Humanizing Marketing: Episode 6 - How Marketers Can Build Trust In The Future

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This is a podcast episode titled, Humanizing Marketing: Episode 6 - How Marketers Can Build Trust In The Future. The summary for this episode is: <p>The final episode of our Humanizing Marketing series looks at how digital engagement will evolve in the years ahead. Hosts Marty Kihn and Tina Rozul chat with Salesforce futurists, Vala Afshar and Brian Solis about the role of trust in customer relationships. We also dig into "Atomic Content Personalization" with Mark Abraham of Boston Consulting Group. Listen in to find out if your organization is ready for what's coming our way.</p><p>LINK: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Learn more about Atomic Content Personalization</a></p><p>Presented in partnership with WordPressVIP</p>

Speaker 1: Welcome to Humanizing Marketing.

Marty Kihn: Hey everyone, welcome back to The Marketing Cloudcast. It's a podcast by Salesforce created to bring together marketers and people who want to learn more about how to be better in their companies and in their careers. I'm Marty Kihn here with my amazing friend and cohost, Tina Rozul.

Tina Rozul: Hey everyone. Hi, Marty. Hope everyone is doing well, wherever you're tuning in from the world. Marty, can you believe we are in our sixth and final episode of our Humanizing Marketing series.

Marty Kihn: Amazing.

Tina Rozul: Crazy how fast that went. We talked a lot about how to humanize marketing. We started off in our first episode about how using both data and empathy is really what is needed to deliver amazing engagement and experiences, with the wonderful Shannon Duffy, who leads your Digital 360 Marketing team. We then unpacked how you create a unified customer profile. We had the great CDP debate-

Marty Kihn: Classic.

Tina Rozul: ...with the founder of the CDP Institute, with David Raab, and also our good friend and head of marketing for data and insights, Chris O'Hara. And then we layered on top of that and we talked about what does humanizing marketing actually mean for the customer of today and tomorrow with WordPress VIP's CMO, Joyce Solano.

Marty Kihn: And then we talked about humanizing marketing with AI, or artificial intelligence, with Melinda Han Williams, chief data scientist at Dstillery, and our own, Armita Peymandoust, who's the VP of product management at Einstein within the Marketing Cloud. And then our last episode, episode five, was on humanizing marketing ethics, which was a fascinating conversation with Sheila Warren from the World Economic Forum. They were all really very insightful and made me think a bit muse on what it means to create humanized marketing moments. The most interesting insight I got was in the Sheila Warren conversation when she was talking about data and how data itself, even though it's just data, can have inherent biases because the humans who created it, who generated it are biased. So where do we go from here, Tina?

Tina Rozul: Well, Marty, now we look into the future. I think all of us now can take all these really great learnings and wisdom and feel confident that we can move forward. And what does the future hold, Marty, in this always- on digital first world that we live in? We actually have two of our very own futurists that will help guide the discussion in this next episode.

Marty Kihn: That's right. We have two of my most famous colleagues. Both of them actually have hundreds of thousands of followers in their social networks.

Tina Rozul: Hundreds of thousands, crazy.

Marty Kihn: I'm not exaggerating. Vala Afshar, who is known to all of you out there, I'm sure, Salesforce's own chief digital evangelist, who is also the author of The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence, and the co- host so DisrupTV with Ray Wang. And we'll also be joined by Brian Solis, who is the global innovation evangelist and digital thought leader. And they will share insights on what the future of humanizing marketing looks like in this always- on, as you pointed out, Tina, digital first world.

Tina Rozul: That's right, Marty. That's a very enlightening conversation. For everyone tuning in probably wondering, what should I be doing today, tomorrow, and in the future for my digital marketing strategy? But to start off and to ground us, we'll actually be speaking with Mark Abraham from Boston Consulting Group. He's a senior partner and managing director of BCGs personalization business. Now, any humanizing marketing experience starts with personalization. That's what we talked about having data and empathy combined truly unlocks. And we'll talk about how access to advanced analytics, content, technology, and having a flexible engagement platform can really unlock the best personalized experiences and content at any point of interaction. And we'll also talk about atomic content.

