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What makes a great digitally-empowered marketing function?

  • Posted on August 24, 2017
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
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There is a clear obsession by marketers to think and act “digital,” but what does it really mean today? Yester-year, when we fussed over Y2K and moved from tape to DVD, it was once about building online brochures, placing banner ads and knowing whether organic and or paid search advertising was going to create better rankings. In today’s sophisticated marketing world, terms like “bricks and mortar” are simply redundant. There needs to be a happy marriage of the digital and physical realm beyond a Marketing Communications lens, not divorced from the fact that every consumer is a multichannel user.
 
To illustrate, I borrow from Maslow and think of a Digitally Empowered Marketing Function’s maturity towards greatness using the five “I’s” as an overview in this blog – see the image below. 

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At the foundation, an Intuition-Based Marketing function spends much of its investment in advertising agencies and media buying, relying on core metrics provided by agencies and external scores such as Brand Recognition.  This type of function usually resides in B2C industries like Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Telco organisations that are competing in very commoditised products and services landscapes with high volumes of consumers across many segments. Their success depends on clever emotive creative concepts to gain cut through in market and drive exposure. Its success metrics are about reach, frequency, and campaign engagement broken down by impressions, click-throughs, followers, rankings and traffic. The opportunity for this group is to translate these metrics into conversion of leads to buyer relations and repeat business rather than a narrative of digital campaign metrics. This group can do well to move up the hierarchy and redirect some funding/energy towards the upper levels to further gain market share.

An Integration-Focused Marketing function has evolved from relying on intuition alone to leverage Marketing Systems and Operational Platforms to support Online to Offline Engagement and or Omni/Multichannel customers. This function has started to stitch together marketing systems for more seamless workflow be it between web, mobile, email, social (syndication and listening) marketing as well as CRM. Those more mature have evolved to also connect workflow cross functionally outside of the Marketing remit to better serve customers. We will see a lot more effort made to drive convergence of Sales, Marketing and Advertising platforms. But ultimately, there is still plenty of room to optimise further front and back end operations addressing supply and demand, vendor/partner networks. Nirvana looks like connected systems that optimise processes of the entire ecosystem to best service customers. The next frontier consideration here is to act on what is highly repeatable and leverage machine learning and robotics process automation (RPA) to manage database cleanse. 

The Interaction-Led Marketing function has Customer Experience (CX) top of mind. Most organisations have a CX strategy, but research shows only 14% are delivering on customer expectations. Some organisations made investments into “self-service” claiming to be CX-focused but true motivation was to save on cost they failed. With heightened demands, such as customers expecting “personalisation” to be a hygiene factor rather than a differentiator, it is harder to satisfy customers. There exists an overwhelming supply of literature and best practices shared by marketing agencies, technology vendors and even professional services firms helping brands be better at customer experience. However, the guidance mainly addresses the demand side of customer experience (i.e. Awarenss, Interest, Trial, Adoption). To ensure not just every moment is memorable and positive along the CX journey, but rather there is a well-orchestrated end-to-end engagement model that delights customers, there is still significant opportunity to compete with edge from a “Service” aspect of Customer Experience. How a brand’s employees and applications engage with existing customers to understand, engage, solve problems, cross sell, upsell, manage warranty and loyalty in a way that is meaningful and authentic to that individual. 

Data & Analytics has been where significant investments have been made in recent years by industries such as Banking and Insurance, Resource & Mining and Retail to understand and drive value along customer journeys. The sad news is, despite the millions spent on both talent and tools, they have struggled to reach “Single Customer View, 360 Degree View or Know Your Customer” to become loved brands. Insights-Driven Marketing functions power up their organisation to unlock value from data and analytics beyond reporting. There is opportunity for this level of maturity to leverage machine learning, artificial intelligence, 3rd party data to service best interest of the customer of one such as community based review & recommendations. They predict outcomes, and go beyond driving next best action or offers to “wow” customers. The more advanced Insights Driven teams know they have succeeded when they have managed to create new revenue models from unlocking the value of data. You don’t have to be Amazon to do this (see Edenred in a B2B scenario). 

Lastly, the pinnacle is the Innovation Evangelist. These types of marketing functions are not just product marketers leveraging the latest technology to support Product R&D. We have all too often seen one-hit wonders such as camera film brands, music technology (remember the Walkman?), and even with cars now. Yet these brands whom built their success on one hit wonders have not been able to sustain their success. True Innovation Evangelists are, in fact, the marketing function that is creating and sustaining differentiated value, enabling new business models and carving out new customer segments to disrupt competition on behalf of the whole brand/organisation. This level of maturity of Marketing Function takes measured risks balanced with reaping rewards that win hearts for the long haul. They create brands that are treasured. They are in tune with the future as much as what is practical now. They’re not siloed by product or function. They are backed by the CEO and Board. They get the basics right. These now tend to be the technology innovators that have it right. So how can non-technology-based companies leverage the secret sauce? Find out more in the next installment of this series. 

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