1 Harnessing the Digital Marketing Ecosystem to Win with Connected Customers March 2015
2 With nearly 1,900 marketing technologies available and seemingly endless ways to connect with customers, deciding what really matters can be overwhelming. This paper will help marketing executives cut through the clutter and home in on the tactics and technologies that help their businesses meet the demands of the connected customer. At the start of every year, Google publishes a report that identifies the tech trends the search giant believes will define the following 12 months. This year was no different, with Google recently releasing an infographic that highlighted the three biggest trends senior marketers should track in While Google s research is far from a guarantor of the future, the company s access to vast customer behavioral data certainly gives it the credibility to pontificate on what s to come. In this year s report, Google suggests that the proliferation of connected devices and the ephemerality of consumer decision-making will only gain momentum as more people and products gain access to the web. While those predictions shouldn t shock most senior marketers, there was one takeaway in the infographic that should make every senior marketing executive s ears perk up: Consumers today expect to get what they want in the moment they want it. Let that sink in for a moment. Then take a stab at answering this question: How do customers desires to be catered to at every point of their journey impact your marketing strategy? It changes everything. The age of the empowered customer is now and this consumer is researching, buying, and advocating for or disparaging your brand across numerous channels and mediums (both online and off). Your organization must have a keen understanding of how to meet customers where they want, when they want, and on their terms. What exactly that means for your organization (i.e., which tools, tactics, channels, and technologies you use) will depend largely on your marketing goals, but the implications of failing to meet those customers modern expectations are universal: If your business can t give the connected customer what they want, when and where they want it, those customers won t hesitate to go elsewhere. 1 ThinkWithGoogle, January 2015, 2
3 The Marketing Technology Conundrum Naturally, that leads to another important question: How can marketing leaders meet the demands of those connected customers across all channels and mediums without overwhelming (or bankrupting) their organizations? That s not an easy problem to solve and it s certainly not as simple as taking the shotgun approach of investing in every marketing tool, technology, or channel that comes on the market. According to leading marketing technology expert Scott Brinker, there are now nearly 1,900 companies offering software to marketing departments, and that ecosystem is evolving and proliferating by the day. 2 In theory, these tools and technologies are designed to automate processes in the marketing workflow, optimize marketing channel usage, and improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Revisiting Google s infographic, the objective for modern marketing leaders should be to make interactions as fast, simple, and easy as possible, and ensure every customer receives useful information in all the moments that matter. Marketing technology can certainly facilitate that goal, but only if marketing leaders are laser-focused on the core tools that give their connected customer the right experience at the right time through the channels they prefer. In our own recent survey of marketers, 3 63% responded that their marketing technology systems either have limited integrations or just flat out don t play nicely with each other. What they often do instead is create confusion, overwhelm marketing practitioners, and cause marketing organizations to focus on the wrong things. 2 Chief Marketing Technologist Blog by Scott Brinker, January 2015, 3 The survey referred to throughout this paper includes responses from 773 marketing professionals and members of the MarketingProfs community collected in February
4 The Best-of-Breed Approach It s important to remember that technologies are not go-to-market strategies in and of themselves. Rather, the right technologies can empower your go-to-market strategy. Additionally, there s no such thing as a one-sizefits-all digital marketing solution that s appropriate for all businesses and all audiences. Instead, marketing leaders should be aiming to leverage a best-of-breed approach that supports their go-to-market strategy and the way their customers behave online. Taking this approach starts with viewing the digital marketing ecosystem as a collection of ingredients that, deployed individually, have only limited value. Only when those ingredients are combined in the right quantity and context and with the right purpose and focus will their value and influence on the connected customer actually be felt. Put another way, there are several moving parts that must work seamlessly to effectively execute a digital marketing strategy. Each of those parts is important on its own, but true opportunity is captured when marketing leaders close the gap between tools and execution and leverage technology as a means to: Increase agility to quickly adapt to everchanging consumer behavior Support the overall go-to-market strategy