Marty Kihn: Atomic content, which is the coolest thing in the entire season. There's a lot of insights there, but before we kick it off, the futurist episode, let's hear from Nick Gernert, CEO of our partner for this series, WordPress VIP.

Nick Gernert: Simplicity is a critical capability because it opens up, it democratizes who has access to the technology, who has access to the tools. And in marketing now, the more we're able to sort of distribute who has customer touch points, honestly, the richer the customer experience gets through a lot of this. So we think this like simplicity is really critical capability that might be often overlooked.

Marty Kihn: Thanks, Nick. And thanks to our sponsor, WordPress VIP. Now let's welcome the first guest, Mark Abraham from BCG, to the show.

Mark Abraham: Thanks so much for having me. It's great to be here.

Tina Rozul: Thank you, Mark, for joining us. In today's episode, the topic is around the future of marketing. But to talk about the future, we really need to understand the moments of creating the most personalized experiences, because personalization is a very hot topic, and it's really the essence of any customer experience that we create. So, can you share with us what personalization really means and how can we define it so that we know how to personalize for the future?

Mark Abraham: So, personalization is such a buzz word, but I think you really have to aspire to the definition that is all about personalizing the entire experience. So this is not just about personalizing offers or personalizing one channel or one part of the experience, it's end to end, number one. Number two, you really have to tie together the channels into a seamless experience. And especially in today's world, it becomes magical when you can tie together the digital and the physical world. What I call bionic personalization. Those human connections that we all especially now are craving for. If they can be personalized, in addition to your digital interactions with the brand, then that unlocks something truly powerful. And so at its core, it's about delivering the right content, which I know we'll talk a lot about today, to the right person, at the right time, which sounds easy, but in all our research, we find that at most, 10% of brands are truly at that personalization leader level, where they're beginning to think end to end and beginning to think cross- channel and seamless experience.

Tina Rozul: So in the white paper, you break down that when you look at delivering personalized content, it's a step change. And so you talk about a one size fits all piece of content, which I think most of the listeners are familiar with, and then dynamic content, which people probably use Marketing Cloud to create. But then you also talk about atomic content, which is a newer topic. Can you explain the differences between those three, just to listeners who may be familiar with maybe just one category?

Mark Abraham: If you just break it down, a lot of the communication you receive today is one size fits all. You got an email, it's the same exact email, with the same copy, same imagery for everyone. Dynamic content is a step above that. So you might have in the email an image, let's say for one of my apparel clients, the shoe that they're talking about, and the top there might be a different image for one or the other email. But every other aspect of the content is the same, it'll have the same copy, it'll say some of our subject lines, et cetera. And that is created by hand, different variants are put together. The atomic content really refers to a modularized set of creatives. So in this case, imagine an email template that has four or five pieces, let's say the product image that I referenced of that piece of clothing, let's say the call to action below it, let's say the offer around an incentive to come into the store at the bottom of the email, and the subject line. And each of these modular aspect is actually created on the fly based on the latest data that we have about the customer. I think those two points, the modularized aspect of it, and the fact that it's actually filled in with the latest data about the customer in real time, are the two components that make atomic content really stand out.

Tina Rozul: For practitioners that want to move past just simple personalization and to dynamic and maybe atomic and using AI, what's the best starting point to build and to navigate each step of the way?

Mark Abraham: I think pick a channel, pick a use case, and start small and start with what you have. So for example, with mid- size restaurant company, it was as simple as taking the top 50 menu items and taking the email channel, which the benefit of that is you don't have to be real time. You cannot have the perfect data set up and actually do quite a bit to start, but still leverage the same components than when you go to web or mobile. We discovered even with that level of personalization and emails, we had to create some basic templates and we didn't even have the imagery of all the products we wanted to recommend. So you find those bottlenecks, but if you're able to start small and really break the problem down to something simple that half a dozen, two dozen people working together across functions can quickly solve, then you can make progress. And the key is to pick a use case that will scale and will also generate meaningful value. So you're not just setting up proof of concept that's not actually getting the organization excited, and it is building a foundation for the future. And that example, if you get product recommendations right for a restaurant brand, that is a very powerful driver of the business.

