MarTech MarTech: Marketing Technology News and Community for MarTech Professionals Wed, 24 May 2023 16:42:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 3 steps to building a three-star marketing technology function Wed, 24 May 2023 16:41:59 +0000 That's three Michelin restaurant stars, so that's as good as it gets.

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Marketing organizations are using less and less of their martech stack’s capabilities. Gartner research suggests around 42% of the stack’s potential is utilized, startlingly down from 58% in 2020. There’s a significant cost too associated with paying for technology resources that stand idle. There’s also a shortfall in user satisfaction.

Against this background, Gartner principal analyst Tia Smart described how to build the kind of efficient, focused martech function that can get much more out of the technology.

1. Getting prepped

The three first steps to getting your martech function on track are:

  • Identify the product owners (with overall responsibility for a particular solution) and the solution’s daily users.
  • Audit the stack (find out what’s there and what is and isn’t being used).
  • Assess the results of the above and proceed to the next steps.

Smart believes it’s crucial to define staff roles clearly. “Is this person a daily user, so they can give you candid feedback; or is this the product owner, based on a specific product like Salesforce or Adobe; or is this person the leader of a category of products like advertising solutions or direct marketing channels?”

It’s also important to align the audit with business use cases. “Is this tool meeting specific use cases it was intended for, or is it not? That will start informing the next steps you’re able to take,” she told us.

2. Developing a robust roadmap

Times have changed. Just in the last year, the pendulum has swung from a preference for best-of-breed stacks to a preference for integrated suites (60% to 25%).

There remain challenges with both approaches. Paradoxically, marketers find integration and configuration challenges within the integrated suites themselves, especially those built from a series of independent acquisitions. On the other hand, it’s difficult to recruit and retain the talent to handle a wide range of point solutions.

DIg deeper: Marketers need a unified platform, not more standalone tools

“The biggest driver of the shift to integrated suites,” said Smart, “is that marketers don’t have the right talent in place, they have difficulty integrating their current martech ecosystems; I think there’s a perception that an integrated suite is going to solve for some of those challenges and complexities.”

A decision has to be made whether to be integrated suite-first or best-of-breed-first. Then take steps to build the roadmap:

  • Identify business needs and the marketing tech needs that align with them.
  • Develop a roadmap aimed at filling gaps (and eliminating duplication and waste).
  • Communicate the roadmap to stakeholders.
  • Continue to evolve it (this isn’t “one and done”).

The truth is, Smart explained, that at the end of the day the martech function is not going to commit fully to an integrated suite approach or a best-of-breed approach. “It’s understanding that it’s going to be a balance,” she said. “You’re going to need a blend, it’s just what is going to be your primary focus?”

3. Making sure you fill the talent gaps

There are four possibilities to evaluate here:

  • Develop and utilize existing talent that understands the business and its needs.
  • Get support from IT.
  • Outsource elements to consultancies or agencies.
  • Hire new talent.

Of course, challenges exist with these approaches. IT may have limited capacity, outsourcing can be expensive and there’s a widely recognized talent shortage.

Finally, pay attention to the actual users. “Sometimes marketers focus so much on the technology that they forget about the people who are planning to utilize the tools. If we think about the reason for the talent shortage, burnout is a large push for wanting to leave a company. Being sure that your team is not frustrated with the tools will help to overcome some of these challenges.”

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Email marketing is dying: 3 actions to help it survive (and thrive) Wed, 24 May 2023 15:01:34 +0000 Email is the most effective marketing channel for many things. It's also the one customers feel most overwhelmed by. Here's how to change that.

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Email marketing is a fundamental element of marketers’ toolkits. New Gartner research shows it as the most effective channel across multiple stages of the buying journey, from demand generation to driving conversions and customer loyalty.

And yet, this critical channel is too often left unloved, with more focus going to the fast-changing advertising or social media landscapes. For years, marketers have gotten away with that dynamic, but we’re seeing cracks emerge which, left untreated, will cause an irreparable decline in the channel’s performance.

Dig deeper: 6 tactics to create recession-proof email marketing

One key signal is that average email open rates are declining, as inboxes filter out promotions and consumers stop bothering to check those folders. Through surveys, Gartner has found that the vast majority of both B2B and B2C customers feel overwhelmed by the number of emails they receive from brands. Worryingly, these customers say that if they perceive emails as irrelevant, they will unsubscribe – something easier than ever to do.

