The “marketing cloud” is looming frighteningly large on the marketing industry, players like Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle and Google, have driven a hard marketing path, both through aggressive marketing programs and the acquisition of niche players to make-up a more conducive and connected technology framework for the CMO’s.
However, if you look at recent research, you will probably see that within the “cloud” hype there is a still a very young, naive and confused market place. Both on the brand and agency side investment strategies in these technologies are tentative to say the least, and when marketing technology is implemented it is often isolated from other applications or the marketing supply chain as a whole. The leader is still probably google analytics and that’s about it. However, the research does show one thing. That the brands are now taking control of their marketing results as they clearly show more investment directly in analytical technologies like Adobe’s omniture technology.
There are reasons of course, like the good old day’s of Coleman’s mustard, where it was recognized they made more money of what was “left on the side of the plate”, the agency industry as done the same for many years. So any technology that drives transparency, accountability and an audit trail through marketing is not over welcomed in these corridors.
On the brand side however, it is the other way round, the old adage of “I know half of my marketing investment is wasted, I just don’t know which half”, surely attracts marketing technology like bees around a honey pot!
So where do you start?
Well, the agencies know change is coming, so they will sit around on the cliff-edge avoiding the investment until the someone pushes them. The brands, well they really are in control, if they invest in marketing technology they will start to achieve the following:
1. Using enterprise savvy, Content Marketing Solutions (CMS), will enable the brands to have some consistency, measurement and global capability around content generation, and regionalization. These technologies are built on industry standards as Adobe InDesign and enable uniform and consistent generation of content that drives multi-platform (digital, mobile and traditional) content engagement and consumer experience. Even better they can link the brand to the agency, closing that “client services” vacuum that has been driven by email and spreadsheets for years. These CMS tools not only centralize content, they also manage the campaign and projects from a creative/brand engagement and content view instead of from a program view and after all it’s the content that drives the campaign. Check out vendors like Adobe, censhare, Sitecore and SDL.
2. Infusing your content with CRM, geospatial and demographic information based on your customers interactions in the consumer experience, is another key element for the marketeers, CRM has brought new insights and trends to the brands that they have never seen before. The first step in this process was personalization, being able to drive content with some personal relevance to the end consumer, great for variable content, but also in someways limiting. Now, the more CRM information on user interactions, the more relevant you can make your content. Check out Salesforce, Eloqua for more information.
3. Understanding the consumers behavior and brand engagement. Social, digital and offline analytical data have enabled many brands to “influence” the entire consumer journey from the initial “spark” to “shop”. So now the content can be linked to the behaviors of that customer during their interaction, whether through website “hot-spots”, email marketing or social interactions, much data is now available for the brands to chew on for their next engagement.
So these three technologies provide one clear new opportunity for the brands and agencies, the ability to build “Customer eXperience Marketing” CXM, the combination of content, data and analytics, provide the brand with the ability to build an experience during the customers engagement with the brand. CXM really is the end goal for the brands as it encompasses all points of marketing+sales, a mix been sort for years.
So, if you want to make the “marketing cloud” work for you, take these main steps, content, data and analytics in that order. Start with content as it generates the “buzz” in your brand (it’s also where much money is wasted through the manual generation of multiple content). Then look at your CRM (normalize this if you can and take the basic data you need and dump the rest), then look at your analytics (both online and offline, so the journey is complete).
The final element, which is more difficult is finding a “systems integrator or consultancy” that can stitch this platform together for you, integrating dashboards for not only your data, but just as importantly your competitors. Take a peak at netvibes for this.
Best of Luck.