Monday, May 4, 2015

Marketing: Art Meets Science

Most marketing professionals are familiar with the 4 P’s of marketing. In the early 1950’s, Neil Borden outlined key elements of the marketing mix: Product, price place and promotion. The traditional secret to success in marketing was the regular review of the 4 P's, changing the mix to adapt to perceived changes in customer needs and other external influences. The nature of marketing was personal, manual, and creative, resting on the marketer’s intuition, sales team feedback, customer surveys, and market information from research analysts. 

In technology companies, IT and product engineering, and to some extent, finance, have been the most technology-intensive areas of business, while marketing was seen as art more than science.  What marketer hasn’t seen and bristled at the sardonic attitudes of engineering and technical management toward marketers,an area they see as emotional, ‘artsy’, and lacking in rational, fact-based decision-making?

With the emergence of advanced analytics and metrics for business, the capabilities and tools for making truly data-driven decisions in marketing has become a reality, and marketers are embracing more methodical approaches to decisions on branding, promotions, advertising and to monitor lead management and conversion rates.

Forces driving the move to technology-driven marketing
The immediate nature of mobile and web technologies has inspired a demand for rapid information and answers, and growing expectations that marketing decisions be data-based and defensible. Consider these examples:
  • Web-based purchasing of products and services, both in consumer and B2B space, have expanded our ability to comparison shop on a 24x7 basis,
  • Increased use of mobile technologies, with location tracking and personalization, feeds extreme targeting in mobile advertising;
  • Growing expectations for rapid, fact-based decision-making in marketing: what’s our customer acquisition cost, and how can we reduce it? What mix of offers, to which micro-segments, will bring the greatest increase in sales?  What’s the lifetime value of a customer?
In response to these forces demanding real-time detailed metrics on consumers, traffic, preferences and buying patterns, an entire category of tools has emerged to serve the needs of data-driven marketers.

Trends in technology-driven marketing:
  • Automated email tools are increasingly integrated with CRM platforms
  • Social media monitoring tools with sentiment analysis help marketers track the brand’s online reputation, and tap into trending interests.
  • Content Marketing applications support the processes of curating, writing, editing, and publishing content in the form of newsletters, e-zines, blog posts, landing pages, and other content.
  • Marketing cloud solutions, and data management platforms are allowing marketers to create a data warehouse that includes information from advertising sites, web campaigns, and internal sales and CRM databases, to cross-analyze and gain new insights about customers.
  • Open APIs and strategic partnering allow integration across the entire marketing/sales funnel, from initial advertising, prospect tracking, lead scoring, and behavior up to and after product purchase.  Integration across the entire spectrum is complex at this point, but becoming increasingly user-friendly.

These are just a few examples from a burgeoning space. The number of companies offering marketing technology tools, from mobile marketing to SEO, lead management, content creation, social media management, and marketing analytics has more than doubled from 2014 to 2015, from 947 to over 1800 companies.   See Chiefmartec blog for a great infographic on this trend.

A trend is validated, of course, when investments are made. The rise of the “Chief Marketing Technologist” role in larger companies is evidence in the growing importance of technology in support of marketing strategies.  The new role of CMT has been described as “part strategist, part creative and part technologist,” comparing to the likes of CTOs and CIOs.

He or she drives many aspects of marketing, including branding, content marketing, and managing the data.  A shift to true data-driven marketing is underway, and soon Dogbert, (who was recently promoted to Chief Marketing Technologist), will be able to run predictive analytic reports to forecast upgrade sales by region, based on known customer behaviors.

The Gartner report, "The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist" found several patterns in comparing organizations with a CMT to those without a leader in marketing technology.  These patterns reflect the comfort with, and preference for, technology solutions to achieve marketing goals. 

Marketing organizations led by a CMT
  • Will spend 11.7% of their revenue on marketing, compared with 7.1% for those who don’t.
  • Will spend 30% of their marketing budget on digital marketing, compared with 21% for those who don’t.
  • Will spend 9.8% of their marketing budget on innovation, compared with 5.0% for those who don’t.
Building a Technology-driven Marketing Organization
Clearly, the early success stories outlined by Gartner are larger companies with deep pockets. But medium and smaller companies don’t necessarily need a CMT, or a huge budget, to take advantage of marketing technology trends.  Tips for success in leveraging marketing technology in your organization:
  • Identify or hire a team member who has technical aptitude or experience, and an interest in growing into marketing technology management.  This may be a developer or IT person with a particular interest in customers and business strategy, or, it may be a social media coordinator with an interest in learning marketing automation and lead scoring. 
  •  Start a small search advertising program. Take some budget from traditional print ads and start running Google Ads based on keyword searches.  In additional to drawing new leads, you’ll learn about the interests of potential customers in your market, based on search term analysis.
  • Create a presence on one or two key social  media sites.  For B2B, LinkedIn will likely be a fit. For a small investment in time to learn the features, you can have a voice in the user groups on topics that highlight your expertise, building your brand and growing a network of potential customers and partners.

At the end of the day, the 4 P’s of marketing are still relevant.  Science - advanced data analytics and technology tools - will continue to provide us with relevant information to support informed decisions, implement programs faster, and monitor results more effectively.  But it’s the art – customer empathy that contributes to better product designs, messaging that resonates, and creative, engaging content - that puts the heart in marketing.

Posted by Megan Miller, Edge Legal Marketing