To maintain clicks, many marketers have fallen into the trap of sending more campaigns, but this only papers over the cracks. To avoid continued worsened performance from the channel, sending more (or fewer) emails is not the answer. Instead, marketers need to send better emails. Let’s unpack three ways to do so:

1: Build your email strategy on the ongoing value

First, if you want to send better emails, you need to focus on the value that you seek to provide over time. It might sound obvious, but oftentimes, marketers fall into a pattern where they acquire contacts by giving them something they want initially, like a one-off discount, but then don’t know how to keep them interested over time, and eventually have to start again.

Avoid this by being clear on the digital value exchange you’re offering your customers. In fact, signup incentivization needn’t be a cost center. It can be as simple as being more explicit upfront about the benefits of a newsletter or account at the point of signup, collecting topic preferences and including the privacy policy up front. Gartner’s Genius Brands, or those identified to be best-in-class according to key digital marketing elements, are more likely to have mobile sites that do this.

Of course, if you’re clear on the benefits provided by saying ‘you won’t benefit much’, then people won’t sign up. So defining the value proposition for your target audience and building a long-term plan to resource that is what will make the difference between email marketing success or failure.

2: Prioritize before Personalizing

When it comes to personalization, marketers normally start in one of two places: where it’s easiest, such as subject lines, or where it’s the most obvious use case, such as abandoned cart messages. Often, it stops there – because anything more gets really hard.

Messaging timing matters (e.g., receiving an email after forgetting about items in your cart), but tailored help matters even more for driving business value. If you can do both, even better. Look for signals that a customer isn’t ready to buy yet and needs help learning how a given product might fit. This kind of “triggered nurturing” is so powerful because it positions your brand as helpful, not just reactive. 

In the past, marketers have struggled to create and manage enough content to support increased automated or triggered learning pathways via email. Today, AI projects like ChatGPT have the potential to change that, but will still require time and effort. In the meantime, marketers should prioritize the areas they automate based on the business value generated from emails to specific segments of audiences.

3: Optimize your emails using the best-fit KPIs

Gartner’s most recent Multichannel Marketing Survey revealed that marketers who use three or four KPIs are most likely to exceed their goals. Too many and you’ve got too much to focus on; too little and you don’t have enough insight to spot issues and close gaps. 

The question becomes: What are the ones you should focus on? For email marketing, it’s easier to say what you shouldn’t focus on. Open rate data is more inaccurate than ever, to the point it isn’t fit for reporting without heavy adaptation. Instead, lower-funnel metrics like conversions or clickthrough rates are more valuable, given these are fundamentally the objectives for this channel.

The best-performing marketers don’t just use channel-specific metrics though. Instead, they combine them with broader business objectives. Gartner has found that marketers using return on engagement metrics (e.g., revenue generated per email, cost per click) and relationship metrics (e.g., customer satisfaction score, or CSAT) are far more likely than peers to outperform their performance targets.

Email marketing will probably never truly die, but it will diminish in value to businesses if we continue down the path we’re on. If nothing else, as other marketers fail to change, taking these actions should mean you can outrun your competitors.

Matt Moorut is a Director Analyst in the Gartner Marketing Practice, presenting live on this subject and others at the 2023 Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, taking place May 22-24 in Denver, CO.

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Salary and Career: Kathleen Voboril can make martech sing Wed, 24 May 2023 13:57:14 +0000 For our Salary and Career Survey, we interviewed Kathleen Voboril, a marketing consultant with many years in top marketing positions.

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As part of our Salary and Career Survey, we interviewed people about their experiences in marketing. Today we’re talking to Kathleen Voboril who is now a consultant after many years in top marketing positions. She’s also figured out how to combine her first love, musical theater, with martech. (Interview edited for length and clarity.)

Q: How did you get started in marketing?

A: I actually went to school for musical theater and had a dream of being an actress on Broadway. So for my first few years out of college, I was in New York City trying to make it as an actress on Broadway. I was temping and the best kind of side jobs were in financial services. 

I wound up in a private equity firm because they would give me health insurance and one thing led to another and they offered me a full-time job as a marketing associate. I did that for a year or two and then decided to go get my MBA at the University of Texas. 

Q: In marketing?

A: I did not focus on marketing. I didn’t love marketing. The classes and the coursework didn’t light me up. I concentrated on entrepreneurship. I thought I’d do the VC entrepreneur thing, but there was an opportunity to go to GE which had this experience commercial leadership program. I thought of it as a vocational MBA because it was two years of training. You do three, eight-month-long rotations in different GE business units. It was a great gig. 

