What are your biggest opportunities & challenges for next 12-24 months?
We’re currently in a crowded marketplace and Scott Brinker’s super scape brings that image to life. There are a lot competing interests and demands for the time and attention of the digital marketers within an organization making it more difficult for teams to make decisions. The marketing tech stack as we know it is growing larger and larger, providing an opportunity for marketers to take advantage of the technology they have already invested in to help make those necessary decisions. We see our opportunity in the ability to enhance a marketer’s existing stack by connecting profiles and information, increasing productivity and efficiencies for them and ultimately helping them achieve better outcomes across their marketing efforts. The BlueConic platform can bring together disparate databases of user information as well as help connect it through a decisioning engine to enable the marketer to deliver that next best action.
What are some unmet needs in marketing technology landscape?
The biggest unmet need we see is the disconnect between the marketing tech stack and the advertising tech stack. According to various reports, today, brands are spending close to 50 percent of their marketing budgets on advertising. Depending on the channel, vendor, or campaign you may or may not be able to track the value of that ad spend to the bottom line. In many cases, the outcomes tracked are click rates, open rates, etc. This is all top of the funnel. Open rates and CTRs are leading indicators of creative, placement, audience, etc. Marketers however, need to understand the value of their ad spend on a customer lifetime value (CLV) basis.
At the same time, there is a lot of value in marketing technology that can benefit a marketer from a targeting perspective. For example, we have a client that builds dynamic segments on BlueConic and uses our integration with DoubleClick to target specific users with a specific message. This helps ensure that the marketer is targeting the right user with the right message.
What keeps your clients up at night?
At a base level it’s sustainable and predictable growth. That is, growth in their page views, conversion, user base and ultimately in their revenue. This is what everyone thinks about; there isn’t a single person I know that doesn’t have this challenge. If you dig deeper, many executives are always asking themselves if they’ve made the right decisions, have they invested in the right areas and if they are getting as much out of their investments as they’ve put in.
Many companies know that something is working to keep them afloat (marketing or advertising), but they aren’t sure which. Not all executives have clear attribution nor the analytical tools to understand the impact of their efforts. Further, they lack a deep understanding of who their customers are on an individual basis and the technology to address each customer on a personal level.
What social network do you anticipate accelerating growth in the next year?
In January, Re/code highlighted a Pew Research report that showed Instagram is growing faster than all others. However, LinkedIn would be my top choice for accelerating growth in the sector. I’ve been impressed with what they have done from a customer engagement perspective including notifications, updates, and capabilities to publish posts; allowing a company visibility into their network. All of these updates make the platform richer and have successfully driven engagement back into the ecosystem. I also applaud their mobile application to keep people connected with their networks while on the go.
What’s the hardest thing to educate clients about?
We believe that the future of marketing hinges on the ability to identify, understand and interact with customers on an individual basis. Seems quite simple to say, but its actually quite difficult to pull off. When discussing objectives and use cases with our clients, a lot of the conversations center on how to build a customer profile with insights that are actionable. Many of our clients have made investments in CRM, automation, email marketing, online marketing, etc. The challenge is to show them how to connect those disparate systems into a cohesive marketing engine. When they see how we do it, the conversation quickly turns from how to how quickly.
2015 will be all about?
The past few years have been all about big data. I think that 2015 will be focused on individual user data and connecting it to the right tools to deliver the best user experiences. Having data is one thing, but knowing what to do with it and having the tools to turn those individual insights into actions in real-time is entirely different. Perhaps we shift the dialog from big data to ideas like “individual data” and “now data”. With those ideas in mind we can fundamentally enhance the user experience and thereby improve business outcomes.
Dan Gilmartin is CMO of BlueConic.