Customer Experience Marketing (CEM) - The New, New Thing

  • by , Columnist, February 22, 2011
2011 is going to finally be the year when consumers go crazy for the plethora of new devices out there. So says a recent paper from Forrester, which predicts big adoption of everything from Web-connected TVs to smart-phones and tablets.

This is not news to us in the digital trenches. What caught my eye was predicting the rise of Customer Experience Marketing agencies that will go along with all these new channels. This is a relatively new handle for agencies, but Forrester predicts many stripes of agency will re-christen themselves as CEM agencies this year.

At IQ, we call ourselves interaction designers, which I think means the same thing. And while that doesn't cover everything we do, it is the heart of the matter.

What all these new channels amount to is lots more consumer interaction points.

The problem is that each one has its own unique dynamics and users expect brands to be on top of them all. Consumers don't want re-hashed user experiences ported over from other environments. That might have worked for mobile sites for a while, but now any less-than-excellent user experience just makes a brand look out of touch.



Demanding consumers expect mobile sites and apps that are designed for the specific device they are viewing it on -- and just getting the technology right is not enough. The challenge for each new platform is to marry an ethnographic understanding of how the device is being used with insight into how the brand can be useful and valuable within that context.

That's tricky at the best of times, but when you have to figure it out in so many different environments, it is a major commitment. There isn't any way around it -- and that's the hill that brands and their agencies have to climb this year, assuming Forrester's predictions come true.

At IQ, we have already been trekking up the hill for some time with the Apple, Android and Microsoft platforms. Each one has different technology; but equally important, they also have different consumer behaviors that drive interaction design.

Digital agencies are probably better equipped for these challenges - provided they have developed a strategic approach based on ethnographic insights and team with integrated design, technology and strategy skills. These teams are hard to build and hone, but brands are going to rely on them if they want to cover all the bases well.

We are already seeing consumer expectations rising as they look for brands to be available on every device with state-of-the-art experiences that are effortless, delightful and useful. This is the new battlefield and being first has a real advantage.

If you're the first app that does something well, consumers are less prone to switch to anything less than a giant step forward. Incrementally better apps will probably not unseat you -- as long as you take advantage of your lead and continue to innovate.

It's a real commitment that brands have to make to being in the device software business, and it's a lot more complex than advertising. It requires all the skills of marketing and the creativity of advertising, plus the disciplines of software design. Well, nobody said it was going to get any easier.

3 comments about "Customer Experience Marketing (CEM) - The New, New Thing".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Kevin Dwinnell from Brand Thunder, February 23, 2011 at 5:20 p.m.

    Tony: Good to hear your perspective and to see the experience side of marketing addressed for digital media. For some reason, Experiential Marketing seems to be focused mostly on physical events (kiosks, demo booths and the like), but the digital space is equally engaging and easily accessible.

    I'm with you in thinking 2011 is going to be a stellar year for this space.

  2. Jerry Johnson from Brodeur, February 23, 2011 at 8:28 p.m.

    Like Kevin, I agree. But I'm bemused that we constantly come up with new labels for the same thing. People experience brands. That's been true for centuries. Why should digital be any different than events, customer service, in-store, advertising or other touch points? This is less an insight than a potential book title.

  3. adrian mendoza, February 25, 2011 at 3:16 p.m.

    This is a great start to where we see the future of mobile customer experience management. Marketers will be seeing that targeting devices will present opportunities and challenges for responding to a user and the different experiences on their devices. This can range from looking at the experience on tablets, phones, and others to see what they are willing to do (buying patterns) and how that experience changes these patterns.

    Follow our Mobile UX Blog at

Next story loading loading..