Dig deeper: MarTech Salary and Career Survey shows a profession coming into its own

Well at GE, pretty early on, I got the digital bug. My sponsors and mentors kind of thought it was a fad and like something for the interns and very marcom-y and not very strategic. But I was like, “Well, we’re supposed to be like the future marketing and sales leaders of the company. And all of the data shows that users, whether they’re B2B buyers or B2C buyers, they’re increasingly spending time online. So, are we going to be relevant and understand that?”

Q: You called it. That must have positioned you very nicely.

A: Yeah, I started becoming known for being a digital expert inside GE. When it was time to graduate from the program, GE was actually one of the first brands to spend more on digital ads than traditional ads. And Jeff Immelt, the CEO, had mandated that every business unit have a mid-to-senior-level digital leader. I kind of got to choose which unit to work with and I went and led digital for GE Transportation, which was a $5 billion business, but GE’s smallest division. 

Q: Sounds great, what made you leave?

A: What I was doing in transportation was great and really well received across the company, but I couldn’t get bigger budgets. There was no CMO in that business and I was one of three marketers for the entire division. There were bigger business divisions that wanted me to come and do digital for them, but at GE at the time, the transportation business would have had to be willing to sell me to the energy business and they weren’t willing to do that. 

Q: Where did you go from there?

I had a friend at a consumer packaged goods company called Central Garden and Pet, and they wanted a digital leader and it was in Atlanta. I was in Atlanta at the time and didn’t want to leave. And I got really excited about the idea of it being a CPG and marketing was really in the driver’s seat. They had a lot of classically trained CPG marketing leadership and they had this big vision for digital. I was going to come in and manage a digital agency, have big budgets, build a team, so I was excited. 

My second week there they laid off the entire senior leadership team. I went from I was going to have a multimillion-dollar digital ad budget to getting $100,000, and you get to fire the agency because of how much they cost you. So we did content marketing, we did social. I replaced our agency with software companies. We also re-platformed all of our websites to Sitecore, like 50-60 sites, and did a lot of training and stuff like that. 

Q: How did you go from Atlanta to Oregon?

A: I wanted to move back to Portland where I was born and raised and got offered a job at Oregon Tool, at the time it was called Blunt International. Up until that point, I’d really only done digital marketing, I really hadn’t done much with ecommerce. And the opportunity at Oregon Tool was 50/50 digital marketing and ecommerce. That was really intriguing. 

Q: But there were problems?

I get there and they’re like, “We’ve spent all this money and hired all these people.” And I’m thinking, “Oh my God, they bought the absolute wrong technology. And I think I can get this team to work together and there’s some diamonds in the rough here, but this isn’t the right skill set for what they say they’re trying to do.”  So I spent my first two years cleaning up and course-correcting. 

I think most senior leadership teams, especially those of a certain age, don’t want to admit that they don’t understand this stuff. They feel like, “Oh, by now I should sort of get that the Internet matters.” The truth is they don’t really know what kind of capabilities and resources they need, but they don’t want to admit it. 

I was there for about four-and-a-half years and built a global ecommerce business and grew revenue from $2.5 million to $30 million. We also developed a direct consumer fulfillment capability and were really starting to do some cool things, like re-platforming the websites. But it was bought by private equity owners. They took on a lot of debt and I was part of a mass layoff. I think unfortunately it’s probably only a matter of time till it’s a shell of its former self. 

Q: What do you like about marketing?

A: I love how multidisciplinary it is. I love how the art meets the science and how it’s all just an ecosystem. It’s the perfect blend between structure and creativity, between technology and art, between data and feeling. And I love how cross-functional it is, especially digital marketing. 

Q: I have to ask, is there a Broadway musical hiding in digital marketing?

A: Funny you should ask that. I have started this side project that I’m calling corporate karaoke. I’m taking musical theater and pop songs and I’m reperforming them with corporate context. My latest is Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” but it’s about SAP and how SAP is the invasive vine in your tech stack that you just can’t quit.

View Preview

(You can check out Kathleen’s other funny songs on her YouTube channel, @Corporate-Karaoke.)

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Salary and Career: Kathleen Voboril can make martech sing For our Salary and Career Survey, we interviewed Kathleen Voboril, a marketing consultant with many years in top marketing positions.
Leverage first-party data for a winning CRM strategy Tue, 23 May 2023 18:54:21 +0000 Learn these data-collection hacks to reach customers with the right message on the right channel.

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A real emphasis has been placed on the collection of first-party data.

Pairing a first-party data strategy with a one-to-one marketing strategy will help your teams remain aligned to ensure messages are both targeted and personalized. This needs to happen from the very first interaction at the point of ingestion.

