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Why Marketers Need to Rethink

White Paper

For marketers, ever-increasing complexity has led to an explosion of demands on their time. You need to meet customer needs for personalized information and perceived value, at the same time as managing the production and deployment of content across multiple channels, workflows and processes. This growth of responsibilities has given rise to hundreds of new solutions to help cope - over half of marketers use between five and ten tools every day.

But continually adding new tools to your processes simply creates new complications - how to consolidate different channels, formats and iterations across separate systems for one campaign. Imagine instead if you could use one holistic platform to manage all aspects of marketing in a centralized, accessible model.

In this paper, we’ll explore how to overcome the difficulties of an increasingly intricate and software-driven marketing process. We’ll challenge you and ask whether you’re doing things in a certain way because that’s simply the way it’s always been done. We’ll ask if you can see through the ‘white noise’ of marketing to decide what’s working and what’s not. And we’ll pose the question: are these inefficiencies in your department even important to you? This paper isn’t about a solution, rather about highlighting a sea change that the entire industry needs to accept.

It’s time for marketers to rethink their processes. Marketing is complex enough. It’s time to ask: how can we make life easier, how can we create better campaigns with less effort, and how can we make the most out of content?

It’s time to ask the right questions so that we can reimagine and reshape marketing:

  • Can we improve the content creation process?
  • Can we customize and translate content more effectively?
  • Can we get better access to product information?
  • Can we communicate more effectively?
  • Can we make our technology work harder?

In short, is there a way to transform, evolve and integrate marketing to provide every CMO’s dream scenario - a marketing function that’s centralized, organized and streamlined in the way it supports the content, sales and product needs of the entire business?

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Channel-first thinking

Marketers’ basic principles for content creation have become outdated.

Historically, content production has had a binary mentality of ‘print versus web’. This has given rise to a formulaic procedure where we consider first the channel we’re going to use, and then work on how to make content to fit that channel. But this ‘channel-first’ mentality means we forget that our target is not a platform, but an audience. Digitization has reached the point where print and web work in unison - meaning that, with the right tools, creating customerfocused, value-driven content has never been more practical.

The rise of channels and data

At one time, advertisers’ content channels were limited to television, radio, print and billboards. Today, we can add to this an extraordinary range of online options. But technological developments haven’t just created new channels, but also ‘Big Data’; overwhelmingly vast datasets which allow you to track every metric you could ever need. The challenge is how to harness this data and deploy it to help disseminate the right content and messaging across every appropriate channel - in a way that’s accurate and compelling to your audiences.

A deep-dive understanding of your audience’s behavior and changing needs is the most vital information a marketer can have. That said, using these insights isn’t just about knowing which channel to engage your audience on, but about what kind of content to engage them with.

Focusing on what's important

Every channel needs to be utilized effectively with consistent messaging, branding and tone of voice. At the same time, you have to deliver highly targeted and customized content created for a variety of audiences. Meeting those requirements is tough - perhaps impossible - when you’re applying an outmoded channel-first philosophy to your marketing and content creation.

How to put the customer first

If your content is produced with the customer in mind, then contentfirst thinking could be interchanged with customer-first thinking. By leading with the audience, you’re stepping into the era of modern marketing where creativity, copywriting and analytics inform integrated campaigns that target an array of audiences across channels.

An integrated marketing platform means you can distribute unique omnichannel content without compromising your brand’s integrity. Rethinking the channel-first mentality allows you to nurture customers and leads across each network by ensuring that the content is created for your audience, not for the channel.

Customization across all channels

Customization is the key to overcoming channel-first thinking.

Recent stats show that 78% of CMOs see custom content as the future for marketing, a trend that puts pressure on the marketing function to create highly customized, targeted and localized content in a way that meets customer needs, but can be delivered using the most timeefficient methodologies.

With such a wide variety of channels, the task of supplying bespoke content is a challenging operational burden. The workload involved in tailoring content for each specific channel can be significant, an issue that’s exacerbated further if your systems don’t aid the creation process.

Tailoring content to fit channel, customer and location

Every campaign, every product launch and every territory will require content that’s been customized and edited to fit the exact needs of the associated channels. So, for example, a video interview recorded at your latest B2B event may translate into:

  • Written blog content for your blog
  • An edited long-form video for your website
  • Shorter video edits for your YouTube channel
  • A long-form presentation slide deck for future presentations
  • Short 'tweet length' written content for social media channel updates (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ etc)
  • Photos of the event and a feature article for use in an industry print magazine
  • Still photographic images to share through visual-based social channels (Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat etc.)
  • A web2print invite for attendees at your next event to print out as their ticket.

