Some call this the year of "digital transformation" when marketers will overhaul their attempts to deliver more relevant and individualized marketing across digital channels for those connected consumer conversations. The automation and data consolidation to support each customer interaction (across channels, devices and locations) is a priority for many marketing teams this year. Figuring it out and doing it well puts the CMO in a much better position to understand and influence the various levers to deliver successful engagement and ROI; however, pulling it off requires a "retooling" of the company's legacy approach.
The ultimate goal is that of a clear understanding of how an audience is engaging with the brand from that first impression to that last purchase (and beyond) paired with the real-time ability to reach consumers on an individual basis with contextual relevance along the way. Making that goal a reality requires a consolidated set of marketing technologies.
DMP Reality Check No. 1: These integrated technology sets can take different names—digital marketing hubs, suites, stacks, clouds, etc.—depending on the vendor you're working with, which only confuses the marketplace. Adding to that confusion is the fact that different solutions provided by the same vendor or parent company may not always integrate well together. In some cases, buyers end up with an integration project when they thought they were purchasing an integrated solution.
The lighter option is to start with a DMP, a data management platform, that supports the right solution set for the marketer's goals. With true data management, integrated point solutions can be supported by a consolidated data environment made up of individual universal profiles so information across those point solutions and channels can be brought back into the system and attributed to each real person (known or anonymous) who engages with the brand in some way.
DMP Reality Check No. 2: Not every platform that collects data is a DMP (even if its sales rep uses that term). Implementing the right DMP solution for your company helps simplify your marketing and revenue goals. Embrace the wrong product, and you end up with even more problems and another reason for IT to be annoyed with you.
How is this happening?
Noise within the technology marketplace is drowning out the reality of usefulness. Let's look at ChiefMarTec.com's Marketing Technology Landscape as an example. The 2015 edition shows 1,876 different vendors. With all the talk of consolidation in the industry, the landscape is even more crowded now than it was in 2014, so it's no wonder that many marketers are frustrated.
Industry observers are frustrated, too. Just last month, Gartner pointed out the contradictions in terms in a new report, "What's a Digital Marketing Platform? What Isn't?" Definitions and claims are so confusing that analysts actually were tasked with creating a special report to sort things out. This report also calls out the fact that as technology brands try to jockey for position in the current crowded marketplace, many providers have inflated their value propositions, setting unrealistic expectations to attract CMOs who are looking for a golden needle in the digital haystack—or that silver bullet of unification. Just look at the Marketing Technology Landscape chart and you can see how that could be true.
DMP Reality Check No. 3: Contradicting descriptions and claims of marketing technologies have caused real problems for buyers. A lack of clear understanding of terms and capabilities results in wasted time, wasted budget, departmental dysfunction and overall frustration for marketers that simply want to use their data to better engage their prospects and customers with consistency and relevance across channels and devices.
The buyer's dilemma with the confusion in terms springs from the fact that what you think you're buying may not exactly perform as promised, and what you should be buying goes unnoticed until you're so deep into the woods on the wrong path that backtracking is an even larger issue than the problem you were trying to solve in the first place.
Personally, I find it ironic that the same companies seeking to enhance and improve marketing communications are actually adding complexity. From ESPs to DMPs to DSPs to CRMs, technology companies all intend to make it easier to engage with and convert specific audiences and individuals. This is a noble cause. However, just because a marketer can ingest point-solution data into its platform does not mean that data can be leveraged through different systems—that is, without marketing hub technology or a robust DMP solution as a conduit.
To quote the movie "Cool Hand Luke," "What we've got here is failure to communicate."
My final reality check is this: One man's CRM is not another man's DMP. Ask the right questions. See the proof. Talk to current customers. Get the facts to make sure today's "solution" doesn't become tomorrow's big problem as you move toward a more integrated approach.
About the Author
As president of IgnitionOne, Roger Barnette oversees the company's aggressive growth and technology strategy. He has extensive experience managing and growing emerging technology businesses and is a veteran of the online marketing industry. Mr. Barnette was the founder and CEO of SearchIgnite, now IgnitionOne. He led the expansion of the company, growing it into one of the world's largest media platforms, managing more than $1 billion in online advertising. Learn more at www.ignitionone.com.
About the Sponsor
IgnitionOne is a global leader in cloud-based digital marketing technology. The company's Digital Marketing Suite, with a powerful data management platform at its core, simplifies life for marketers by providing an integrated suite of solutions that significantly improve digital marketing performance across all devices. The DMS encompasses algorithmic media management across channels such as search, programmatic display, email and social; advanced data management; and user scoring, lead optimization and website personalization. With a global footprint of over 450 employees in 17 offices across 10 countries, IgnitionOne is one of the largest independent marketing technology companies in the world.