Jim Sterne is the founder of the Marketing Analytics Summit (former eMetrics Summit) and co-founder and Board Chair of the Digital Analytics Association. An internationally known speaker and consultant, he is the author of numerous books, including Artificial Intelligence for Marketing, 101 Things You Should Know About Marketing Optimization Analysis, Social Media Metrics, and The Devil's Data Dictionary. He has spent more than 35 years selling and marketing technical products and has devoted all his attention to the Internet as a marketing medium since 1994.
J.S.: What comes next is a pretty big shift in how data is stored and manipulated. And that is customers owning their own data. So, today, my data is in all the websites I visit, every app I am using, all the companies I interact with.
If I move into a new house now, for example, I have to change my address in all of those places, and that is just overwhelming. So I am going to reverse that: I am going to store all of my data securely, and instead of giving that data to all of those entities, I am going to give them access to my data. So now, if I move to a new apartment, I change it here. And everybody who needs to know that, finds that out, because I have previously given them permission. This way, I give all my financial information to my accountant, and all my medical information to my doctor, but not the other way around. I don’t want my doctor to see my finances or my accountant to see all medical.
J.S.: Customer Journey is a make-believe construct that marketing consultants have grabbed onto in order to try to understand what goes on. Because everybody goes through the 4 stages of the marketing funnel: awareness, desire, research, and acquisition. No, they don’t, they just don’t. And we have no idea how somebody actually found out about our product. Because every time you ask the drop-down question “How did you find out about us”, 95% of the people pick ‘other’. Simply because we don’t know.
So when you’re going to ask your entire customer base how they came to choose your product, they don’t know and they’re just going to answer your question because they think you want to hear from them. And you’re going to take that data that is not valid, and you’re going to invest in a customer journey that doesn’t reflect any individual because everyone took a different path.
J.S.: I want ecommerce websites to know that these are the three credit cards I use and here are the five places I like to ship things too. And I give them access to that. If I change it, next time I place an order, they just go grab the current data. That’s very efficient.
Then I put an AI agent on top of that and it works on my behalf, it becomes my personal digital assistant. Here's a possible scenario:
An AI agent says: "Jim, I monitored and discovered that the dishwasher in your kitchen is going to fail in the next 30 days. 90% confidence that it will fail. The repair will probably cost 500 USD, but a new dishwasher will cost 700 USD. You should buy a new dishwasher. I found twelve of them will fit in your kitchen and five of them will fit your style, your décor. Three of them will fit your budget, and I’ve already negotiated the pricing, I’ve looked at the longevity and reliability of this equipment. I recommend one of these two, which would you prefer?"
Then I’d say "Well, is there any other difference?". The assistant would say "For this one, the service company is 100 miles away, and for the other one, it’s only 20 miles away." "Oh, well, the price is right and it makes sense, but can we get it installed?". "Two weeks from now you’re going to be home because a painter comes to paint your house, so you’ll be there already, so I can make an appointment for then. Do you want to buy this dishwasher? Yes/no?". One click, and the problem is solved.
J.S.: As a marketing person, I have to create a system that will talk to these digital assistants and listen to when one of them says e.g. "I’m shopping for a dishwasher". A supplier that sells dishwashers provides information and dimensions directly to the agent. That’s different and it’s a kind of marketing that we haven’t come across yet, but I am sure we will.
D.D.: That level of convenience is something that I'm definitely looking forward to, especially in the B2C space.