It’s always worthwhile to take a look at what’s hot in the industry and the annual DMA Awards are great fodder for any customer, data-driven or performance marketer. The awards showcase the best work in the industry, highlighting strategy, creativity, and results. As we look ahead to 2023, the awards provide valuable insights into the state of the industry and the challenges that brands are facing.
Looking at the brands that won this year, it’s clear that they’re grappling with many similar challenges.
Everyone is trying to deliver a better customer experience as the lines between marketing, product and customer service continue to blur.
Data integration remains a perennial challenge. The modern customer journey involves a multitude of touchpoints and channels, and the winners of the DMA Awards demonstrated an ability to navigate this complexity effectively. Without exception though there’s still significant headroom. By and large the innovation has been blending on- and off-line data or market data and customer; yes, it’s powerful and effective but perhaps not really bleeding edge if we’re trying to understand and influence the customer journey. And my suspicion is that this is happening on a campaign basis rather than something that is in anyway operationalised or business as usual.
The fight for engagement in a world of customer apathy shines through in many of the winners. All of the submissions showed a commitment to building relevance and engagement, despite customers being bombarded with messages and potentially not wanting to engage with many brands.
What sets my pick of winners apart is their commercial focus and execution.
As marketers, we often talk about brand purpose and brand health, but the reality is that we need to be commercially driven. As we move into a recessionary environment in 2023, it's not too much of a leap to assume that brands will move more of their marketing budgets into performance channels in search of short-term results so this scrutiny of commercial effectiveness is only going to grow. The strength of commercial performance that marketing can deliver was evident in the best submissions.
Great strategy and creativity are at the heart of any DMA submission. The ability to execute is the differentiator. Looking at the contributors to many of the award winners it’s stark how many people are involved and how delivery of an effective campaign extends far beyond the remit of a traditional marketing team. Technologists, software vendors, data engineers and their ilk are now a fundamental part of any campaign and the focus on how they come together, orientate around the customer is critical.
So which of the winners really stood out?
Interestingly, two of the best worked with Strava and impressed with their use of this service both in terms of data and customer participation.
Rather than try to build an audience community, Sport England partnered with Strava to build a supportive social community to get women active again. It delivered a truly integrated customer experience across app, email, social and unsurprisingly with such tight execution delivered great results and got 34,000 women completing challenges.
Over at Samsung they were busy using Strava data to launch their latest Galaxy Watch. Pulling live Strava data, Samsung identified popular running routes throughout the UK and this informed where to place digital posters, turning them into personal coaches that were fuelled by real-time activity data.
Specsavers did a great job of boosting sales by using data in search. Realising a customer pain point around appointment availability, they’ve baked capacity management data into search results to take friction out of the experience and get customers to a local optician with appointments as quickly as possible. It’s a great example of how operational data can be used in search to help customers and maximise conversion.
The team at Tui took home the Best Customer Journey award. Notable as the they worked directly with technology solution provider Braze to deliver a remarkable customer experience. Perhaps a cautionary tale for agencies.
My winner would be Currys PC World. Their submission was for automating personalisation. It’s highly email-centric but delivered exceptional results that are worthy of any winner: 167% growth in CRM revenue and CRM delivering 6-7% of Currys Group revenue. Focus and execution delivering amazing commercial results that the team should be rightly proud about.
One closing thought. All of the DMA award winners were able to show compelling results but only on a campaign basis. Next year it would be nice for the DMA to champion submissions that balance short-term campaign response with longer term programme effectiveness so, as an industry, we avoid a short term performance-led race to the bottom.