This whitepaper explains that, while marketers can’t fulfill changing consumer demands and expectations without technology, technology alone can’t solve their problems. The approach of the marketing department also needs to change, to become more responsive, more flexible, and more relevant.
Marketing is at an inflection point. Changing customer behaviors are creating new challenges and new opportunities, and demanding marketers communicate with their prospective customers in new ways.
That’s the starting point for digital marketing software specialist Kentico’s latest whitepaper, Shaping the Future of Digital Marketing.
The whitepaper highlights that, while marketers can’t fulfill changing consumer demands and expectations without technology, technology alone can’t solve their problems. The approach of the marketing department also needs to change, to become more responsive, more flexible, and more relevant.
At the same time, the demands businesses place on marketers are also changing. Marketers are increasingly expected to take responsibility for improving growth and revenue, as well as for driving the organization’s adoption of marketing automation technologies.
And all the while the technology itself is changing, creating new ways to interact with consumers, to understand those interactions, and to predict how to improve them in the future.
Faced with this crucial period in the evolution of their discipline, there are six steps Kentico recommends marketers should take:
1. Choose your strongest marketing path
Digital marketing used to be the poor relation, done using scraps of budget and looked down on by traditional marketers. Now, because more and more marketing is digital or has digital elements, marketers need to look critically at their remaining traditional activities to see whether the ROI they are delivering is comparable to that being achieved in digital channels.
2. Sort out your MarTech stack
Few companies have the luxury of creating their marketing technology (MarTech) stack from scratch. For most, it’s pieced together over time, sometimes strategically, sometimes in response to moves by a competitor or to changing customer behavior. This almost always results in an overwhelming array of technologies that are difficult to integrate and manage, which reinforce silos and reduce the agility and adaptability of the business.
Marketers should, therefore, carry out a technology audit. They should assess which elements of their stack are easy to use and are delivering results, and also evaluate which emerging technologies are required to future-proof the business while integrating well with existing systems.
3. Take customer interactions to the next level
The development of analytics has allowed marketers to look at their customers’ journeys in ever-greater detail and understand which interactions are most critical in converting prospects into buyers. At the same time, cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence are making it easier to personalize those interactions, and to deliver them at each touchpoint via the channel the customer prefers – whether that’s digitally or through human communication. This approach to marketing as a series of “micro-moments” should inform everything marketers do.
4. Deliver advanced omnichannel marketing
Consumers expect a seamless experience in their interactions with a company, across all channels. They expect you to recognize whether they’re a new customer or a regular visitor, and to treat them accordingly. They expect you to know their contact preferences, and they don’t want to have to repeat information about themselves because your databases don’t join up. Businesses are increasingly integrating their CRM and digital experience platforms (DXPs) so that the data captured about prospects can be used to inform the delivery of the right content to the right person at the right time, via the right channel.
5. Take marketing analytics seriously
The democratization of marketing analytics has made a huge impact on how marketers work, but its broader impact has been limited because organizations aren’t implementing their analytics solutions properly. Businesses need to staff appropriately, improve data quality, build processes to assess and take action on analytics results, and use the right metrics to measure effectiveness. Increasingly, those metrics should be business-based rather than channel-based, so that every department understands the customer journey and their role within it.
6. Become faster, flexible and always relevant
This should be the modern marketer’s mantra. Consumer expectations are constantly being raised by their experiences with the most customer-centric organizations, while relevance is a moving target, directly tied to who customers are and their stage on the path to purchase. Marketers – and their businesses – need to abandon any remaining notions that they control the dialog with their customers, and instead concentrate on responding to customer needs at each stage of their journey.
Beyond the Channel
The Kentico whitepaper also identifies the development of new communication channels such as voice as a key challenge for marketers. As digital marketing moves from thinking channel-by-channel to recognizing the importance of a holistic understanding of the entire customer journey, marketers need to be able to deliver highly targeted ‘snippets’ of content tailored to the individual, where they are in their journey, and their preferred device at that point. At the same time all this content needs to be consistent and coherent.
The latest digital experience platforms (DXPs) and content management systems (CMSs) are being developed in response to this need for agility and adaptability. DXPs combine analytics, marketing automation, personalization, customer journey monitoring, and web content management. They can help break down internal silos by integrating data and systems across the organization, and they can help marketers orchestrate the distribution of content across all the digital touchpoints in the customer journey.
We’re also seeing the emergence of what are known as “headless” content management systems. These are CMSs that are separated from a particular channel or channels, and instead can deliver content to any device on demand.
Coupled with a unified approach to data across the business and the use of AI to deliver ever more sophisticated personalization, these technologies are pointing the way to the realization of true omnichannel communications, whether those channels are well-established or only just coming to prominence.
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