A marketing strategy that isn’t underpinned by technology and the right processes isn’t a strategy at all. It’s a waste of time.
The events of the last 14 months – as the global pandemic and resulting lockdowns have played havoc with existing business models – have demonstrated again the critical importance of direct contact with customers.
And unless that contact is tech-driven, it will be at best laborious, at worst completely dysfunctional.
Proper personalisation is more important than ever
This reminder of the importance of personalisation came just when many were beginning to lose faith in the sector. According to a recent study by Gartner, 80% of marketers expect to abandon personalisation by 2025 because of a perceived lack of return on investment together with the growing complications of customer data management law.
Some leading vendors have even suggested that IP-based personalisation is dead. And with cookies on their way out and the whole industry struggling to imagine quite what a marketing data landscape without them will look like, it’s easy to buy into that mindset of doubt or deferral. Don’t.
Developing a coherent and effective marketing strategy without factual insight is not going to take you very far. Businesses sit on a treasure trove of data from their customers that must be utilised in the right way, particularly in the planning stage. If you’re basing your strategy around historical data, without any consideration for the here and now, real-time data, then you’re missing a trick. Unlocking the data within your organisation is the first step that every marketeer needs to take before embarking on a campaign.
Don’t just do something – sit there
I spoke to experienced marketeer, Eric Jan C. van Putten, VP of Marketing at Dynamicweb, on a podcast recently and one of his opening mantras was to think before you act. Eric’s first piece of advice for other marketeers was to be curious and to always try new things. I’d suggest that it’s about being dynamic. But before you do try things, you need to remember that the most important tool you have is your data. Analyse it, learn from it, and then act on it.
With data in mind, there isn’t a significant distinction in the approaches used by those operating in a B2B or B2C environment. Email-based marketing is still very much alive in both sectors for example, but the gaps in how businesses use personalisation are broadening as opposed to tightening. There is a dependence on technology to help raise the bar in personalisation, and it is the biggest priority for marketing departments around the world.
If you asked ten people what personalisation means, each one would give you a different definition. The most common and basic example they would provide would be a first name greeting in an email. This is simply not enough. If a person has bought a product from you and then two weeks later you offer them the same product at a discounted rate, that customer is not going to respond kindly.
This is where data becomes invaluable. If your sales team can see a caller’s purchase history, then the discussion is immediately better informed, because they aren’t going to waste the customer’s time, they’re more likely to find them what they want – and more likely to make a sale. Everyone’s a winner!
So how do brands plug into the best solutions? Start with identifying the biggest challenges and work towards integrated solutions: rather than focusing on the technology itself initially, focus on the intended outcome and that should guide you towards the right choices. There are so many potential solutions out there – the “cool stuff”, as Eric Jan calls it – that finding the right choice, which is both functional and relatively simple, needs that focused thought.
Is it a monster?
If you don’t follow this advice you could end up with what Eric calls ‘Frankenstack’: an over-elaborate marketing monster of your own making. With every unnecessary complexity adding both expense and the chance of systemic breakdown.
Eric Jan and I have both consistently experienced smaller organisations being better placed to be able to adopt this tech innovation-based marketing strategy. They are more agile in decision-making and more adept at problem-solving. And they typically have a “good is good enough” approach that helps them make constructive progress without getting stalled by corporate process.
Larger organisations should be mindful of this and need to make extra effort to drive marketing innovation without allowing it to get stuck in, say, multiple committees or departmental silos for repeated inspection and signoffs. Even worse, another department dipping into and damaging data and the far-reaching implications this could have. Bigger companies should be able to better use the greater resources at their disposal, rather than sabotaging efficiencies through business barriers and red tape.
Sell it to sales
Sometimes the biggest challenge is being able to demonstrate the value of innovation and tech investment to an organisation. It’s a problem that shouldn’t exist anymore. But it does.
The answer is to build internal consensus so that everyone is invested in that innovation as a positive rather than a pain for your peers. Marketing must talk the same language as sales, and needs to demonstrate how its strategy can build sales and contribute to commercial goals. Putting data at the heart of your decision-making process will naturally lead to more-informed decisions because you’re basing them on facts rather than assumptions.
Understanding what tech can bring to the party will help drive change management and organisational buy-in. Data will help you demonstrate that adding innovation isn’t a burden and that in the very near future, it’s going to save everyone time, and make your business money.
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