Data technology crucial to digital marketing

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Participants in the marketing strategy roundtable at the Marketo offices in San Mateo, California
Participants in the marketing strategy roundtable at the Marketo offices in San Mateo, California

Albright: Something to consider is the share of wallet, and what is the amount of spending for new customer acquisition versus existing customer expansion? Then create your spend strategy along the right lines. If you can get your customers and your market to come to you because you have good content and then you can nurture them, that's the most efficient way.

Eighty percent of our revenue is coming from people or customers that are new accounts. If you measure it well enough, then you'll have the confidence to raise your marketing spending.

Most companies are spending 25%, 30% in marketing what they're spending in sales. But if marketing is extremely efficient and you can hold marketing as accountable for creating interest and creating real revenue as you are sales, then you'll have the confidence to raise that.

Your quotas can go up along with that because now sales is spending a much higher percentage of their time closing business, and marketing is doing a much better job developing and qualifying that.

Ramos: I'm envious of the model, but that is a really tough model for a company that's 70-plus years old with thousands of salespeople. There are some very entrenched behaviors. Coming in and saying, 'Hey, use this technology and system,' isn't going to work.

Salespeople get trained on what? Sales methodologies. I think the new one's called “The Challenger Sale.” Where in any of that is the part that says, ‘Go into your blah, blah, blah system and look for the new leads?' Until you get ‘pursue the sale' lined up with ‘here's the opportunities we're bringing to you,' I think that gap will continue to exist.

Johnson: It is all based on value exchange. How do you actually create that value exchange throughout all of those touchpoints to keep people either with you or with their communities and you, and use that? We haven't really figured out how to codify that to a smart framework that's going to align the organization. But that is the essence of what we need to do.

Direct Marketing News: How do you resolve owning and safeguarding the customer experience when the data is spread across the company, and are you trying to find ways to centralize that information? Is part of that getting a handle on the technology needed to do so?

Smith: Marketing departments need to change how they're budgeting for people. We need technology people inside the marketing department. Marketing is going to spend more money on technology than IT in the next year. We have all these technologies that we're throwing against it and there aren't engineers sitting in many marketing departments. We need technology people that are also trained in marketing and understand our language.

Morris: You need data lovers that are marketers; people who are fascinated by the structure of a relational database and the way that you can use that. I can go into a database and just stare at it and devise new methods of triggered messaging.

I'm a little more in the trenches than a lot of you here and you need people like that in the trenches that maybe start out with a pure marketing focus, but have that love of information and a real passion for your customers that can translate into a passion for their data.

Eiler: I think there's a soft-skilled aspect of this also that I'm seeing with analytic types that I work with in marketing that I've stolen from other teams, that great financial analyst or that great IT person who's a lover of data, who thinks marketing's really cool. They often are missing the skill of being able to answer the business question. I've been to so many meetings where they've explained all this data. Okay, so what are we supposed to do? I think we have to do coaching for these folks, because it's a brand new career.

Morris: We have data spread out all over. You might be working with an agency to define your influencers. You might have email data in an ESP.

How do you make sure that you're owning all of that throughout the phase of relationships? Data will become as valuable as your brand or your service.

One thing that will be crucial is making sure that whatever vendor you're using, that you're not losing any of that unstructured data. You're finding a way to integrate it and tie it back to a customer or a product or its appropriate place.

A simple example is in email when you switch an ESP and you have all this campaign and response data. Sometimes in a haste to make a quick switch, you're just bringing over something like a flat unsubscribe table. You want to make sure you're not losing two months of response information.

Direct Marketing News: So how do you navigate and evaluate the scope of the tools out there? What helps you to choose the best possible technology solutions?

Billick: It's hard to wade through what the best in class solution is. It goes back to objectives. If a partner is able to bring on different pieces, it really makes a big difference for us. We're mid-stage as a company, so that's the preference right now as we're laying the groundwork. We're building our portfolio of partners now.

Eleven is our brand agency of record, but we use them for a lot more than that. We integrate a lot of things across our channels with the campaigns and the work we're doing with Eleven.

Trivunovic: It's hard because there's so many of them cropping up, and so many new technologies are coming to market as quickly as they're disappearing. It's hard for brands to know ‘who do I trust' and that they're going to be around to partner with for the next three years, or five years, or 12 months.

Johnson: What just connects the dots between these two conversations though is there's all of these new technologies, all of these things that you want to try out, but you have to own the data that's attached to any of it. At some point we have to own the data store, and have all of these new vendors come in and do the provisioning on top of that.

We share similar issues with the folks at Xerox. There are so many different teams against so many different segments in so many different regions that there's a portfolio of technology. It's truly insanity.

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