Tina Rozul: Where do you think the bottlenecks are for organizations to create those personalized experiences?

Mark Abraham: It's being very clear what are the experiences you want to light up and focus on, because there's so much to cover in what I described that you really have to break it down, get specific on the experience you're trying to design and focus the team there. It's then having the data, both in terms of collecting the data, making it valuable for the customer to provide that data and making them feel good about providing that data in the first place, but then having the systems, the infrastructure, and the teams to actually collect, engineer, and make that data available and drive insights off of it. It's the technology to then actually deliver the experiences. It's the content to actually bring it to life in a relevant way to the customer. And then it's the ways they're working for the teams, which has to be much more multidisciplinary than ever before. You're bringing together creatives with marketers, with technologists and engineers, with data scientists, and the business owners as well, in new ways.

Marty Kihn: What's the best way to structure these projects? Is it around a specific use case, like pick out something small and just make it work with a tiger team? Or is it a bigger project where you're like, " Well, let's have a personalization revolution in the organization and have a 10- year roadmap, or something in the middle?"

Mark Abraham: So it's an and, but I think there's a twist. So number one, you do have to rally the organization around the big, hairy, audacious goal, your BHAG, and it is getting the CMO with the CIO with the business lead really rallied around the vision of what we're trying to achieve, what the size of price is, but also the reality of the investments that are required, both in people, and tech, and data, and then the content side as well. But then in addition to that, where organizations sometimes make a mistake, is they focus on the one, two- year big build projects, versus then saying, " We know where we're going, but let's break down the journey. Let's pick a use case. Let's start doing the MVP with squads that are two pizza teams, agile, can get stuff done, can get stuff out the door." And through that work, you're going to learn a lot about the data that's required, your capabilities that are missing, your foundational elements that have to be built. But if you're trying to build the technology, build the data before you really dig into the use cases, you risk building a lot that isn't actually used for the customer experience.

Marty Kihn: I want to ask you about like the creative component. I've worked at ad agencies in the past and a dynamic creative appeared, and so you go to the copywriter and say, " Well, I have a template. I need you to come up with 56 headlines, because I'm going to test them to see which... I'll swap them out and see which one works best." So the copywriter, who's used to writing one brilliant headline, doesn't like this idea. So how do you kind of manage the, not the creative ego, but basically the creative work style, to make sure that they're contributing, and yet you still get all the content that you need?

Mark Abraham: I think the key is how do the marketers and the business leaders come up with the right framework within which the creative process can take place. So in that subject headline example with my apparel client recently, we came up with a segmentation schema to think about folks that we really wanted to engage in building out the outfit, or going deeper on athletic wear, or maybe the high end shopper. And then speaking to these different personas in new ways. How we actually brought that to life, what imagery was relevant, what copy would be relevant for these personas, was a really rich space where the creative folks could ideate with them, but we needed to create that framework so that the creative ideation could take place in a similar way across campaigns, and then also feed into the content library that we tagged and built appropriately. So again, the assets could be reused versus every single campaign being bespoke.

Tina Rozul: And where do you see the future of personalization heading? There's this combination of we want to be personal, we want to be human, we want to be relevant, but we don't want to be creepy. We don't want to get too personal to some extent.

Mark Abraham: So we've talked to thousands of consumers of BCG about personalization every year. And one of the quotes that stood out for me a couple of years ago when we talked to consumers is, I may not have chosen to live in a world where brands have this much data about me, but now that we are in this world and there's no going back, I expect them to use it to make my experience seamless, fast, easy, convenient, and relevant for me. And I think that very well captures consumers' attitudes towards personalization. When you survey consumers, personalization in itself doesn't actually come up as the top need that they have. They are looking for the benefits that personalization provides. The key is transparency, and that's where I think brands have gone wrong. There are lots of infamous examples on those journeys, but I think that in the future, brands that can really make it clear and make it a progressive journey for increased personalization and exchange for increased level of understanding about you as a consumer. The other trend that I'm seeing here is there is the derived insights you can get from browsing behavior, and engagement data with your channels, and transactional data, and that's hugely valuable. But we also have to remember as marketers, there's no substitute for actually asking consumers. And brands that authentically include in that consumer journey, some key questions around what consumers' needs or preferences are, will be able to take personalization to the next level.