Join data experts as they share their perspectives on the importance of clean, complete, and connected data to optimize your CRM.

Register and attend “How to Leverage First-Party Data for a Winning CRM Strategy,” presented by AtData.

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How to build a customer journey orchestration strategy Tue, 23 May 2023 17:38:48 +0000 Organizations will often get a new technology before they know what they are going to do with it. Strategy must drive tech decisions.

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Customer journey orchestration (CJO) uses different tools to provide seamless experiences for customers and increase revenue. Because customer journey orchestration casts a broad net across the entire customer lifecycle it’s essential to have a strategy for your technology.

“When we talk about customer orchestration, we’re talking about much more than just a buyer’s journey,” said Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of martech consultancy Digital Exhaust, at The MarTech Conference.

Here are some guidelines for building a CJO strategy.

Technology is not a strategy

Too often, organizations put the cart before the horse and get technology without knowing what they are going to do with it.

“Technology can only enable the strategy that you’ve already designed,” said Hidalgo. “So if you’ve bought technology in the hopes of orchestrating the customer journey and you’re struggling with that technology, the chances are that it’s not the technology’s fault. The chances are that you don’t have a defined strategy.”

Consider the full spectrum of customer interactions

“Orchestration is also not funnel or conversion metrics,” Hidalgo said. “And it’s not an initial purchase path.”

A customer journey includes all the paths to purchase. The problem is that those paths don’t go in a straight line or easily discernible funnel, even though that is a common way in which marketers refer to it.

“Think more broadly in terms of that full customer spectrum,” he said, explaining that 90% of customer lifetime value exists after an initial purchase.

“A lot of that customer journey happens after the initial purchase, but there’s also a whole bunch that we need to be concerned about before the initial purchase, because that’s where we can really start to engage in meaningful interactions,” Hidalgo said. 

Mapping the customer journey

Customer journey orchestration is a strategy enabled by technology, said Hidalgo. It has to extend across the organization and can’t just be delegated to a single team like customer service.

Here are the general areas or “macro stages” a customer journey orchestration strategy should include.

To stay on top of these stages, you need real collaboration in the organization because different teams have to be included in the strategy.

“We know throughout all of these things, there’s ebbs and flows, there’s different people involved, there’s outside influences…that are impacting your customers and that are going to change how they interact with your products, that may change their buying process, that may change what they’re going to do from a renewal or a retention perspective,” said Hidalgo.

Get to know your customer

The stages of the customer journey correspond with roles in the organization. Follow up with these key people and discover what they know about customers at the specific stages.

Customer feedback, surveys, interviews and customer data are also sources to help find out about customers directly.

“There’s a lot of different ways to get to know our customers,” said Hidalgo. This especially applies to B2B customers, where longer conversations about their customer journey are appropriate.

“Speak directly to [customers], ask them what their end-to-end journey looks like,” he said. “From the time you engage with our brand, now you own our product or service and you’ve renewed with us — what does that look like? Who was involved?”

Dig deeper: Questions to ask vendors before buying a customer journey orchestration solution

Connecting customer journey orchestration to experience

“Without orchestration, you can’t deliver customer experience,” Hidalgo stated.

Once you know about the stages of your customers’ journeys and their needs at each stage, you can build digital experiences that meet those needs. This includes the website, mobile app, social media, service chats, paid media and other digital and offline touchpoints.

“When I’m talking about orchestrating, I’m not talking about you as an organization demanding a customer do these things so that you can sell your product or service,” said Hidalgo. “What I am saying is, understand that journey so you can orchestrate that engagement.”

A customer will always control their journey, he said. The reason marketers need to have a customer journey orchestration strategy is to be able to provide a better experience during that journey.

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Google Marketing Live 2023: What you need to know Tue, 23 May 2023 17:12:30 +0000 A recap of all the ads and marketing news from Google's annual event, including lots of generative AI, new features and insights.

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The majority of the announcements today featured some form of artificial intelligence. Here’s a recap of everything you need to know from Google Marketing Live, with links to full coverage of each major announcement.

Google Ads lets you create campaigns using conversational AI

You can now create Google Ads campaigns with Google AI-driven chat directly within the Google Ads interface. This new feature allows Google AI to do some of the heavy lifts (or at least get you part way there) with AI, all via chat. Advertisers, have no fear! You’ll be able to edit the assets generated by AI before going live.

Google Search Generative Experience integrates Search, Shopping ads

We learned of Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) just two weeks ago at Google I/O. In the demo, all ads were located outside of the conversational chat. That’s now changing. Google is working to directly integrate ads into Search Generative Experience. This is still an experiment, but we can get a glimpse of what’s to come for the eventual monetization of SGE.

Google PMax adds generative AI to create text assets, images

Google’s newest campaign type will soon be offering an even more automated experience with Google AI baked into the campaign setup process. Furthermore, image creation using generative AI will be included to help generate creative for these image and video-heavy campaigns. An enhanced goal and a brand new goal will also aid you in steering PMax efforts toward your ideal customers.

Dig deeper: Campaign tracking in GA4: How to ensure your links are properly tagged

Google Ads will create AI-powered assets that target search queries

Automatically created assets will soon gain more relevance thanks to Google AI. Instead of building assets pre-auction, with these new features Google AI will be able to generate assets based on the user intent of an individual query.

Google Product Studio brings AI-generated images to advertisers

With Google’s new Product Studio tool, merchants will be able to manipulate product photos edit, enhance or sharpen photos via Google AI. Product Studio will allow you to create dynamic backgrounds or remove old unappealing ones and even sharpen low-resolution images.

Google: Merchant Center Next to replace Merchant Center

Google Merchant Center will be replaced by 2024 by Google Merchant Center Next. This simplified home for product feeds can leverage your website data in the feed creation process to remove some of the harder, technical work for less savvy merchants. Also, an improved UI as well as insights in the Performance tab look to enhance the experience within the platform.

7 new Google Ads features include Brand restrictions in broad match, AI in Smart Bidding

Lastly, a handful of tactical elements are coming to your Google Ads account that features better insights, more tools to guide Google around brand restrictions as well as, you guessed it, AI and LLMs in Smart Bidding.

Why we care. While this Google Marketing Live was heavy on AI, it isn’t forced. The AI is shown to be rolling out in a way that will help with the heavy lifting that advertisers face, rather than replacing all of the work. Overall, these changes should majorly help to save time and give better control with steering automated campaigns.

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It’s time to teach AI about your brand Tue, 23 May 2023 15:20:04 +0000 Marketing needs to elevate itself from baked-in AI solutions and look at creating custom models based on their own data. Start with brand.

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With many marketing organizations using solutions with artificial intelligence baked in, and many now scrambling to test use cases for readily available generative AI, Andrew Frank, VP distinguished analyst at Gartner, steps forward with a modest proposal: Develop a custom AI model for your brand. And the first use case for it? Branding itself.

The custom part of the proposal is a key feature. Marketing must graduate from “embedded, out-of-the-box” solutions, Frank says. He quotes Gartner research that shows that, while 55% of business leaders consider AI for every use case (rising to 71% if AI has been in use for more than four years), marketing comes seventh in the top twelve list of business functions seen by the leaders as benefitting from AI.

Why start with brand. Presenting at the Gartner Marketing Symposium, Frank made the case that brand is actually a “fuzzy, abstract” concept, and pointed correctly to the immense progress made by AI, and notably by generative AI, in handling the fuzzy. Generative AI like Chat GPT, for example, tends to sacrifice precision for broadly relevant and more-or-less accurate output. “It’s easier for them to tell you whether a story is happy or sad than whether it’s true.”

Ideal for brand, Frank says, which is not one precise concept, but a panoply of imagery, color, tone, mood and values.

“You have a brand, you care about that brand and you have been developing assets for that brand,” Frank told us. “That is actually a perfect situation to begin custom modeling.”

Of course, just starting is going to be daunting, but Frank is not calling on brands to start from scratch; “That’s out of the scope of most organizations,” he said. ChatGPT is just one of a number of foundational AI models out there, including offerings from Google and Amazon. The strategy should be to deploy one of these models and then customize it by training it on the brand’s own data. “It becomes a copy of the original model,” Frank explained, “with your own custom additions.”

As well as training data there should be human oversight and feedback, especially to represent brand values.

This doesn’t mean that humans are themselves going to have to feed the model with what it needs to know. “The beauty of these models is, you don’t even have to understand the concepts that it’s extracting. It will do that for you. All you have to do is feed it with a corpus of examples and all of the subtle semantic connections that we consider it really hard to think about, it does that for you.”

Who’s on the team? This project will need input from both marketers and from IT and data scientists and AI experts. At the heart of the team, however, is a role Frank refers to as the Model Owner. The Model Owner will not be a hands-on data or AI expert, but she will be able to interact with the experts and translate between their operational challenges and the needs of the marketers. “It’s not a technical role at all,” Frank said. “It’s more of a supervisory role that articulates and owns the training process. They don’t have to know how the training process works.”

