Although tremendous new opportunities exist for marketers today, the marketer's world is simply chaotic.
It's a minor miracle that anyone is able to keep brand messages consistent, timely, and relevant in such an exponentially challenging environment.
Think about it. Today's marketing landscape is cluttered by the following:
- More media than ever
- More advertising venues than ever competing for limited dollars
- More customer engagement with brands and messages
- More customers contributing to and creating brand messages
- More marketing technology providers
- More marketing team members and agencies touching brand messaging before it reaches the customer
At a recent marketing-leadership forum, audience participants were asked for a show of hands if they believed integrated cross-channel messaging was important. Virtually every audience member raised a hand. Next, the presenter asked those who integrated two or more channels to keep their hands raised. A majority of the hands remained up. When the number was raised to three channels, a majority of audience members lowered their hands. How many integrated four or more channels? Only a handful.
Many marketers today know what they need to accomplish. But effectively meeting a myriad of demands often seems out of reach in the ever-changing, overloaded marketing landscape.
The Disconnected Disaster No Technology Band-Aid Can Fix
Many areas with the enterprise have undergone drastic measures to "make sense of the silos." Decades ago, platform technologies such as ERP, SCM, and PLM were created in the hopes of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Now, not every large-scale technology implementation was an automatic success, but those guys had the right idea.
Naturally, as new media have emerged, corporate marketers have turned to technology and point solution providers to help them manage and maximize the opportunities those channels provide.
Email solution providers can simplify email communications and maintain compliance.
Social marketing platforms can help marketers manage social marketing and consumer sentiment monitoring, which provide excellent access to customers.
Numerous vendors are available to help support marketers' efforts with landing pages, personalized or otherwise, which play a key role in consumer engagement.
The list could go on and on, naming every conceivable form of interaction with prospects and customers and multiple outstanding solutions that exist in nearly every category. Yet, as illustrated by the audience at the marketing forum, a fundamental problem exists: Those tactical technologies are not connected.
That presents a serious issue for marketers in cost impact, work duplication, and speed to market. So, how do we fix it?
Connected Is Better
First, we have to examine the way we think about marketing technology.
Connected, those tactical marketing-technology solutions could form a powerful cross-channel platform for corporate marketers and help bring order to today's marketing chaos. Disconnected, they are but a collection of Band-Aids that effectively deal with individual channels, but that do not and cannot address the fundamental need of marketers today: to deliver the right messages to customers when, where, and how they want to consume it.
Ultimately, those disconnected solutions (no matter how strong they are) add to the marketer's chaotic world via redundant content -creation processes, marketing staff management demands, and lost cross-media effectiveness.
Second, picture the end goal.
Envision, for a moment, how different a connected marketing world would look. For example, connecting all media—email, landing pages, print ads, social media, banner ads, and so on—via a single content creation platform would result in efficient marketing operations and coordinated cross-media messaging. Take that a step further by connecting customer intelligence (i.e., customer relationship management, analytics, location data) with dynamic content assembly to enable real-time, trigger-based, multichannel intelligent messaging.
Now envision the implications of a connected system on your corporate marketing team.
Third, take stock of all your current technologies: where they connect, where they don't, and where they need to be.
Every technology addressed in this article as a foundation, a customer-engagement point, or a marketing process enabler is available via multiple technology firms or marketing services agencies. Many outstanding solutions exist, but they are all missing a fundamentally important need that marketers must urgently address. They're not connected.
As a result, assets remain in redundant systems. Marketers have to coordinate scheduling between multiple vendors to fulfill a cross-media campaign. Often, the message synergy from one agency to another is loosely connected, if at all. Social marketing drives customers to one landing page. Search marketing or email campaigns drive them to others. Print campaigns may have no destination to drive customers to at all. The list of problems goes on and on.
Sometimes you can have all of the right things in place—really great vendors, really good software, and really strong siloed results. But at the end of the day, until you have all of your external and internal activities working together to create the right environment for your target customer, you will be unable to meet the demands of customers and prospects in an engagement-based marketing world. And if that happens, rest assured, another marketer from another organization will be ready to give your customers the experience they want and will inevitably take your place.