Marty Kihn: And we do command everyone to read the white paper, Taking an Atomic Approach to Content Personalization, a lot of good insights and a great way to think about this building your own dynamic content factory, and the way creation and application of personalized content is going. So it's somewhere where we'll all end up there, whether we want to or not. So it's best to get started. So at the end here, we like to just pose a few questions reflecting back on this very strange year that we've had and looking forward. The first question we have for you, Mark, is, are there any silver linings in the past year, in this time of change that you've noticed?

Mark Abraham: I think on the personal front, it's been great to engage more with family and have personal time and pick up old sports that I haven't been engaged in for a long time. Like I finally picked up tennis again after a 15- year hiatus and really got my boys, 10 and 12- year- old son's engagements here.

Marty Kihn: How's your backhand? Still serving? Yeah.

Mark Abraham: It's getting good. It's getting good. Yeah, exactly. Good again. The serves are getting back there as well.

Tina Rozul: So now that you've picked up tennis again with your boys, do you have any daily routines or habits that have influenced who you are today?

Mark Abraham: I really tried to kind of ground myself and be more mindful. It's pretty hard on Zoom. I think we're all feeling the fatigue from the 30- minute back to back Zoom calls after a while. So, starting the day with just that, put the digital devices away, go for a walk, or sit and just be mindful as you have breakfast are such good moments to start the day on a different note. So I've been really focusing on that recently and finding that grounded me in a different way.

Tina Rozul: Thank you so much, Mark, for sharing your wisdom on how we can access an advanced analytics, the right content, and using the right technology to truly unlock the right personalized content at any point of interaction, for today, for tomorrow, and also for the future. Now let's go ahead and bring on our two fabulous Salesforce futurists to talk about what is it that we actually need to be aware of. In our digital always- on world, how can we prepare to make sure that we have all of the trends and insights relevant for us to be successful. Now to kick this conversation off, we have the wonderful Brian Solis, who's our very own digital evangelist, thought leader, and futurist. Brian, welcome to the show.

Brian Solis: Okay. Marty, hey, Tina. Thanks for inviting me.

Marty Kihn: How do you think that the relationship between the consumer and the brand has changed over the past year, and what to that is going to be a durable change?

Brian Solis: What is going to be durable is relevance. What I mean by relevance is that if I'm a consumer, I am a consumer, and I know that I can search for things that I like and that are important to me, I have certain phrases that I'm going to look at. And I'm going to look at companies that sort of respond to those phrases because they understand what's important to me. They're going to understand where else I participate in other journeys. And they're going to take that insight and apply it to my journey with them to further personalize that engagement. And so relevance starts to look like, " Hey, this company, they have really interesting products or services that seem to speak my language and seem to be aligned with what I'm looking for now and maybe over the long- term." So it's not just a matter of marketing, it's marketing and forming the business to be a different type of business now and in the future. So insights to better market and insights to be a better business.

Marty Kihn: That's a great point that you make: not only knows me, but gets me. And it's difficult to do. I think that a prerequisite might be having good information about the consumer, which gets us into the realm of gathering data about the consumer and doing it obviously with their knowledge, one would hope, and their consent. So how should brands be thinking now and in the future about making the case for the consumer, providing more information? We talk about the value exchange a lot, but how can that case be made?