The operational framework for the model envisages generative AI creating paid media, content and social ads, sites, apps, videos and chatbots, but all within the parameters of the brand it has come to understand.

Why we care. Among all the use cases currently being described for AI, this is an ambitious one. It’s easy to see how branding could go off the rails without close human attention. Frank admits that. Also, once one starts introducing an IT team (with time on its hands) and data scientists, one begins to think this is primarily an enterprise project.

Nevertheless, Frank is bold enough to posit that custom training of AI by brands will be mainstream by 2026.

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5 critical leadership skills every marketing ops pro needs Tue, 23 May 2023 14:19:12 +0000 Nurturing these five skills will help you tackle the challenges of being a leader in a rapidly evolving industry.

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Marketing operations can be chaotic, and mastering leadership skills in such a dynamic environment can be an uphill battle. While the web is overflowing with leadership listicles, these suggestions must be taken further to determine what skills are needed and why.

It’s time to move beyond advice like “become a better communicator” and use language that makes this actionable for everyone. Below are five key skills to help you tackle the challenges of a rapidly evolving industry.

1. Become a strategist, not a firefighter

Developing effective marketing leadership skills begins with learning to think and plan strategically. Part of this requires stepping past the reactionary day-to-day and taking proactive action for the sake of the business. 

This is a challenge in many environments if the marketing function has been understaffed or underresourced, leaving the team to merely react to the items. However, at some point, this shifts. It’s critical to see the potential for fires before they even start. 

Marketing leaders must hone their ability to address complex problems and make informed decisions. That also means considering factors beyond simple financial implications, including:

  • Implementing new technology.
  • Mitigating risks of business processes across the organization.
  • Simply communicating about the MQL to SQL process between teams. 

Becoming a strategist means having the ability to do the following:

Analyzing business fundamentals

Call it “first principles” or whatever you want, but examine the core drivers of your business and be willing to challenge the status quo based on what you find. Rather than jumping on each new martech tool, consider the cascading effects of each new technology across your business.

Keep a close eye on emerging trends and anticipate their impact on your team’s work over the next 12 to 24 months. Proactively communicate this anticipated impact to your team. When your team is prepared and empowered, you can spend less time putting out fires.

Shift focus to long-term planning

Develop the capacity to pull yourself out of the weeds and move towards more of a planner/advisor role. For instance, these days, you might be asking, “How will our organization use AI? What are the implications? Drawbacks? Ethical concerns?” 

Dig deeper: Rethinking the marketing planning process for an agile world

2. Interpret and showcase data correctly

For better or worse, leaders can create a powerful effect on behavior by carefully choosing what to measure and what metrics they expect employees to use. To excel in marketing ops, you must possess a strong understanding of marketing analytics, be excellent at discerning valuable insights and communicate those findings in an impactful and concise manner.

Organizations differ in how they define data-driven, though Forrester sums it up nicely: “A data-driven organization identifies the insights it needs data to inform. It effectively manages that data and empowers its team to use it.” 

While data should help drive decisions, you must balance that with speed. In our organization, we often say, “Companies grow at the rate of decision-making.” You can accelerate your organization’s growth by optimizing the speed at which you gain insights from your data and empowering your team to leverage those insights.

But it’s hard to create any growth if you don’t know which metrics matter

Great leaders recognize the fluff of vanity metrics, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them. Instead, understand the relationships between lead and lag measures and make sure your team understands.

People in your organization will have different opinions on which metrics matter and how to interpret them

Empathy and understanding are key. Strike a balance if you need to because different stakeholders will care about different KPIs. Some may give extra attention to lead measures, but these measures can still illustrate progress, even when bottom-line results are not yet apparent. It’s all about learning to tell a compelling story with the data in situations like these. 

3. Practice empathetic change management

Change management becomes important when implementing new processes, tools or technologies — which, in the case of marketing, can be frequent.

Whether you’re adopting ChatGPT for SEO or trying to get the sales team to use HubSpot sequences, your goal is to ensure a smooth transition, minimizing disruption to your team. To achieve this, consider a few tips:

Education and buy-in

Practice empathy for those asked to make shifts and make sure they feel heard in their concerns. By securing their support (rather than just asserting your correctness), you can minimize foot-dragging and/or burnout.

Tailor your message

Just as in marketing a product or service, tailor your message to each specific group within your organization according to what’s important to them. Remember that people learn differently.

For example, create visual roadmaps illustrating anticipated workflow improvements and time savings when introducing a new project management tool.

Small wins

Focus on finding small wins that support the vision, whether they serve as a step in the right direction or simply as a morale boost to sustain motivation.

For instance, when transitioning to a new marketing automation platform, celebrate the first successful email campaign sent using the new tool, showcasing its benefits and boosting team morale.

4. Communicate and collaborate as a team

People tend to either retroactively realize they needed better communication or they’re the type to have meetings for the sake of meetings. But just like group projects in high school, you don’t want to be caught doing all the work or carrying the load alone. 

Effective cross-functional collaboration is key to aligning marketing efforts with other business functions, but better collaboration doesn’t mean more meetings (which could have been emails). It’s about asking the right questions and fostering free-flowing communication.

Create standardized processes across teams

For every decision, ask yourself: do we know the criteria we’re using to make those decisions? Start by identifying inconsistencies across functions. Pay attention to differences in response to the same questions. 

For example, receiving the same request from different departments in different ways may indicate a need to streamline communication and establish clearer guidelines.

Or you might find different teams have different webinar processes. This could mean that teams have different reasons for ignoring a standardized approach, have distinct processes or are unaware of shared resources like a documentation library. 

Identifying and addressing these discrepancies will lead to more effective cross-functional collaboration and a stronger, more cohesive company.

Don’t jump straight into the deep end with communication

It’s great to keep everyone on the same page and establish clear communication channels within/across teams. Sharing insights and best practices between departments can be hugely helpful too.

But avoid overdoing it in communication. Going from zero to 100 to compensate for communication lapses can be overwhelming, causing your team to tune things out and creating white noise. Leaders need to gauge effectiveness and pivot as necessary. 

5. Be flexible yet structured where it matters

Just as a goldfish grows to fit the size of its bowl, our tasks expand to fill the time we allow them to. Agile project management can help you efficiently allocate resources and adapt to changing priorities, ensuring you deliver timely results.

Clear communication

As with improving cross-functional collaboration, you must establish a decision-making framework to prioritize tasks effectively. Work on communicating goals clearly. 

Dig deeper: How to use decision intelligence to tackle complex business challenges

Efficient resource allocation

Adopt an agile mindset when handling technology transitions. Be prepared to back up your current tools, move to new ones and notify your company about changes in tool usage. Balance time and resources to manage these transitions smoothly since sunsetting old tools bring its own workload.

Adapt to changing priorities 

Ask better questions to understand priority and impact. Develop a plan that is flexible enough to avoid falling apart at the first sign of change. 

Deliver results on time (and don’t hide it)

People may forget when you deliver on time, but they will remember when you’re late. Don’t forget to remind and celebrate your team’s successes externally.

Staying agile is key

By implementing agile project management, you’ll be better equipped to handle the dynamic nature of marketing operations, ensuring that you can adapt and deliver results efficiently.

Excelling as a marketing ops leader requires a unique blend of skills. By nurturing these skills, you’ll be better positioned to tackle the challenges of a rapidly evolving industry. It may seem like tired advice, but remember that continuous learning and adaptability are crucial to staying ahead in marketing, so embrace the challenge.

Dig deeper: Agile marketing: What it is and why marketers should care

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3 brands that have mastered the art and science of marketing by Emarsys Tue, 23 May 2023 11:00:40 +0000 Find out how brands deliver campaigns that drive true customer loyalty.

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Much has been written about the challenges marketers are up against in 2023.

From economic volatility and growing technological complexity to changes in data privacy policies and exponential improvements in AI (yes, ChatGPT, we’re talking about you – again!), this year has been a heady mix of uncertainty and excitement.

This is especially true for marketers, who have had to course-correct on-the-fly, retro-fitting strategies and tactics to accommodate ever-shifting business goals.

If nothing else, this has forced marketers to rethink both the art and the science of the campaigns they plan, build and execute. 

Unpacking the art and science of marketing

The old adage that marketing comprises both science and art in equal measure still holds true. To better understand this, let’s first unpack what exactly we mean by “art” and “science.”

  • The science of marketing can certainly involve creativity, but it’s primarily about the “how” and “why” of what you’re doing. That’s where science comes in. Think data, IT and technology, and measuring revenue impact.

Brands that have perfected the blend of art and science

When it comes to real-world success stories of brands that are effectively blending the art and science of marketing, the following brands stand out:

Reformation and the “text message heard around the world.”

Sustainable fashion brand Reformation harnessed the power of SMS to engage their mobile-first, Millennial and Gen Z audience while staying true to their brand voice.

By marrying provocative, deliberately non-promotional creative with smart targeting, the brand created the “text message heard around the world,” which achieved a 96% CTR and 963x total program ROI in just six months.