and enable the organization to run at the pace of the connected customer Scale and evolve alongside the greater digital marketing ecosystem The more your marketing organization embraces that bigger picture from your customers point of view, the easier it will be to tactically pull the right levers (technology, tools, and channels) at the right time and meet the demands of the connected customer when, how, and where they are active online. The 6 Key Pillars of Modern Digital Marketing It s important to re-iterate that evolving with and adapting to the digital marketing ecosystem does not mean experimenting with the newest, shiniest technology. Just because a new tool comes on the market or a new channel proves to be effective, doesn t mean your business should use it. Instead, your team must be laserfocused on the handful of technologies, tools, and tactics that help your business accomplish its unique goals. That could mean delivering a weekly newsletter, investing in more intelligent on-site search functionality, or optimizing your ecommerce user experience or it could mean none of those things. The key is to understand what you re trying to accomplish and then decide which tactics (and the technologies that enable them) will best support your go-to-market strategy. Do you feel that your digital presence provides value and gives customers the information they are seeking? 41% Absolutely! Value at every click. 58% Well, we ve got some work to do. 4
5 With that in mind, we believe there are six key pillars of a modern digital marketing strategy that CMOs should consider. This section will briefly explore the importance of these pillars and deliver insight into how technology can be used to improve the agility, adaptability, and scalability of each one. 1. Mobile Keep mobile top of mind. Your customers across all demographics and segments are interacting in more and more ways with their mobile devices. They share good and bad product experiences online. They snap photos of recent purchases. They share their whereabouts and their plans. And they do all of this intuitively largely because their mobile devices have become a natural and everpresent part of their lives. Yet, while it s clear that mobile is a critical piece of engaging the connected customer, many marketing organizations have yet to determine the best way to turn mobile into a viable marketing channel. That needs to change if marketers are going to keep pace with their customers online. How technology can be applied: With the right platform, you can make mobile a natural, electronic extension of your brand, leveraging mobile marketing as a real-time conduit for combining great content and context and collecting incredibly rich insight into customer behavior. Very simply, the companies that invest in building intuitive mobile apps and mobile-friendly websites are able to provide a user experience that gives their brand a distinct competitive advantage. 2. Search This pillar includes both search activity conducted externally (via search engines like Google and Bing) as well as searches completed via a company website. In both environments, search experiences are critical to helping customers easily and intuitively find what they want on any device. Without an SEO or keyword optimization strategy, it s less likely that customers will be able to discover your business organically on the web. And without sophisticated search capability on your website, customers often struggle to find and engage with the right content. How do you approach mobile in your digital marketing efforts? 18% 53% 7% We have a mobile app. We have the works! Responsive design, mobile apps, SMS, location based. Our website and s are responsive, so it works on any devise or screen. For your website, what is the single-most important traffic source? 45% Search 19% 15% Social 22% Mobile is not a priority for my company. 8% Advertising 6% Offline Channels 6% Other 5
6 How technology can be applied: Content is not static, and neither is the connected customer s path to it. By using state-of-the-art on-site search technology, you can more effectively guide each web visitor to the content, page, or product information they need and achieve higher conversion and customer satisfaction. Search technology also allows businesses to remove the guesswork of content optimization by tracking visitor search patterns and on-site behavior. 3. ecommerce Whether your business sells consumer products or business solutions, the connected customer, who is always ready to buy, now expects to be able to view and purchase goods on the web. These buyers also expect to be met with personalized product recommendations and purchase histories regardless of whether they re visiting your website through a desktop or mobile browser. Many commerce platforms today are not equipped to meet those demands, leaving customers feeling disappointed by their experience. How technology can be applied: While there are numerous ecommerce platforms to choose from today, the most valuable ones give marketers the ability to scale on-demand, integrate behavioral merchandising, deliver responsive mobile buying experiences, and personalize ecommerce content for individual customers. Those features can significantly increase a B2C company s revenue, and they ve also been proven effective in B2B ecommerce environments. