As we move into the second half of 2014, and a new financial year for Australia, many marketing managers will be considering the best approach when it comes to strategy and the tools they use to enable a robust and agile marketing campaign. As technology and online marketing become increasingly intertwined, what are managers doing to increase their efforts this year with regards to the tools they use?
A study earlier this year, carried out by Econsultancy and Responsys, answers many of the questions surrounding this. The Marketing Budgets Report 2014 found that more than two-thirds of businesses are planning to increase their digital marketing technology budgets this year, which isn’t a huge surprise, as it correlates strongly with the results from the study carried out in 2013.
Whilst 2% planned to slash budgets this year, for the most part, the results have remained consistent since 2011, when the first digital marketing technology study was carried out. According to Econsultancy: “This highlights the fact that marketers need to maintain a high level of investment in order to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in digital technologies.”
Of course, technology in all of its forms is a fast-moving market and in this particular sector, the time-saving elements and ROI means that it pays to stay ahead of the game. Of course, marketing departments don’t just spend on digital marketing, but offline activities too, so the report also looked at how trends are changing across traditional channels.
Advertising and Marketing Investments
The survey asked over 600 companies to take part, with many of these based in the UK and was carried out between December 2013 and January 2014. It was found that for marketing technology products, the biggest investment participants said they would be making was in CRM (customer relationship management) software.
49% of businesses said they will be spending more on CRM, that’s 4% more than last year. Coming in behind CRM was an increase in spending in business and web analytics software at 47%, email at 40% and CMSs at 40%.
Less Spending on Social
Surprisingly, there has been a “significant” drop in plans to spend on social media this year though, with the figure dropping 12% on 2013. Businesses are also predicting a drop in spending in paid search marketing too, as well as:
- Video advertising
- Cross and multi-channel marketing
Given the incredible growth of video use in the enterprise, the fact that companies are generally expecting to spend 6% less than last year is also surprising. Both social and video remain valid and effective channels and there’s now lots of proof available when it comes to ROI, so what’s changed for marketing managers in 2014?
Marketing technologies have improved significantly over the past few years and the savvy marketer will always attempt to be one step ahead of the game. This means spending time on strategies which will make the job easier, more effective and provide the best ROI.
Further to this, many technologies are becoming more integrated, take unified communications as a good example of that and one that is also being talked about often. However, for marketing, this integration has to be around the products that they use to effectively carry out their job and that of the marketing department, ensuring that it runs seamlessly and smoothly at all times.
Millions of businesses around the world use CRM software to manage their customers, as it can be a powerful solution that allows for the effective merging of a number of business and marketing processes. The software can also be easily integrated into an existing CMS to allow for an even more streamlined solution that allows businesses to create a single view of their customers.
Gartner predicts that those that don’t also add social media into the mix will be missing out, as they are veering away from an important aspect of the marketing process, which is developing relationships.
Of course, this is just one ingredient of the overall marketing mix, but according to Gartner’s Jim Davies, social is viewed too much as just another “sales and support channel” by many marketers.
“Over the past decade CRM has been about management of the customer. With social media, it’s (sic) about relationships,” he told Computer Weekly.
“Most companies have a master data management strategy. As an action item they should look how to embrace new data channels – the data associated with a customer’s mobile presence, web presence and social media. That is a big challenge.”
Meeting the Challenge
In 2014 then, the challenge for marketing managers is how they can successfully integrate the tools that are available to them into their strategy and existing intranet technology. This more “centralised approach” allows companies to attempt to bring channels together in order to get a “single view of the customer voice”.
However, right now, he says, this isn’t possible, so in order to meet the challenge in the coming year would be to take a hybrid approach. This is because many businesses can’t afford the investment necessary to essentially get rid of current systems and replace them with new ones, so in order to gain the most, finding additional products that can integrate with the existing ones you use is the best approach for the marketing manager.
This isn’t something that’s especially difficult to do. Modern, enterprise level CMSs often allow for additional modules or plugins to be added to give extra functionality or even provide developer frameworks so that larger enterprises can build their own.
CRM and CMS Working Together
CMSs were and are developed for the creation and distribution of content. However, that’s not enough in today’s business, as the sheer volume of data created by customers, potential or existing, is too large to be ignored. CRM then can effectively merge other areas of the business so that the two can work in tandem. Of course, content isn’t merely blogs, or articles, but encompasses email, social content and so on.
CRM takes all of the data that the content produces and uses it to give data that can be analysed and used to create better customer relations through things such as personalisation and more effective targeting.
