In today’s digital economy where “default is digital”, mere emotions don’t move the needle as was the case earlier (remember those TV and print ads that moved us to tears or inspired us to do something). Digital-savvy buyers need marketers to do something different to replicate the pull that emotion based ads from five years ago created. This is where the technologist in marketers has a huge role to play. No wonder, we are seeing pure-play marketers now donning the technologist marketer hat as well.
Today, both marketers and marketing product vendors have realized this shift and are building more ammunition around emerging experience channels and technologies, data and insights tools and frameworks. But with over 5000 mar-tech vendors at play, the difficulty is not in finding a solution but in choosing the right one.
A marketing platform or combination of several may enable you to bring to life instantly the experience you want for your customers. How do you know if it is good enough to make the experience delightful, relevant, and help you achieve your goals of revenue and competitive advantage? How can you create a delightful experience that is both engaging for your customer and successful for your business? Sure, we are all aware that this is done through recommendation, personalization, and localization. But how and for how long can you make it sustain in a highly competitive market landscape?
Today’s customers experience your brand through several ways, and for each experience, they leave a data trail. Marketers have many data sources at their disposal such as sensors embedded in the product or sensors (mobile app, buttons, intelligent personal assistants, augmented/virtual reality devices, store beacons, etc.) around the product in addition to the growing digital channels. A data trail that leverages these sources, if stitched together well, in a timely and cost-efficient manner, could become the most potent mar-tech strategy and asset you have. Remember, this can never be an afterthought of execution. It has to start early in the process.
Following are the key dimensions for marketers to select, stich together, and prop up the marketing platform – the one that will able to sustain the execution paradigms of an ever evolving marketing ecosystem.
- Stitching cross-channel and cross-devices experience
- Select a platform that allows both creation of a common data fabric that is augmentable as needs change, and enables transferring and leveraging of its data elements across marketing systems and channels. For example, create an integrated customer persona based on both behavior data on owned channels and third-party channels including social media, create cross-devices persona in a single household, etc.
- While some platforms in the market allow this, marketers may also need to consider Big Data and Hadoop based data service layers to address this need.
- Snack-able experience on channels
- Select platforms that address both content velocity and content consumption. This is now being delivered as a content-repository-as-a-service. The crucial factor in these cases is connecting this layer with the data layer.
- Network effect
- Select platforms that allow you to leverage and harmonize the internal and external brand voice.
- Stich this together with the data and content layers.
- Connecting channels, content, and media execution
- Many marketers focus so much on creation and delivery of experience on their channels, that they don’t connect back the learning and performance from paid and earned media. This is important to gain a 360 degree view of the customer persona, and delivery and consumption of experience.
- Select platforms that not only address click-stream measurement, offer analytics, and channel specific analytics but can expand or integrate with innovations in content, wearables, image, and video analytics.
In addition to the above functionalities, the selected platforms should be open and expandable to expose and consume any APIs out there today and that come up in the future. The platform vendor should have a demonstrable roadmap with focus on innovation. Almost all marketers consider the agility of product vendors and their ability to support as important factors while selecting a platform. As such, understanding the support structure is important. And last but not the least, while many focus on CAPEX, it is important to understand OPEX including time to train on the platform and availability of product related skill-set in the market.
In summary, the role of the marketer has evolved beyond the realms of conventional creativity. Today’s technologist marketer needs to bring together a powerful blend of creativity and data/technology. And then augment that with automation and intelligence (including artificial) to make execution faster, leaner and smarter.