Brian Solis: A relationship, and that's what this is about, right? This is about relationships. Isn't just about how can I get more information from you as a consumer? It's about what value I can deliver back to you in exchange for that information. And so if you look at whatever law or regulation, whether it's GDPR or what have you, most companies, if not all, didn't see that as an opportunity to establish a new social contract with customers. They just threw up a box, told you that things have changed, and then you got to click it if you want to hit that page. It could have just said in super big, bold letters, " Laws have changed. We want to respect your privacy. We have an opportunity to get to know more about you, and this is what that looks like for you." I'm not sure that I know of any customers that would say, " No, I don't want a better experience. No, I don't want personalization. No, I don't want you to take my input to build better products and services." And I think that that's re- imagining marketing now. We have a real unique gift in a couple of things. One is dysregulation. Two in the ability to get more insights than we've ever been able to get before. Three, this pandemic, and I'm an optimist, so I do want to see the silver linings in this disruption. And it's a matter of how we want to move forward differently. And so this is a wonderful opportunity for marketing itself to be re- imagined forward. If there is an organization within the company today that's responsible for talking to and learning from customers, it could be marketing, and it could be a marketing led cross collaboration effort where we not only re- establish that social contract with our customers, but we also remodel ourselves in a way that reinforces the value to customers as a thank you for letting us get closer to them and letting them get closer to us and building a new type of relationship moving forward.

Tina Rozul: We just heard from Brian that the future of marketing involves a change in mindset to move forward differently. Using all of the insights that we've learned over the last year will really help us treat every engagement as a relationship builder, because every moment should be seen as a value exchange. This is the only way that we'll be able to build relationships with our customers in the future. We'll continue the conversation with Vala Afshar, our chief digital evangelist, who will share how relevancy and vitality are two essential things to help us grow successful businesses and trusted connections in the future.

Vala Afshar: Hello, Marty. Hello, Tina. Great to be here. I actually had, last week I interviewed a great CMO that I admire. He's the CMO of MasterCard, Rajamannar. He's just recently wrote a book, Quantum Marketing, and he said, " There's a crisis of confidence in marketing." That's how he establishes his book. And he says the crisis in marketing, first, you've got the changing landscape driven by technology transformation, from analytics, to consumer behavior that's changing, mobile social cloud, new business models. So all of these disruptive forces, just changing landscape and behavior. And in 2020, McKinsey said in the US, we had 71% of consumers change brands during 2020. I mean, rest in peace, massive disruption to brand loyalties. And it really speaks to the deficit that exists. Second thing that Raja mentioned in his book, Quantum Marketing, was that marketeers have not been able to credibly connect business outcomes to their marketing investments and actions. So the level of precision that's required in marketing, that means that you don't have the confidence of the CEO, the board, or perhaps the CMO peers, in terms of making sure that there's relevance and vitality in marketing in terms of driving real purpose and meaningful connections that can help not just stabilize business, but grow business in the future as we fight through this pandemic. And lastly, he said that, and I'm paraphrasing what he said, he said that the problem that marketeers have is that some are artists, some are scientists, and instead we need both. He said marketing today needs executives who can straddle two distinct genres, blending the right and left brain capabilities, combining creative sensibilities with a command of data and technology. So not only we had to deal with the crisis that I mentioned, but inside of marketing, because of perhaps the right balance of skills, because of the disruptive nature of technology around us, which has massively changed consumer behavior, and the fact that we can't really tie marketing practice to business outcomes, there is a crisis of confidence, and this is why I think trust as the number one core value is critically important, especially for marketing leaders who continue to have the lowest tenure of all CXOs. So it's a difficult job. As a former CMO, I can tell you, as much as I love being a chief marketing officer of a public company for three years, it was like riding big waves and surf and everybody has an opinion about how you should deliver your message, and there's no right or wrong. There's just the good, better, best. So you live in these worlds of shades of gray, and that's why the art and the sciences is important because you have to be able to... They say a river without boundaries is a puddle. You need to have a framework and you need to have a guiding principle in order to be a successful marketeer. But at the end of the day, establishing trust I think has to be, has to be your number one core value.

Tina Rozul: Vala, you touched on the crazy unpredictability of what we experienced the last 14 months. And I will say, living from afar, it also in some way broke down barriers for us to be resilient in ways I think humanly we didn't realize that we had in us, right? Like there's still a lot of unknown as marketers, as business owners. How do you prepare for the future when there's still a lot of unknown to navigate? Because I think at the end of the day, we all want to do what's right, and we want to take care of each other, but it's hard.

