At FORGE 2022, Data Activation Unlocks Marketing Success
Data—it’s the key to success for marketers, but it’s also their greatest challenge. There’s more customer data available than ever before, creating powerful new opportunities for brands to build stronger relationships with their customers. At the same time, as customer expectations evolve, laws and regulations around data privacy shift, and tech stacks grow, many marketers find themselves struggling with how to deliver the types of data-driven experiences that support more effective acquisition, stronger loyalty, and higher revenue in today’s customer engagement landscape.
To help brands better leverage the data at their disposal, Braze brought together more than 100 speakers from a wide range of leading brands, including Instacart, the National Basketball Association (NBA), Peacock, Sonic Drive-In, and Yum! Brands, at this year’s FORGE 22 NYC conference, held October 12–14. Across nearly 50 sessions, customer engagement experts explored everything from data collection and message personalization to the role of data in driving innovation and creativity, providing attendees with a comprehensive look at what successful customer engagement looks like and what it takes to achieve it.
With an event this big, there are always too many interesting conversations and striking presentations to cover them all, so let’s take a minute for a quick run-through of some of the conference’s main highlights.
Making the Most of the Data at Your Disposal
Snowflake’s Matt Hill (left) and Braze VP of Product Marketing Jason Perocho (right) discuss data management and activation
With data silos and evolving compliance requirements making data-driven marketing more complex for many brands, it’s no surprise that up to 73% of all data collected by enterprises is currently going unused. To gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing companies when it comes to data management, Braze VP of Product Marketing Jason Perocho sat down with Matt Hill, Head of Application Strategy for Braze Alloys technology partner Snowflake at FORGE 22 and discussed how brands can take a data-driven approach to deliver relevant customer experiences that form lasting customer relationships. During their session, Matt recommended that brands take steps to:
Activate data using turnkey integrations and flexible APIs.
Deliver unified, interactive customer experiences in real time without sacrificing performance.
Unify customer engagement data teams and marketers to provide easier access to data, which will lead to more personalized campaigns across channels, platforms, and devices.
According to Matt, setting smaller goals based on individual business outcomes is an effective way to produce small wins in connection with data management and activation. The key to success? Ensuring that data is in a single place where it can be leveraged by marketers—after all, the easier it is to access data, the easier it is for marketers to put that data to use in innovative, impactful ways.
Braze SVP of Product Kevin Wang (left) and Cofounder and CTO Jon Hyman (right) introduce Braze Cloud Data Ingestion
To make this vision a reality, Braze Cofounder and CTO Jon Hyman and SVP of Product Kevin Wang announced a key new feature during FORGE 22: Cloud Data Ingestion. This solution lets brands quickly and flexibly collect, process, and unlock value from data held within data warehouses. It’s available now for Snowflake and will expand to include support for other leading warehouses in the future. To learn more about Cloud Data Ingestion and how it can support more impactful customer engagement, check out “How Braze Cloud Data Ingestion Gives New Life to Customer Data.”
Managing Complex Campaigns With Simple Execution
To meet the challenges of today’s customer engagement landscape and the shifting expectations of consumers, brands need ways to create cohesive customer journeys across every relevant messaging channel and to do so as simply and seamlessly as possible. To address this pressing need, Braze has made a point of launching new and updated features designed to expand what’s possible with customer engagement while also reducing the burden on marketers who are looking to make that vision a reality.
Building on this summer’s launch of Canvas Flow, the next generation of customer journey management, Braze announced upcoming support for a key new messaging channel: Native WhatsApp messaging. This channel, which is scheduled to launch in early 2023, will allow marketers to create, orchestrate, and send WhatsApp campaigns directly from the Braze dashboard, making it possible to strengthen customer relationships with context-rich conversational messaging.
Meta’s Craig Goodfriend (left) and Braze Head Evangelist Magith Noohukhan (right) discuss the Braze platform’s native support for WhatsApp messaging
Following the announcement, Magith Noohukhan, Head Evangelist at Braze sat down with Craig Goodfriend, Head of North America Client Sales, Business Messaging Group at Meta to discuss the implications of native WhatsApp messaging support in Braze and how brands can make the most of this powerful channel. Craig noted that Meta is seeing high demand from businesses who are looking to use WhatsApp to support key marketing use cases from activation to engagement to monetization, and described this new partnership as an important step toward meeting that demand.
“In terms of reach, WhatsApp is over two billion people on the platform,” Craig told attendees. “And what that means is that your customers are already there. So instead of trying to pull them into an environment, meet them where they are. And if you can meet them where they are, I think you’ll see better overall results.”
To learn more about Braze native WhatsApp support, check out our official press release.
Ensuring Your Customer Engagement Program is Built for Growth
While data and technology are key pillars for marketers as they work to drive customer-led growth, they’re not the only factors that organizations need to consider. With brands evolving in a variety of different ways as they seek to meet today’s customer engagement challenges, the need for the right best practices and smart approaches to cross-team collaboration has never been greater.
Whitney Gretz, VP and GM, Global Strategic Accounts at Braze (left) and Ashley Travis, KFC Head of Global Product Capabilities at Yum! Brands (right) discuss collaboration and effective teamwork
In connection with this key need, Ashley Travis, KFC Head of Global Product Capabilities at Yum! Brands spoke with Whitney Gretz, VP and GM, Global Strategic Accounts at Braze about what it takes to ensure that your organization is set up for success. As a leader in a sprawling organization with a large team of product owners, Ashley has the dual challenge of empowering her team to create campaigns that reach the right customers at the right moment, but that can also scale out easily.
According to Ashley, Yum! Brands has been able to meet this challenge thanks to a strong culture of collaboration among the organization’s different brands. Getting there required the company to overcome a “if it’s not invented here, it won’t work” mindset and to build bridges between different brands and divisions to support smart innovation over time. Making that happen meant following four key steps:
Acquire: Gather learnings, such as what different markets and brands need to drive their businesses forward.
Adopt: Leverage tools like templates, frameworks, and playbooks to share knowledge and make it easy for brands to learn from their peers’ successes.
Adapt: Ensure tools and strategies have built-in flexibility to allow marketers to deliver content and programs that are locally relevant and impactful.
Accelerate: Speed up innovation and knowledge-sharing over time through education and global sharing between brands and teams.
To make it easier for marketers and brands alike to access the information and best practices they need to thrive in today’s challenging landscape, Braze President and Chief Customer Officer Myles Kleeger announced an enhanced digital experience for our community, Braze Bonfire, which has grown to 7,000+ members since its launch in 2019. In its next iteration, Braze Bonfire will continue to bring together marketing and technology experts in a 360-degree digital environment to network with peers, share ideas, engage in community activities, and learn best practices in customer engagement.
“We believe nurturing and celebrating our Braze community of customers and partners is vital to advancing the future of customer engagement,” Myles told attendees. “Bringing the brightest minds in this market together helps accelerate and inspire the creation of innovative customer engagement strategies that can drive sustainable, long-term revenue growth for brands. We look forward to growing our community to meet our customers' and partners’ evolving needs, today and in the future.”
Interested in learning more about the evolution of Braze Bonfire? Check out our press release.
This year’s Forge has come and gone, but it’s not too late to take advantage of the essential thought leadership and key best practices that came with it. To dig deeper into some of the key topics and areas of discussion from this year’s conference, check out: