How do you win hearts and minds? You use technology.

The stark reality is, you can‰’t make a sustainable, warm, emotional connection with customers without the aide of intelligent, actionable technology.

It is increasingly evident that every marketer‰’s goal is to foster an emotional connection with their customers. That is the underpinning of heartfelt loyalty from satisfied, engaged customers, allowing for an open, authentic dialogue and mutual benefit. Achieving customer intimacy is the Holy Grail.

Scott Foernsler, VP Sales/Marketing, Conversant
Scott Foernsler, VP Sales/Marketing, Conversant
Jill Thomas, CMO of Innisfree Hotels
Jill Thomas, CMO, Innisfree Hotels
Doug Zarkin, CMO of Pearle Vision
Doug Zarkin, CMO, Pearle Vision

At our recent CMO Club Innovation & Inspiration Summit in New York, we talked with a diverse group of marketing leaders to unpack the relationship between customer connection and technology, including Scott Foernsler, VP Sales/Marketing, Conversant; Jill Thomas, CMO, Innisfree Hotels; and Doug Zarkin; CMO, Pearle Vision.

Here are some of their insights around the key ways to win customers with technology.

1. UNITE: Use technology to truly know each customer.

Until you know all the ways your customer is interacting with you, it will not be possible to have a robust relationship with them on their terms.

Thus, that mandate is to unite each customer‰’s data and activity into one view. Why? To create a meaningful, emotional connection with your customers.

As Foernsler observed, ‰”One customer view is the basis for data-driven personalization that creates unique, engaging, and sustainable customer journeys. Great ROI isn‰’t simply a matter of intelligent spending; it requires an encyclopedic knowledge of your customer‰’s motivation in interacting with your brand.‰” Technology makes that possible and turns knowledge into rich, relevant, tailored experiences that build trust.

Consumers, regardless of spending behaviors, buy based on trust. Therefore, brands must develop an informed, deeply personal relationship with consumers in order to establish the level of intimacy that enhances their brand affinity and ultimately, builds brand loyalty.

2. DITCH: Forget cookies and go for person-level knowledge.

Cookies have their role, but if marketers want to reach individual human beings, cookies won‰’t do it.

Thus, marketers should ditch cookie-based targeting and embrace person-level knowledge. Why? To reach customers the way they live their life.

The average consumer owns 3.2 devices. Accurately recognizing individual customers across devices and between online and offline behaviors is crucial to getting a robust, real view of your customers’ preferences. Preferences include how they like to interact with your brand across a multitude of devices and channels, locations and times, as well as content and context.

Technology is needed to achieve this level of accuracy, sophistication and scale. However, many brands still use analytics based on cookies vs. person-level knowledge to their own detriment. To ensure that your customer interactions are based on a solid foundation, using individual knowledge instead of anonymous cookies is required.

‰”At Innisfree Hotels,‰” shared Thomas, ‰”we interact with real people, 1:1, by customizing our social conversations by specific location and need. This requires authentic, human-to-human conversations that meet our customers exactly where they are with exactly what they need in the moment they need it.‰” This human touch is a memorable differentiator that draws customers to your brand, again and again.


Dynamically personalized messages, constructed in real-time, is marketing‰’s new mantra. Why? To bring the most relevant, engaging and contextual message forward. Every. Single. Time.

‰”Data,‰” said Zarkin, ‰”is only as good as people that use it.‰” Many marketers reach their customers with one-off messages. But to create true connections with them, you need to serve the most relevant messages, at the best times, across multiple channels.

Pearle Vision does this by using digital and in-store experiences with customized messages and interactions that are appropriate for the context and customer. They take customer ratings and feedback as the top priority to shaping future decisions.

“‰Listening with the intent to understand and act is the most powerful action a marketer must take,‰” Zarkin shared. Dynamically tailoring content across channels and devices to each customer requires a responsive approach that often uses stacks of historical data and delivers the right message in a real-time moment‰Û_when it matters most.

Two additional areas were discussed that help leverage technology to win hearts and minds: (4) Measuring what matters; and (5) Automating your digital marketing with end-to-end technology.

Learn more in the CMO Solution Guide on this topic, 5 Ways to Win Customers with Tech.