Vala Afshar: When I think of 2020, I think one of the biggest blind spots businesses had was understanding the power of decentralization. This time last year, like a light switch, the world went from a centralized, go to our big, beautiful Salesforce towers around the world, convene at Dreamforce and Cloudforce events with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people. And immediately we went to a distributed digital only world. I think an important currency in business is speed. You don't have to have time dependency to do your job. And this is not white collar, blue collar. I mean, we know plenty of PhDs and high degree individuals that have physical dependency in terms of their work, but there's a large majority of folks that don't need to be in an office to be productive. A work is not a place. So fortunately, as a digital mature company, we had designed our company for optimal movement, which led to optimal speed. But two weeks ago, I interviewed professor Galloway, he's a professor at NYU Stern School of Business. He had written a number of best- selling books. His latest book is Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity. And I asked professor Galloway, take me to the future, take me post corona and tell me what you believe will be long- lasting implications of what we've witnessed. And he said there are really three macro events that shaped our era in business and marketing. He said the first is globalization, had significant impact in how we do business and how we conduct go- to- market and partnerships and ecosystems. He said the second macro era was digitization. And what he said is what we experienced in 2020, again, globalization, digitization, he called it great dispersion. He said, " We are entering a post distance era as tech has dispersed large segments of the economy without regard to existing distribution channels." So essentially dispersion is disrupting the supply chain between the producers and the users aimed at removing friction, reducing costs, and increasing value. The fact that my kids could watch Wonder Woman streaming on TV the day it came out, it's an example of dispersion. So what Amazon did, what Netflix has done, what we were experiencing in terms of telemedicine, distant learning, what we're experiencing in terms of company headquarters, knowing that now you can work from anywhere, success from everywhere, this is what he called great dispersion. We saw perhaps 10 years of acceleration in both culture and digital transformation. E- Commerce is a perfect example. We saw from about 16% of total retail last year in e- commerce grow to about 33%, 34% in about eight weeks between April and June of last year, where typically we were seeing 1% increase a year in commerce. And culture, I mean, again, the tens of millions of folks working from home. And I don't believe that we're going to go back to office at the scale pre- pandemic. I think we'll have a hybrid model. Some folks will choose to be in the office. Some will have one, or two, or three days, and others will work remotely. And I think that's the new normal. So as far as great dispersion and how we need to think about marketing to these decentralized digital only world, I think it's important to understand that these behaviors will have significant impact in terms of brand affinity, loyalty, and how we can sustain not just relevance, but vitality of the brand. I think that's why purpose and core values is so important.

Marty Kihn: Yeah. The rapid change, as you said, and rapid acceleration of digitization, changes that were already happening. And I get the sense that a lot of consumers feel that this happened, we're adapting, but almost emotionally and spiritually, we haven't quite caught up yet. We're almost plopped into a new world without adequate time to get ready, and I think we're all in that phase now of trying to adapt and cope. One last area I want to ask you about, Vala, AI is advancing very rapidly throughout the organization and in marketing as well, not just chat bots, but artificial content generation, all kinds of analytics, and it's happening, again, faster than people think. Do you think in the long run that AI, which itself doesn't have a moral compass, it's just technology, do you think AI in the long run will be a net positive or a net negative for humanity?

Vala Afshar: Wow, Marty. So, it's-

Marty Kihn: It could be both, Vala, you know?

