- How can I sync my efforts across multiple channels while reaching just the customers I want?
- How do I connect with the customers who want what I have to offer?
- How can my organization become more nimble, so I can reduce time to market?
- How can I definitively correlate marketing to actual sales and prove ROI?
- How can all this data help me tune my customer engagement, so every experience is truly personal and more exceptional?
- How do I know what's working and what isn't in my advertising?
The unsolved challenge throughout marketing history has been to tie all the disparate sources of data, media channels and technology providers into one cohesive whole that allows marketers to plan and execute perfectly targeted campaigns across the full range of media options, both online and offline, through the complete purchase funnel, from top to bottom. Easy, right?
How did marketing get to be so hard?
At its core, the path to cross-channel success begins with a surprisingly simple concept: Know each member of your audience as an individual, and use the details that comprise that knowledge to intelligently inform every interaction. But there are three critical disconnects that make it tough to execute on that simple concept. First, if your company is like virtually all the others, you're swimming in disconnected data -- data that's inert, lacking the connections and context that allow you to get an accurate, single view of each of your customers. Second, despite your huge surplus of data, there's a shortage of insight -- clear, actionable ways for you to leverage all that siloed data to your competitive advantage. And lastly, when insights are disconnected, they can't be applied to the precise activities across all channels in the proportions that can actually increase your ROI. You're left spending and guessing … and hoping. The result? Wasted time. Wasted money. Missed opportunity.
The solution: A Marketing Ecosystem
Data has to be usable, and the tools to enable you to use it have to be as simple and intuitive as the calculator on your desk. What marketers need is an ecosystem that makes great marketing easy; sophisticated technology with applications and services that power all facets of marketing. An ideal marketing ecosystem would consist of three elements:
When you base decisions on incomplete or bad data, you can't help but make bad assumptions and take actions that yield sub-par results. And yet that's how most marketers have to work, filling in the blanks with their gut, when everyone knows that following your gut is like playing roulette -- sure, you'll get lucky once in a while, but the odds are not in your favor.
Stop guessing. Invest in your data. Start with your valuable first-party data -- what you already know about your customers -- and enhance it with additional third-party data. Ideally, you want to connect structured and unstructured data, online cookies, social data, website data, offline and online transactions to deliver the broadest and deepest data sets available, and you must do it all with great accuracy, security and privacy compliance.
The Audience Insight
When it comes to engaging with your customers, the details matter. And the details come from many sources. No single source of data is complete -- not search, not purchase data, not media usage, brand affinity or buying intent. While each data element is individually valuable, it takes a comprehensive view of a customer to create real engagement and enlightened customer experiences. After all, no online cookie or statistical model ever bought anything. People buy things. That's why your best audience insights need to be based on multi-dimensional online and offline insights about real people with real needs, real wants and real behaviors. That's how you create the complete, single view you can count on.
The audience-insight element of your marketing ecosystem provides for advanced linking and analytics that connect and improve the data across channels and across data silos. This layer should enable sophisticated matching and anonymization of offline and online data to connect even more data and derive more useful insights. And it must all be done with the paramount imperative of protecting your consumers' privacy.
The Marketing Applications
The final piece to the marketing ecosystem puzzle is the marketing applications layer, which provides a marketer with all the tools they need to create consumer experiences that build true loyalty and affinity. It would include applications for audience selection and management; cross-channel campaign planning and management; and campaign analytics, optimization, and measurement. Ideally, this dynamic layer would create a seamless experience for better marketing.
Bringing it all together
If it were easy to do all of this, none of us would receive untargeted marketing offers or have frustrating customer experiences. So it's obviously not easy to do. My challenge to you is to have this conversation with the vendors in your current marketing ecosystem, whether that ecosystem consists of one point-solution vendor or a multitude of vendors tasked with helping you do brilliant marketing. Start talking about how each piece of your ecosystem is matching up against the ideal ecosystem outlined here. My suspicion is that as we elevate our expectations of our marketing efforts, the conversations in our business will begin to change. As will marketing.