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Holiday Brain Trust 4: Advice for 2016

With the New Year fast approaching, DMN sister publication The Hub convened a virtual panel of experts who live and breathe marketing technology to look back over 2015, and forward to next year.  See the panel details below. 

For our final question to the panel, we asked them what message they would send to companies still planning their marketing tech strategy.

Jerry Jao sees big things on the horizon: “2016 is poised for huge new advances in marketing technology. The best way to plan for next year is to focus on flexibility, scalability, and prioritizing the customer journey in relation to your brand. Look for partners or vendors who have the capability to handle the changing stages of martech, as well as the ability to grow with your company. Shift your understanding of how you approach marketing; be open to the idea of applying tried-and-true principles via new and different approaches and delivery systems, like through fully automated, AI-integrated platforms. Above all, make planning for next year’s strategy a priority–the market will be noisier than ever, and you can’t afford a late start.”

“Don’t think of marketing technology as an add-on, a complication or a three-headed monster!” AdaPia d’Errico insisted. “I like to think of marketing technology the same way I think of any technology that is part of the fabric of my life–it is meant to enhance, clarify and create ease in what you do. Start with knowing what you need, what your goals are, and then do some research to find which technologies can help achieve those goals and KPIs.”

Jarred McGinnis again derived a general message from his semantics focus. “Since semantic technology is pretty much ‘off-the-shelf’ ready, I supposed what will be exciting is to see how fast the industry adopts and adapts the tech to the specific needs facing their businesses and their clients’s businesses. My advice to anyone in marketing is to get yourself informed so you can ask the vendors the tough questions.”

Eric Holmen took actual, real-world telephone calls as his launchpad, saying that “many of the technology ecosystems marketers work hard to architect don’t account for phone calls, which can amount to millions in lost revenue. Consumers are using mobile to search, click and swipe, but they’re also using their mobile phones to talk to family, colleagues and businesses.  In fact, in a recent consumer survey we found that people of all ages prefer phone calls when it comes to their most important conversations–both in their personal lives and with businesses. If your marketing strategy in 2016 doesn’t include offline conversations, there’s no way you’re truly taking an omnichannel approach.”

Tim Barker’s advice was plain: “Test, prove and scale. Historically, marketers have faced obstacles like data-quality and integration as huge blockers and barriers to getting stuff done. So many marketers stall while trying to solve ‘scale’ problems, before they’ve proved value. Identify potential areas, prove with a ‘scrappy’ approach, then scale based on solid proof of impact.” This comports with tips from Charlotte Baillie: “Take your time to research and review a variety of technologies. Don’t feel pressured, the best vendors will know want you want to make the best positive impact to your business, both culturally and financially. If you are feeling pressured, it’s probably not right for you.”

Complementing to these suggestions, Nicole Rodrigues called for a holistic approach. “You need to look at your marketing technology strategy holistically. From social media, to digital marketing, ad buying, organic content creation and public relations/earned media–everything should work together and benefit each other. Your digital presence should work together as an ecosystem with visible synergy.”

Caitlin Grogan added an important note. “Don’t underestimate the value in paying off your technical debt. If you’re not building this kind of work into your marketing tech projects already, set aside the budget and time to do these improvements. With the right kind of tech debt investment, you’re poised to have more successful new feature development when the time comes, and see better return on your marketing budget.”

Lux Narayan emphasized the importance of keeping things simple and avoiding redundancy. “I would say that marketing technology strategy should be centered around an integrated, and minimal number of platforms (whether standalone or cloud). Look for costly redundancies in platforms and make sure the solutions you’re using are scalable and somewhat future-proofed (i.e. have proven to innovate over time so don’t have to be completely replaced when obsolete). Focus on customers and the technology that allows you to most effectively market one-to-one at scale. Think about how both data and human insights work together in marketing and what tools allow you to leverage both for maximum success.”

Get rid of the silos, was Stacey Bishop’s message. “Too many marketing teams are still organized in distinct departments. Their organizational structure is siloed despite their desire to create a coordinated cross-channel experience. It’s no wonder that the data from email and search doesn’t talk to each other because those teams don’t even know what’s going on in other channels. in 2016, marketers need to solve the problem of siloed efforts and disparate data. They go hand in hand because once teams know what their counterparts are doing, they can best know how to work together toward a common goal. They can share customer intel and apply that knowledge across channels. When a customer is interacting with brand, he or she wants a unified experience regardless of whether he’s using the mobile app or interacting with an email campaign. Marketers who fail to offer this do so at their own peril.”

And finally: The Cloud

We couldn’t resist also asking which of the big marketing cloud vendors were doing most things right in 2015. We got a few responses, and they’re worth sharing. AdaPia d’Errico didn’t talk about Adobe, Salesforce or Oracle. She mentioned a service which works for a small to medium-sized business: “As a small company (for now), we’ve been working with Hubspot and are very happy with the product and all its integrations. The new reporting features are indicative of where the market is going and needs to be.”

Charlotte Baillie has worked with clients to derive value from Oracle’s marketing cloud offering, and she picked Oracle as the winner: “Oracle Marketing Cloud, a suite of leading applications in their own right, that equips customers with the tools to run marketing campaigns with relevant, timely content and manage data related to those campaigns. The output being highly defined, accurate and targeted campaigns for effective and successful marketing programs. Another bonus is the integration capability with Oracle’s own Social Cloud, a fundamental part of marketing campaigns and nurture programs is the ability to understand the full digital persona of your customers and prospects.”

But to round things out, Nicole Rodrigues called it this way: “I’d say it’s a close tie between Salesforce solutions and Adobe,” while Mark Cooper mentioned another contender we’ve written about at The Hub this year: “Adobe continues to offer the most complete platform.  The evolution of SAP Hybris into an e-commerce-centered marketing cloud is very compelling.”  

This article originally appeared on The Hub. The other three questions in the series:

Holiday Brains Trust 1: 2015’s technology developments

Holiday Brains Trust 2: 2015’s strategic developments

Holiday Brains Trust 3: the market’s state of readiness

Our thanks to the panel, and very Happy New Year to all...

Our 11 wise women and men:                                                                                                                              

Charlotte Baillie: Marketing and Alliances Manager at Enigen UK Ltd, customer experience, CRM and BI consultants.

Tim Barker:
CEO of Datasift, the human data platform.

Stacey Bishop:
Partner at Scale Venture Partners.
Mark Cooper: Co-founder and SVP Business Development at Offerpop, the UGC marketing platform.

Ada Pia D’Errico:
Founding executive and CMO at Patch of Land, the crowd-funded real estate lender.

Caitlin Grogan:
Director of Client Services at Adage Technologies
Eric Holmen: EVP of Sales at Invoca.

Jerry Jao:
Founder and CEO of Retention Science.

Jarred McGinnis:
Independent Consultant in Semantics, Director of Logomachy Consulting Ltd.
Lakshmanan (Lux) Narayan: Co-founder and CEO of Unmetric Inc.

Nicole Rodrigues:
Founder and CEO of NRPR Group.

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