Vala Afshar: No, I'm an optimist, and so my nature is that I believe in the long run optimists do more, that it will do more good. Our founder, 2020 Davos, at the beginning of the pandemic, he said that AI is a human right. He said that companies, individuals who do not have access to artificial intelligence will be sicker, poorer, and unable to compete in a hyper- connected knowledge sharing economy. We talk about internet as a human right, even though today only 50% of humanity has access to the internet. So there's not many technologies I can think of where global leaders view the importance of AI as almost electricity for business in the future. I think it has the potential to be the most impactful technology in business. When you look at a 24- hour window at our company, our Einstein AI capabilities was making around 10 billion prediction in a 24- hour window. Today, Einstein is making 93 billion predictions in a 24- hour window. So we witnessed almost an order of magnitude increase in just one year in terms of guiding sales, service, marketing, commerce, platform, communities. All of our stakeholders, the 150, 000 plus customers around the globe, are leaning into Salesforce 360 customer platform to not just make predictions, but really go to the next level, because if I know the winning lottery numbers for this weekend, it does me no good unless I go buy those numbers. So predicting is great, but prescribing to our trailblazers what they should do right now to make those predictions come to fruition, or to course correct, if you're going in the wrong path, whether it's scoring leads in marketing, or opportunities, or guided selling, we just announced this incredible innovation in our Sales Cloud. My team and I ran Service Cloud for 10 years to be able to guide our service agents with in- process learning, scenario planning, probability of success based on options, ultimately speak to resolution is how you gain trust and loyalty with your stakeholders. So I think that as companies mature from describing the past descriptive use of analytics, to diagnosing why things happen, diagnostic use of analytics, to predictive and then ultimately prescriptive. And this is where I think the power of AI, you position yourself for success. Now, our State of Marketing Report that we publish annually, said that when you looked at marketeers, these are budget- owning marketeers in 2018, only 29% said that they were leveraging AI in marketing. In 2020, that number was 84%. So we're seeing 200%, 300% increase in adoption of AI logic in marketing. It's personalization across channels, I think was a main use case, improving segmentation and look alike, affinity groups, and surfacing insights from data, driving next best action, and automating interactions. The same reports that an average consumer engages across 10 different channels with a brand, 10 different channels. And this was probably before the rise of TikTok, or Clubhouse, or Twitter spaces. So how do you orchestrate the same experience, not drifting away from your brand promise, when you're dealing with a dozen channels? How do you in the B2B space, when the average buying decision team is 10 strong, which means you have 10 different personas, each persona has a different buying process map, so how do you manually deliver the right content to the right persona, on the right channel, without automation, without use of advanced capabilities? So this is, as you said, it's way beyond chatbots and leveraging NLP. It's really building iterative models that allows you to really operate like a surgeon. I think marketeers need to really develop practice and mindset with great precision, because time to value is how you stay relevant. If 70% of consumers changed brands during the pandemic, it's easy to understand why. Your filter for discretionary spending pre- pandemic was just relevance. If you're a runner, you buy running sneakers, because it's relevant to your life and your work and your habits. But with the pandemic, you had two additional filters that were applied. The second filter was safety, is it safe? And the last was accessibility. And some companies were able to pivot. Think of a great company like Disney, they closed the parks because you had no access to parks during the pandemic. So they reinvest into Disney + and into streaming. And so where other parts of the business had the filter of accessibility completely shut down revenue, other parts of the business were able to bring stability and growth. And so it's important to leverage technologies like AI so you can make pivots, not just modernizing your existing legacy infrastructure to be smarter and faster, but also thinking about new business model opportunities. So there's great promise, but it goes back to, it's not the technology that can do harm, it's the people behind the technology. That's why core values of trust, customer success, innovation, and equality. We're in an algorithmic economy, and algorithms are essentially your beliefs codify. So Marty, if 10 data scientists and machine learning engineers that look like you and I, writing these algorithms, there's going to be tremendous amount of biases introduced in the AI models. So this is why equality needs to be celebrated and deliberately championed, because if you introduce biases into this automated more autonomous world, you are increasing the likelihood to drift away from your brand promise and your core values and culture. And so equality I think is incredibly important in terms of the core value, especially when it comes to technology like AI.

Marty Kihn: That's a relief. I was worried about the robots for a second, but I feel better.

Tina Rozul: To wrap up the conversation, we do a couple of rapid fire questions, and they're really just a reflection of your life. The first one is, what are your silver linings of the pandemic? What have you learned?

Vala Afshar: Just time with family, picking up my 10- year- old son, dropping him off, practicing volleyball and lacrosse with my girls. And my both parents are in their 80s and they lived with us during the pandemic, and it's just awesome. And I'm not just saying that because my mom is one of the greatest cooks in the world, but family time. Family time was the biggest silver lining for me.