This takes time and creates a number of complex versions and iterations for every single content theme - adding intricacy, additional resources and slowing down your underlying efficiency.

In a globalized world, you have the additional issue of localization and language translation. If your organization has multinational divisions, every piece of content will require fast and effective transcreation into the languages of your regional audiences.

You also need to be able to track how that content performs for an overall view of the value and ROI it adds—and to see in depth how each iteration performs against each other to identify strong points and weaknesses in the campaign.

How to make customization easier to manage

With such a variety of media, localized iterations and language versions to deal with, the creation and delivery of all content collateral must be seamless. What’s required is an effective, and highly consistent, way of creating core content themes that can then be customized to each audience and location.

An integrated marketing system streamlines the consolidation processes, and makes tailoring content for individual channels easy. By centralizing your content assets, your team can locate the collateral you need and synthesize the marketing materials for each separate territory or division in the simplest way possible.

With your content versions and channelspecific assets in one place, you make it easier to manage the publishing process, understand the relationships and track the end success and ROI for each campaign.

Product information

Product information is a vital data source both in the marketing function and for stakeholders across the wider business. Despite this, it’s often gathered and retrieved through inefficient, time-consuming processes.

It’s no surprise then that managing product information quickly becomes complicated. The bigger your brand’s product range, the more resource-intensive it is for a marketing team to control the data that needs to be recorded, logged and searchable across the range.

If your marketing, DAM and PIM systems aren’t effectively handling the complexity of your product data, that adds a layer of inefficiency that holds back not just marketing but the scalability of the business as a whole.

Managing your data effectively

For your business functions to run smoothly, you need easy access to a huge array of product and service information, ranging from technical specifications, prices and classes of product to details of different language versions of marketing collateral and the relationships that link your product data to ongoing and past campaigns.

This means your product information, content data and digital assets need to be accessible through a centralized system in a single, consistent framework for ease of searching.

By doing so, you guarantee that stakeholders across the business can easily access the product information they need. A designer will be able to source high-resolution product images for a printed marketing flyer, while a sales manager can draw on the technical specs for the same product when talking to a prospect - keeping messaging clear and consistent.

How to improve access to the right information

To improve your product information’s accessibility, making your technology work harder and with a more relational approach to your data is imperative. This means evolving your systems, improving data-sharing and adding greater search functionality, as well as using relational tagging and tracking so everyone in the business has fast, simple access to the product information and assets they require.

Moving your marketing functionality to a centralized system brings these concepts together in a core database that’s accessible to everyone, and linked to all relevant functions within the business. This integrated approach drives the efficiency and reach of your search functionality, providing marketers, sales teams and managers with the information they need, whenever and wherever they need it - always with a context-rich backdrop of linked information, comments, client feedback and campaign details that relate to each product.

Real time communication

The growth of online and digital information has created a cloud of ‘marketing white noise’, with so many different channels that consumers find it hard to keep pace with the speed and volume of information coming their way.

The key is to know your target audience in sufficient depth that you can reach them with the content and channel which match their communication preferences - and don’t require them to sift through cross-platform messages.

The benefits of a broad mix

Research shows that the modern customer wants to choose when, and where, brands communicate with them - and expect a message that resonates with their own interests and needs.

The challenge for marketers is to use the channels available to communicate with core customers in the most effective way possible.

By taking the best of online, digital, social and print, you give your audience that most important of things - choice. Rather than forcing an ever-growing stream of information down a one-way street, you allow the customer to choose the content and communication channel that fits most closely with their information needs.

A few examples:

An effective ecommerce site allows you to draw on a deep understanding of the decision-making process to guide the audience through the purchasing process.

Print is a key part of retention - for some audiences, it carries greater credibility and authority. The ubiquity of digital media has turned weekly or monthly publications into welcome opportunities to disconnect (and, unlike a website, gives marketers that rare thing: undivided attention).

Social media channels provide an exceptionally powerful way for your customers and prospects to connect with you and become an advocate for your brand. When combined into your omnichannel approach, social becomes a valuable driver of engagement and campaign impact.

The benefits of a broad marketing mix

What customers want is value. But what that value comprises differs from industry to industry, and customer to customer. It’s therefore vital that you achieve a rounded, well informed overview of your audiences and build a detailed picture of the varied customers your brand targets.

An integrated marketing system allows you to create, manage and publish multiple different versions around a content theme, and to target this content to specific channels and specific audiences. Customers expect marketing to be on their terms, and this allows them to choose the channels that resonate most to them—meaning you reach your audience in more value- and results-oriented ways.

Insufficient technology support

Over time, the marketing function has increasingly looked to technology solutions as a way to manage the mounting complexity of multiple marketing channels, tailored content and audience targeting which is producing a seemingly ever-growing tide of marketing tools and software solutions.

However, when you have multiple software systems linked together, your overall process is only as strong as the weakest link in that chain. This limits the effectiveness of your campaign production as a whole, and does little to solve the inherent problem of complexity.

Dealing with the issue of complexity

51% of organizations are using 20 or more digital marketing solutions. As your marketing functions grow, you’ll amass a wide range of software tools to help you meet your core tasks, including:

  • Digital asset management (DAM) systems to collate your brand's digital content.
  • Product information management (PIM) systems to centralize the product-related technical and marketing information.
  • Web content management systems (CMS) systems to streamline your content creation.
  • Marketing resource management (MRM) systems to plan, budget and manage your marketing campaigns.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to record and manage customer details, sales interactions and relationships and manage the financial and production side of the business.
  • Marketing automation systems to embed automatic scheduling of content publication and follow-up processes for marketing activity.

How many distinct toolsets does your organization (or your clients) use in support of data-driven marketing or advertising today?

  • 1-4 (6%)
  • 5-10 (51%)
  • 11-20 (27%)
  • 21-30 (3%)
  • 31+ (9%)
  • None (3%)

That’s a massively complex set of tools to use on a daily basis. In fact, recent research shows that some marketers are using as many as 31 different tools to deliver their campaigns. Having so many disparate systems within the one organization leads to a number of issues, including (but not limited to):

  • Different working methods and user interfaces (UIs) across departments.
  • Steep learning curves and detailed education requirements for anyone using these tools.
  • A lack of integration and data-sharing between systems.
  • Data assets spread across multiple unconnected platforms, adding to the manual workload needed to deliver your campaign.
  • A complex and inefficient feedback process when content is being edited, reviewed or optimized for publication.
  • Multiple log-ins and passwords to remember.

In this instance, complexity only leads to confusion and inefficiency.

How tech can be made to work harder

Tech must be at the center of your marketing processes; this means making your technology work harder is critical. Software can automate the bulk of the more administration-related tasks, as well as improving the way your data and assets are connected and accessed.

A central marketing system helps remove the complexity, integration issues and learning curves of using multiple, separate software systems. One unified interface for your team to learn and interact with increases confidence and makes the system more transparent and effective. Automation, centralized data searches and simple working processes mean your team gets the job done faster, with more control and a deeper level of customization for customer needs.

Integrated marketing as the future of your brand

CMOs face an intricate combination of challenges. The ever-growing number of channels, almost overwhelming volume of customer centric data, and the complexity of multiple software solutions all do one thing; complicates marketing, which stops it from achieving its potential as a driver within the organization.

Taking an integrated approach to your marketing helps you to overcome these challenges and increases your effectiveness as a marketer.

One cohesive system at the heart of all your processes, removes the complexity that hampers marketing and makes cross-omnichannel connectivity a reality. It drives your ability to customize and tailor content to varied audience segments, and streamlines the management of your omnichannel marketing—boosting productivity and funneling efficiencies toward delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time.

By enhancing your ability to tag and track every single asset and item of data, you build an easily searchable marketing database which provides for the information needs of the whole business and helps you measure the relationships, effectiveness and return on investment for every individual element of your marketing actions.

The time is ripe to revitalize your core marketing strategy. Instead of letting your technology solutions and multiple-channel choices hold you back, embrace the potential of a centralized system that gives you the tools and flexibility to meet your true potential as a marketer.

Adopting an integrated approach for managing your marketing efforts is the first step in overcoming the core challenges faced by the ambitious, tech-savvy CMO.

How an integrated marketing system resolves your issues

Issue 1: Channel-first thinking

Solution: Switch to a customer-first mindset, where you produce content for your audience, not your channel.

Issue 2: Customization across all channels

Solution: Create customized versions of content and manage the publication, tracking and reporting of each iteration.

Issue 3: Product information

Solution: Access your product information in the most searchable and time-efficient way.

Issue 4: Real time communication

Solution: Reach, engage and communicate with your core customer audiences more effectively.

Issue 5: Insufficient technology support

Solution Overcome the complexity of using multiple systems and see the inherent relationships between your collateral, content and customers.

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