The Integrate Imperative for Marketing: Start Connecting the Dots

Integrating people, processes and technologies is essential for any business. This is especially true for CMOs and marketers today as they invest in and develop unified processes and technology to align everything with their customer’s “experience” and “journey.” While it may seem like a no-brainer to integrate, it’s not always easy to find the dots, let alone connect them. There’s no better time to get started than right now.

Connect the dots

Marketing’s struggle to eliminate silos is driven by the fact that teams are predominantly organized and operate by function (PR, advertising, events, field, for example) versus customer or market segment. And, marketers are often rewarded for programs — executing a PR effort, delivering an effective ad campaign or hitting download goals on a lead-gen campaign — not for delivering happy customers (yet). This siloed approach is no longer effective because prospects and customers typically do their homework and size up options well before they ever engage with your brand or company.

Today, marketers must discover, nurture and converse with prospects throughout this process, in the places prospects work, live and frequent. Therefore, marketing must have an integrated approach that is equally applied to

  1. customer engagement processes
  2. systems connectivity
  3. data and actionable insights, and
  4. a collaborative organizational structure.

Each one of these integrated approaches requires a re-think and is essential to developing customer-centered culture and practices. Working in unison across these 4 areas of integration enables marketing teams to deliver measurable business value by generating quality prospects and creating delighted customers. Let’s break down the 4 core areas of Integration.

Mapping Processes to Your Prospects and Customers

Marketing is made up of hundreds of processes. The key is focusing on customer-driven processes, which requires a solid understanding of your customer profiles. This involves comparing your current processes to the ideal procedural state, then identifying gaps and chokepoints, as well as the changes that need to be made to assure you’re set up to discover, engage and deliver happy customers. For example:

  • How do you select and deploy media sources (search, content syndication, social, etc.) to drive opportunities to your web site?
  • How do you develop and present personalized content on your web site, as well as the communications that follow?
  • How is all the gathered data applied to make decisions?

Many successful marketing organizations start with their top 5 processes and knock them out one by one, integrating and tying them together as they go. Remember, the ideal state is mapped to your customer’s journey and experience.

Connecting Tech Silos and Systems

After mapping your processes, there are critical questions to ask as you prepare for the next major strategic or tactical marketing technology investment in order to become integrated and customer-centric.

  • Take inventory of existing technology and systems
  • Organize into a blueprint, laying out existing technology systems and processes
  • Identify missing gaps and areas of duplication to create an efficient infrastructure that supports customer-driven processes
  • Share blueprint with existing and potential providers to scope optimal solution(s)
  • Set standards for integrating and connecting systems, including your major platform providers

If your systems are unable to be integrated, marketing processes and data will remain siloed, and you’ll miss out on the real value.

Turning Data into Actionable Insights

There is tons of data everywhere — campaign data, customer data, website data, email data, etc. — and more spreadsheets than you can imagine. But data doesn’t have any real impact unless it’s connected, integrated and actionable. This is why it’s essential to build a data framework (how you format, store, and share data), use APIs to move and integrate data in an automated fashion, and develop a dashboard (many times known as the “CMO Dashboard”) to bring all of your data together into one place. The good news is there are some excellent visualization and BI tools to help with this effort.

Once your data and reporting is integrated and organized, you can then begin to connect the dots and draw insights for marketing performance optimization and measure ROI more holistically across your marketing investments. For example, you can examine all marketing investments (campaigns, content, media partners, channels, third-party segment data, etc.) to understand which are the most influential in generating prospects and to what extent?

Talent and Skill Sets Organized to Deliver

Your processes, systems and data can be connected, but if your organization isn’t structured in an integrated way, it’s hard to act on all that you’ve built. There’s no one model, but many high-performing marketing teams are organizing around customer sets and markets to best understand and deliver on specific needs and opportunities. This applies whether you’re a large company with tens of products and markets or a startup, hyper-focused on targeted segments to scale and grow faster. You may have centralized product teams focused on developing products and marketing managers driving customer segments — SMBs (market) or C-level executives (role), for example. This focus promotes the ability to utilize the best methods to engage and nurture prospects to happy customers, and to optimize and measure investments in an integrated way.

Integration is both a way of thinking and a literal framework that will help you and your marketing team become more data-driven. Integration also makes it easier to deliver more impactful customer experiences. This formula consistently translates into better results and happy customers.

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