Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Essential Take-Aways from 17th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXChange

By Teresa Caro
Senior Vice President, Marketing
Fortiva (an Atlanticus company)

Top marketers recently gathered in Asheville, North Carolina at the 17th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXChange. As you might guess from the event theme, Digital Transformation: Leading Marketing’s Revolution, there is much to learn and much to do as a marketer today. Examples abound. Our favorite new word: SMarketing.  What every event conversation came back to: content marketing. What can help you define your target audience: Personas.

Yet so much of what was discussed at this highly energizing and informative event circled back to remembering your marketing fundamentals:  identifying your target audience, measuring response and optimally integrating sales and marketing. All important to keep in mind no matter what new technology or strategy you are applying.

So, yes, leverage the essential take-aways and technologies below to take your marketing to the next level, to compete in the age of IoT and ultra-empowered and connected customers. But, as you innovate and transform, remember your marketing basics too.

Define Business Objectives
Content, content, content. Every discussion came back to the use of content marketing across the buyer journey. Yet, unless it is direct response content, measuring the impact on the organization remains a struggle for most companies. To make this a bit easier, it is important to start by identifying the ultimate goal of your organization: branding awareness, brand perception, or simply sales. Second, ensure your company understands the difference between KPIs and metrics. KPIs resonate with the CEO: increased sales, decreased costs, as well as indicators of sales such as brand awareness, perception, and net promoter score (NPS). Whereas, metrics help respective departments optimize over time: time spent with the content, content downloads, content shares, etc.

Even though the most common KPI is increased sales, several organizations talked about how they had brand challenges and hoped content could be used to shift perception. One of the groups discussed creating baseline branding surveys or net promoter score (NPS) surveys before the campaign launched in order to show success over time.

Identify Target Audiences
Whether it was called Persona-Based Marketing, Account-Based Marketing, or Addressable Marketing, it all came down to a renewed focus on defining the target audience as specifically as possible. Yet, organizations are also pushing further to align prospect/customer experience with journey maps. As each persona takes a step in the journey, companies are detailing the respective challenges, and devices used (PC, tablet, mobile, 3-ring binder, etc). With this type of visual, it is easy to identify gaps and tailor content to support different parts of the sales and customer retention process.

Key reminders from these discussions included: 1) Remember, customers are always on, always connected, and go everywhere, both digitally and non-digitally. 2) Think “Rocks & Turkey Slices,”  as in you can build a big content piece and then repurpose it in many different ways 3) Be sure to recognize what’s working by audience, by journey step, and what is not, and optimize or re-organize quickly.

Integrate Sales and Marketing Tactics
Our favorite marketing word from the conference: SMarketing. SMarketing is when sales and marketing are aligned strategically and tactically. Why is SMarketing important? Several reasons: 1) Marketing doesn’t have all the answers (although we like to think we do). Instead, marketing needs to be a team sport, and should not occur in a vacuum or silo. It’s better to partner internally and foster strong collaboration. 2) The journey map, if done correctly, should reflect how sales and marketing touch the prospect in different ways and each step in the journey. If you agree with the point one speaker made about marketing effectiveness being directly related to a medium’s ability to tell a story, you will understand why in-person events continue to be the most effective channel:  It is a salesperson’s ability to tell a story which specifically relates to one person (the sales person in this case is the medium). The story cannot end with this medium though and becomes more impactful when it continues after the show through marketing touches, intermingled with sales follow ups. See example below:

Choose the Right Technology
Finally, how does today’s marketer pull it all together? Tools to choose from include salesforce automation, marketing automation, analytics, content marketing solutions, and so on. There was a great deal of brainstorming around how to make the business case for a particular platform and how to do more with the same resources. Many participants voiced issues with how to stay in alignment with sales (and get them to use the technology, oy). Another recurring challenge: how to be more automated and personalized? Everyone had an opinion on their favorite solution and platform and it will likely change again next year. When marketing in a digital world, the most important thing is that you stay in the discussion.

Interested in learning more about 17th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXChange and all the great marketing take-aways and insights? They are available in one handy document, the Executive MindXchange Chronicles. To learn more, please contact Matthew McSweegan @ 516-255-3812 or email: matthew.mcsweegan@frost.com. You can also click here.

As Senior Vice President of Marketing for Fortiva (an Atlanticus company), Teresa Caro brings over 20 years of strategic marketing experience in the digital and traditional space, including email, social, and analytics. Teresa plays an instrumental role in defining how Fortiva and its B2B2C and B2C brands can improve sales and customer retention, strengthen loyalty, and increase advocacy through the use of digital marketing and technology.

Prior to joining Fortiva, Teresa held two leadership roles at leading agencies: Senior Vice President of Social and Content Marketing for Engauge (acquired by Publicis and merged with Moxie), as well as the head of strategy for the southeast region of Razorfish. She is also a past-president of the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AiMA). @teresacaro