During a “conversion session” between Jack Riker, senior director of client partnerships at BounceX, the “people-based” marketing cloud solution, and Anthony Milano, vice president of e-commerce for the Americas at Boardriders Inc., one clear message emerged: the focus needs to be on the customer and data drawn from consumers needs to be “actionable.”

Both also agreed that customer engagement is more important than ever, and brands and retailers need to be adept at capturing the consumer online and leveraging loyalty programs to retain them. Above all, they said, brands and retailers would benefit from knowing where the customer lands on e-commerce sites and to have the right balance of storytelling at those “entry points.”

Milano was asked by Riker to share his prior experiences, and the digital marketing executive then compared and contrasted his work at Hugo Boss with Boardriders, which is in the process of acquiring Billabong International and owns the Quiksilver, Roxy, and DC Shoes nameplates. Milano said the brand positioning, price points and product offerings between Hugo Boss and Boardrider “couldn’t be any more different.”

“But there’s a common thread between the two,” he quickly added. “The customer is the focus of both.”

Riker asked Milano how his role of a marketer has changed. “I think the biggest evolution is the synergy between all of the channels today,” Milano said. “Today, you must ask, ‘How do we listen better?’ Whether that’s on social or email, or on sites. And then you can evolve by better targeting the customer.”

Data is key, Milano said, adding that collecting is essential to know the customer, and once you have enough of the right data, “you then have to act on it.”

Riker said it wasn’t long ago that “web sites were mostly static catalogues where customers went online and saw all the products, and that was really it.” Now, he said, there’s been a gradual shift to “customer-first sites” where brands and retailers can listen “to what the customer really wants and is interested in.”

“And it also changes the way we do our storytelling,” Milano added.

Milano noted that entry points to sites were mostly on the homepage, about 90 percent. “Now the entry points are about equal between product landing pages, the home page, and the product display page,” he said. “Yet most of our storytelling is still done on the homepage. So how can we better story-tell at those entry points?”

Milano said perhaps it requires images or videos on those other pages, and added that this is why “listening to your consumer, and knowing how they’re engaging with your platform” is essential.

Riker said there’s a balance where product pages need to be clean and “minimalist” yet “you should be able to tell your story there too — or no matter where the consumer lands.”

From here, Milano expects channels will continue to evolve. “As I mentioned before, you have to understand the synergies between channels,” he said. “But when talking about digital marketing and its trajectory, it is quick. So, you have to be adaptable and aware of what’s going on, and listening. It is not so much where it’s going, but how to work with it.”

For more business news from WWD, see:

In Price Fight Between Walmart and Amazon, Bentonville Wins

Today’s Consumer: Frugal, Community-Minded and Tech Savvy

Amazon, Wal-Mart and Apple Top List of Biggest E-commerce Retailers

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