BrandAlley, advocacy data and supercharged growth

The cost of acquisition vs. retention is a conversation that’s become particularly relevant in the face of tightening marketing budgets and smaller teams. 

To bring down acquisition costs, BrandAlley (with the help of Mention Me) married advocacy data with personalized content to fuel customer loyalty campaigns that reward customers who generate revenue for BrandAlley via referrals. This is a powerful example of the art and science of marketing working hand-in-hand.

Ochsner Sport’s personalization journey

As Switzerland’s largest sporting goods retailer, Ochsner Sport has felt the pressure in recent years to up its personalization game. They achieved this by doing two important things – balancing the art of building a cross-functional personalization program with the science of using data-driven insights to unlock true customer centricity. 

Hear from these brands first-hand

SAP Emarsys will showcase these brands and many more at its Omnichannel Masterclass, which forms part of this year’s Power to the Marketer Festival.

See how leading brands and innovative marketers are elevating the art and science of marketing. 

Join the Festival

Power to the Marketer Omnichannel Masterclass June 7- 8

Day 1 is all about the art, and you’ll get insights on topics like:

  • Mastering SMS to reach new audiences
  • Perfecting customer loyalty to increase retention
  • Redefining the value exchange for better customer data

Day 2 is all about the science, and you’ll learn about:

To join the omnichannel masterclass event or to learn more about speakers and topics, visit the event registration page.

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Marketers under pressure to cut martech spend Mon, 22 May 2023 18:27:43 +0000 75% of CMOs feel under pressure to cut their technology spending, according to the latest Gartner CMO Spend survey.

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Marketing budgets remain flat in 2023 having failed to climb back to pre-COVID levels. That’s one takeaway from Gartner’s latest CMO Spend and Strategy survey unveiled at the Gartner Marketing Symposium and Xpo in Denver. Another key finding was that 71% of CMOs believe they lack the budget successfully to execute this year’s strategies.

Gartner cites recessionary fears, inflation and a talent gap as stoking concerns in the enterprise that have knock-on effects on marketing and marketing technology investments. Perhaps unexpectedly, although media allocation is flat, spending on digital channels actually showed a slight decline.

The state of martech spend. The bad news for the martech space is that no less than 75% of CMOs feel under pressure from other parts of the enterprise to cut their technology spending. The consolation is that 63% plan to resist the pressure, to some degree at least, and grow their martech spending. But almost one quarter, 23%, do expect to make cuts.

CMOs do propose to increase social advertising spend, but among the categories likely to take a hit are search advertising, SEO and digital OOH.

It’s necessary to “make a clear value case for martech investment,” said Ewan McIntyre, chief of research for the Gartner for Marketers Practice, presenting the survey’s findings. He also said, using the analogy of a voyage, that what was needed was “not a bigger boat, but a more efficient boat.”

Dig deeper: Digital ad spend growth drops to 7.8% this year

Catalytic marketing. His comments reflected the prominent theme of the Gartner keynote delivered by Lizzy Foo Kune, VP analyst and Carlos Guerrero, VP advisory in the Gartner Marketing Practice. They insisted that, despite pressures to realize growth in an uncertain environment, CMOs should not take the familiar route of increasing activity and taking on more projects.

They also questioned the value of “customer obsession.” “Customer obsession goes too far,” said Guerrero, “to unprofitable extremes that customers find intrusive.” Rather than trying to meet customers in every conceivable channel, leveraging customer data to deliver countless relevant messages, the keynote speakers introduced the concept of “catalytic marketing.” Gartner data shows, they said, that more important than quantity of engagement are experiences that bring about some change in the customer.

In essence, catalytic marketing is not about “more.” “Progressive CMOs are breaking free from the cycle of more by embracing catalytic marketing and, in the process, shifting from growing marketing’s scope to growing marketing’s success,” said Guerrero.

Why we care. The pressures on marketing and martech investment are clearly real. It’s an environment that demands efficiency and demonstrable ROI. The catalytic marketing concept needs to be fleshed out (an example they cited was L’Oreal’s Skin Genius experience); that’s the positive part of the Gartner message.

The part that might be perceived as negative is the sense that attempting to develop a 360 degree view of the customer and apply it to engagement on countless channels, might be counter-productive, despite everything we’ve heard over the past few years.

About the survey. 410 CMOs and marketing leaders were surveyed in March and April 2023. Respondents were based in North America and Europe, representing various industries and company sizes, with most reporting annual revenue exceeding $1 billion.

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