Integrated marketing: listen to the voice of the customer


Integrated marketing is no longer optional - no single channel can win out any more. Marketers must deliver great customer experience through truly integrated marketing, across any and every channel: web, social, mobile, broadcast, email, in-store, outdoor and beyond. Those experiences can be tailored effectively by listening to the voice of the customer.

Integrated Marketing Week in New York City.That concept was the core idea of a session at this past week's Integrated Marketing Week conference in New York City featuring noted Voice of the Customer thought leader Ernan Roman, Ben J. Lerer, CEO and Co-Founder of Thrilllist Media and Elias Roman, CEO and Co-Founder of Songza.

The highlights of the session were captured by Stephanie Miller, VP of Member Relations at the DMA and posted to the DMA Advance blog. I am happy to have her permission to repost an excerpt here:


Ernan Roman

Ernan Roman

A cataclysmic shift has taken over modern marketing:  We are moving from ”forcing customers to sort through piles of spray and pray stuff to find relevance to a world where personalized, relevant communications find consumers based on their opt-in preferences.”

Asking your customers what they want from you is the first step toward making that shift for your own brands, said Ernan Roman at Integrated Marketing Week.

Roman's company conducted over 10,000 hours of Voice of the Customer research for customers such as MassMutual, IBM and QVC for six requirements to emerge for how customers define "customer experience:"

  1. Improve the customer experience across every point of contact with your organization.
  2. Apply this approach to all elements of the media mix and all departments of your organization.
  3. High quality experiences must be maintain throughout the relationship, not just when you are “selling.”
  4. Customer experiences must be driven by the customer’s individual preferences regarding message, timing, frequency and media mix.
  5. Preferences must drive high quality personalization of communications and experiences
  6. Absolute commitment to safeguarding privacy of preferences information is essential.
Ben J. Lerer, CEO of Thrillist

Ben J. Lerer

Listening to the voice of your customer will give you the “opportunity to fundamentally re-conceive how you engage with customers,” Ernan said.  “This creates a new kind of reciprocity of value equation and transforms the customer experience.

One notable example of this is Thrillist Media, which reduced email sends by 20%, increased traffic to the site, reduced unsubscribes by 50% and increased engagement by 15%”, all while delivering a more personalized product,” per CEO Ben J. Lerer.

Putting that together is the challenge, but Thrilllist results demonstrate the power of this approach for multi-channel engagement.  Ben’s tips for other smart marketers are:

  1. Customize for each platform
  2. Be your brand every step of the way
  3. Be cool, not creepy
  4. Pay attention to what they are buying
  5. Make the user feel like a VIP.
Elias Roman, CEO of Songza

Elias Roman

Another digital lifestyle player, Songza, uses voice of the customer research to “differentiate through deep personalization  across channels," said panelist Elias Roman, CEO and Co-Founder.

Songza is designed to be a “music concierge” that delivers the perfect streaming playlist to match every activity of the day. Roman shared his big learnings in delivering such a customer-centric experience:


  1. Also use non-personal data to personalize
  2. Make users want to give you personal information
  3. Use technology to feel more human
  4. Design like every screen is a small screen.

The future of content is not “search and browse,” he said.   “And it’s not just personalized to your preferences. It’s personalized to your needs right now.

“The context will dictate the content you need,”  he said. In this way, Songza personalizes the product not just to the person, but to what the person is doing or desiring at that moment.

Elias showed how Songza learns what you like – using both inputs of preferences at the moment of the request (e.g.: It’s game day and I want a country music soundtrack) and data-driven assessments to predict and recommend future selections.


Each of these marketing leaders have offered a few tips on how to listen to the voice of the customer. How about you  - are you listening?


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - a Digital Marketing Principal here at SAS focused on Content Strategy. I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome college-age kids, volunteering for the Boy Scouts, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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