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, 89% of B2B businesses reported an increase in annual revenue after implementing ecommerce capability Content In today s hyper-competitive world, content is now a critical component of earning customer loyalty and trust, both of which play a significant role in digital marketing success. Consider how you provide context around your offerings to make them relevant to customers on a 1:1 level. From that perspective, it s not enough to just create content. The key to standing out from the herds of other brands doing the same thing is to create personalized content s, web content, product information, etc. that uniquely addresses each customer s interests, needs, and pain points. By now, most marketers embracing the digital age have figured out that the right mix of content marketing from owned to purchased to curated is crucial to success. The secret to truly capturing the connected customer s attention, however, is to adopt a test and learn methodology that allows you to deeply understand what s resonating with customers over time. How technology can be applied: Content management systems make it easy to create instant, targeted campaigns and personalize or optimize any form of content. Typically, these tools also allow content to be managed in a single interface, personalized for specific social platforms or digital marketing channels, and A/B tested to optimize conversion. 4 B2B ecommerce Produces Results, Forrester Consulting, 6
7 5. As the digital marketing ecosystem expanded over the last decade, many marketing experts predicted that would become less relevant. Not only has that not happened, an argument could be made that is more important today than it was a decade ago. Used effectively, supports every stage of the connected customer s lifecycle, facilitates the buying process, drives repeat purchases, and keeps customers engaged with a brand. How technology can be applied: marketing technology has existed longer than most other marketing automation tools, and its utility and sophistication have evolved dramatically over time. Today, marketers can leverage cloud-based software to easily create targeted lists, adapt content and messaging to specific customers or personas, optimize content for mobile devices, and integrate social networking into campaigns. Collectively, those features can significantly increase open and clickthrough rates. When well integrated with a CRM or ecommerce system, you can see metrics even further down the funnel and connect results to overall purchase behavior. 6. Analytics By providing a single view of your customer s activity and behavior, analytics help senior marketers gain a clear understanding of which content, channels, campaigns, or platforms are performing well or failing to deliver results. This insight is critical to digital marketing success. Unfortunately, acquiring that insight all too often means wasting time jumping from system to system or having to deal with multi-system integration nightmares. Does your analytics application allow you to follow a visitor across channels? 28% Yes, we can track all digital activity seamlessly. 35% No, we have multiple analytics sources. 36% Combination of the above, with limited cross-channel view. How technology can be applied: The reality is that not all marketing technology is created equal. The best platforms empower marketers to acquire rich insight into their campaigns and activities through integrated analytics. This way, there s no need to waste time switching between systems or tools. Instead, you simply access a dashboard within the platform that aggregates cross-channel insights for you. Some technology even allows you to access analytics on-page removing the need to toggle between windows or applications. 7
8 The Emergence of the Marketing Technologist The back-office of marketing the internal operations that keep an organization pointed in the right direction used to be no more complex than Excel spreadsheets or a mailing database. Today, as evidenced by the previous section, the suite of technology in that back-office now looks entirely different. Modern marketing leaders must now manage CRM, content management, marketing automation, predictive analytics, and testing and optimization tools and the addition of that technology has altered the skills CMOs and their teams must have in order to do their jobs effectively. In fact, as the technology your marketing organization uses becomes more powerful, it s likely that you ll experience a more acute need for team members who have an intuition for how to leverage, configure, or alter those tools preferably without handholding from the IT department. Ultimately, this is where a new species of marketer the marketing technologist comes into play. Is there a marketing technologist in your organization? 39% Yep, you re lookin at him/her. 18% Next cubicle/desk over. Not me. 42% Nobody by that name here. So, what exactly does a marketing technologist do? According to technology entrepreneur Scott Brinker, who is widely credited with creating the term, marketing technologists generally have a tech background and possess an understanding of digital marketing strategy. 5 This person s primary purpose within a marketing team is to help the organization more effectively leverage the right technology to create the richest, most compelling customer experiences possible. At this point, virtually every company regardless of size, industry, or organizational sophistication can benefit from someone with that capability. After all, the digital marketing ecosystem is only likely to grow in complexity in the next few years. Having a marketing technologist on staff who is capable of helping your organization quickly identify and implement the right technology can be invaluable. 5 Scott Brinker on the Future of Marketing, EPiServer, 8
