We’ve almost made it! For so long marketers have been looking to 2020, trying to predict how innovations in digital platforms, media, and technology will shape marketing. Many marketing leaders have been talking about how marketing has a marketing problem.
To most individuals marketing is just ads. And when it comes to ads, people just hate it. No one wants to be sold to. There’s a reason that cold callers and car sales reps have such a slimy reputation.
Those sales reps have earned such reputation through underhand strategies and trying to trick customers into purchasing something they don’t need or want. If a sales rep sold you something that changed your life and also had amazing value, would you be mad at that sales rep? Obviously not!
There’s no problem with selling things (products or services). Customers are well aware of the fact that businesses exist to make money. However, the needs of the business need to be aligned with the needs and likes of the customers.
Now we’re very close to 2010, and can clearly see the vast impact digital marketing has had. EMarketer predictions clearly show how Google and Facebook dominate online paid media investments.
Developing a clear understanding of the needs of your prospects and customers is the key to successful marketing. Marketing isn’t about just convincing people about how great your company or offerings are. You should focus on finding out more about your audience: Who they are? What do they want? What makes them tick? What would help them to make their lives easier?
But, how do you find such information? Start an engaging conversation with them. Marketing is basically a conversation between a customer who has a problem that needs to be fixed and a company that can deliver a solution to do the fix the same. During this conversation, parties at both ends learn to get to know each other and build a relationship over time.
Always remember that customers prefer to purchase from companies they know, like, and trust. As a marketer, your job isn’t to sell, it’s just to build this knowledge and trust, and at the same be likable.
So how marketers should get back to what marketing is supposed to be?
Use Data to Inform You About What Works:
Organizations have more data than ever; however, the value isn’t just in the data itself, but what you do with it and how you use it. Data has so many valuable uses in marketing, from enabling personalization and micro-segmentation to identifying emerging trends.
The most valuable use of data is to clearly understand which of your marketing initiatives are working and which aren’t. When you have this data, you can easily optimize your processes by focusing more on what actually works, and either figuring out how to fix what’s not working or just abandoning it.
Data-driven marketing leverages insights from data to deliver more personalized, more relevant, and better marketing campaigns. It also helps marketers to analyze the success of campaigns and discover the most effective channels.
The challenges in collecting, sorting, updating, analyzing data are generally mentioned as stumbling blocks, along with bad data quality and managing data across different silos and departments. A survey in 2017, including B2C and B2B businesses, found that just 8% had a single source of unified data.
To successfully overcome those problems, companies first need to set standards and robust procedures for data collection, storage, management, and usage. Gathering good quality data from all sources should be a part of company culture.
More than 80% of marketers find the implementation of a data-driven strategy to be complicated. To reach optimal efficiency, marketers need to create strategies that cater to vast channels and customer segments. Juggling tens or hundreds, or even thousands of different micro-campaigns is quite a task. While technology can definitely help, marketers that don’t update their skills quickly could soon find themselves drowning data.
Marketing analytics software is a very critical tool for pulling in information from multiple sources, displaying it in a simple and easy format, and helping you to make better sense of all the data.
Focus On The Customer Experience:
Putting the customers at the heart of everything you do is very important for the success of the marketing strategy and also for the long-term success of an organization as a whole.
CMOs now understand that the key to business growth is focusing on developing amazing customer experiences and having a customer-centric mindset.
The customer experience is the most exciting business opportunity for 2020, based on Adobe’s 2019 Digital Trends report.
Of course, the customer experience has always been an important aspect. However, in today’s increasingly digital world, the way customers research and decide which products or services to buy is changing rapidly.
It’s not because marketing is getting less effective. But customers now don’t rely on marketing and data from sales reps to learn about the products and services.
Instead, customers are doing research on their own from multiple sources; they use reviews, testimonials, blogs, and social media, among many others to build a picture of the products or services they’re planning to buy.
Basically, it’s not enough anymore to just tell your audience how great you are. You actually have to prove it. And the best way to do this is by delivering great experiences. Compared to just 36% in 2010, 90% of the businesses are now competing primarily on the basis of customer experience. This positions the customer experience above price and other critical factors.
Work Across Silos to Engage Employees and Make Fantastic Customer Experience Your Ultimate Goal:
Every member of your organization has a critical role to play in delivering great customer experiences and the overall success of your marketing strategy. And it makes much sense for the CMO to have the responsibility for aligning different teams with common goals. More than 90% of companies now see their CMO as a collaboration leader who aligns different teams such as the sales team, marketing team, customer success team, product team, etc.
It is no longer all about brand management and advertising as the role of the CMO is changing. As the capacity of marketing is becoming broader, so must the priorities and tasks of chief marketers.
