Technology: Multichannel Marketing and Your Budget
The phrase "multichannel campaigns" is one of the most common in today's marketing vernacular. To a marketer, a multichannel campaign also means dealing with key challenges: Which channels should a campaign focus on? How will they be measured? Where should the bulk of marketing spend go?
As important as those questions are, the tools to achieve their answers are where marketing software plays a crucial role. A well-understood, integrated software tool can turn a disjointed mess of a multichannel campaign into a sophisticated, automated workflow delivering important insights.
To facilitate a better understanding of the adoption of marketing software among marketers, Target Marketing, in collaboration with InfoTrends' Digital Marketing and Media service, launched the "North American Marketing Software Investment Outlook," a survey of Target Marketing's readership. Thanks to reader input, we were able to gather 525 qualified respondents who serve on internal/corporate marketing teams, or as agency-based marketers. The results offer key insights into where marketers are investing and what major pain points exist in software integration.
Budgetary concerns are some of the clearest challenges facing marketers today. While the economy has bounced back, many are still learning to make due with less capital, and technology investment has suffered. According to respondents, 52 percent of marketers use their own departmental funds and subsequently smaller budgets to purchase technology, while 50 percent are unable to spend more than $25,000 on marketing technology investments.
Spend is also marketing-focus dependent. For example, B-to-C marketers tend to spend more than their B-to-B counterparts on software.
Many of the marketers surveyed would love to increase spend on marketing technology, but feel key organizational shifts must happen first. Organizations must realize that technology purchases are now the responsibility of not only the marketing department, but also the IT department. Without the assistance of IT, CMOs are left to make software decisions on their own and will often run into implementation problems down the line.
Marketing technology purchases today demand the collaboration of the CMO and CTO to ensure not only that spend increases, but also that the technologies are functional across the organization. InfoTrends believes that increased technology demands on marketing will force collaboration, and the creation of new positions within marketing for technology specialization—e.g., chief innovation officer or chief digital officer—will eventually result in marketing departments having more control over technology budgets.
Integrated Suite or Standalone?
The types of software being invested in vary according to the needs of the respondents. One thing is clear: Integrated marketing suites, such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Oracle Marketing Cloud and Adobe Marketing Cloud, are being actively adopted. Just over 32 percent of respondents have an integrated marketing suite, and nearly 20 percent are considering purchasing one. Integrated marketing suites can help streamline marketing workflow by allowing marketers to pay based on a subscription model—giving more purchasing power back to the marketing department and ensuring that software is always up-to-date (a critical factor, considering the rapid pace at which the market is evolving).
However, InfoTrends recommends that, when making an integrated marketing suite purchase, marketers confirm the suite can easily integrate into their existing CRM systems; many respondents noted this was a top concern for their integrated marketing software purchase.
Integration of systems remains one of the top challenges for implementing not only marketing suites, but also standalone solutions that marketers are choosing to adopt over full suites.
Standalone solutions allow marketers, especially smaller marketing practitioners, to choose a best-of-breed solution without purchasing a full marketing suite. For those respondents who had standalone solutions, email (59.1 percent), search engine marketing (56.8 percent), as well as social media listening and analyzing (53.8 percent) are the top three software solutions being purchased.
Depending on the organization's marketing workflow, a standalone solution could be a better fit than a full integrated solution. However, when purchasing multiple standalone solutions over an integrated suite, it is important to make sure all solutions integrate effectively. One respondent commented on their own struggles using multiple standalone solutions: "We just [have] a collection of applications. Greatest shortfall: lack of integration."
The Near Future
The final sections of the survey focused on expected overall channel spend in the next two years. According to respondents, offline marketing channels (e.g., events and print) are expected to decrease by 7.7 percent in two years, with marketing spend moving toward video and audio (3.9 percent), mobile (3.2 percent) and online channels (1.2 percent). It is important to note that, while many of the respondents said such channels would be a focus for them in the future, mobile was one of the lowest-priority marketing technologies for purchase today.
As marketing channels increasingly switch to digital, an established digital workflow with marketing software technology as the capsule piece of that workflow is necessary. Marketers need to make software investments with current and future channel requirements in mind. Understanding the full capabilities of a marketing technology is what helps break down channel silos and turn assets and marketing messages into interchangeable components in the marketer's digital toolbox.
Arianna Valentini is senior research analyst, digital marketing and media, for Weynouth, Mass.-based market research and strategic consulting firm InfoTrends. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.