August 14, 2014

Consolidation of Technology in the Marketing Portfolio

Marketing has experienced a shift, moving from an organization that avoided technology to one whose technological budget rivals that of IT.  So how did we get here?

The Evolution

The explosion of social media and increased affordability of portable electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets have provided companies with exponentially more avenues to interact with their customers. It is on marketers now to realize how to leverage their customer data in a manner that will align with their greater corporate strategy.

Marketing Technology as a whole has come a long way; automating a number of processes and job functions that took countless hours and resources to execute frees those resources to focus on new and innovative ways to interact with customers.

How a Marketing Technology is Built – What Are the Pillars?

In order for any new technology to be successful, it must fill a need that isn’t already available in the marketplace. For marketing, the technological landscape 20 years ago was up for grabs. Below are a few technologies that helped lay the foundation for where technology resides in today’s marketing portfolio:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – CRM systems such as, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and InfusionSoft allow companies to collect and manage data for both existing and prospective customers. Access to these pools of customer data spawned the need for new ways of using data within the marketing landscape.
  • Campaign Management (CM) – Campaign Management systems enable marketers to sieve through mass quantities of customer data, leaving only those customers that meet certain criteria, defining the target audience. At its simplest, these systems are list generators, applying suppression criteria at different points of a campaign and excluding or including customers that meet the pre-defined criteria (e.g. customers in specific states, different age demographics, recent purchase activity, etc.).
  • Marketing Resource Management (MRM) – Marketing has a lot of moving parts, MRM systems ensure that all these moving parts work in sync. Processes are established in workflows, digital assets such as marketing collateral are easily stored, and budgets can be systematically maintained.
  • Optimization – Contact Optimization was developed as an extension of Campaign Management, helping marketers to mathematically determine the best communications for each customer based on designated business constraints and rules and marketing objectives.

How to Leverage the Pillars to Achieve Next Level Marketing

The previous section explains how marketing technology equips organizations to understand their customers, i.e. where they are coming from, what they are buying, when they shop, etc. Marketing’s new objective should be improved interactions with the customer. The following technologies are lighting the way for marketers to better interact with their customers.

  • Real-time – Real time or “Inbound” marketing is the latest buzz phrase within the marketing community. Marketers have the ability to interact with customers when they are most vulnerable, that being when they are already shopping. This technology can dynamically offer customers different collateral on their webpage or mobile device based on what sites they have recently visited, what products they have previously viewed, etc.
  • Visualization – Data visualization brings data and analytics to the masses. Anyone can now look at a graph or chart and understand that a specific color means one thing, or that the bigger the size of a line or bar, the larger the quantity of something.
  • Social – Social media kicked the door wide open for how businesses can interact with customers. Marketing is no longer just about sending out discounts or promoting brand awareness, but instead a company can have individual conversations with customers. If someone is sitting in an airport and they voice their dissatisfaction with an airline over Twitter, that airline can personally apologize to that customer immediately.

Bill Gates once said “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Technology has revolutionized the world. That is a fact. But regardless of how much technology you acquire, it can only enhance your marketing if the organization has defined a strategy with clear cut goals focused around the customer.