The last decade has been incredibly exciting for marketers, with a raft of new digital tools offering automation, customer insight and unprecedented measurability. Yet look beyond the headline benefits offered by each new tool and the reality is tech overload. With 3,874 Martech vendors, operating across 43 categories, and providing over 20 marketing solutions across multiple silos, it is no surprise that a typical marketing department will be juggling upwards of 17 different applications.
While each offers a solution to part of the marketing puzzle, without being able to connect the disparate parts marketers are failing to successfully realise any of the key objectives of customer experience, accountability or efficiency. It is the ability to leverage open cloud platforms to link these technology investments that is key to realising the efficiency benefits of marketing automation and consolidating the customer’s digital footprint to gain true insight into the customer experience.
Investing in the latest, greatest software can result in growth, but it is just as important to take a step back and start gaining real value from the solutions already in place by tapping into the marketing ecosystem organisations already have.
Marketers have been presented with an array of compelling technologies in recent years. From automation solutions that can significantly reduce manual processes to data capture designed to inform the customer experience and metrics to prove the increasingly important return on investment, the marketing technology stack is becoming ever more complex. But are marketers truly leveraging this investment to realise increasingly challenging objectives?
Web analytics. Predictive analytics. Email Marketing. Tag Management. Optimisation. Where is the priority? Marketers are spending more and more time managing technology and making decisions about technology investment – potentially at the expense of realising marketing and company business goals. The challenge of finding the right tool for the job is exacerbated by the apparently conflicting objectives facing marketing teams: while CMOs want to invest in providing a great customer experience, the CEO is looking for tangible Return on Investment (ROI).
Simply adding more tools to the digital marketing mix is adding complexity, not necessarily sophistication. How can a marketer keep track of existing and new technology, determine which tool will support the Customer Experience goal or help meet the ROI target? Organisations need to step back and determine how best to make the existing solutions work harder and deliver more value. And that means making them work together – not just to drive better efficiency but also to transform the customer experience.
Fast, effective integration
Innovation is tempting. Every new marketing tool offers a potential benefit – from improving efficiency by eradicating manual tasks to providing another vital sliver of customer information. Operating in isolation, however, these tools will continue to fail to support the efficient, responsive marketing model. While in the past the only option was to undertake multiple custom integration projects to bring these diverse tools together, the latest generation of cloud based marketing apps changes the game.
With open cloud platforms marketers have the chance to link existing technology investments, with little, if any, expenditure. Integrating these tools within a single marketing ecosystem is key to realising the efficiency benefits of marketing automation and consolidating the customer’s digital footprint to gain true insight into the customer experience.
For example, rather than using spreadsheets to move information between a web conferencing application and a marketing automation system, integrating these two systems enables information from the web conferencing tool to immediately update data in the automation platform to create a more seamless campaign execution and a lot less manual work for the marketer. Another example is the use of multiple applications during a customer’s journey. Different tools capture slivers of information of the customer’s interaction with a company. It’s only when you can capture all the interactions, or digital body language, in one place that you are able to create a single, actionable, view of the customer.
Reducing manual processes through integration frees up marketers’ time to concentrate on more strategic – and creative – activity. Critically, this activity is now inherently measurable; digital marketing can be tested at every stage, with real time feedback on messaging and content to enable continual refinement. Indeed, this is the second key benefit of the marketing ecosystem: the speed of information flow is radically improved, enabling marketers to respond quickly to customer behaviour and actions, creating a more responsive and relevant customer experience and driving brand affinity.
In addition, linking up to a cloud based marketing ecosystem provides access to valuable third party data sources, information that a marketer is now in a position to effectively use having joined up the customer digital fingerprint to gain deep insight into the customer base. Combining data modelling to define the ‘best customer’ attributes with these anonymised third party data sources supports very effective targeting, extending the company’s reach towards the ‘right’ customer type.
And this is key: while tech overload is clearly a concern, marketing departments cannot afford to stop investing, discovering or innovating. But this innovation must be focused and relevant – with a single, joined up marketing ecosystem, a company can extend its reach far more effectively than simply adding new tools for the sake of it.
The marketing function is one of the last parts of a business to be automated. Decades after CRM and ERP became standard toolsets, digital technologies have started to transform the efficiency of marketing. However, while each new marketing tool has offered both a degree of automation and another slice of customer data, few organisations have yet to achieve the true value of the ERP or CRM model – namely, complete end to end integration of these diverse toolsets.
It is time to step back and streamline digital marketing; create a single process and eradicate technology redundancy before investing in anything new – just for the sake of it. By leveraging the cloud to seamlessly join together the current stack of marketing tools, organisations have the chance to drive value from the existing investment and, critically, start to realise the phenomenal potential of marketing to transform the customer experience and deliver tangible ROI.
Sylvia Jensen, Director of Marketing EMEA, Oracle Marketing Cloud
Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa