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Each year, sales and marketing teams within most organizations spend a great deal of time reviewing past performance in order to inform new goals, budget, and resource allocation. What I find puzzling is that many companies don’t usually spend a comparable amount of time evaluating the performance of their current marketing and technology providers whom they depend on to achieve their business objectives.
Brands tend to have a lot riding on their technology. That’s especially true now that marketers need to communicate with customers across multiple channels and provide a unified and personalized experience while doing it.
So…why aren’t brands looking at their cross-channel marketing provider more closely?
Many people would rather have a root canal than take a long, hard look at a relationship, be it personal or professional. Even if they’re happy, examining where they are and where they want to be can be a daunting task.
It’s no surprise then, that marketers, who have been with their cross-channel marketing providers for years, can become complacent. If things are comfortable and there have been no major issues, why rock the boat?
But marketers are doing themselves and their organization’s a disservice by not taking stock of their cross-channel marketing provider. Even if things are going well, they should consider whether or not their marketing programs are reaching their full potential.
It’s easier to blame the other party when “the bloom is off the rose”; but marketers should always remember that it takes two to make a relationship work.
Before uttering the dreaded “we need to talk,” brands should examine whether there are internal issues preventing the company from taking full advantage of their cross-channel marketing technology. Some of the most common internal challenges include:
Planning is key in order to make technology work; marketers should look also at what they’re doing programmatically today and where they see their marketing efforts 6, 12, or 24 months down the road. Are business goals in line with the capabilities of their marketing technology? Here are some questions brands should ask themselves when formulating a long-term plan and selecting a vendor to help them follow through:
Once brands have a clearer picture of where they stand, they can take a look at their cross-channel marketing partner to see if they are still a good fit for each other.
Maybe you’ve drifted apart. Perhaps during the early days of the relationship you thought you wanted it all. Maybe the things you don’t like about your partner now outweigh the ones you do.
What brands should assess is whether you’re their cross-channel marketing partner is helping them be the best marketer they can be. That can most easily be determined by looking at the capabilities that are instrumental in achieving a brand’s marketing goals. Below are the top four:
1. Centralized data
With the rise of cross-channel marketing, DATA has become the foundation of every successful marketing program. It allows brands to understand who their customers are, provides the ability to glean insights that ultimately drive marketing strategies, and allows marketers to send highly personalized and relevant digital communications to their audience.
Cross-channel marketing requires marketers to have a consistent view of the customer whenever and wherever they “touch” the brand. But if a brand’s data resides in multiple technology platforms or environments, it can require a great deal of time and effort to consolidate and make it actionable.
2. Actionable analytics
To be effective (i.e. drive revenue) marketers need to understand who their customer is and what motivates them. Only then can brands fully engage with them. This requires the ability to effectively track all consumer activity across all channels; synthesize their data; identify distinct audience components; and develop informed testing, targeting, and conversion strategies that cater to each segment. Knowing an audience also entails the ability to see in real-time how each consumer action or data point changes the size of the audience segment.
3. Single intuitive platform
In today’s marketing landscape, marketing teams are smaller and have fewer resources, yet they have more responsibilities as messaging volume has increased and digital channels are expanding. Combining data and actionable analytics with campaign planning and execution into a single environment delivers the speed and efficiency marketing teams need to remain nimble. In addition, the use of a single platform for planning, implementing and measuring marketing initiatives across channels promotes collaboration among team members. Finally and perhaps most importantly, a single platform provides a complete view of a brand’s marketing efforts and performance across all channels.
4. Professional services
Technology alone is not enough. A partner who offers professional services that combine expertise in data, design, and knowledge of industry as well as competitive trends can help marketers deliver communication strategies that would increase customer engagement and value.
Every relationship requires the occasional moment of reflection. Vendor-marketer relationships are no different, so brands should take the time to stop and think about whether they’re happy with the way things are. Do you see you and your cross-channel marketing provider growing closer or apart? Have they been there with you through the good times and bad? The answers to these questions will help you decide whether to stay or go.