In recent years there has been an explosion of marketing technology. Many of these solutions have become integral tools for marketers, but most have only created noise. Sorting through all the available technologies and assessing their impact on your own marketing efforts can be a huge undertaking, and it’s easy to get distracted by the latest shiny thing. However, to achieve a strategic demand marketing state, it is mission-critical that marketers understand: is your MarTech stack orchestrating buyer engagement and improving the customer experience to impact revenue? Or is it just blasting outbound emails?
The State of Marketing Today
All marketing teams have been there – leadership is asking for more engagement, more leads, and more opportunities. Marketing leaders need to prove their department’s worth and boost marketing’s contribution to the bottom line. The common response to this pressure is to run a campaign to promote content, target a segment of the database that might want to buy, get people to fill out a form, or offer a promotion. Except in today’s shifting landscape, marketing leaders can’t prove their value and contribute to the bottom line by measuring vanity metrics. These types of tactical demand generation activities aren’t doing anything to drive predictable, sustainable demand.
Most marketers don’t think they are blasting outbound emails because they’re using a marketing automation tool. But automating an email blast is still an email blast. Marketers execute these types of activities because they provide a small, short-term, up-front lift, which satisfies the pressure from leadership to produce results now. But when pushed on the topic, we find that a lot of marketers are running outbound email blast campaigns because it’s the only method they know, and email opens and clicks are the only success metrics they can track.
While blasting emails may provide a short-term lift, it’s doing far more harm than good. Statista reports that 57% of consumers break up with brands because they are unnecessarily spammed, and 80% break up with brands because they didn’t ask for the content being delivered to them. That’s an alarming statistic that shows the deeper root of the issue: most marketers think that buyer journey engagement and customer experience are two separate things.
Buyer Engagement and Customer Experience: They are the Same!
Many marketing teams consider buyer engagement as opening an email or clicking a link, and they consider the customer experience as how a prospect interacts with the company either on the website or with a salesperson. They’re focused on engagement, so they’re looking for the tactical effort that had the most opens and clicks. Then they repeat that same effort to try and keep engagement levels high. The reality is that a buyer’s engagements are their experience and so every interaction must be thoughtfully orchestrated.
Every prospect has a variety of interactions across multiple channels throughout his or her buying journey. Maintaining a consistent experience across those channels is what successfully guides that prospect through the funnel. When you view engagement in this holistic way, you realize that your prospect database should be receiving coordinated, consistent communications from both marketing and sales across inbound and outbound channels instead of being bombarded by different communications from different technology tools.
In this strategic state, your prospects are receiving the right content, at the right time, in the right place so that they receive valuable information when they are ready – not when you are. It takes more than email blasts to orchestrate personalized buyer engagement and customer experiences, so what exactly is the role of personalization when it comes to a strategic MarTech implementation?
The Role of MarTech in Personalization
In a recent survey by Merkle, 86% of marketers said they have budgets defined for personalized messaging initiatives, and 82% had MarTech solutions in place to implement personalization. But Gartner predicts that in the next five years 80% of marketers who have invested in personalization will drop their personalization efforts. It’s clear that companies have embraced the idea of personalization, but they aren’t managing the execution.
Unfortunately, in the plethora of marketing technologies available, many products have made the (convincing) argument that a technology tool is all you need to succeed with personalization, but that’s simply not true. There are levels to personalization maturity and while, yes, technology plays a key role in execution, relying on technology as a strategy is not enough.
Let’s define the different levels of personalization. Many consider personalizing words in an email (first name, industry, company name, title) as personalization. Yes, that’s a more personalized email than, “Hi Colleague,” but it’s not true personalization.
Some consider allowing web visitors to filter and sort a resource center as personalization. Again, that’s more personalized than no filters or sorting, but it’s also not true personalization. If you want to truly personalize, then perpetual dynamic personalization is the only way to go.
Perpetual dynamic personalization works across all platforms and channels to create the most personalized experience possible. It understands the buyer’s needs, tracks and analyzes the buyer’s behavior, and intelligently delivers the best experience.
To understand the buyer’s needs, perpetual dynamic personalization knows a prospect’s persona, the conversation tracks that apply best, and his or her stage in the buying journey.
Then, by understanding the prospect’s content consumption history and tracking the overall content success, dynamic personalization is able to leverage algorithms to intelligently choose which next piece of content is best for any given individual prospect.
And finally, perpetual dynamic personalization uses all of this information to serve appropriate content via organic web search, inbound web traffic (both paid and organic), and outbound nurture efforts (discussed below). But all of these capabilities are dependent on coordinating your MarTech stack to have a personalization loop with your CMS and MAP, and correctly utilizing data across platforms. That’s the only way to have a truly personalized and consistent experience.
The Role of MarTech in Outbound Nurture
Nurture is a highly misused term in the marketing world. Some consider a three-email follow-up from a webinar that pressures additional engagement to be a nurture. Others consider a five-email drip with educational content pieces to be a nurture, which is more accurate than the first example, but still not a true nurture. Yet others still consider an early/middle/late stage drip with multiple emails to be a nurture. All work to some extent, but which one drives true, predicable results? The truth is – none of them.
Leveraging MarTech strategically means understanding how a nurture program can be strategic too. More specifically, it means running strategic dynamic nurture programs.
A dynamic nurture program goes far beyond personalizing emails with just demographic or BANT data. Instead, a dynamic nurture program segments, targets, and personalizes your audience based on multiple data inputs. It allows multiple people to be in the exact same nurture program and yet receive different versions of the same email.
Let’s look at an example of a dynamic nurture program. There are 5 people are in the same buying stage, following the same conversation track, and identifying as the same persona. They are all sent “Nurture Email 4”. In reality, they might all receive different email versions, with each version personalized to promote different content based on their individual past content consumption and overall content performance. In this scenario, the number of nurture paths and possibilities quickly becomes numberless. The best part? There’s no need for manual intervention to plan the paths. A strategic dynamic nurture program led by ANNUITAS can do this for hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of records. That’s true personalization.
The Benefits of Making Your MarTech Stack More Strategic
While you may think you’re running personalization efforts right now, the truth is it’s highly likely that you’re using your MarTech tools to blast outbound emails.
These tactical demand generation efforts are not only creating poor customer experiences – they are costing you a lot of time and money. Randomized outbound campaigns require a lot of effort, manpower, and hours to continuously try to catch buyers when they might be at the right stage in the buying cycle. You’re essentially spending your time and money chasing guesses.
Technology should be built into a strategy that centers around the buyer’s engagement and experience. This is part of a strategic demand marketing state. Strategic demand marketing is buyer-led, multi-channel, perpetual marketing that generates interest, converts potential clients into qualified leads, and drives predictable, sustainable results and growth. By starting with a buyer-led strategy, you can then build technology programs that support the strategy. So often companies purchase a technology to solve a strategy problem, making it hard for your MarTech stack to truly orchestrate engagement or experience. This is the wrong way to think about technology, as it’s meant to bring a strategy to life (and not the other way around). Marketing and technology are both constantly changing. Optimize, take action on insights, and evolve where needed.
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