This is supported by the Econsultancy research; marketers this year are concentrating less on “individual interactions” and more on the journey that a customer takes with the brand. 59% of those asked said that they would be focusing more on the customer than the actual campaign this year, so it’s clear why the adoption of integration of technologies is necessary if they are to achieve this.
Further to this, “79% will focus on trying to break down internal silos to better integrate and orchestrate marketing efforts.”
A 2012 Gartner report, Recognize the Importance of Digital Marketing, showed that when considering their digital marketing strategies, managers and CEOs considered brand building and differentiation to be the most important aspect to their activities, closely followed by consumer communication and understanding consumer satisfaction.
So whilst the focus has shifted slightly, it remains very much on the customer and it’s important for marketing managers to realise that it’s not just the technology that facilitates this that needs to be integrated, but the approach too.
The Gartner report points out that it’s important to understand the customer at every stage of the buying process, from initial lead generation, to after sales communication. This is of course where analytics come into the mix, as without these and other business intelligence products, it’s no simple task to understand what the customer is responding to, as well as how and when.
Personalising the Customer Experience
Business intelligence products, alongside a well-functioning CMS with integrated CRM, email and content delivery, give the marketer not only the opportunity to understand the customer, but the tools to deliver what they want and when they want it.
Automating this process with email and social campaigns, which are based on the data that analytics provides, allows marketers to create personalised, targeted campaigns that are the most effective. Think Amazon – how many times have you bought a product only to receive a mail a few days later that suggests similar products based on what you have purchased in the past? This process of getting to know the customer is of course based in everything we’re discussing here – and it works. The internet is now a much friendlier place than it’s ever been before and in order to maximise on this, marketers have to find ways to ensure that customers believe that the company cares. This provokes feelings of loyalty and improves customer retention, as well as WOM (word of mouth) marketing.
For many, especially with regard to social, WOM is where the problem lies, as there’s no real way to measure this when you consider private conversations that take place on social media. Yes, you can measure social mentions and analyse behaviours, but it’s not like email, where you can study click through rates and use A/B testing to better understand what customers respond to the best.
Email is Not Dead
Email remains a very valid marketing technique and is more measurable than social when it comes to WOM, so it’s something that should also be integrated into the CRM, marketing automation and intelligence software on the CMS.
Email is preferred by 74% of online adults for “commercial communication”, although as a means of personal communication it’s being eclipsed by social media and smartphones.
As you can see from the graph, email in 2013 was second only to CPC (click per cost) as the most successful means of acquisition growth, with email generated sales quadrupling since 2009.
This means that email has to make up a part of the overall marketing strategy and become integrated, personalised and studied. Bearing this in mind then, it’s no surprise that investment in email come out on top when it comes to social media if you look at the growth figures for Facebook and Twitter.
Bringing it all Together
An article by DeSantis Breindel puts forward the idea that it’s not integration that’s the point, as much as synchronisation. This, the post says, means that it allows “the voice of the brand to speak to every target, through every relevant discipline (advertising, public relations, promotion, marketing literature, sales force presentations, outdoor, event marketing, design, etc.) at every touch point.”
This somewhat relates back to what we discussed earlier, that technology and the marketer both should take an integrated approach and should be based on a strong brand persona and message.
This “allows the marketing plan to be continually fine-tuned based on real-time customer feedback and customer buzz from microsites, mobile technology and social networks”. So the marketing manager should encourage collaboration in their team and allow the employees in the organisation to synchronise as well as the various intranet software products.
It seems that synchronised marketing is really exactly what we’re discussing here, just with a different name (the author freely admits that they find the term integrated marketing a ‘buzzword’). However, whatever you want to label it, the use of technology and people to facilitate an integrated approach, that can all work well together, is one that every marketing manager should be considering.
It’s about becoming something we’ve talked about before, a people centric organisation, one which doesn’t just consider the customer and improved conversation, but the employee too and how their involvement in these processes can improve productivity, marketing and essentially, revenue.
Getting employees involved with social media is something that also helps this process as it allows them to feel that they are making an impact within the company. This means taking a truly integrated approach at every single level, from everyone within the sales and marketing teams to the customer and finally, to the technology that helps bring it all together.
Making the Most of Key Trends
Many internet voices tend to agree that the ability to recognise key trends in marketing, of which integrated marketing is currently one, gives managers the ability to become early adopters of key technologies and allows them to get ahead of the game.
When it comes to integration, there are solutions already available that can ensure that CRM, CMS, email, social and analytics can come together seamlessly to allow for a powerful marketing strategy that works. It does so in such a way that a brand can really communicate with customers like never before and those that take advantage of this, will essentially be the winners in 2014.