7 Questions Marketers Must Face in 2012February 1, 2012 By Gary Skidmore
1. How do I blend data platforms, from channel to data management to analytics?
2. How do I ensure data quality at every point where new customer intelligence interacts with my brand?
Often there is a data strategy, but too often there is not a data quality and governance strategy to flow with co-existing, disparate data entry. Whenever data points are integrated, there needs to be discovery, staging, parsing, appending and validation to go along with the effort. Any investments in marketing analytics, automation and execution depend on having such a regimen in place—and, increasingly, in real-time platforms.
Organizations need to be honest with themselves regarding their data quality and certain of the quality of their data sources. Definitions must be in place to specify when "good" is acceptable and "great" necessary.
3. With the proliferation of channels for consumers, how do I know how to deploy interaction and messaging to those that matter most?
Today's consumers are multichannel shoppers. But multichannel does not just mean multiple distribution channels. Consumers learn about products and services using a wide scope and then shop through a narrower array of channels. Buying is done through an even smaller sub-set of channels.
To be truly multichannel, marketers must consider where consumers go to learn about products, what their behaviors are and where they shop and eventually make a purchase. Individual channel choices are situational. Figuring all this out requires a thoughtful combination of market research, social media marketing and database analytics. The answers can be found in discovering what consumers are doing so that you might communicate with relevant messages through the channels they prefer.
4. How can I leverage social media across my organization successfully? Can I monetize social media?
Managing social media content generation can consume lots of manpower, so social media listening is well worth the effort to help focus attention and priorities. I read recently that the average brand across the entirety of an organization maintains more than 150+ social media accounts as they seek to create meaningful content.
What matters with social is interaction—consumers and other stakeholders engaging with content that they find relevant and "shareworthy." From product development to public relations to customer service to market segmentation, social media data is changing how brands interact with customers potentially across all channels and how they measure the payback. This is as true in business-to-business marketing as it is in consumer markets.
5. How are social and mobile expected to evolve—what's next?
Social is marketing and behavior, while mobile is device and channel. Social CRM will come into its own as marketers begin to integrate social into all customer touch points. Consumers will continue to choose to engage with brands through social platforms. On the mobile side, people are using their mobile devices as they once used their computers. In both social and mobile, the brand must maintain a consistent voice and message.
A recent eMarketer study of CMOs revealed that, while marketing decision makers see trends affecting the broader industry, not so many think the rise of social media and mobile networks has a bottom-line benefit to their own organizations—yet. Savvy marketers will close the gap between these perceptions by embracing social media and mobile delivery into their corporate cultures, and understanding their contribution to customer value and commerce.
6. Email metrics are maturing—how do I leverage the medium so it thrives?
Email has long proven to be an affordable channel for customer acquisition, yet its reliability as a retention vehicle can suffer if care is not taken to use the medium wisely. Monitoring open rates, clickthroughs and other response metrics for signs of fatigue serves to signal when greater insight and action are necessary.
On the consumer side, there are signs of "daily deal" weariness, while consumer and business email recipients are increasingly using their mobile and tablet devices as a form of email triage, sorting and deleting many emails based on sender, subject lines and previews. Great content and calls to action cannot afford to be hidden. The less there is engagement with an inbound email, the lower the reputation score assigned by an Internet service provider or corporate spam screener over time. This has real implications, since email is so important as an accessible medium for brands, consumers and businesses alike.
The lesson for marketers: Use greater segmentation, testing of offers and content, and "front-loading" a compelling purpose so that recipients can establish relevancy early and often. By the way, isn't it interesting how an email address has emerged as an individual's near-universal digital identifier on mobile, social media and Web site accounts? All the more reason to keep our email communication on point for the recipient.
7. My sales team is still not satisfied with all the leads we're generating—what's at the heart of the problem?
As a lifelong business-to-business marketer, the need for sales and marketing to proactively cooperate has been seemingly ever-present. However, teamwork among B-to-B sales and marketing management often remains elusive. As lead generation channels—and the leads from them—have proliferated, the ability of many organizations to "keep up" with the volume, nurture leads with valuable content and assign them to sales only when they are ready to buy has floundered. Welcome to a new age of cooperation—and marketing automation!