Times have changed. Organizations are rethinking their marketing strategies and how they’re managing their customer experience. Marketing today is about using data to better understand your current and potential customers so you can learn how to better engage with them. To meet this need, SAP introduced its SAP C/4HANA suite in 2018 to help organizations build trusted relationships with their customers.

ASUG News interviewed the SAP C/4HANA cloud leaders to learn more about each platform and how they work together to help build a better customer experience. We started with SAP Commerce Cloud and discussed how it provides customers with a complete digital brand experience. We’ve also covered SAP Sales Cloud and discussed how the platform offers sales teams the tools they need to win trust and keep customers coming back for more.

Next, we caught up with Nicholas Cumins, general manager of SAP Marketing Cloud to understand why it’s important to know your customer first for everything else to work effectively.

Nicholas Cumins, General Manager of SAP Marketing Cloud

ASUG News: Could you walk us through how an SAP customer would use the SAP Marketing Cloud?

Nicholas: SAP Marketing Cloud is a comprehensive marketing solution that provides marketing planning and budget management, cross-channel marketing orchestration, and closed-loop measurement and optimization. Underlying all of these is customer data management, which brings traditional marketing profiles together with data from across the enterprise such as sales, service, finance, and even the voice of the customer to generate deep insights, enable pinpoint targeting, and consent-driven engagement.

The SAP Marketing Cloud is typically used by the full marketing team to support the end-to-end marketing process and, in B2B companies, to support marketing and sales alignment. The teams can segment their customer base to better understand the accounts and the contacts that they need to go after, and to drive interest in their products and services on any channel.

ASUG News: Can you explain cross-channel marketing orchestration in more detail?

Nicholas: We use the term “cross-channel marketing orchestration” because our platform supports both B2B and B2C marketing, which is unique to SAP. This is usually referred to as campaign management in the B2C space or lead management in the B2B space.

In both B2B and B2C it’s about delivering value-based engagement with the customer, orchestrating their experience according to their needs and expectations. It’s also about making sure that experience is consistent and responsive across all channels and that’s true regardless of whether it’s a commodity or a considered purchase.

ASUG News: How does SAP Marketing Cloud work with other marketing tools and sales tools within an organization?

Nicholas: Of course, SAP Marketing Cloud is natively integrated with our own CX suite, but customers can integrate SAP Marketing Cloud with third-party systems as well. It all ties back to customer data. In order to feed the SAP Marketing Cloud, it needs to integrate with as many systems—whether they are operational systems or back-office systems—to collect behavioral data as well as real-time data. Then it can provide insights that will help drive better decisions.

We know that the view of the customer is distributed across an organization, which is precisely why SAP recently announced the Open Data Initiative with Adobe and Microsoft. We all need to make sure that our systems are open and can easily integrate with one another to provide the best understanding of the customer.

ASUG News: Within the ASUG community, more people may recognize the name SAP Hybris Marketing than SAP Marketing Cloud. How much of the DNA of Hybris is in the platform and how much is new and improved?

Nicholas: The SAP Marketing Cloud platform was developed under the umbrella of SAP Hybris. Much of that foundation is still there, but what’s new is the focus on customer experience.

Some customers might still think of SAP Hybris Marketing as an on-premise solution. We now offer the solution in the cloud. SAP Marketing Cloud is a more nimble platform because our customers receive innovations through quarterly updates, as opposed to annually through the on-premise solution. We are also investing in a plug-and-play approach to the partner ecosystem, so that customers can benefit from additional partner solutions without having to do heavy integration projects.

SAP Hybris Marketing was always a platform for both B2B and B2C marketing, and it still is. What’s new and improved is its ability to support account-based marketing in the B2B world. Traditionally, B2B businesses use a volume-based marketing approach where you cast a big net and try and catch as many contacts as you can. This creates a lot of waste and is not effective. With SAP Marketing Cloud’s account-based marketing capabilities, brands can segment and target a discrete set of high-value accounts. Then the marketing team can work together with the sales teams to drive conversations with those targets.

Another improvement is a focus on closed-loop performance management. In 2016, SAP acquired Abakus, a marketing attribution company that measures the customer’s journey across all channels to help marketers optimize their marketing spend. Closed-loop marketing allows a business to measure the revenue impact of marketing activities and better understand what’s really contributing to growth. So when you plan your marketing budget, you don’t do it based only on how much you spent on marketing last year. You do it based on the potential business impact now.

Last, but not least, is SAP Marketing Cloud’s ability to fully integrate with SAP S/4HANA and SAP C/4HANA. These integrations allow you to get a much clearer vision of your customer. For instance, SAP Marketing Cloud pairs SAP S/4HANA data such as financials and inventory together with the marketing profile to power personalization and recommendations through SAP Commerce Cloud, account-based insight and nurture through SAP Sales Cloud, and customer service insights and trigger-based communications through SAP Service Cloud.

SAP Marketing Cloud also helps to manage consent alongside SAP Customer Data Cloud to make sure every brand interaction builds trust based on customer permissions and preferences. And we’re excited to complete our integration with Qualtrics so that we can expand the marketing profile with voice-of-the customer data. The implications for interpreting customer behavior and further refining engagement and personalization are tremendous.

ASUG News: Let’s talk about data. How can SAP Marketing Cloud help customers solve challenges with data? How can it help them more accurately segment their customers or maintain their data privacy in the wake of GDPR and the other data privacy regulations bubbling up?

Nicholas: There are two important things worth noting here. First, I would argue that you cannot do proper marketing without the proper understanding of your customer. The second is that you cannot do proper marketing without embracing consent-based marketing.

When it comes to customer segmentation, SAP offers a segmentation engine that is powered by SAP HANA and is able to manage segments with thousands of attributes. It can manage data coming from operational systems, but also behavioral data from any source. You can use real-time analytics on that data to better understand your customers as well as the best way of engaging with them.

And then there’s GDPR and privacy. Some see GDPR as a constraint, but I think it’s a great opportunity to do better marketing. SAP Customer Data Cloud (formerly Gigya) makes SAP C/4HANA a consent-based platform. It allows a business to capture a prospect’s or customer’s consent and enforce it across their full customer information system.

ASUG News: How can the SAP Marketing Cloud work with other SAP offerings to help organizations become intelligent enterprises?

Nicholas: We’re moving marketing to the center of the business. When coupled with SAP’s investment in artificial intelligence, this allows brands to really focus on the customer experience. When we can detect a customer’s intention, then we can trigger an activity in SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, or SAP Commerce Cloud. It’s a full customer experience solution.

Learn more about what to expect from SAP C/4HANA and how SAP C/4HANA can connect your customer journey. You can also spend a day learning how to use SAP C/4HANA at an ASUG Pre-Conference Seminar prior to SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference.