By: Andrew Birmingham for ADMA
Marketing represents one of the fastest growing areas of technology investment as the worlds of marketing technology and advertising technology begin coalescing around the real power player of the modern business era – the consumer.
Over the next seven years, more than 1 billion digital natives will enter the workforce worldwide and they will come armed with the minimum expectations that every future experience they have in their digital lives will be as perfect their last, best experience. Companies, which in the past could mouth platitudes about customer focus, suddenly found themselves engaged in an existential challenge. Fulfil the promise of their brand or see the business melt away as customers shift to new insurgents utilising the very best and latest digital technology.
Someone needed to step into the breach and act as the customer advocate, and despite some initial reticence and self-doubt, marketers are now fulfilling that role. But they need tools, and people with the skills to leverage those tools to stay at the top of their game. And there are multiple challenges to be met.
Not only do customer-facing systems need to beat the threshold of ever-rising consumer expectations, but internal systems need to be able to provide a single view of the truth – and then deliver the right message to the right person at the right time – all at the speed of web. The days when fiefdoms fought each other for resource and prestige within a business are over. CRM systems need to talk to ERP systems. Ecommerce and marketing can no longer be considered as different species and customer needs must be met across many channels. Managers need to be able to respond in real time and will rely increasingly upon data driven decision making to assist them to do that.
And finance will want to keep a laser focus on ROI, meaning marketers will need to be better able to attribute success where it genuinely belongs rather than relying on unsophisticated ideas like last click attribution.
As much as 37 per cent of Australia’s total advertising spend already flows into digital channels and that figure is likely to grow to 50 per cent within the next few years.
Two companies, Google and Facebook, will likely capture half of that treasure between them. Competition for the remaining spoils will be intense. Within that headline shift from offline to online is another less well understood but potentially as profound a change. The rise of programmatic buying has seen the model for selling advertising shift from the traditional account management approaches to one driven by machines – some forecasts put the level of programmatic ad building as high as 90 per cent by the end of the decade.
Ad tech is the discipline that has emerged in the shadow of these trends. The distinction between marketing tech and ad tech is a little arbitrary and may evaporate entirely once the market starts to consolidate, however for the time being the sector remains vibrant and self-contained as companies compete with solutions that bid, serve and retarget search and display advertising.
Marketing in many ways was the last piece of the business automation puzzle. Even as sales departments were implementing sales force automation and later CRM tools, marketers were still cobbling together spreadsheets and text files trying to discern signals in the noise.
According to Chris Collacott from Deloitte Digital, content and digital marketing strategist at Deloitte Digital, marketing automation, also often referred to as ‘revenue performance management’, is an approach to programmatically coordinating and optimising marketing activities across one or more channels, such as email, websites and social media. In short, it allows marketeers to codify marketing programs, track and target users, automate content delivery and trigger automatic responses to user behaviours. Among the benefits it provides, Collacott identifies:
- Empowering sales teams by providing them with the rich history of a prospect or customer
- Enabling the businesses to perform Closed Loop ROI analysis to determine which campaigns were the most successful at driving not only conversions but repeat engagements
- Automating the transfer of marketing data into the CRM database
- Targeting multiple customer segments
- Personalising the customer experience
- And reducing administration and program responses
Collacott’s list of benefits also reveal the two important aspects to marketing automation. The first, which attracts much of the attention (and most of the investment in recent years), involves platforms and tools that help marketers build campaigns across multiple channels such as email, social, search and web.
The second important element to marketing automation – which gets less attention but is becoming more important – is the process of automating the day-to-day operations of marketers. Not surprisingly, much of the initial attention was on building beautiful customer experiences, however the platform vendors are increasingly looking at applying the same usability disciplines to the systems and screens the marketers themselves use to build, manage and report on their campaign activity.
According to Collacott:
“If marketing is to strive for a more strategic role, we must shift from a lead-generation mentality to a lead-through-revenue-management mentality. I would like people to understand that the primary challenges facing marketing automation are not technological ones but rather people, strategy and processes that drive the technology.”
He says many of the platforms in the marketplace are very powerful and are not the primary limit on success.