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Our Clients’ Top 2019 Digital Marketing Challenges

What’s the one big challenge that marketers and CMO’s we partner with  are facing this year? It’s really tough to put a finger on just one. Proving impact on revenue, marketing team staffing, personalization, and marketing-IT alignment are among the hurdles voiced in discussions that Mediacurrent’s sales team are having with prospects and clients. We are finding CMO’s are pressed more than ever to show marketing’s value while the complexities and opportunities sprouting within digital continue to evolve. Let’s dive into each challenge and uncover what makes these hurdles difficult to jump — and the tools or approach that can help marketers overcome them.

Proving Impact on Revenue

Probably not surprising that last year Gartner surveyed where CMOs were spending marketing budgets. They found marketing budgets shrunk slightly year over year since 2016 while a higher percentage of budgets are being allocated to digital. The pressure is on for marketers to prove how specific marketing campaigns and investments directly contribute to an organization’s revenue. Owners and shareholders want more specificity in understanding how much budget to allocate to higher revenue generating activities. Furthermore, marketers need to react faster to fluctuating market conditions that impact customer experience.

How can you attribute revenue to specific marketing activities and demonstrate ROI so you can invest and optimize in the right activities? There are a number of SaaS tools available and most implement a specific approach to measure marketing attribution and achieve granular ROI tracking. 

  • Motomo - offers a GPL-licensed on-premise web analytics stack.
  • Bizible - analytics and multi-touch revenue attribution.
  • Terminus / Brightfunnel - product suite that offers account-based marketing analytics and sales insights.
  • Conversion Logic - cross-channel attribution with AI-powered insights and budget forecast simulations.
  • Allocadia - a marketing performance management platform that offers revenue attribution and insights into marketing budget allocation.
  • Full Circle Insights - product stack that tracks marketing and sales attribution, built as a native Salesforce App.
  • Google Attribution - formerly called Adometry, it’s now part of the Google Marketing Platform.
  • Salesforce CRM - ROI tracking can be enabled with additional campaign configuration.
  • Domo Digital 360 - full suite of analytics, funnel, and ROI tracking.
  • VisualIQ - strategic measurement, multi-touch attribution, audience analysis, and predictive insights.
  • Oracle Marketing Cloud - integrated suite of tools that include analytics, marketing automation, content/social marketing, and data management.

Because each tool specializes in a specific aspect of ROI tracking, you will need to do some research to understand which tool best fits your organization. Most of the tools listed above implement some form of attribution tracking that will help achieve more robust ROI calculations. Our Director of Marketing Adam Kirby gives a helpful overview of  how marketing attribution works, in his MarTech West slide deck. Organizations we speak with often need help from consultants and agencies to understand how to optimally configure their martech stack with ROI tracking tools. This need coincidentally brings us to the next challenge marketer’s are facing...

Staffing Teams - The Right Blend

Organizations are becoming more careful to find the proper balance between internal team staffing and engaging help from an outside agency. In the early 2010’s, there was a movement within Fortune 2000 companies to bring more expertise in-house. As martech complexity evolved into the latter part of this decade, organizations are realizing that exposure to new technologies and approaches is limited with their in-house teams. By engaging with a wide spectrum of industries, clients, and projects, agencies provide a broad view into the martech landscape that in-house teams don’t have. What’s the right blend? It depends on the vertical. Organizations with one large website typically outsource at least half of their digital marketing. Higher Ed and Government have longer procurement cycles and, consequently, need at least 75% of their overall marketing team to be full-time in-house.

Not only is outside help needed by in-house teams to stay informed, budget scrutiny is forcing CMO’s to seek off-shore development help. However, they are finding off-shore falters when technology projects aren’t being led by one or more on-shore architects who maintain a project’s integrity between on-shore stakeholders and off-shore teams. These technical liaisons are critical to off-shore development success. We see too many organizations assume if off-shore developers demonstrate technical competency, they should be fully capable of leading an implementation. Yet, those organizations fail to consider the strength of influence local culture has on communication dynamics and the perception of requirements by off-shore teams.

