In July, The Distributed Marketing Blog completed its first survey of marketing executives. We asked about their current spending priorities, spending plans for 2012, their view of how effective various marketing channels were, and how they selected different marketing communications tools. So far, we’ve published three sets of data tables that detailed some of the findings. The first looked at planned 2012 spending , the second reported on marketing spending by channel, and the third rated marketing communications channels on their effectiveness.
As we have continued to analyze the results, as well as the emails and feedback we’ve gotten from the news stories that have reported on the survey, several questions that weren’t part of the original design of the study were answered or implied. For one thing, spending priorities are changing, and it’s more than a move to add new channels like mobile and social media. Priorities are shifting towards localized spending in many large, distributed marketing organizations.
Corporate marketing retains its pre-eminent place, where the bulk of the money buys creative, advertising, public relations, and marketing communications. It’s also where the budget rests for marketing automation tools, compliance, and all the operational costs that go along with effective corporate marketing. That’s not new.
What is new is that more organizations are realizing that while marketing and brand building happen at the corporate level, through one to many communications, people buy at the local or regional level, often through one-to-one communication with a trusted local agent. Again, that’s an old insight, but it comes with new implications in the age of social media, instant global word of mouse, and in-bound marketing.
Among the implications is the one that has the biggest impact on corporate marketing: local producers need to be empowered to deliver messages through a range of channels — Web, email, social, print, mobile, local advertising, etc. — and that means allowing anytime anywhere access to pre-approved, personalized (within corporate guidelines) messages. The days when “local marketing” meant delivering bales of brochures to field offices aren’t even a memory for most corporate marketers.
The new priority for many companies is finding a way to streamline and automate the process of delivering corporate marketing assets to local sales people while maintaining corporate control over brand and regulatory standards. And that’s why the market for marketing automation tools is booming.
Our survey shows that there are four areas where multi-channel marketers want better automation. They are:
1. Improved lead conversion/ increased sales. This one seems universal. Even companies with very well-managed and effective lead generation and sales force automation systems are looking for ways to improve conversions and increase sales. For some this takes the form of better market insights, exploring new channels like social or mobile, or investing in better analytics and metrics to allow them to target their marketing campaigns better.
2. Increased marketing efficiency. By marketing efficiency, survey respondents tell us that they mean faster delivery of messages to the sales force, a reduction in the amount of time it takes for a front-line sales person to find, customize, and deliver the right message to the prospective customer, and automated processes for archiving, reporting, approvals, compliance and all the other marketing operations tasks that have to happen in a multi-channel marketing process.
3. Increased compliance. Compliance is a growing issue for large and small marketers of all kinds, as state and federal regulations evolve in light of new communications channels. For corporate marketing, the best way to increase compliance is to automate the communications process through a permissions-based system that gives producers and sales people access only to messages that they can use without running into compliance problems. For instance, an insurance sales person in Louisiana would see only marketing materials relating to products that could be sold in that state, with the right headers, footers, disclaimers, and legal language already built-in.
4. Reduced support costs. In many companies, marketing departments have been the last to be fully automated — and many survey respondents reported having three or more “point solutions” — one for email marketing, a different one as a sales portal, another for lead management and scoring, and others for different purposes. A distributed marketing platform designed for multi-channel marketing can reduce the costs involved in managing and supporting multiple platforms, while delivering functionality that is beyond the scope of the point solutions.
David Potter, vice president of the professional services division at Distribion, put together a digital flip book for multi-channel marketers that looks at the costs involved with the four multi-channel marketing priorities outlined here. “We looked at the priorities, and then at the experience we’ve had in working with over 125 large, complex, multi-channel distributed marketing organizations who use our platform, and came up with a series of pro forma questionnaires that allow us to identify the places where a product like ours can — or can’t — deliver measurable results for current and prospective customers,” he says.
The company tested their models with a number of existing clients and prospects, and has published the results in a digital flip book that shows how the process works and what metrics matter most when evaluating solutions. The flip book also shows specific results (as a percentage) that can be achieved in a dozen of the most important areas identified in the survey. To request a copy his report, click here.