Formed by Centerbridge Partners’ acquisition of IBM’s marketing and commerce software offerings for an undisclosed sum, Acoustic launched in July with a total focus on unleashing the brilliance in marketers by empowering them with the freedom to do their best work.
“Acoustic is the science of sound. It creates environments that draw people in through closer and more personal connections. And that’s what the best marketing does: as we know, it’s an art and a science. We’re Acoustic because we listen and understand the human dynamics of problems to find solutions that make a difference,” says its CEO Mark Simpson.
ClickZ spoke with the company’s first ever CMO Norman Guadagno, to get an understanding of what Acoustic is and what is its vision for the martech space going forward.
Following its independence from IBM Watson, Acoustic is now the largest independent marketing cloud, offering marketers purpose-built solutions on an innovative open marketing platform.
It serves an international client base of more than 3500 brands including Fortune 500 companies, providing digital marketing, marketing analytics, content management, personalization, mobile marketing, and marketing automation solutions.
But in a space that has over 7000 vendors already, what will Acoustic bring to the table that is different from the likes of Adobe, Salesforce, and Oracle?
“Yes, it’s true that there are 7000-plus vendors in that marketing landscape. But it turns out there is really only a very small number (us included) that do all of the core functions that you need to build a marketing ecosystem around. And Acoustic is the only one that is really focused just on the marketer, not on the broader marketing and sales support creative, that some of our larger competitors are focused on. That brings us a lot of the advantage,” says Norman.
“We pride ourselves on our singular focus, the tech we have built, and the fact that you can build and run an entire marketing department completely on our products. Our offerings are also very open and adaptable, and can be paired with any of the other 7000 technology providers. That is the future. The future is about integration and openness and we’re trying hard to push the company in that direction.”
That push is resulting to some early success for Acoustic. It was recently named as a leader in cross-channel campaign management (CCCM) by The Forrester Wave and was also identified as a leader in the Q3 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management.
Acoustic’s AI-powered tools have helped the likes of PayPal, Rakuten and Big 5 Sporting Goods vastly improve their customer experience and engagement. Guadagno highlighted Big 5 particularly during our chat.
The American sporting goods retailer, leveraged Acoustic’s back end campaign tool to get a lot of emails out quickly, in a very customized fashion, to their specific audiences and use that to convert it into sales.
“The tool gave them the ability to have reusable components and the ability to have recommended subject lines and content, to improve click through rates on their email and decreased campaign time. That means more throughput and more business,” reveals Norman.
So then how is Acoustic planning to maintain this momentum and ‘future proof’ its martech stack?
“I think there are two ways of tackling the future proofing question,” says Norman. “One way to look at it is to ask: ‘How do you make sure that no matter what changes, tool or technologies come along, you can continue to take advantage of the investment you have today, plus the investment you have tomorrow?’ When you approach it that way, it comes down to always being able to have an open, easy to integrate set of tools and having the ability to quickly move data from one tool to the next, because that ultimately is a way in which you help grow and be very effective over time.”
“The other way is by making your tools more efficient over time via AI and machine learning, so that the routine tasks become something that the machine can take care of. I always like referring to AI and machine learning as a very large scale pattern recognition. If you are a vendor, your customers generate hundreds of thousands if not millions of data points each week. It is a very difficult and time consuming task for a person to analyze all that data. But AI’s pattern recognition abilities really helps speed up the process. So that essentially allows you to future proof your stack, because what happens today might be very different from what’s going to happen six months from now, and having tools that are constantly paying attention to the large set of data allows you, as the marketer, to make better strategic decisions along the way,” adds Norman.
Guadagno also stresses the importance of fully utilizing the capabilities of your current stack before running after the next big thing.
“We encourage people to really dig in and figure out how their tools are going to provide more value, to figure out how you can connect your systems to other systems that may already be in the business and use that as a way to get more value. So first and foremost is just get as much value out of these tools as you can,” he comments.
Constantly evaluating your performance and responsibility toward the customers, is another big tip from Norman.
“In today’s world, you cannot underestimate the importance of privacy and data security. As a marketer, you should be looking at your marketing efforts and your stack of tools and saying, ‘am I doing the best marketing with it?’ and ‘am I making sure that I’m respecting the privacy expectations of my customers around the globe?’ If you can answer yes to both of those, you’re on the right path. If not, then that’s where you have to dig deeper and be prepared to change some of the behaviors that you do have, so that you can really answer those questions appropriately.”
In fact, so passionate is Guadagno about the topic of data-privacy and the lost trust of customers, that he lists it as one of his top trends to look out for in 2020.
“We will continue to see a lot of discussion and insights around trust. And I think that’s important. In the coming year, especially with the US elections on the horizon, there will be an increased focus on trust and authenticity of information we get online. I think we may see a shift away from people implicitly trusting everything that they see on social channels, and back towards looking to known sources of truth, like businesses and journalistic outlets,” says Norman.
“There’s going to be a big evolution and people should be prepared to be able to distinguish between: an advertisement; something that looks like news, but is actually an ad; something that’s actually news; and something that’s an opinion, shared by someone else. And I think good marketers will be able to play a role and making clear what the material they put into market is in terms of its ability to inform, educate and ultimately convince people to make brand decisions. So it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be an interesting year!”
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