Marketing is tough, I don’t think any marketer can deny that. And, as you scale up the value chain to lead the pack, there are some very imminent challenges. The fact is, Marketing was, and still is perceived as a cost center.
Traditionally, it was responsible for driving awareness and brand identity. But now, it is being redefined, and you’ll come across terms like ‘data-driven’ marketers or better still, ‘revenue’ marketers. With the influx of automation and analytics software, it’s becoming fairly easy to make logical deductions about customer and prospect behavior and forecast marketing spend in key areas.
Gartner’s 2015 Spend Survey highlights key strategic challenges that integrated marketers usually come across:
1)Turning marketing from a cost center to a revenue center and impacting the top line.
2)Keeping customers and prospects engaged and happy.
3)Managing and learning from competition constantly.
From being in business for a while and having seen enterprises function, I have seen this stuff in action. And, from that experience, here are some of the major tactical hurdles.
These basically trickle down from Gartner’s strategic survey, but go a level deeper.
1)Driving top line conversion through digital marketing programs.
2)Creating and distributing engaging content through marketing programs.
3)Tracking performance and analytics to fine tune campaign strategy.
4)Integrating across multiple systems of record within marketing.
5)Identifying the right set of tools to project manage marketing right.
Content – The Key Driver of All Integrated Marketing Initiatives
There might be many catalysts that push the marketing engine forward, but the biggest is and has always been good content. Agree or not, consistent content that drives engagement and which can be measured effectively defines the trajectory of good marketing. A well-written blog or case study, an engaging video or infographic, a good thought leadership paper with a definitive call to action, all these drive the right audience, higher conversion, and more marketing success. So before defining anything, a good content strategy might be the right place to start.
So far, so good. So then, does it all boil down to just churning good content? If that was the case, then all good content would be geared up to convert, and all other principles of marketing including running effective programs around this content could be ignored. Because, the content should be able to speak? Yes?
The answer unfortunately is negative. Good content is a necessary but not a sufficient condition. There are several other disparate elements which need to be integrated to create a cohesive marketing program.
Here’s an infographic created by a key member of my team around content marketing challenges today.
Building New Efficiencies with Integrated Marketing
Assuming that you have good content, you would need to build in several other layers to develop a cohesive, integrated marketing strategy. Some of the key principles to keep in mind:
1)Think beyond just creating good content. Content is king and queen, but it all starts there. This ‘good’ content needs to be found easily, on the web, on social networks and through other inbound marketing efforts. To make this content make rounds, it is essential to optimize and enrich it. It is important that it complies with industry standards and is backed up with appropriate keywords, images, videos. When it’s less content, the process can be manual, but with scale, the need for a sophisticated platform without much human intervention becomes very essential.
2)Think beyond silos. All elements of marketing need to talk with each other. From marketing automation and CRM to analytics and CMS, all systems of record need to be hyper integrated, with a two-way flow of information. This is the key trait for every data driven marketer – to be able to make the systems talk and learn from it. A well designed email campaign would be a great case in point. This email campaign could be designed in an automation software such as Pardot or Marketo, it would be sent to prospects visiting the website which is on a CMS like WordPress. These prospects would be scored based on their interactions and the detailed analytics could be tracked on a system like BrightEdge.
3)Think scale, but without compromising on quality. If some pilot works, it will be essential to think about taking it to the ‘next level’ and establishing a plan of extension. And when you’re doing this, it is best to leverage the power of sophisticated tools/software to do this efficiently. My previous point about thinking beyond silos and running an integrated mechanism will become critical here. But when choosing software, it is also important to customize it to your needs. And as easy as it may sound, you need ‘able’ hands to take care of this.
Here’s an interesting insight from one of my team members on how to scale good content.
4)Think content intelligence. This is a big one. Especially today, where people are consuming tons of content across multiple channels – web, mobile, tablet and wearable device. It is important to analyze user behavior, flows, and patterns to determine the right go forward strategy. It is also important to understand the responsiveness and usability of this content across all channels to build the right traction.
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