Last week, IBM published its State of Marketing 2013 Report. The study surveyed hundreds of marketing professionals across a wide range of industries and geographies. A key finding in IBM’s latest “State of Marketing” report was that by 2017, CMOs will have greater control of the IT budget than CIOs. What does that mean for marketing executives of mid-market companies? This means, you must embrace digital marketing and technology to be effective in the future. Some company’s have already begun this transition. But, for others, this an extremely intimidating endeavor.
The Marketing Executive of the Future
If you’re a right-brained, creative thinker or have been completely avoiding this digital explosion, fear not – you still have time to learn. The key for tomorrow’s marketer is to gain a high-level understanding of how technology drives the way the market will interact with companies in the near future. You need to make sure that your marketing efforts continue to evolve as the online / buying landscape changes.
Where To Begin
Like many of today’s business owners, marketers, etc - I too did not “grow up” with technology. Facebook didn’t exists, mobile phones were bricks and the Internet was nothing more that a fancy tool for college professors that wanted to complete complex mathematical calculations. But, that didn’t stop me from learning everything I could about the digital marketing space. So, now it’s your turn!
Review how companies are using social media for customer service. Twitter and Facebook are more than just promotional sites. Their interactive nature allows brands, businesses and services providers to have real-time conversations with their customers.
Think about it this way - If your customers are interacting with other companies on social networks today, they’ll expect to be able to interact with you in that very same way. Take action by putting together creative ways that will move your customer service and customer support online.
Learn everything you can about marketing automation! It’s no longer a "big business" tool set. Everyone from sole-proprietors to small business owners are jumping on this revenue driving marketing tool.
Companies like Marketo, Eloqua and HubSpot provide marketing automation software platforms to help automate inbound marketing efforts. A quick google search will also show you some super low-cost solutions like Get Response.
These marketing automation platforms will enable you to create and customize sales driving landing pages, automate emails based on behaviors, track and view user actions on your website, easily segment information based on rules, and even view metrics on multiple engagement points and actions. Marketing automation (aka SFA, sales force automation) allows you to provide relevant and customized digital communications instead of “one-size-fits-all” email and traditional media blasts.
Understand data aggregation social media dashboards and tools. Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and especially Facebook contain tons of information about the people behind the accounts. Much of that information is freely available on the web, and other tools are now aggregating that information so that a single email address can provide us with a person’s photo, current job, job history, location, age, education, personal interests, and even photos of their family, friends and colleagues.
Take a longer-term view on this, think about how you can use this information in your marketing and customer service efforts to provide a more relevant experience with your brand.
Take a look at web apps like SalesForce.com and Nimble.com - these applications have integrated CRM with Social Media. If you don’t have tools that link social media with customers, you’re missing out on the potential LVC (lifetime value of a customer) of every client in your database.
Take another look at where your customer and prospect data stored. Could you, or your sales team, be more effective if your communications with your target market were tied directly to this data?
Smart phones are the new Internet. Check out how companies are using mobile apps in today's digital marketplace. Mobile apps are super hot right now! In fact, in 2014 mobile internet usage is predicted to overtake desktop usage. How’s that for a trend!
Business owners are pouring money into mobile platforms, for payments, games, and interaction. People (customers, prospects, partners) are using smartphones in stores to research products and compare prices.
For brands, mobile apps aren’t just money makers – they are extensions of their digital web presence. B2C companies are using mobile apps to continue engaging with their market. A few years (maybe months) from now, B2B companies will be doing the same.
Get Off Your A** and Make It Happen
There’s a tremendous amount of research, data and learning associated with all of these activities – conversations, engagement metrics, customer service, etc. Computer hardware and software manufacturers have been focused on the supply chain, accounting and finance and operations areas over the past few decades - but that’s all standardized now. The new frontier for business technology is the sales and marketing function.
The most successful digital marketers in the future will need to have a strong understanding of how to leverage technology in their sales, marketing and customer service activities. Get on board, or become irrelevant, the choice is yours.