Companies going forward must support their CMOs in having a significantly bigger influence on talent sourcing, human resources, and retention than they have had in the past.
In order for every employee in an organization to represent the company mission and brand value, they need to have a real connection with what and who they’re looking for, and this means investing in employee engagement.
It’s important to drive meaningful change in your company culture and work on a strong base of employee engagement from the top down. Ensure that your organization leaders truly understand and express your business values with a supportive and positive management style. Culture change doesn’t happen overnight, be aware that these changes take time.
CMOs must work together with HR, marketing, corporate affairs, PR, and customer-facing teams to find common goals against differing priorities, bring together these different departments, and solidify the ultimate goal of delivering a great experience across every stage of the customer journey.
Make Culture an Integral Part of Marketing:
What’s the key to delivering great customer experience, if it is so important?
This comes down to developing a positive brand culture that aligns with their beliefs and values, beyond understanding your customers.
Chief Customer Officer at Marketo, points out in his post titled “The power of shared beliefs” that Apple customers already believe that Apple will always release the most innovative new products, Nike customers believe that Nike is doing everything they can to help each athlete release their true potential, and everyone knows that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth (and so Disney products exist to make you happy).
He then goes on to explain that this “shared belief dynamics” only works when every employee in the organization from marketing and sales to customer support understands and gets behind those beliefs completely. In simple words, they must be baked into your organization’s culture.
These organizations will continue to have great success without depending on traditional marketing techniques. For example, Apple barely has an official presence on social media at all. They don’t need one as their brand presence is so strong and huge that it essentially does their marketing for them.
The lines in 2019 between corporate culture and branding are blending, and in 2020, they’re set to completely disappear. In simple words, your brand is your culture, at least in terms of how the outside world sees it.
The increasing number of sustainable and eco-friendly businesses is one example of this at work. These days, having a “green” company culture is a great marketing tactic. Our impact as human living and climate change in the world is a great concern for many people. Demonstrating a commitment to low-impact manufacturing, sustainable sourcing, and producing recyclable products is a key part of the culture of many companies.
However, being authentic is absolutely the key here. They’ll see through you in an instant if you’re throwing in a token recycling program and touting your products as being “green” just to try and win more customers. Your actions must connect with the real beliefs and values that drive your business.
You don’t have to have your company culture build around being eco-friendly. Whatever you decide, just ensure that it’s a true representation of your core company values and that it is communicated throughout all your customer and marketing interactions.
Use Analytics to Demonstrate the True ROI and Business Value of Marketing:
Once you’ve tackled the challenge of gathering, formatting and storing data in a single central repository, the next step is to analyze it. This doesn’t just provide valuable insights to help improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns but also enables you to demonstrate all the other ways it has added value for the business and measure the ROI of your marketing efforts.
While around a decade ago, three-quarters of CEOs believed that marketers lacked credibility due to their failure to demonstrate business value, however, now the tide is turning. And recent research suggests that many CEOs now believe in the value of marketing to drive business growth.
Improved analytics and data collection software have a big part to play in this shift. Marketing is no longer considered just an expense to work in the budget. Most executives now realize that effective marketing is the key to driving innovation, developing great customer experiences, and increasing the business bottom line.
The increased measurability of marketing ROI is proof that marketing strategy is now an integral part of the overall business strategy. But it is still critical to show how marketing investment drives better business growth.
Marketers should prove their value within the company by communicating on a regular basis with other teams as well as C-suite, about their failures and successes, and exactly how each campaign relates to business goals.
When it comes to speaking to other non-marketing co-workers and the directors, just remember that they neither understand nor speak your language. Don’t think that they actually understand the value of X percent increase in website traffic or an X increase in social media engagement. Instead, translate these metrics into what they mean for the business in terms of ROI and revenue.
However, showing real numbers is critical, and marketing analytics software can help you to display them in easy-to-understand graphs and charts. You can also show how each marketing campaign eventually leads to sales by tracking the customer journey through the marketing and sales funnel.
And demonstrate the effect of marketing on other KPIs as well as increased revenue. Key metrics you can track may include the following:
- Brand mentions on social media
- Customer satisfaction
- Customer loyalty
- Brand reputation
- Customer lifetime value
- Cost per lead
It’s important to not only measure these metrics accurately but also to demonstrate how your marketing activities directly led to positive growth in their numbers.
Simply by making your marketing activities more visible and transparent, and incorporating marketing into your company culture, in time all areas of business will start to understand the actual value of marketing.
While we don’t have a crystal ball we can look into to find what marketing will look like in 2010 or a decade from now, however, one thing we’re sure of is that data and content will still be the foundation of your entire marketing strategy.