Goodbye marketing integration, hello activity management

We have witnessed the most radical market-led upheaval ever seen – the mind-blowing explosion of online and interactive channels; the commercial dawn of social media.

Hardly surprising then, that this proliferation of addressable media presents CMOs with their most profound marketing challenge yet – how to implement successful multi-channel marketing programmes.

As a starting point, you might wonder whether the same tools and platforms proposed by marketing services providers that promised tremendous business improvements just a few years ago might be struggling to make an impact in today’s shifting landscape. You’d be right to.

A Forrester report, “Campaign Management Needs a Reboot”, published last year, highlighted how platforms were struggling to keep up with business change. 

These applications struggle to keep up with the design, management, and reporting needs of these channels.

But an explosion of channels is only one of the many challenges that threaten the relevance of campaign management solutions. Tools also struggle to:

•       Improve cross-channel customer interaction; 

•       Make sense of the social phenomenon;

•       Define processes and methodologies to use social insights to improve marketing campaigns;

•       Deal with marketing campaigns that no longer have finite start and stop dates; 

•       Handle social media channels and customer conversations;

•       Lower the learning curve associated with technology adoption.

We all hate complexity – marketers are no different. Many proposed solutions make it really difficult for practitioners to deploy multi-channel marketing initiatives. That’s partly because orchestration of multichannel is not effectively separated from campaign execution and related core CRM components and partly because trying to build systems that do everything doesn’t work well.

Marketing users hate “integrated” platforms because they’re hard to use, overly complicated and too rigid for multiple channels. Specialisation is the name of the game. Solutions for lead generation that work on demand-pull principles are a totally different proposition to campaign managers that are designed for traditional marketing programmes.

Current common practise of embedding logic, data management, et al into campaign management and other marketing execution tools creates a counter-intuitive dependency on one platform and favours a set of predefined marketing processes over another. It’s yesterday’s model. But how to integrate effectively, in order to deliver the vital operational improvements while allowing the organic and fluid nature of marketing communications to follow its customer-led path of least resistance?

The answer is to create a flexible middle layer of marketing activity management, which forms a crucial part of a marketing biosphere, sitting between the data and analysis activities on the one hand, and marketing execution or engagement on the other hand. Marketing activity management comprises three key building blocks:

• Creation of standard taxonomies, which serve as a common link between customer data and content;

• Digital asset management, where all types of digital content including web to print can be stored, and where content components can be associated for specific personalised campaigns by channel;

• Engagement logic, that combines customer data and content and directs it to the right point of execution or consumer/buyer engagement at the right time.

This approach to multi-channel marketing means that, wherever the media explosion takes us, however many new and unpredictable IP enabled channels open up, the means to be able to simply integrate them exists – using the right data, content and  channel mix.

By Nick Martin, consultant

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