The Candid Voice in Retail Technology: Objective Insights, Pragmatic Advice

An Ode To Commerce Marketers: Oracle/Bronto Report Out


Last week I attended two of the three Oracle or Oracle-owned user conferences that were in Las Vegas: the Bronto summit, and the Oracle Customer Experience Summit. Bronto is an email and (increasingly) personalization service provider within the NetSuite group of products, and then Oracle CX is the relatively new grouping of the suite of products Oracle has brought together to drive the customer experience across industries. Commerce is in there, as well as a bunch of marketing-related capabilities.

One term that Bronto used that caught my attention was “commerce marketer”. On one level, this makes a lot of sense. There are already content marketers. I’m sure there are people out there devoted to community marketing, which I guess I would define as people who help facilitate a community, either by mediating – asking questions, highlighting good questions & answers that come from participants, and just generally keeping a community healthy and vibrant. I’ve seen customer acquisition marketers, and channel marketers. Commerce marketers would fit right in – driving conversion.

On the other hand, it makes me wonder if digital marketing – and marketing in general – is headed in the wrong direction. If the whole point is to support the customer journey, shouldn’t the organization of the marketing department be around the customer? Instead, it seems like marketing is carving up each step of the customer journey into individual pieces, supported by individual groups within the marketing organization – acquisition, commerce, etc.

I can understand why the impulse is to avoid organizing around the customer. It raises a lot of difficult questions. If you’re trying to get to a one-to-one level of communicating with customers, then what? You need one marketer for each person? At what level of granularity in segmentation is it useful to aggregate, so that you could have marketers focused on the entire lifecycle of those customers? How do you distinguish or prioritize between strategic customer segments – those you want to have – and the customer segments you actually have?

I think as long as there are explicit communication structures that make sure marketers are looking at the full customer journey and making sure they are telling a coherent story across the different phases of the customer journey – and across multiple touchpoints – then it’s okay to specialize. It is definitely a different mindset, set of skills, and technology capabilities required to enable commerce marketing – driving customers on their journeys to conversion – vs. say, a content marketer who is more actively focused on steps that occur earlier in the journey.

But I’ve already run into people who think that the customer journey should be “designed”, as if it is the retailer who controls that journey and not the consumer. So I really wouldn’t put it past retailers to lose sight of the importance of connecting all of the steps together, to make sure that the holistic journey is supported end to end, no matter whose job it is to support each step along the journey – however the customer chooses to define those steps.

So, more power to you, commerce marketers. Of all of marketing, these are the people whose impact is easiest to measure, as their activities occur closest to the moment of purchase. Just don’t lose touch with all of the steps that lead up to the moment.

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Articles & Opinions May 2, 2017
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