We live in an age of a very digital savvy customer. Instantaneous transactions, multiple touch points, merging offline with digital, combined with a multitude of media outlets (including social media) has created an ever-savvier audience that is hard to find and keep. We need better clarity so that we can deliver relevant messages and capture customer’s attention.
For many marketers, tracking the digital footprint of the customer is the first step.
While digital marketing makes data readily available, for many of today’s marketing decision makers, the clutter of information received from the vast array of sources can blur the bottom line rather than bringing it into focus. Therein lies the irony: Today’s marketing environment offers a rich menu of options for reaching out to the customer, and in return delivers vast amount of data to the marketer, who must capture the meaning, implication, and importance of that data.
Digital marketing is very powerful and puts marketing professionals in the unique position to leverage technology advancements to gain customer insight and drive ever-new approaches to do business.
Marketing Automation platform helps increase the ability to acquire and engage customers. It provides us the digital footprints for improving engagement, maintaining a two-way digital dialogue using multiple channels —web and email, mobile, social media. We can score, prioritize, nurture and route the right information to the sales team for increasing conversion.
A leading marketing automation product, Eloqua, noted that automated campaigns on an average have 200% higher conversion rates than a batch or blast.
Challenges faced by marketers today
- The Hunter has become the hunted: The Sales team or even the company is no longer in control. The Buyer is in control, savvy customers today are very good at tuning out a commercial noise and have become more selective about whom they want to do business with. How sales people want to sell has little impact on how buyers are choosing to buy. Buyers are dictating when and where you can have a conversation. Thus, it has become even more difficult for the marketers to engage with the prospects.
- Marketing Technology Landscape: Most of the organizations are working with a minimum of three technology platforms/tools like Web analytics, CRM tools – Salesforce or MS Dynamics, Marketing Automation tools – Eloqua, Marketo or Silverpop, Social Media tools and a whole bunch of other applications. So the challenge is how to deal with them. The truth is, as marketers, we are already wrestling with multiple applications for data and we are having almost parallel, disconnected conversations on these platforms.
- Bandwidth: Today’s marketers struggle with limited time, money and staff. All of these resources need to be spent wisely to maximize efficiency and keep your marketing pumping out results.
- Stroking the Engine: Another aspect of Marketing Automation is that “you need to keep feeding the beast” or “keep stoking the engine”. It means you need to keep feeding the content, campaigns and data for extracting the qualified leads which can be routed to sales. Having said that, another way to look into this would be what we call the Snowball effect – the more you do the bigger it gets and perhaps more difficult to deal with.
- Data Problem: As you market to your database, there is a natural decay of contact data on a year over year basis. According to a latest research by HubSpot, your list expires at a rate of approximately 25% per year. This means the natural decay of contact data can cost the marketing department a significant portion of its budget.
Gaps brought about by Marketing Technologies
- Skill Gaps: Marketing Automation is always positioned as something which is going to drive revenue and establish a smooth and easy solution for lead generation, however what most people do not think about is the skills that the resources require within the team in order to manage and pilot the Marketing Automation tool or any other tool. The other aspect of skill is that the technology is constantly changing and the challenge for the marketer then becomes how much time and money do they invest in educating and training resources to come up to speed with the latest technological trends.
- Process Gaps: Marketing Automation is about 20-30% technical implementation and 70-80% process. If you have not figured out the process map in terms of workflow, the data points to be captured, the coordination and handoffs between teams then this will create process gaps. The process gaps make marketers to stumble and make it difficult to execute and implement Marketing Automation.
- Organizational Readiness: Sometimes as a marketer you might be ready to roll up your sleeves and get ready to cranking out Marketing Automation programs using best of the breed tools however there may be other departments within the organization like IT, Legal & Compliance who face challenges and pose a hindrance. So if the organization is not aligned up front, it might result in problems.
- Technical Readiness: Tied together with a process is the knowledge of installation and integration of Marketing Automation tools. So once you have the keys to the kingdom you need to figure out what to do next and where to start. There are guides by some of the vendors and programs that can help you get off the ground but if you do not have the bandwidth and resources to support, that can be a big challenge.
According to Forrester Research “Too many B2B marketers … do not experience the full potential that these platforms deliver. They are held back because they don’t have the right lead management process in place, the right contact information in their database, the right content for engaging buyers, or the right skill sets for managing the intersection of these efforts.”
Moreover, the Forrester Global Direct Marketing Survey indicated the fact that Marketers recognize the need for a comprehensive service suite to support and improve the effectiveness of Marketing Automation and other Marketing technologies.
Forrester’s Online Marketing Suite
The Forrester’s Online Marketing Suite stands for both B2B and B2C organizations. It essentially emphasizes the fact that marketing teams need to change their structure and be more project oriented, operationally focused and be more of a team of technologist rather than marketing communication focused..
What is a Demand Center?
The Demand Center is a hub of shared marketing services, infrastructure, and process that enables organizations to bring programs to market by leveraging key corporate assets and best practices.
The promise of the Demand Center is that it can become a Command Center – mission control for marketing excellence. It drives new levels of predictability and performance.
Benefits of a centralized marketing suite (Demand Center)
It enables marketing to be a flexible, project-based department able to execute with agility.
- Enabling optimization across the entire funnel
- Drive new levels of predictability and performance
- Managing a single set of segments and business rules
- Providing a data repository for a single customer view
- Integrating and synchronizing third party applications
- Knowledge share and best practices across the organization
- Program Assembly and Execution
- Strategic Guidance and Advisory Services
Demand Center Models:
The Onsite Model: This a completely in-house model, wherein there is a demand gen leader who is basically the decision maker, a marketing automation platform (MAP) administrator who is the power user of the application and will be handling a team of implementation specialist (like creative design, copy, HTML coding etc.). This core group is then used by various Marketing operations managers who represent their respective divisions to execute their objectives.
The Hybrid Model: This is a mix and match of in-house and outsourced models, wherein the implementation team is an external agency or freelance individuals. The rest are in-house.
The Outsourced Model: In this model the administration, MAP campaign strategy, best practices, and all the implementation work is handled by an outsourced digital agency. At the digital agency, there is a Strategy Lead who looks after all the requirements and forms a business point of view and translates that to a success plan or roadmap.
The Outsourced Demand Center
An Outsourced Demand Center is a services organization that centralizes Demand Generation related skill sets and capabilities in order to leverage marketing investment, improve efficiency, and organize resources around buyer’s journey.
What to look for in an Outsourced Demand Center:
- Expertise: It is not just expertise in the marketing automation tool that matters, but it’s much broader than that. Ideally you should be looking for an organization that has a broad spectrum of activities and divisions. You might be using multiple tools or in the near future you might need corporate directive integration, then the agency should be able to support.
- Scalable: As your marketing automation drives revenue, your company grows and your team grows. So you need to have a company that grows along with you and which is scalable.
- ROI: You need to select a digital agency that can justify the ROI, a value-focused organization delivering quality output.