Today’s marketing technology is impressive. In fact, it has fundamentally changed the marketing profession. Marketers no longer pick a TV spot or print ad and cross their fingers. We gather, measure, analyze and act on data. New marketing technology and processes consequently allow us to target consumers by granular characteristics such as traveling habits and intended purchases, and then reengage them with creative specific to their individual characteristics, behaviors and interests.
Stop and think about that. Now think about how only 20 years ago Zack Morris was seen as a technological savant when he made calls by holding a cell phone the size of a smart car against his perfectly coiffed head.
Considering the advancement in technology and processes over the previous decades, it’s difficult to understand why so many marketing processes remain archaic, specifically regarding the ways we manually access and leverage the data we spend billions of dollars producing. Marketers annually invest $20 billion in marketing technology and $72 billion in owned media in an attempt to more effectively discover and engage with customers, but this attempt is drastically hindered. Why? Because we’re not leveraging the data garnered from marketing technology (marketing automation, customer relationship management and data management systems) to its full potential.
Actionable customer insights are stymied by the rift between marketing tech and media investment. At a time when reaching audiences gets tougher by the day, marketers must ensure they’re generating maximal efficiency from all available resources. And if your marketing stack isn’t linked to your media investment, you’re wasting valuable resources. Marketers must take the next step by closing the loop with marketing and media systems integrations.
Unless all your media is invested in organically driving traffic to your website and owned landing and social pages, you’re probably relying on weekly emailed campaign reports/leads in MS Excel from multiple media partners. And each of these files must be manually synthesized and properly formatted before you finally upload the customer data (again manually) into the marketing technology cloud/stack. Then, after customer data has been scored, nurtured, analyzed and catalogued in the marketing cloud, the resulting information is manually compiled to derive insights that are used to plan future programs, and only rarely leveraged to optimize current campaigns. This is an inefficient process. This disconnect (the unclosed marketing loop) has far-reaching consequences:
- Less-effective customer data/leads
- Longer sales cycles
- Slower marketing program optimization
The reasons for the first two are easily understood; when it comes to engaging a new customer, we all know that time is of the essence, and the longer it takes for a sales rep to receive customer information, the longer the process will be (especially if it’s older data). The way in which an unclosed marketing loop hinders program performance is slightly more nuanced, yet highly important.
Closed Loop = Higher Return On Media Investment
The loop dictates the relationship between customer data acquisition, customer data analysis and the use of such analytical insights. Media partners — whether content syndication publishers, display affiliates, social networking platform providers, paid search advertisers, etc. — generate the customer data that is analyzed, scored, nurtured and catalogued in the marketing stack/cloud. This relationship is important, because without media partners, marketers would be completely dependent on organic traffic to their web and social pages.
The need for media partners is well known to even the largest brands. What’s less well known, however, are the broad benefits of automating the processes by which marketers:
- Transmit media-partner-generated customer data to their marketing systems, and
- Leverage insights resulting from customer data that has been analyzed and catalogued in the marketing cloud to optimize their media programs.
An automated, integrated data flow increases data/lead velocity and eliminates numerous manual tasks that not only waste resources but can often lead to costly errors. Perhaps most importantly, closed-loop integrations allow marketers to quickly adjust media investment and messaging according to newfound intelligence (such as specific audience segments that are more likely to convert to sales, certain channels that are generating increased consumer engagement, or media partners that are outperforming their competitors at a lower price point). The quicker these adjustments are executed, the less resources you waste on the proverbial 50% of advertising that isn’t working, and the more you can invest in the campaigns that generate greater business value.
Many marketers obsess over incrementally improving their already advanced processes with slightly newer technology — and they often see return on this investment. Now think of how much return on your investment you’ll get when you bring new technology to a process that hasn’t been updated since the advent of email, MS Excel and Zack Morris’s perfect hair.