9 Is Your Marketing Organization Prepared for the Future? Of course, no one knows exactly what the future holds for digital marketing. New tools and platforms that help marketers do their jobs more effectively will undoubtedly emerge over time, and the best practices of today will very likely be outdated in five years. What is clear, however, is that for your company to thrive going forward, it must evolve into a business that truly grasps how technology can be used to influence customer behavior and action. This capability will allow your team to adapt at the speed of the connected customer and deliver seamless, highly relevant customer experiences. As you set out to adapt into that kind of marketing organization, be sure to keep the following best practices in mind: 1. Think like the customer The process of deciding which technologies and channels to focus on must start with an exploration of where your customers live online. What channels do they use? How do they prefer to be engaged? For all aspects of the digital marketing ecosystem, consider the value you can provide in those channels because that value-add is your true differentiator. 2. Start with a great foundation and scale from there The foundation of any digital customer experience is your company s website. Whether you operate a B2B or B2C site, prospective buyers will almost certainly judge your brand based on the look, feel, and usefulness of your site. If you deliver the best experience possible, you ll not only stand a far greater chance of capturing buyer interest, but also position yourself to scale efficiently as you expand throughout the marketing pillars mentioned earlier. 3. Scale based on the needs of your buyers and always plan for flexibility Whatever you do, don t try to copy the digital marketing strategy of a business that doesn t share your market, target customer, or budget. It s critical to understand which channels, tools, and technologies are right for your company, and always plan for change. Nobody knows what s on the horizon and it will likely come faster than you think. Make sure your organization is agile enough to quickly adapt to anything. 4. Select technology using a best-ofbreed approach Contrary to what many technology vendors and solutions would have you believe, there s no such thing as a onesize-fits-all platform that can meet the needs of every industry, market, or customer. Instead, CMOs should start with a foundation (a great website) and select technology or tools that align with their marketing organization s unique goals, and their customers unique preferences. Again, there s no prescriptive secret to conquering the digital marketing ecosystem. But if you stick to the best practices above, it will put your organization in the best position to leverage digital marketing technology to capture the connected customer s business. Technology, after all, is only as valuable as its implementation. Fail to select the right mix of tools, and the results can be devastating to the bottom line. If, however, you manage to successfully deploy technologies in the right context that empower your go-to-market strategy, then you ll establish a clear competitive advantage with greater brand awareness and customer affinity. 9
10 About Episerver EPiServer connects digital commerce and digital marketing to help organizations create unique experiences for their customers with measurable business results. By combining content, commerce, and omni-channel marketing in a single platform The Digital Experience Cloud EPiServer works full-circle for businesses online, from intelligent optimization and lead-generation through conversion and repeat sales, with unprecedented usability and agility. Supported by a network of 880 partners in 30 countries, EPiServer empowers more than 8,800 digital leaders to embrace disruptive, transformational strategies that can deliver standout experiences for their customers everywhere they engage. Founded in 1994, EPiServer has offices in the USA, Sweden, Australia, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, UAE, and the UK. Learn more at About MarketingProfs MarketingProfs is a rich and trusted resource that offers actionable information and guidance designed to make you a smarter marketer from social media and content marketing to lead generation and online conversions. More than 600,000 members rely on our free daily publications, podcasts, virtual conferences, and more to stay up-to-date on the most important trends in marketing, and how to apply them to their businesses. Plus, MarketingProfs delivers enhanced professional development training through online seminars and short webcasts, in-depth how-to reports, research, interactive planning tools, online courses, and in-person events. MarketingProfs helps the smartest marketers worldwide turn even the toughest marketing challenges into success stories. Basic membership is free register now at MarketingProfs.com.
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