Transforming Marketing Teams For The Digital Age

The data and technology revolution is transforming the marketing world.

Leading edge companies are recognizing the potential of using data and technology to build deeper, more engaging customer relationships – by delivering personalized one-on-one customer messages, to each and every customer and prospect, at each and every stage of the customer journey – with companies like Microsoft leading the way.

In June 2015, a bus stop poster in Glasgow showed Microsoft’s mobile voice-activated assistant, Cortana, announcing a reminder about playing cricket at the weekend. One local, Chris, derided the advert tweeting a photo of it with the caption: “Said nobody in the east End of Glasgow ever”, which was retweeted 4,283 times. Microsoft responded with a personal tweet to Chris which said that they weren’t kidding that Cortana was personal, including a photo of the same bus stop with a poster which read: “Cortana, next time I speak with Chris, remind me not to mention the cricket.”

To deliver this, leading edge marketers are transforming their marketing functions to:

Recognizing and engaging with people as individuals – by better understanding who they are and what they’re looking for, and creating a dialogue with them using relevant messages, at the right time, through the right channels.

  • Create a seamless, joined-up multi-channel experience

Leveraging new, more cost-efficient communication channels alongside traditional ones, and delivering a joined-up customer experience that makes it easy for people who see an advertisement to then enquire and buy.

  • Focus investment on the most effective marketing activities

Delivering fewer, bigger, better campaigns – by quickly identifying and focusing investment on those communication and channels that are most effective messages, and eliminating those that are not.

Today on Branding Strategy Insider, I will share how leading edge marketing organizations are transforming their marketing teams for the digital age – including six key strategies for success, the typical transformation journey they go on, and the benefits that transformations can deliver.

Six Strategies For Success

To better meet customer needs, marketers are investing in building:

  1. Leading edge data and technology:

Putting in place the customer data, systems and technology needed to identify who each customer is, and to identify and focus on the activities that are most effective.

  1. Compelling customer insight:

Generating and leveraging compelling customer insights, that can be used to engage customers with the right message, at the right time, through the right channel.

To build a joined-up multi-channel experience, marketers are investing in developing:

  1. Big brand ideas:

Creating big, compelling brand ideas that can be cascaded across all cross-functional teams, to deliver a seamless customer experience across all touch points.

  1. New channel expertise:

Bringing the brand to life across all customer touch points and communication channels, in a seamless and joined-up way.

To focus investment on the most effective marketing activities, companies are embedding:

  1. Tight performance management:

Putting in place systematic test & learn processes to quickly identify and focus investment on the top performing activities and eliminate poor performing ones.

  1. An agile, empowered culture:

Streaming teams and processes to be more agile – and empowering people to challenge the norms, and learn from their failures as well as their successes.

The Transformation Journey

To make the journey, leading marketers are streamlining their teams to be more agile, embedding the necessary capabilities and expertise, and increasing their team’s cross-functional impact.

Building a more agile marketing team

CMOs typically start the transformation journey by streamlining their existing marketing team and day-to-day operations – by consolidating duplicative functions, integrating end-to-end teams to work closely together, and simplifying the creative development process. This can result in a significant headcount reduction of 20% to 40%.

CMOs then use the freed up resources to hire in new expertise – using external agencies to support and upskill the existing team in the interim. In our experience, companies typically bring back in approximately half the number of people that were originally exited, creating an overall net headcount reduction.

Once the new hires are in place, marketing organizations tend to reduce their reliance on external agencies – using them to upskill the existing team, deliver specialist expertise, and be on top of emerging trends and technologies.

Investing in new capabilities

To support these changes, leading marketers typically hire in three types of new expertise:

  • Customer Insight Experts (in areas such as Customer Segments, Customer Journeys, Customer Loyalty, Customer Experience and Customer Contact) who can help develop more relevant products, services and messaging, delivered through more channels.
  • New Channel Experts (in areas such as Digital, Social, Email, Mobile, SEO, PPC, Content Integration, Digital Media Planning and Buying, and Programmatic) who can leverage new, more cost-efficient channels alongside traditional channels, as well as create a more seamless customer experience.
  • Marketing Effectiveness Expertsincluding:

Data experts (in areas such as Test Design, Data Analysis and Governance, Test & Learn, KPI Setting and Measurement, and In-flight Optimization) who can set up and run systematic test & learn and rapid optimization programs that quickly identify the top performing communication activities and eliminate poor performing ones.

Creative people (such as Copywriters, Journalists and UX Designers) who work alongside the data experts, to create content that can be tested and optimized in real time.

Building greater cross-functional impact

Companies are recognizing that strong brands are key to delivering a great customer experience, and thus are encouraging marketers to work more effectively with their cross-functional peers, to define and gain alignment to a powerful brand promise that the whole can buy into.

They are then working with Data, Technology, Propositions and Service teams to develop compelling propositions that bring the brand promise to life.

Additionally, they are working with channel teams (such as Retail and Digital) to deliver a seamless, joined-up customer experience, and identify and focus on those communication messages and channels that are most effective.

The Result

When executed well, great marketing transformations significantly increase marketing’s return on investment in a number of ways:

From an organizational perspectivethey typically result in a headcount reduction, as well as a lower reliance on external agencies and thus agency costs.

From a customer perspectivebrands that can recognize their customers are better able to engage them with a relevant message, at the right time, through the right channels.

From a channel perspective:

  • Spend is typically reallocated away from more expensive traditional channels (such as television, press and posters) to new, more cost-efficient channels (such as digital, social and search). However, in all cases we viewed, a significant proportion of a brand’s budget is still spent on traditional channels, reinforcing the importance of maintaining a strong brand presence.
  • Brands that have a seamless, joined-up customer experience across all touch points are more successful at converting awareness and consideration into product Inquiry and purchase.

From a marketing effectiveness perspectivecompanies that systematically test how well each communications activity performs in-market are able to identify and focus investment on those messages and channels that are most effective, and eliminate those that are not.

In conclusion

The data and technology revolution is only just beginning – with a sense that we only understand a fraction of what life will be like in five years’ time.

To embrace this change, marketers should encourage their Board to invest in the data and technology needed to deliver a personalized one-on-one customer experience at every stage of the customer journey.

In turn, they should transform their marketing organization to:

  • Be more customer centric.
  • Create a seamless, joined-up multi-channel experience.
  • Focus investment on the most effective marketing activities.

By doing this, marketers can use data and technology to create deeper, more engaging and rewarding customer relationships – and thereby build a meaningful competitive advantage for the digital age.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider By: Ruth Saunders, Managing Partner, Galleon Blue

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