Personalization

Another challenge marketers are targeting is how personalization can impact KPIs and produce a higher ROI percentage compared to other digital marketing efforts. In 2017, the concept of personalization was buzzing while marketers were trying to understand what it takes from a content and labor effect to implement. After GDPR went into effect a little over a year ago, personalization efforts have to take into account how GDPR laws impact customer data acquisition and retention, making the implementation of personalization trickier and more complex with respect to data analysis and the ability to capitalize on personalization opportunities. Tools like Acquia Lift, open source marketing automation platform Mautic (recently acquired by Acquia), Triblio, and Optimizely Web Personalization offer slightly different perspectives on personalization. 

When evaluating if you’re ready for personalization, here are eight considerations that will dictate success when carefully planned or potential failure if not addressed:

  1. Do you have enough content that’s written for each persona your personalization effort needs to target?
  2. Do you have content creators who can continually create new and evergreen content?
  3. Do you have KPIs defined to track the performance of your personalization efforts?
  4. Is your martech stack compatible with personalization technologies that fit your business model?
  5. Do accurate, fresh data metrics exist in usable forms? Is data structured uniformly and exclusive of redundancies that might skew its meaning?
  6. How do data privacy laws impact the efficacy of a personalization initiative? Can enough of the right user data legally be captured to supply the initiative?
  7. Are data governance guidelines in place that ensure data integrity stays intact well beyond the implementation phase of a personalization initiative?
  8. Finally, is your department or organization committed to investing time and energy into personalization? It’s a long game and shouldn’t be misinterpreted as an off-the-shelf-set-it-and-forget-it type of content solution.

If you’re starting a personalization strategy from ground zero, Mediacurrent Senior Digital Strategist Danielle Barthelemy wrote a quick guide to creating a content strategy with personalization as the end-goal. Danielle illustrates how a sound personalization strategy positively influences purchase intent, response rate, and acquisition costs. 

Marketing-IT Alignment

In order for digital marketing execution to be as effective and efficient as possible with initiatives like ROI tracking and personalization, it’s imperative for marketing and IT teams to collaborate cohesively.  A frictionless environment is critical for marketers to meet the immediacy of an ever-increasing market speed. In some organizations, these two departments are still maintaining competing interests in relation to policy, security, infrastructure, and budget. Example scenarios include  strict IT policies that can stifle speed-to-market, cowboy marketers all but ignoring technical security when implementing new tools, and executives missing the budgetary discord that echoes when both departments operate in their own silos.

These independent agendas must be meshed together into one for the betterment of the organization. But how? 

  • Learn how to empathize by understanding each other’s goals and challenges across departments. Define a shared list of KPI’s and time-bound each.
  • Schedule weekly touch point meetings between IT and marketing leaders.
  • Conduct a quarterly tools review to understand the “why” behind tools that each department uses.
  • Demonstrate discipline-specific concepts that require collaboration from the other department. For instance, show IT how marketing attribution works and what’s required of them to make it successful. Or, show marketing what a normalized database is and how it will help marketing be successful by reducing duplicate data.

Marketing ROI: An Ongoing Challenge

Overall, the challenges CMO’s are asking us about as we move into the latter half of 2019 are heavily rooted in accurately tracking ROI and putting tools in place to boost it. While marketers have been challenged with proving ROI for years, digital has evolved to a point where tools and systems exist that embolden marketers to aggressively pursue understanding where their money is best spent. For most organizations, there are still talent hurdles to overcome and knowledge gaps to fill to properly implement martech and systems that accurately track ROI. 

How about you — what challenges are your marketing department working to solve this year? Have you found the right in-house to agency team blend? Have you had success with ROI tracking and personalization?

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Meet team member, Paul Chason

Paul Chason is the Managing Partner at Mediacurrent, managing the company’s operations and playing roles in sales, infrastructure, technology and marketing. Paul is a rarity in the web industry. With...

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