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Author's profile photo Joseph Chukwube

Using SAP S/4HANA to Market to the Customer of the Future

The customer of the future prioritizes experience over products. According to the 6th State of Marketing Report from Salesforce, 84% of customers rate experience a company provides equally as the company’s products and services. This has been obvious in the past few years, but customer experience would be far more important in the coming years. Customer-centric businesses are 60% more profitable.

Marketing today is the sum total of the experiences of customers interacting with your brand on different fronts. The implication of this is that marketing is no longer the business of the marketing department only; instead, it cuts across a company’s entire operations wherever customer interaction is inevitable.

A Walker study revealed 88% of B2B consumers expect personalized experiences, compared to 31% three years ago, and a mere 4% 7 years ago. Customer experience delivery will increasingly rely on data and technologies such as AI, machine learning, and analytics.

SAP S/4HANA Marketing Cloud

One of the main tools for implementing a sound customer experience strategy in marketing is SAP S/4HANA Marketing Cloud. SAP S/4HANA is an intelligent Enterprise Resource Planning solution for large businesses. And to clarify, SAP S/4HANA Marketing Cloud (or simply SAP Marketing Cloud) is not a component of SAP S/4HANA (the ERP solution), though both function on the same SAP framework.

SAP Marketing Cloud is a standalone solution. However, you can use an API to integrate both together, especially for the purpose of sharing data. The main features of SAP S/4HANA Marketing Cloud are:

  • Consumer and customer profiling 
  • Segmentation and campaign management 
  • Commerce marketing 
  • Marketing resource management 
  • Marketing analytics
  • Marketing lead management, and
  • Loyalty management.

The rest of this article highlights areas where SAP S/4HANA Marketing Cloud is useful for marketing in the next generation.

Omnichannel Marketing and Data Consolidation

For the past few years, the world of marketing has gradually shifted towards an omnichannel model. As channels of business interactions continue to increase, businesses need to invest in a strategy to deliver personalized experiences to customers seamlessly and at scale.

This requires a tool that provides a holistic view of customer data. SAP Marketing Cloud has powerful analytics capabilities that allow businesses to understand customer behaviors and create individualized profiles for segmentation and targeting. Customers have increasingly expressed their desire for marketing content tailored to their needs and interests. SAP Marketing Cloud helps businesses to correlate and consolidate marketing data from multiple sources in order to understand and profile customers better.

Using SAP Marketing Cloud, the Emmi Group, an international milk processing company, assembled customer engagement KPIs from its various marketing operations in order to make better marketing decisions. It was a suitable response to the company’s challenges with engaging customers that were scattered across channels, social media and otherwise.

The main challenge with omnichannel marketing is attribution. With a marketing model that blurs the lines across touchpoints along the customer journey, how do you know which channel is generating the most leads? The Emmi Group uses the predictive marketing capabilities of SAP Marketing Cloud to forecast the performance of marketing campaigns.

Customer Experience, Trust Building, and Loyalty

One of the highlights of Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends report is the importance of trust and brand loyalty in marketing going forward. It says that “brands should look at what people value—rather than what they look like” and emphasizes delivering on promises. At the most basic, it all leads back to customer needs. Pay attention to the concerns that are most important to your customers, use messaging that acknowledges those concerns, and deliver on promises to address such concerns.

For a company in the food industry as Doehler, healthier eating is sure to be an important concern for many of its customers. The company utilized SAP Marketing Solution to understand customer needs and profile data, as well as optimize customer segmentation for better marketing results.

Despite wanting more personalization in communication from brands, people are more concerned about how customers collect and use their private (and especially sensitive) data. SAP solutions espouse consent-based engagement, which is hinged on the idea of permission marketing.

Regulations such as the GDPR have empowered consumers to determine how brands can use and share their data. It is thus imperative for brands to invest more in data safety and cybersecurity compliance. However, trust is not only built on inbound permissions (such as what customer data you collect), but also on outbound permissions, which determine how you engage customers using the data collected.

Portraying trust enhances customer experience, strengthens customer relationships, and engenders loyalty. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, trust ranks highly for 86% of people when determining which brands to patronize.

Collaboration and Decision-making

Crisis moments, like the currently raging pandemic, require expedited decision making. And one significant advantage of consolidating data acquired from various sources is faster decision-making.  Of course, decisions are not only reached faster; they are also smarter.

SAP S/4HANA helps businesses harmonize their core operations. Thus, it improves data visibility and strengthens the efficiency of the company. A centralized view of all the data regarding a campaign allows different teams to collaborate better and avoid miscommunication. This is particularly important when setting marketing budgets.

Using SAP S/4HANA solutions, the company VINCI Energies hastened the creation of quarterly reports by 98%, in the process saving 600 hours per month. The earlier businesses can create reports and access insights, the better they are at identifying and mitigating issues before they become full-blown problems.

Crisis or not, time is not something marketers have a lot of. Certainly not with the constant competition they face. With SAP Marketing Cloud, businesses can plan marketing campaigns and time the execution of each activity precisely.


At a time when marketing is about building solid relationships with customers, businesses need to prioritize seamless multi-channel engagement, trustworthiness, and data-driven decision-making. Your customer experience strategy would determine your marketing performance in the coming years. And you need the right tools to be able to compete. The marketing proposition of SAP for Marketing Cloud is to help businesses offer customers the freedom to define their journey.

The digital transformation has empowered consumers like never before. It is not about what your product has to offer; it is about whether your product meets the needs of consumers. You need the right tool to uncover these needs and market to the customer how they want.

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