Tuesday Jul 08, 2014

Marketing Technology Have You Dazed & Confused?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the growing necessity for brands to have someone filling the role of Marketing Technologist.  Obviously, this wouldn’t be a growing necessity if marketing technology weren’t literally overwhelming management teams.

It’s not that these management teams are unaware, inexperienced, disconnected, aren’t digital natives, or didn’t finish high enough in their class at Harvard. The speed at which technological change is hitting us has everyone back on their heels…including the consumer. How many times have you heard someone say they aren’t on certain social network because they “just can’t handle them all”?

And yet, maybe even unfairly, the public increasingly expects their brands to flawlessly execute the predictive meeting of their needs, instant response and gratification in customer service, and 100% relevancy in the content they’re served…and on whatever channel they might be, 24/7/365 globally.

Yeesh. No wonder there’s the urge to employ new marketing technology as fast as it comes. But because it does come so fast, and because there are so many companies in the space, with disparate products & components of the digital marketing solution, many a corporate eye is glazed over with confusion and doubt. Confusion and doubt leads to not moving forward. Many brands have expensive tech they aren’t even using.

As my great grandfather Stiles never once told me, “Son, too many choices will make your head explode.” So as you’re trying to decide what marketing technology to embrace, consider these things:

  • Whatever tech you adopt, it’s probably going to call for change in strategy, processes, personnel, and budgeting. It’s not like getting a taco from a food truck.
  • You generally get what you pay for. There are plenty of cheap choices out there that will keep you in the minor leagues.
  • Things on the rapid rise like the volume of consumer data, mobile, Internet of Things, cloud, collaborative purchasing (social friend recommendations on steroids), etc. means you can’t sit and wait “until the dust settles.” You will choke on dust.
  • How much fun is a 1000-piece puzzle if none of the pieces fit together? Look to a vendor that has all the integrated pieces you can add on as you grow. It’s the only path to seamless cross-channel customer experiences.
  • Shy away from buying the product without the service. Maximize what you get.
  • Establish an innovation lab for testing or piloting potential new tech products like the one Mayur Gupta has at Kimberly-Clark. It lets you date before you get married.

The proverbial journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step. Get in touch with your biggest pain point. What’s currently causing the biggest disconnect between your brand and your customers? Since marketing is becoming dominantly about user experience, that’s as good a place to start as any. Then resist chasing squirrels. Examine potential marketing technology vendors not just for what they offer today, but whether or not they have the big picture integrated parts of the whole you’ll need as you build.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Friday Aug 16, 2013

Can Robots Do My Marketing For Me?

robotDoes the boom in marketing automation enterprise software mean we can put some sort of marketing Skynet into place and let the machines completely take over?


Okay well, maybe not 100% yes. But boy we’re getting closer.

In days of yore, marketing automation was a way to add to your email list and send batch emails out to said list, loosely categorized. Today, marketing automation is an increasingly essential part of any CRM platform, allowing marketers to gather reams of data pulled from a variety of sources (including social), crunch the numbers, intimately know who the prospect is, know where they are in the buying cycle, know what kind of content they respond to, and distribute messaging to them in precisely the right place at the right time and in the right way.

If you thought little saucers that vacuum your floor while you’re away were cool, marketing automation should blow your socks off.

But if sales is about relationships and the best relationships are one-on-one, how do the robots scale that into a marketing engine? The answer is, they’re actually getting better at it all the time. And corporations are believers. BtoB tells us 46% of B2B marketers use marketing technologies right now. 62% are “strong” or “full” adopters of marketing automation, compared to 40% in 2012. In 2014, it’s expected to be 81%. Focus Research says it has the fastest growth of any CRM-related segment in the last 5 years. The biggest issue with adoption, at 32%, is budget limitations and poor integration with sales. Which is sad, because the crumbling silos being brought on by the socially-enabled enterprise are pulling Sales and Marketing closer than ever before.

Still, we’ve come to know most of the research and decision process is over by the time a prospect talks with Sales. So being the source of the info they get, and leaving a trail of happy customers behind who will recommend us on social is critical. iMedia shows 93% of B2B buyers use search to start the buying process, 37% post questions on social.

The opposite of effective marketing automation is irrelevancy. Gathering data but not using it leads to irrelevant content being served, proving you don’t know the prospect and apparently don’t care. If I’ve shown interest in a product, why are you talking to me about a different one? Why are you desperately trying to close me when I just started info gathering? I’m an existing customer, why are you talking to me like I’m a new prospect? Gartner projects that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human. Try living in that world with no marketing automation.

If you are anti-robot and Skynet and the machines taking over, there’s still good news for you. Marketing automation is a means of learning about your audience; figuring out what kind of communication they should receive, and when, and where, and how. But the communication must still be crafted. Content is still the 800 lb. gorilla. Marketing is still as much of an art as it ever was. Your content must win applause and smiles and satisfaction. If it doesn’t, it’s perceived as expertly timed, precisely targeted…spam.

Photo: stock.xchng


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