Marty Kihn: Is there a morning routine or something you do every day that's made you who you are, Vala?

Vala Afshar: Wow. What a great question. Life's biggest influence is habit. As you said, I'm active on social. So I start my day and I end my day on most of the digital channels, really trying to stay inspired. Most of the content that I share is just a reminder to myself. I read a long time ago, when you write something, it's almost seven, eight times retention. A lot of my tweets are me writing down certain observations at a given moment. And another lesson from the pandemic is often we allow the busyness of life to distract us from things that matter most. We associate ourselves to work, and again, the busyness of life. So, I have a habit of just connecting to folks who I admire learning and being inspired by them. And then that fuels motivation for me to try to reciprocate, share content that I think may be useful for them. So that I think is probably a fair routine of mine from the beginning to the end of the day.

Tina Rozul: That's great. And then our last rapid fire question, if you were to give advice to your younger self, so the young Vala Afshar, what advice would you give him?

Vala Afshar: I guess I would tell myself to stay teachable, and memorizing is not learning. I have terrific memory, so the younger Vala was a straight A student, but when I look back, I was talented in terms of memorizing. So I spent the first 25 years thinking that success was about getting good grades. And in reality, success is understanding how to learn, how to unlearn, and relearn in order to change yourself. And the hardest part of that equation is the unlearn part. In the last 10 years, I've done more unlearning, that's led to new learning, and I would do things a bit differently now if I could go back.

Marty Kihn: Thanks again, Vala. It was great to talk to you.

Tina Rozul: Thanks, Vala.

Vala Afshar: Thank you, Tina. Thank you, Marty.

Tina Rozul: Wow, Marty, that was quite the futurist conversation. I am so grateful to our speakers for joining us today. It's incredible how many world- class speakers and thought leaders who have taught us so much throughout this series and how we can be better at creating humanized marketing moments. We cannot thank our guests enough for taking the time to speak with us, share your wisdom, and just this continuous learning. We are so grateful. And that wraps up the series, Marty.

Marty Kihn: I know. It's a bittersweet moment, but there will be more series. Thanks, Tina. We covered a lot. Learning doesn't stop here. In a few weeks, we at Salesforce will host Connections 2021.

Tina Rozul: Woo-hoo.

Marty Kihn: AdConnections, which is the big event for Marketing Cloud and commerce and Experience Cloud, where you can connect to other marketers, hear from visionaries who are creating bold experiences, that are human and powerful.

Tina Rozul: That's right, Marty. The learning and engagement doesn't stop here in this series. If you want to learn more about how to be prepared for the future of marketing, how to continue creating humanized marketing moments, make sure that you join us at this virtual event happening June 2nd, 2021. Go to salesforce. com/ connections to register and learn more.

Marty Kihn: Don't miss it. And thanks as always to our friends at WordPress VIP for the great partnership on the series. And thank you to our editing partners at TrendyMinds, and our good friends, Connor and Sachin, who have been working with us behind the scenes during this series a lot.

Tina Rozul: Absolutely. We cannot thank everyone who's been working on this series with us enough. We are so grateful. And especially to our listeners, we've heard from you, you guys have tweeted us and emailed us about all of the really great insights that you have been taking away. We are so grateful.

Marty Kihn: Thank you.

Tina Rozul: You are the true inspiration behind us creating this series and all of these episodes. We'd love to continue to connect with you all. So you can email us at cloudcast @ salesforce. com, or tweet us @ marketingcloud. Let us know what you think about this series and hope to see you all at Connections on June 2nd.

Marty Kihn: Register today. We'll see you at Connections. Thanks, Tina.

Tina Rozul: Bye.


The final episode of our Humanizing Marketing series looks at how digital engagement will evolve in the years ahead. Hosts Marty Kihn and Tina Rozul chat with Salesforce futurists, Vala Afshar and Brian Solis about the role of trust in customer relationships. We also dig into "Atomic Content Personalization" with Mark Abraham of Boston Consulting Group. Listen in to find out if your organization is ready for what's coming our way.

LINK: Learn more about Atomic Content Personalization

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