2017 is the year of marketing. The year when technology, customer experience, personalization and cooperation come of age. For we marketers it’s an exciting time. A time of positive and explosive change. So, let's do this!
- Forget Big Data. Focus On Small Data.
Over the last few years, you couldn’t visit marketing, sales or business-related websites without having to scroll past hundreds of articles on big data. Gartner, Inc. defines big data as "high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making." But what does that really mean?
Big data is good for seeing trends over time and helping to shape longer-term operational or corporate strategies. In other words, it's data with a "big picture" way of doing business.
What today’s marketing leaders need to realize is that big data isn’t going to get you where you need to be. Small data will get you there. Big data is inward-looking and inward-thinking. Small data is outward-looking with a focus on each individual customer.
- means personalization. Not for groups, but individuals.
- uncovers information, likes and interests of individual customers.
- increases customer engagement, loyalty to the brand and ARPU (Average Revenue Per User).
Our customers are now in control. Not us. They’re setting the bar and telling brands what a bad, average and exceptional customer experience really is. Today’s marketing executives need to lead cooperation across departments to make sure the customer experience is seamless and consistent from initial brand identification to post-sale communications.
Companies like Apple have demonstrated that customers are willing to pay a premium for an exceptional customer experience. To make customer experience a priority and remain competitive, companies need to differentiate themselves with a transition from mass market, big data messaging to individually-focused interactions. With the use of digital technology, fully-integrated marketing automation tools like HubSpot, Marketo, Oracle Marketing Cloud (formerly Eloqua)and advanced CRM systems, marketers can identify the wishes and behaviors of individual customers and give them experiences that are appropriate and personal.
By using small data to move below the 35,000-foot view of customer engagement, successful brands will benefit from:
- Increase in revenue from current customers
- Decrease in cost per acquisition
- Increase in the number of new customers
- Decrease in customer churn
- Move From B2B and B2C to H2H
It’s how we marketers have always referred to ourselves, our companies and our customers. "I have extensive B2B marketing experience." "My company focuses primarily on B2C but we do have a few small B2B customers." We’ve always categorized our company and customers this way, putting them in one of these two groups and then marketing to each group en masse.
That worked in the days of push marketing, when we had full control over our messages. We rented lists to conduct campaigns, and sales teams sat for hours making cold calls. It worked well if you were the only game in town or simply had more money to spend on marketing than any of your competitors.
The internet and social media have leveled the playing field for marketers. Even start-ups can market themselves inexpensively or for free these days. Thus, people have become so overwhelmed with the volume of messages coming at them every day that they now ignore all the generic jibber jabber. Can you hear Charlie Brown’s teacher? Wah, wah wah wah wah, wah wah. That’s what it sounds like to your customers if you’re still referring to them as B2Bs and B2Cs.
What marketers have ignored for so long is that no matter whether we’re purchasing products or services for our company or ourselves, we’re all human. Each with individual needs, goals, experiences and dreams. Business customers don’t leave the personal side of themselves at home when they go to work. Every purchase, no matter what it is or who it’s for, elicits a personal and human reaction.
Marketing messages shouldn't be about product features, but about eliciting a feeling. That means putting a human face on your company and getting a human reaction back. In 2017, marketing is about being real. Presenting real customers and telling real stories. H2H: Human to Human. Stop talking about facts and figures and share your customers’ stories!
It doesn't matter if your product is boring or exciting, or sexy or not. Marketing a car isn't just about the features of the car. It’s about bringing families together over the holidays. It’s about remembering how you felt picking up your girlfriend on your first date. It’s about making new memories with your kids as you tailgate with them in the parking lot of your favorite sports stadium. You may even go so far as to not say anything about the physical product being sold but say everything about the opportunities, feelings and memories that it delivers.
Let the human stories of your customers talk for you. They can do it more eloquently and more convincingly than you ever could. Inspire. Engage. Be human.
Technology has come of age, and the ability to integrate marketing automation, CRM and CMS systems now requires CMOs to understand both the strategic implications of these tools' integration capabilities and their tactical capabilities to implement the appropriate programs and achieve the desired ROI. It’s this integration that will help drive the exceptional customer experiences that propel customer loyalty, advocacy and increased sales.
As it’s the marketing department's role to manage a brand’s positioning and identity across the customer life-cycle, today’s modern CMO needs to also become the Chief Marketing Technologist. This means she is ensuring consistent messaging and a seamless flow of information across all of a customer’s departmental touch points. No, I’m not saying that the CMO will replace the CIO but . . .
- Become best buds with the CIO. You don’t need to go out for cocktails on Saturday night but there must be constant communication. You need to figuratively fight for a seat at the table, have an impact on technology decisions and provide valuable insight that will help drive the information, tools and technology strategy of your business company-wide.
- Understand how the automation tools of marketing and the CRM tools of sales, customer service and support work together to provide the most in-depth level of customer understanding, the ability to track the financial impact of customers and their level of satisfaction throughout their life-cycle.
- Stop hiding and take it like a [wo]man. This may not be popular to say. But, in the past, marketing executives have been able to hide behind the fact that the data needed to measure the results of a campaign were, at best, incomplete. This enabled less successful execs to keep their jobs for longer than they probably should and prevented successful execs from being able to receive the credit (and bonuses) they deserved for very successful results. Technology has enabled full accountability for the numbers, good or bad, and it’s time for marketing execs to stand up.
As a marketing executive, I understand that CMOs have historically felt that they've not had the respect or feeling of equality within the C-Suite that they deserve. A company is driven by its numbers with the members of the C-Suite measured by the numbers they generate. The CMO, however, has rarely had their full compensation tied to the revenue driven by marketing campaigns. This is partly because sales and marketing were traditionally siloed with very different sets of goals, and the success of a CMO was often focused more on vanity type numbers than solely on marketing-generated revenue.
In addition, before high tech integration, closed loop reporting was often a very manual process, if it could be accurately achieved at all. The old saying, "be careful what you wish for because you just might get it" comes to mind here. CMOs and other marketing executives have been calling for the respect and recognition of their hard work for years. Marketing technology is now giving CMOs the ability to quantify their value, enabling them to finally gain that respect and establish their true seat at the executive table. It has forever changed the CMO’s position in the C-Suite.
2017 is the year of the CMO. The year of the marketing executive. The year of marketing. But only if you’re willing to adapt to these trends which have finally come of age. What do you think? Do you agree?