What should marketing invest in and why? The gap between how marketers traditionally worked and what they should do today, cannot be larger than it currently is. This sentiment is well expressed in the research of The rise of the marketer, a survey of CMOs worldwide by The Economist.
When asked in which marketing skills to invest, digital engagement and marketing operations/technology share first place, closely followed by knowledge of strategy and planning. Data and demand generation follow in the fourth and fifth place.
It does not mean that the old, creative, non-technical aspects are history. But we do need to use the resources and paths that our customers are using. The outside-in approach has gained importance. Insight into the customer journey and working on customer experience to create more engagement with the prospect or customers, is growing in importance as a way for companies to distinguish themselves.
A lot has been said about the challenges faced by today’s marketer. Two things are strongly connected to the importance of digital and data in particular: the just-mentioned need for engagement and the need to show marketing ROI, which has been described in a previous blog.
Challenge 1: Relevant and effective engagement with your (future) customer
The number one marketing challenge is dialogue with buyers and decision makers within your target audience. Organisations cannot have effective dialogues with their buyers as long if they do not have a sufficient understanding of them. What information interest him/her? Which channels is he/she looking to for this information?
Data on buyers, however, is often scattered throughout the organisation and buyer insights are present but locked in different systems. To interact effectively with buyers, you need to unlock this data and combine it into one process and system, which integrates all data and makes it accessible. This enables you to win the trust of your customers and build a long-lasting relationship.
Challenge 2: Show Marketing ROI
As organisations are becoming more result-oriented and sales-driven, the pressure increases for marketers to demonstrate the added value of marketing. Many B2B marketers see it as a challenge to get better insights into marketing ROI. Without clear results, it is difficult to improve the performance of the marketing department and the value of marketing cannot be demonstrated.
The importance of data and technology: ‘Successful marketers do not wait ‘
A Dutch study on B2B Marketing Performance Management shows that effective marketers distinguish themselves from others if they focus on data and technology. Shimon Ben Ayoun, managing partner of spotONvision and co-author of the study remarked:
“Successful marketing executives are not waiting for their colleagues in sales, other departments or management, to task them with improving the marketing performance management. Instead, they proactively start projects which uncover valuable information that helps them show the added value of marketing. Effective marketers distinguish themselves from less effective marketers by taking the initiative to collect and analyse data.
New marketers are needed
To serve the prospect and the customer well, technology is available and lots of marketers are planning to invest. It is relatively new for the marketer: where we used to invest in a CRM-system (together with sales), marketing technology is intended for and owned by the new marketer.
Digital and data are both very important for marketing. On the one hand because it helps interaction with the target audience. On the other hand, it offers an opportunity to show t marketing ROI. The relationship is clear: two major challenges of today’s marketer can only be addressed using knowledge of the digital world and knowledge about data and how to apply the data. New marketers, get ready!
*) Note from the author
This article has been written as a response to a recently publish research by The Economist. Marketers that contributed to this international research for The rise of the marketer, see the following developments:
- Marketing is no longer seen as a cost carrier, but more as a source of revenue
- Marketing takes the lead in customer experience
- Customer engagement is decisive
- Operational and data skills are important, but only in combination with understanding the bigger picture
- Primarily invest in digital and data
- Trends to monitor: real-time personalised mobile and the Internet of Things