Earlier this fall, at Digital World Expo, we conducted an informal survey asking marketers about their biggest challenges. Nearly everyone described a common scenario: Managing their many priorities with too few resources. Getting it all done with less. Less budget. Less headcount. Less time.
Whether or not marketers actually need to squeeze more from their budgets, staff or daily schedule, the perception is getting it all done is an increasingly difficult goal. Why? What’s changed in recent years to challenge marketers with the fairly straight-forward goal of generating leads and closing sales?
In this post, we’ll look at how the quantity and complexity of data, the increasing number of channels and the growing choice of solution providers make the pursuit of marketing effectiveness a frustrating endeavor.
For earlier posts in our 2012 Marketing Challenges series, click here.
A Matter of Time Management?
With best-selling books like David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” advocating a better methodology for productivity, a marketer could easily conclude the difficulties of planning and executing direct response campaigns is simply poor time management. If we had a better system, were better organized or more productive we would perform better. Perhaps. It’s important in designing a solution to a problem, however, to have an accurate diagnosis. Otherwise, we end up trying harder instead of working smarter.
In the course of this blog series, we’ve described several common occurrences in today’s marketing landscape. In particular, coping with the amount of data introduces a variety of new challenges that, left unmanaged, will slow down the best of marketers. No amount of personal productivity will overcome true information overload.
Data doesn’t equal confidence
A recent eMarketer survey showed that 71% of CMOs felt unprepared to leverage the large amounts of data that continue to flood the online marketing space.
In the planning process, marketers are left wondering: which of the many choices available will lead to the best possible outcomes?
Part of the problem is simply the mass of data we’re expected to analyze—all coming from different sources and telling us different stories. As one marketing executive put it, “Analytics are a key driver to decision making, but we need automation to save manpower cost.”
In 2012, the challenge isn’t to develop more analytical innovation. Instead, we need to better integrate and use the technology and data we already have.
Where to put the budget?
Budget is controlled at the top levels and sometimes allocation isn’t properly aligned with our goals and objectives. For example, during a campaign we may discover a need to increase brand awareness. The greatest opportunities may be increasing ad spend in social media or mobile. But, from siloed data reports, these same channels don’t show the investment directly driving sales revenue. And so, moving spend away from search or email proves a difficult argument.
A marketing channel’s performance is measured by the revenue metric. So choices made within budgeting processes may lead to constraints in actual performance.
How are channels interacting?
You may be collecting plenty of data, but are you clearly and quickly determining how the channels are interacting? How does PR, Email, and Paid Media compare to your performance-based partnerships? (See our previous post about consolidating the digital marketing toolset for further discussion of this challenge).
Our intention is to integrate different tactics, but achieving multi-channel marketing effectiveness is tested by our organizational structures. Often we plan and execute in silos. A respondent to a recent Forrester survey summed this up: “We work on different projects in silos. SEO works on SEO, PPC on PPC, banner on banner, print on print. We rarely exchange knowledge. IT slows things down because it has different company priorities like phone systems, corporate e‐mail, CRM management.”
Marketing versus tech capabilities
Marketing and technology now have to work together. But managing campaigns isn’t the only job of IT. This means that marketing initiatives often have to compete against other business initiatives.
IT backlogs create delays in time sensitive campaigns. And our commitment to tracking every lead and tweaking campaigns in real-time creates a reliance on our IT departments. As one marketing manager puts it, “Everyone wants fully integrated programs that manage everyday activities easier. It is also much more convenient when you can access information yourself instead of going through a busy IT professional.”
This challenge is actually wide-spread, as a director points out in the Forrester survey mentioned above, “Marketing in my company is still functioning very manually across all channels. Hence we need technology for improved workflow. Out IT department is notorious for overpromising and underdelivering. Currently it is held to no work standards by upper management.”
Plus, while real-time campaigns demand fast, agile movement as we are also challenged with integrating beyond the marketing department. As the director of marketing communications for a large consumer brand put it, “Marketing lacks direction and integration across the departmental, enterprise, and supplier ecosystem. As a result, we recreate work, are slow to respond, and make our job harder than it needs to be.”
Even in our own marketing (Impact Radius), we sometimes struggle to keep up with our inbound marketing agency, One Net Marketing. Digital marketing agencies can move very quickly, but between internal feedback, approval processes and trying to juggle between client requests, product development, attending conferences, writing blog posts, and managing internal tasks–taking a marketing campaign from planning to execution is never as fast or as direct as you’d like.
From promise to reality
The underlying theme here seems to be that while marketers are adept at planning and executing campaigns across individual channels, we still are struggling to create a unified view of customer interactions.
We have granular data. We have technological ability. We have fast, agile teams and know that we can use a variety of different channels to reach our marketing goals. But at the end of the day, we still struggle to tie it all together—in both planning and execution.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to planning and executing multi-channel campaigns?
Planning and Execution Solutions Coming Soon
Those are the challenges we at Impact Radius are monitoring when it comes to balancing the time crunch. Subscribe to our RSS feed and stay tuned for our solutions report designed to help you better understand planning and execution as well as other digital marketing challenges predicted for 2012.
Impact Radius offers robust multi-channel tracking solutions to help you analyze the performance of your different marketing channels in an increasingly complex purchase path. If you just want some free advice, message us on Twitter or drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.