Overcome Silos With Integrated Marketing Management

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Gartner Research VP Kimberly Collins
Gartner Research VP Kimberly Collins

“The number of opportunities to engage customers has rapidly expanded and exploded,” Gartner Research VP Kimberly Collins said at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit—and far more so than marketing budgets have.  What's more, few marketers ever “throw things out”; they just add to their ever-expanding marketing mix, Collins said. But many of these channels are and remain siloed. As a result, customers are often left “confused and unhappy with inconsistent and contradictory messages and treatment across channels,” she said.

So how can marketers create a more holistic, consistent customer experience? Collins recommended adding a new set of four P's to the marketing roster: align people, automate processes, measure and optimize performance, and make marketing a profit center. Marketing may never have a P&L, she said, but there needs to be insight into how marketing impacts revenue. (And yes, the old four Ps of marketing—product, price, promotion, and placement— still apply, she said.)

This means departmental and channel-based silos within marketing need to be aligned and integrated to create collaborative marketing; in other words, integrated marketing management, Collins said. There are three process areas within this that marketers need to focus on, she pointed out. The first is executional processes, or campaign management processes such as in- and outbound marketing, segmentation, and lead management and nurturing. “It's about driving that top line,” she said. The second is operations processes, or marketing resource management (MRM) processes including planning and financial management and marketing fulfillment. “Saving money here allows marketers to do more of the sexy, innovative things that can differentiate a brand,” Collins said. The third set of processes is analytic processes such as marketing mix optimization, marketing ROI analysis, and marketing performance management. Collins noted that there are areas of overlap among the three, like voice of the customer and content marketing.

But where should marketers focus first or emphasize more? Just about every area is hot in marketing today, Collins said, so it can be difficult to prioritize. It comes down to what type of customer engagement strategy an organization wants, she said. For example, active, or real-time, marketing focuses more on event-triggered marketing, personalization, and contextual marketing. There's also emotional, or customer experience and loyalty marketing, where the goal is to strength the customer relationship. Another area is rational, or social marketing, which includes crowdsourcing and online communities. A fourth are is ethical, or moral, marketing such as affinity marketing.

Integrated marketing management drives closed-loop customer engagement that supports and helps to blend those areas, she said.

Collins recommended several steps that marketers can take to help make integrated marketing management a reality. The initial steps are to start the dialog between marketing and IT, and to assemble a team with participants across the marketing ecosystem and IT to audit marketing processes and technologies and identify opportunities. Once those are in place, appoint a marketing operations director, determine the organization's customer engagement strategy, and then set supporting objectives and KPIs. Additionally, determine which marketing strategies and processes require automation and set a timeline to implement the needed tools. Finally, develop a flexible integrated marketing management roadmap and a marketing optimization management strategy.

“Marketing is [arguably] the most complex department within an organization today,” Collins said. CMOs are dealing with a complicated ecosystem and face a nexus of disruptive forces, including pervasive access via mobile and circles of influence via social. Integrated marketing management is what marketing leaders need today to help conquer that complexity and deliver on customers' expectations for a consistent and relevant experience.

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