Social Media Today just published a list of the 10 Most Common Oversights in Digital Marketing. It’s an interesting list of common mistakes marketers make in social media. One of the ten (#8) jumps out at anyone who’s ever managed a multi-channel marketing campaign in a distributed marketing organization:
Settling for mediocrity: In the age of superior technology and unprecedented connectivity, settling for mediocrity is a crime.
What a powerful indictment of “business as usual”! Maybe it isn’t a crime, but failing to harness the right technology is certainly responsible for lost opportunities, increased costs, and slower time to market for many companies. Forrester analyst Jeff Ernst wrote this in the introduction to an April, 2011 report called B2B Marketers Must Better Prepare For Marketing Automation:
“Changing buyer behaviors require business-to-business (B2B) marketers to communicate with prospects and customers in new ways, by delivering content that is personalized to their needs, role, level of interest, and stage of problem-solving. This has made marketing automation a mission-critical system for B2B marketers, but too many marketing leaders head down the automation path without fully realizing what they are getting into.”
Forrester defines marketing automation as the “Tooling and process that help generate new business opportunities, improve potential buyers’ propensity to purchase, manage customer loyalty, and increase alignment between marketing activity and revenue.”
When we started this blog, we said a distributed marketing platform provides an integrated set of online tools that empower users to easily search, find, select, assemble, customize, distribute and track campaign assets across multiple channels at the local level while allowing central or corporate marketing the ability to govern system usage through permission based business rules, automated workflow approval processes and centralized reporting.
Each definition approaches the issue from a different perspective, but they each point out a basic fact: marketing in a complex, multi-channel environment is hard enough without trying to use outdated, cumbersome, manual processes. The difference in results from a marketing campaign that harnesses the power of multiple channels — email, print, video, microsites and landing pages, digital presentations (flipbooks, digital proposals, online presentations), social media, mobile and others — to deliver messages in the form a particular prospect wants to receive them — is enormous, and easily visible if you have the tracking data at your fingertips to find it.
In many companies, sales and lead generation were automated long ago, and so have other operational necessities, from shipping to inventory management. Marketing is often the last area of a business to become automated, which is why it’s one of the few areas where mission-critical automation can still make a large and highly visible contribution to company revenue.
What kind of results could you expect from adopting a multi-channel marketing automation solution? That depends on many factors. Forrester’s Jeff Ernst wrote, “As with most business processes that have been automated, technology is not the solution — it is just an enabler.”
He’s right. All marketers feel pressured to deliver results — but adopting any new marketing strategy, from a new tagline to a new communications channel like social media, requires time, thought, and planning to avoid exchanging mediocrity for disaster. Still, it’s important to look closely at your marketing operations, processes, and goals to see where automation can deliver results.
It’s not about sending more emails, or producing more white papers. It’s about making content available whenever and wherever prospects need or want it. Technology is a huge part of making that happen. Ask yourself:
How automated is your multi-channel distributed marketing program?
- Are marketing assets — from email templates to brochures and microsites — available on demand so that sales people don’t waste time searching for them or creating their own because it takes too long to find corporate materials?
Do you have a system that automates compliance (brand, regulatory, legal) without slowing down the process?
Can you track every message sent to a prospect by anyone in your sales and marketing organization? (With on-demand reporting that updates in real time?)
How easy is it for your local and field marketers to find what they need, personalize it for their needs, and use it?
When a change is needed — for any reason from a new product to correcting a mistake to a change in a legal disclaimer — can you make the change once, and know that no one will re-use the older version?