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The CMO of Box discusses the intersection of technology and creativity

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Photo credit:

Sue Thompson 

Box CMO Whitney Bouck says her business is standing at a crucial intersection between technology and creativity - which can only be a good thing.

Everyone talks about the term digital marketing, and while it’s not very well defined, I think the base definition that everybody would agree with is that it’s the marriage of creativity and technology.

I was at an event recently where the person 
on stage was talking about that intersection of technology and creativity as where magic happens.

In the world of marketing that’s true. We’re at a pivot point because, now more than ever, our target audiences, regardless of whether they’re businesses or consumers, are online.
 Marketing technologies need to leverage innovation more than it ever has had to in the past to be at the eyeballs and fingertips of our target customers.

As marketers we now need to be experts in technology as much as we need to be experts in the art of marketing, which is largely about creating value and creating messages that resonate with target buyers.

That whole move towards marketing technologies systems has enabled a personalized experience, that detects who the individual is, where they are geographically, and what kinds of engagement experiences they have had with you.

Now we can use technology to take all of that into account to craft an experience, message or an offer that will be relevant to that individual, much more so than they might have seen historically.

That’s really a ‘here and now’ challenge that 
lays the groundwork for what we might do going forward. I believe that the next 2 years are so critical to getting it right and it’s a very daunting task. The marketing technologies are emerging, converging and developing, and that poses a massive challenge for marketing professionals today.

We’ve been investing in a whole host of new marketing technologies to really make sure that the foundation for nimble, agile experimentation is there. We have to be able to drive that personal experience, where we can detect what the user is doing, where they came from or where they’re located geographically.

We want to be able to track and manage their past interactions with us and be a lot smarter about how we serve them content and offers online.

Those include, but are not limited to, simple A/B testing to be able to detect where somebody is coming from and what kind of industry they’re in and systems like Demandware, that let us serve up more personalized content experiences and customized navigation packs online. Those are
just a sample of the kind of things that we’ve been implementing over the course of the last year or so, to really make sure that we then have the means to deliver that personalized experience online. 
I’m talking a lot about online and digital on purpose.

It’s not to say that standard longer-term marketing technologies and techniques are completely dead, but the days of direct mail are pretty different now.

I think we have to be omni-channel marketers, which means we have to be as good at in-person events and direct mail, if that’s a technique that people choose to use, as we are at the online experience.

We have to be flexible enough to let a prospect or end-user choose the way they want to engage, and also be omni-present with someone if they’re a target prospective buyer, regardless of where they happen to be at any given moment. Whether they are on their email or at their physical mailbox, or on a website or mobile device. 
Omni-channel marketing technologies are part and parcel of that complexity that we’re dealing with.

In terms of engaging with new marketing technologies, one question that emerges is how do we keep the people in our team abreast of the latest tech that’s relevant to us? How do we make sure that they’re being appropriately re-skilled, that we’re bringing in the right talent in the organization so that everybody maximizes that opportunity?

I think that’s a career development opportunity for a lot of people. It wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t have a lot of these marketing technologies in play and we weren’t as embedded or constantly on our mobile devices as we are now.

The iPhone is only 9 years old. It hasn’t been a part of our day-to-day work environment for that long. It’s an opportunity for the younger generation who are natively mobile and natively digital to teach others and to really embed their way of thinking into the way that we work. And vice-versa, it’s a way for those that have been marketers for a longer time, to impart knowledge of how to connect with buyers in a human way and how to do some of the message development which is about putting yourself in the shoes of a prospective buyer.

I think there’s a great opportunity at that intersection of knowledge and that’s pretty exciting.

The flip side of the coin with marketing technologies is the human element that gets shown to the prospective buyer.

You don’t want it to feel all computerized and ‘templatized’ or to feel like spam.

The vehicle of engagement and the content itself that ultimately gets placed in front of someone electronically, has to have a human message too.

That really is the promise of some of the modern marketing technologies that allow for personalization.

As an example, if I happen to be an IT professional, working for a healthcare organization, and I’m seeking to solve a problem to give more co-ordinated patient care, and I happen to visit the Box website and the first thing that shows up to me is a healthcare customer success story for Box, that’s fascinating and is also powerful. There is something really human about that.

There are ways to leverage today’s and future marketing technologies to deliver what feels like a really personal experience. Right now it’s a challenge.

We are all getting bombarded by tons and tons of messages, ads, promotions, offers, all the time, and frankly technology just exacerbates that problem.

It makes it much easier for people to give us those messages. So finding a way to sort the wheat from the chaff and get to someone with a message that’s meaningful, resonant, and relevant to them is crucial.

As we move forward, one thing I’m excited about in the future is predictive behavior analytics.

You use a combination of demographic data combined with past behavior, and predictive analytic – which at the moment is still under- development – to try to project what will best resonate with someone and to serve them up a proper experience to engage with them.

That whole predictive analytics area is emerging and I think that as we start to see more machine learning and artificial intelligence start to become
a reality, and not just a thing of futuristic movies, we’re going to start to see a real opportunity to use marketing technologies in a whole different way.

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