Lisa Nirell's Marketing Waves Blog

Missing these Integrated Marketing Puzzle Pieces?

The marketing technology (martech) boom is both a blessing and a curse for integrated marketing initiatives.

Experts describe integrated marketing as a way to create a seamless experience for your buyers and customers to interact with you. The DMA goes even further, describing it as (sic) “melding all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, and social media…It is a process designed to ensure that all messaging and communications strategies are consistent across all channels and are centered on the customer.”

Martech is supposed to streamline our integrated marketing programs and create unforgettable customer experiences, right? Not always.

As we witness the proliferation of marketing technology tools and stacks, and software vendors attempt to drive the conversation around integrated marketing, our strategy can often get lost in the shuffle. We run the risk of focusing on capabilities that the software vendors want us to buy, versus customer imperatives and business goals.

The investor community’s love affair with martech continues unabated, and that may make it worse. It feels as if there is an infinite supply of capital and talent to support sector growth. Advisory firm Results International reported that the number of martech M&A transactions peaked in the 2nd quarter of 2016, with 85 closed deals. Big players have entered the scene–we have seen Adobe purchase LiveFyre; Salesforce bought Demandware; and Microsoft bought LinkedIN.

In my experience, however, this obsession with creating the perfect marketing stack has not helped to remove a persistent challenge in our CMO community: aligning internal teams towards a common business goal. In our latest CMO Innovation Trends study, a “lack of internal alignment” rose to the top of the list of top three challenges–the response grew from 32% to 52% year over year.

Where can senior marketing leaders find the missing puzzle pieces to drive stronger alignment? Here are 3 recommendations:

  1. Embrace your role as a growth strategist.

This key consideration came to light when we invited Rachel Spasser, CMO of private equity firm Accel-KKR (AKKR), to share her experiences during our Marketing Leaders of Atlanta™ gathering.  AKKR has led over 100 M&A transactions, and Spasser balances a portfolio of 8-10 part time CMO roles at any given time within their portfolio companies.

Spasser’s holistic view reminds us that a true integrated marketing program does not originate with selecting the right tools and channels. Instead, she believes that “true integrated marketing starts at the top of the organization. It’s not just marketing channel optimization and building a seamless customer experience. It’s about working across the organization to align customer goals.” 

Word!

While this aspect of marketing leadership is less glamorous than being a martech maven, it must be treated with the same level of attention and frequency as your marketing stack and content strategy.

Greg Gibbons, SVP of Marketing Communications for Siemens, recently told me “When our teams present an integrated marketing idea, they must demonstrate the program encompasses three areas: improving reputation, increasing demand, and driving sales enablement.” As a result, Siemens has witnessed double digit growth in later stage pipeline conversion rates, and higher product familiarity scores for some key offerings.

  1. Step away from the data (at least for a moment).

When I work with leadership teams, I’m noticing that many marketers are skipping the fundamentals of persuasive message delivery, relying instead on snappy diagrams and loads of data. As a result, they lose audience impact. I’m observing a rush to present facts and figures—often at the expense of rapport-building.

When this happens, CMOs cannot earn the hearts and minds of their audience. It delays innovation initiatives, or causes them to get rejected altogether.

Spasser witnesses similar trends: “One of the telltale signs of martech being the tail wagging the dog happens when marketers are solely focused on tactical metrics—such as e-newsletter open rates, growth in Facebook followers, etc.” Cumulative metrics, on the other hand, track success over time. They may include the average customer lifetime value, or monitor a (hopefully) declining cost per lead.

If you’re pressured to demonstrate integrated marketing results, show your 1-page performance dashboard only when the cumulative metrics are clearly identified, and they align with your company’s top 3-4 business imperatives.

  1. Remember who keeps the lights on—your customers. Some CMOs and martech “experts” are ignoring customer retention in their integrated marketing programs. Commonly promoted marketing stack categories often lack processes and tools to retain and delight customers who later become your evangelists. The traditional components include:
  • Marketing automation
  • CRM
  • Analytics
  • “Other” (such as live events, webinars, market research tools, etc.)
  • Web/mobile presence
  • Social

Consider adding online and branded community management and rewards programs (such as Maritz Motivation Solutions) to the mix. We encourage the CMO to take ownership of the customer relationship.

Instapage CEO, Tyson Quick, sums up the issue nicely: “The increasing specialization within a marketing department has led to a lack of understanding among internal teams. It’s important to keep our employees broadly educated on new distribution channels, technologies, and strategies.”

Tyson Quick, CEO of Instapage

Integrated marketing doesn’t begin with a tool. It begins with educating our people, and aligning them around a common purpose and goal.

How does your strategy stack up?

Copyright 2017, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.

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