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Storage and Organization

Delivering the connected customer experience through the smart use of technology, data and commerce


Consumers have changed. Since the start of the pandemic, everything marketers used to know about CX, loyalty and marketing has completely turned upside down. Now, in the age of enhanced trading strategies and economically savvy consumers, brands need to know how to plan and target accurately in this new world of consumerism. The most important thing brands need to understand is that experience is everything.

I’ll be connecting with Courtney Trudeau, vice president of technology at Merkle, to discuss what delivering an unparalleled customer experience looks like – and how brands can do it. Courtney is a marketing technology leader with more than 20 years of agency and in-house experience, guiding digital experience strategy, B2B and e-commerce website development, and driving strategy and implementation of marketing technology. She has been with Merkle for a little over a year now, the leading $2 billion CX agency, part of Dentsu.

Gary Drenik: Last year’s requirements were all about data, measurement, and loyalty. What differentiates this year’s requirements from last year? It looks like the focus this year is on scaling your business across technology, data, and commerce ecosystems.

Courtney Trudeau: Last year we talked about creating a value exchange with data, using measurement as a catalyst for change, and next-generation commerce + loyalty. This year, we’re delving deeper into those themes to discuss scaling CX delivery and building lasting customer relationships in an uncertain future. We provide explicit examples of how to manage and grow your customer data, activate it in new ways and create that ‘total trading experience’. This year it is much more tactical. We don’t use high barriers to entry as an excuse for not being able to scale your CX vision; we tell the public to look at what they own and already use, research the skills of their employees, and think of new ways to connect with their audiences by leveraging these existing resources.

Drenik: What are some trends Merkle has seen pointing to brands needing to invest in a vision?

Trudeau: With so many brands, silos still exist between departments, data storage, technical use and vision for CX. These silos get in the way of ideas like total trading experience. For instance:

  • Data exists in disparate systems and platforms, forming incomplete profiles of customers.
  • The collaboration that is necessary between marketing and IT to make technology investments really work is missing.
  • Brands are not working towards shared goals that benefit consumers. So if you ask a salesperson vs. a marketer vs. a technology specialist what their view is on their brand’s CX, you’ll get three different answers.

Second, we see that consumers naturally trust many online environments. Brands need to leverage this trust before it is lost. According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, a majority of Gen-Z, Millennials, and Gen-X consumers, and nearly half of Baby Boomers, use banking and browsing information on their smartphones. This indicates trust (banking data is sensitive), and we will likely see an increase in activity on smartphones/any devices connected to the internet, making even more data susceptible to privacy laws. Consumer confidence should be part of any CX vision and marketing strategy.


The Prosper Insights & Analytics survey also shows an increase in consumers’ willingness to buy generic products to save money. This increase can threaten brands that have not made it a priority to clearly articulate the ways they make their consumers’ lives better/easier.

Drenik: The requirements discuss the need to own your data in a cloud-based environment. What are the benefits of this approach and what does it mean for the future of marketing?


Trudeau: A cloud-based environment is the critical foundation for delivering a fully connected, more personalized customer experience. Storing customer and prospect data in a central location that is accessible across the entire organization—from marketing to sales to commerce to service—helps facilitate analysis and inform decision-making. It allows linking with other pieces of technology for successful activation. Having a single source of truth promotes greater hygiene, which reduces waste and inefficiency. Storing your data in the cloud is also more scalable and secure, offers unlimited storage and processing power, and uses robust security measures to protect against data breaches and other potential threats. The power and flexibility of cloud storage enables marketers to adapt to a future filled with ever-changing challenges and opportunities.

Drenik: How can brands build on existing technology to make customer experiences even better?

Trudeau: Even as machine learning and artificial intelligence become more mainstream, there is an important place for human influence in marketing decisions. It is essential to ensure that someone with a technical/data background feeds and optimizes existing technology to produce the intended results. Make sure your technology includes the information it needs to make it work. Diligently formulate your CX vision and tie it back to specific actions the technology is taking. Marketing and IT just can’t live without each other, and the days of marketing and IT divergence are over; coming together for a common goal will be the difference between winning and losing.

Drenik: What are some of the most underhyped – and overhyped – marketing trends?

Trudeau: Some of today’s marketing trends are given hype that can mislead marketers. It’s easy to be tempted to implement one of the latest shiny technology solutions or platforms (think metaverse, CDPs), only to be disappointed in the lackluster performance because you don’t have the vision, organizational structure, or expertise to do it. to support. Of course it is important to keep abreast of innovation and to plan for the future. But spending too much time and money on unproven or underdeveloped technologies can distract brands from current proven strategies and sabotage growth potential.

But some other trends that have the potential to significantly change the customer experience game may not be getting enough attention in the market (e.g., cloud solutions, ethical AI, and identity management). Connected cloud solutions have enhanced the customer experience by enabling the comprehensive integration of virtually unlimited amounts of data. This enables seamless collaboration between different cloud-based tools, systems and teams across the enterprise, significantly improving efficiency and productivity. With the increasing use of AI, it is increasingly important that marketers use responsible and transparent methods to avoid bias in decision-making and prevent potential customers from being left on the cutting plant floor. And identity management underpins all of the most effective CX strategies; without it, data may be incoherent, inaccurate, not properly secured, and susceptible to being written off. The careful handling and protection of customer data is the number one rule for gaining trust and building loyalty.

Drenik: What is the one thing every brand should do in 2023?

Trudeau: Every brand should promote an enterprise-wide CX vision and ensure that everyone in the company knows about it and shares a passion for it. Everything comes from there. And the only way to define that culture of shared passion and gain traction in the organization is to start at the top, with a CX vision supported and championed by leadership.

Drenik: Thank you, Courtney, for all your insights and perspective on what building a great CX strategy looks like and how brands can do it. Ensuring that data and technology are not isolated, that trust between brands and consumers is not broken, and that all departments are connected through the cloud, creates the solid foundation marketers need to succeed. AI and machine learning tools, technology in which almost every brand is already investing, can help brands build further by creating new targeting models for the new consumer world. Ultimately, an enterprise-wide CX strategy is a winning CX strategy.

Courtney, it’s been great having you here and we look forward to seeing brands put this advice into practice in 2023.