketing activities. In this context, we focused on today`s Best Practices in the areas of digital marketing, big data management and CRM. Professor Sven Reinecke, director of the Institute of Marketing at the University of St.Gallen, provided an insightful overview of current activities and challenges as well as future opportunities for companies in the context of Marketing Digitalization and its performance measurement. In addition to that, we had the pleasure of conducting valuable discussions with truly inspiring guest lectures from various industries. We would like to thank Philipp Vospeter (CLAAS KGaA mbH), Henrik Schulte (Schneider Electric), Tim Becker (nu3 GmbH), Philipp Lück (Modomoto), Christoph Klemann ( and Lukas Stuber (Yourposition).

As we gained many insights in our 2-day seminar, we would like to summarize six key statements on the topic of “Return on Marketing Digitalization“.

1. Setting clear, differentiated, ambitious and measureable goals for digital marketing activities

As Sven Reinecke and several guest speakers emphasized, setting clear, differentiated and measureable goals for digital marketing activities is crucial for the success of respective initiatives. The more concrete a goal is, the better respective actions can be planned, implemented and evaluated in terms of their performance.

Given the example of a webpage launch, Sven Reinecke mentioned four basic goals.

Possible goals of a web-page:

  1. Do: Forward to another page
  2. Learn: Inform people
  3. Find: Trigger an action
  4. Engage: Trigger an interaction

This example illustrated quite well that even if the medium (e.g. web-pages; communities) is the same, the design, content and interaction possibilities within a platform can differ among themselves, based on the objectives. Marketing managers need to pay a lot of attention to the concrete goal definition in order to design effective and efficient Digital Marketing activities. If there is no concrete goal as a starting point it is hard to choose relevant metrics to evaluate the performance of a considered initiative.

2. You need to know your audience – Improving a digital customer experience starts with knowing the customer.

As Sven Reinecke and several guest speakers from, nu3 & Yourposition stated, the characterization of customers is crucial for the design of relevant online content, services and interaction possibilities. Within online environments, companies are able to collect various customer data , including sociodemographic information, behavioral tendencies and individual preferences. For the design of relevant and differentiated communication and offers, companies need not only to collect, but also integrate all online and offline data in order to create a holistic customer profile.

Customers want to feel recognized and valued. Based on holistic customer profiles, companies are able to provide such a personalized and exciting experience and thereby enhance for example interaction rates in the short- and customer retention in the long-term.


3. Not collecting, but managing big data is the key

Today`s companies are able to collect large data sets of their customers as well as product performances. In times of the “Internet-of-Things (IoT)”, the possibilities of data collection reach far beyond traditional online interaction data (such as online stores or mobile app behavior): Customer behavior, as well as product performance data, can be gathered by a company`s product itself via sensorial information, as e.g. CLAAS clearly demonstrated.

Not the collection, but the management of these large data sets is key for the competitiveness of today`s companies. Thus, organizations need to build their own data management capabilities in terms of data selection, data monitoring, data analytics and strategic data management, so that existing data can be used effectively and efficiently for the design of future marketing activities.

CLAAS presented an approach of using maintenance data of their machines in the context of CRM. Based on repair and service interaction data, CLAAS segments its customers in different categories for their future sales and service activities. Based on this approach, all customer data is collected, integrated, analyzed and available for all company employees in one place and enable customer-specific communication and services.

Another example of company`s data management capabilities was delivered by Modomoto, a startup in the area of curated shopping. Modomoto uses customer data, gained from online store behavior, Facebook and personal pictures of their customers (used for fitting purposes) for service individualization. Data collected in their CRM-system is e.g. available for their customer service personnel as well as for their personal shoppers who are steadily in interaction with the customers. With that information, employees are able to prepare themselves perfectly when getting in contact with their clients.

4. Marketing Automation enables real-time and personalized marketing in an efficient way

In the often called “age of impatience”, customers want to get immediate information, services and offers from a company. From a company`s perspective, a provision of desired information and services in real-time is crucial in order to achieve a competitive advantage. Whereas in earlier days such 24/7 customer service was very resource-intensive and therefore expensive.Today`s marketing automation techniques allow individualized and direct responses to various customer requests.

nu3 clearly demonstrated the possibilities of marketing automation technologies. This company uses Marketing Automation for short-term campaigns, mid-term journeys and long-term platforms. Based on these initiatives, nu3 reported a higher revenue with 90 % less effort, 10 times higher revenue per mailing (providing only relevant content for their customers) and a margin per customer increased by 80 %.

5. Done is better than perfect

Due to rapid changes in technology, customer demand and competitive landscape, there is a need for fast and fuss-free development and implementation of new products, services and communication activities. For this reason, traditional principles, from software-development and engineering, have experienced a reinvention and gained remarkably in significance, as for example in the form of the “Design Thinking”-Principles.

The notion behind such principles is to build a demonstrator or prototype (instead of a written concept) rapidly, based on identified customer needs and demands. The use of these prototypes enables companies to test and iteratively optimize their services or products in a quick way. As a result, research and development time for innovations generally decreases The following key principles of rapid prototyping can be summarized:

Done is better than perfect:

  1. Make and show, don`t tell
  2. Fail fast and often
  3. Prototype and learn from it

Sven Reinecke , nu3 and Modomoto recommend to move fast from the idea to the realization, in order to be able to test the effects of the new initiatives directly online as in the example of A/B-testing of different payment options within the online shop. But bear in mind that A/B-testing does not always guarantee the best solution, but at least a better solution.