I’ve been listening to marketing automation and integrated marketing management (IMM) solution providers talk about their product roadmap, and how they plan to solve the thorny problems of today’s sophisticated, omni-channel, customer-centric marketers.
Most, but not all, are listening to marketers and letting the core challenges facing marketing organizations drive their ambitions. At the end of the day, marketers don’t want technology for its own sake – they need the technology to drive outcomes.
In many ways, marketers do not have a technology problem. In fact, we’ve crossed the chasm of a few years ago when technology could not keep up with marketers’ vision of customer engagement. Now, we have so much technology, we can’t utilize it strategically, and we struggle to integrate it.
At the same time, marketers do not have a data problem. There is more data than we can manage or use wisely.
Marketers do, however, have a prioritization problem. And an integration problem. And an insights automation problem.
Here is what we need from solutions providers:
A Prioritization Problem:
With so much technology already in place, and with silos of activity contributing well, marketers are hesitant to break anything in the service of testing. While nearly every marketer concedes that they don’t believe they are engaging customers well enough, very few are clear on what the strategic questions are that will drive their business forward, and illuminate the best starting points.
Solution: Marketers need strategic guidance to use the technology they have and employ a test and learn methodology that will grow with their business and adapt to the every changing marketplace.
An Integration Problem:
Marketers have lots of technology and an abundance of data. The challenge is to get systems to talk to each other so that there is one source of truth for the organization. Imagine what would be possible if every member of the marketing team – from email to SEO/Web to social to operations to analytics – worked from the same set of data, which highlighted the needs and status of every customer and prospect. This is much richer than a scoring or persona exercise. This is about consistently recognizing and serving the customer across channels, across product lines, and for every need.
Solution: We need open-source architecture to allow disparate systems to speak to each other seamlessly. We need solution providers to be bold enough to acknowledge where point solutions can provide advantage. Marketers need to responsibly embrace new ideas by challenging their internal success metrics with new initiatives. Bright shiny objects are great to explore, but need to be employed in service of customers, not experimentation or brand ego.
An Insights Automation Problem:
Programmatic buying has been around for many years and is expanding beyond search to Web display and ad retargeting solutions. The rise of the DMP (or DSP) platforms, which allow utilization of consumer data across websites, provides great benefit to marketers looking to serve customers and prospects as they interact with any combination of owned, earned, and paid media. This is helping us identify the anonymous and known people in our marketplace. Yet, the insights from interactions with branded messages across the ecosystem are not yet accessible fast enough or completely enough to allow marketers to be nimble in serving customers.
Solution: We need automation to extend from programmatic buying, campaign management, and resource management to serve process efficiencies like workflow and social CRM. Insights at scale will be the future of customer engagement.
What I hear most from solutions providers is that they are focused on:
- Utilizing and embracing open architecture solutions
- Integrating solutions in their own portfolio – usually to support M&A activities
- Connecting to data services platforms and serving the needs of online advertisers
- Integrating CRM and retargeting solutions to connect the dots across the Web, not just on owned properties
- Services to help marketers optimize their campaigns and their use of the technology
What are your biggest challenges? How can solutions providers better serve your needs? Please comment below or ping me with ideas for future columns.
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