Technology has today become an indispensable part of daily life and is used for even the simplest of things like reading the morning news or navigating to work. Consumers are using technology at every step of their purchase journey to make more informed purchase decisions. Today, a typical consumer could be checking a product in-store while browsing online for reviews, prices and offers on the same product using their smartphone.
The need to keep up with the new tech-savvy consumer has led to the transformation of marketing into a technology-powered discipline. Companies like Amazon are at the forefront of this transformation with focused investments in marketing technologies like email marketing, marketing analytics and others. Marketing technology (martech) has emerged as the single largest area of investment when it comes to marketing resources and programs1. Over the last few years, the average data analytics team size has grown from a couple of people to 45 full-time employees (FTEs)2.
However, despite this concentrated investment by CMOs, most marketing analytics teams have yet to realize the full potential of martech. The good news is that teams now spend less time on ad hoc reports compared with 2016, indicating that process improvements are underway2. Yet, expensive, talented analytics resources are still spending more time polishing and preparing data than actually deriving insights.
So where are businesses going wrong? There are three dimensions to the challenge of making martech effective —
First, there is the technical challenge of selecting, integrating, and operating all these systems and their data through the lens of traditional IT management.
Second, there is the process of implementing martech. As organizations rush to implement analytics in their marketing functions, they are creating the data first and then deciding what to do with it. This is counter-productive. Organizations must start with a vision for the purpose of data and then obtain the data required to satisfy that vision. This vision should be aligned with the organization’s core principles and values.
The third and bigger challenge is transforming the way Marketing uses these tools and changing how they think and behave, given the capabilities that these new tools enable. Companies don’t always make a conscious effort to align their data strategy and data analyst talent to realize the potential that analytics can bring to marketing managers.
What then is the secret sauce to becoming a Smart Digital Marketer?” Here’s a recipe.
Successful martech implementation is a long-term journey that depends on effective management of technology, process, and people. Here are the key ingredients —
1. Clear and Precise Marketing Goals: Take time to talk to each other about goals. The Smart Digital Marketer certainly does not rely on guesswork to make decisions on marketing strategies. Take your key people out for a cup of coffee or for lunch to initiate such conversations. Try to understand their challenges and brainstorm on ways to address them. Conversations like these can be valuable inputs during the goal-setting process. Successfully following this part of the recipe will mean a better integration between marketing and IT to develop systems that address the information needs of the marketing team instead of creating a culture of “capture data and pray.”
2. Create a 360° View of the Customer Purchase Journey: In the age where businesses are striving to create consistent, omnichannel customer experiences, a Smart Digital Marketer understands the value of a holistic 360° view of customers. An integrated view of the customer is one that considers every customer behavior from the time the alarm rings in the morning until they go to bed in the evening. Every potential engagement point, for both communication and purchase, should be captured. Only then can firms completely understand their customers and their journeys via analytics. Creating this 360° view will allow marketers to develop customized experiences that surprise and delight.
3. Make authentication crazy simple: Customers who have a reason to voluntarily make themselves known to you will be easier to analyze and market to. Hashed IDs can serve as primary keys that tie data sets together. Customers often find it too hard to authenticate at a digital or store experience and so they give up and check out as a guest, for example. And then analysts and marketers are left without the key data points they need to make their customers feel valued. There are two parts to this recipe: 1) give the customers value in exchange for their logging in and 2) eliminate all possible friction in the sign-in or password reset process. Of course, it is critical that customer data is secured and that customers know this.
4. Personalization is Key: Digital-native millennials, who are now becoming a major portion of the consumer base, have come to expect choice and personalized shopping experiences. A Smart Digital Marketer uses data and analytics to know – Who the consumers are, How they engage across media channels during a purchase journey and What they say about your product or brand. With this part of the recipe done right, marketers can successfully deliver the right campaign, to the right consumer, and at the right time.
5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Analytics: While a data scientist can help generate reports, we still need the right talent to interpret the results and build insights in the business context. Now there are a wide range of emerging technologies turbocharging the marketer’s ability to scale the delivery of market and competitive intelligence. But insight from data and information is only intelligence if it’s actionable. Artificial Intelligence can help us cover this last mile. Emerging analytical capabilities like natural language querying, natural language contribution analysis and prescriptive algorithms can give us real-time, meaningful and actionable insights at almost real-time speeds. For example, Machine Learning algorithms can sift through and map billions of ad impressions and hundreds of millions of device identifiers to provide marketers with greater confidence that the right message is reaching the right person.
6. Drive Adoption: Adoption of analytics all the way, in everyday business, remains a major industry challenge. In order to truly take advantage of the benefits of marketing technology, companies need to work towards a cultural change. Along with executive commitment and clear goals from the top, you need change to happen from the bottom-up by hiring new talent, training people differently, and acknowledging and rewarding the behaviors you want. With this part of the recipe done right, CMOs can realize the promise of data-driven marketing.
With the power of data, businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to delight their customers. However, they need a proactive and strategic approach to data-driven marketing in order to grab this opportunity. Start first with internal discussions to decide on a common vision and goal, followed by the technology selection and implementation. This needs to be followed with organization-wide change management programs with strong leadership buy-in to drive adoption among users and realize the full potential of marketing technologies.
*1. Gartner CMO Survey 2018-19: https://www.gartner.com/en/marketing/insights/articles/8-top-findings-in-gartner-cmo-spend-survey-2018-19
*2. Gartner Marketing Analytics Survey 2018: https://blogs.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/key-findings-from-gartner-marketing-analytics-survey-2018/