“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” (Benjamin Franklin’s words, not mine). It’s funny how a quote from the 1700s is just as relevant today as it was back then – particularly in the digital age of analytics. Marketing is one of the business functions that has been disrupted the most by the arrival of digital technologies (Tweet this).
On the whole, this disruption is a good thing. Thankfully, companies have abandoned the old style, generic ‘spray and pray’ email campaigns sent out to an external database they’ve just bought (well the good ones have at least). Online and mobile experiences have raised the bar for what customers expect from any interaction with a brand. New technology and higher buyer expectations have meant that marketing – perhaps more than any other line of business – has ‘grown up’ in the past couple of years. It’s more accountable, better equipped, and is critical in supporting the customer journey.
It is the customer who is now driving the dialogue. As the first line of engagement and conversation with the customer, we as marketers must identify their intent, needs and preferences, relay it across all the channels of interaction, and then analyse it in real time to anticipate a prospect’s ever-changing needs and desires. And we must engage with them in a personalised way that makes them feel “known” across multiple channels. Depending on how you look at it, you could say that marketing has gotten a whole lot harder (Tweet this) – or a whole lot easier if you have the right tools in place.
This shift in marketing’s role requires a transformation in processes, culture and in the technology foundation that supports it. You simply cannot succeed without addressing these key areas.
“Online and mobile experiences have raised the bar.”
The days of soft marketing metrics where organisations were willing to spend money on unproven efforts are gone (Tweet this). There is a direct line of sight from every pound, euro or dollar spent on marketing to its return. No mean feat when you take into account the awareness, thought leadership and social elements that are now a part of marketing and difficult to quantify in terms of ROMI (return on marketing investments).
So what are the best practices for building your new marketing foundation? I could wax lyrical about this, but for the sake of brevity, let’s boil it down to the three most important ones.
- First, you must be able to consolidate all your customer data for a unified customer view from a single place. Yes, I know you’ve heard this before, but you’ve got to take all of that traditional customer data, add it together with new, unstructured sources (think email responses, call centre recordings, text forms and social media et al) so that you can make it meaningful. Including data gleaned from mobile and social channels will give you competitive advantage, an insight into what a customer’s motivations are, and a context for specific behaviours.
- The second best practice is to leverage powerful advanced analytics so that you can mine the data. (Big data analytics is at the heart of the next-generation marketing foundation). This will not only help you make sense of the data and gain insights, but you’ll also stand a good chance of predicting what that person will next want or need. You can even proactively detect which customers are at risk of leaving and address them with special offers at the right time through their preferred channel.
- Finally, you need to be able to do all of this in real time. Real time marketing analytics enables you to make specific sales offers and understand the unique way in which a customer is interacting with your company. The more data your marketing organisation can procure about its customers, the more granular you can be with your promotions.
As marketers, we have no choice but to meet customers on their own terms. That means paying close attention to their desires, needs and preferences, and having the right technology foundation in place to act on them. The payoff for doing this well is enormous.
Take a look at the complimentary report below for more information on this topic.