Rapid advancements in marketing technology are presenting marketing functions with the opportunity to vastly elevate their efficiency through automation and to show how their engagement with customers benefits the wider organisation.
Today, much of the manual work we used to do to send out a mailer is automated – for example, formatting, generating and sending personalised mails to highly granular customer segments according to their behaviour or interests. The focus is less on the mechanics of sending an email out and more on creating a strategy that optimises customer engagement.
Similar trends are emerging in other spheres of digital marketing, from search to social as the customer data becomes increasingly streamlined. Advanced operational functions can be automated and then accelerated through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms, as they start to handle many more tasks that once required human intervention.
Stay ahead of the speed of innovation
Each brand will need to think about where it should apply AI and machine learning to get the best results from optimising data-driven customer engagements.
The challenge for CMOs is to keep pace with the speed of innovation, building a marketing function that adapts to new technologies and data, develops the skills base it needs to support the latest advances, and redeploys talent in response to a shifting market.
How does one focus on audience management, content, and other aspects of marketing to deliver more nuanced customer engagements? Many marketing teams have been so focused on operations that they have not had enough time to consider that question in the past.
At the same time, organisations are beginning to realise that many of their marketing skills reside in different technology, channel and departmental siloes. This does not fit well with their efforts to achieve a single view of the customer and to deliver a consistent customer experience at every touchpoint.
We have seen some clients reap 10 or 20 times their return on investment in marketing automation from operational efficiencies alone.
Breaking down siloes
To keep up with the rate of technology change, organisations should be considering how they can achieve greater efficiencies of scale, for example, by creating data warehouses or data lakes that serve the business as a whole.
Valuable skills such as data scientists and statisticians currently reside in different departments and companies need to evaluate how they can blend the skills of their people and the data to achieve a more effective business insights and cross-channel orchestration.
Another key focus is to determine which of these skills should be developed in-house and which should be outsourced to external service providers and to ensure the business is ready for the next wave of technology and implement a training and change management strategy.
From technical to strategic skills development
To prepare for the shift from low-level technical skills to high-level strategic and data skills, staff will need to be reskilled and motivated to adopt and drive optimisation and innovation and ultimately ROI of the investment in systems and data.
Making this shift is not necessarily going to come at a low cost – it involves making a commitment and investment in becoming more data-led and insights-driven. But the transition to an automated environment with slick customer engagement can rapidly pay for itself as well as show how marketing benefits the wider company.
We have seen some clients reap 10 or 20 times their return on investment in marketing automation from operational efficiencies alone. But the real value comes from driving better customer acquisition and retention through more effective and personalised customer engagements. This is the factor that will differentiate the winning brands of the future.