In my January column for CRM Magazine I wrote about how I thought 2013 would be the year marketing automation would begin to go mainstream in the SMB community. Now I didn't think I was going out on a big limb in saying that, as the cloud was making it easier and more affordable to leverage these tools.
Along with the rise of the cloud, it's also about the rise in complexity in connecting with the modern customer whose behaviors, activities, needs and expectations are changing in real-time as they embrace technology to improve their everyday lives. And part of that improvement is geared towards using technology to gain more leverage from vendors they choose to form relationships with - including using filters to limit the ever-growing amount of noise blasted at them in the form of emails, tweets, texts, etc.
So as modern customers get better and better at using technology to improve their lives, it's important for businesses to use modern marketing techniques and strategies to improve the likelihood of capturing their attention long enough to build meaningful relationships with them. And as illustrated in the below image of the Pyramid of Customer Loyalty, it takes a great deal of time, effort and resources to go from click to customer, to loyal customer, to brand advocate and finally trusted partner.
Because it's getting tougher to consistently make successful trips up the pyramid with customers, Oracle Eloqua has identified a mix of five key marketing competencies they believe contribute to marketing success today:
- Marketing Technology (includes workflow automation, marketing automation, integrated CRM, social monitoring and biz intelligence)
According to a recent study BtoB study of SMB marketers commissioned by Oracle Eloqua, these marketers feel they are operating at approximately 65% of what Eloqua has identified as being optimal in terms of what it takes to be an "ideal" modern marketer.
To me after looking at the above image on how SMBs rate themselves compared to Eloqua's Ideal Modern Marketing percentages, targeting and engagement are the two biggest challenges, as they are in business overall according to the graphic. It also signals that we're still very early on in the adoption cycle for marketing automation tools in general.
When looking at an Aberdeen Group survey from last year on B2B marketing technology adoption, 98% of those surveyed use email marketing and 86% use landing pages in their marketing toolbox. The numbers drop significantly to 69% for reporting/analytics, 62% for lead nurturing, and 55% for lead scoring.
Where, as the Aberdeen study results show and all of our inboxes can attest to, we've reached the saturation point with the more general marketing tools. Just think about the chaos raised (and gnashing of teeth, etc) when Gmail added the tab functionality and all the email communications were all of the sudden being thrown into the Promotions tab and not the Primary tab. While the customer didn't seem to mind the new change, the marketing community sure did, as it added another hurdle they had to clear in order to stay in front of their audience.
Modern marketers understand they will have to up their efforts to connect with - and stay connected to - modern customers. They understand that we're past the stage when we thought content is king. We're even past the time where we imagined context is king. In retrospect these two were never more important than what has always been at "the top of the heap" - experience. Don't get me wrong, both content and context are incredibly important. But there is so much content out there is your target audience really going to miss yours if you are speaking directly to their issues - and not yours? And is context worth anything if you don't do anything with it. It's like being sick and going to the doctor. If all the doctor does is ask you questions, say she knows what's wrong with, and then says good-bye, is that going to do you any good? They got the context, but didn't do a thing to help.
Modern marketers know that it's about creating attractive experiences all across the customer lifecycle. This includes needing a better understanding of who should go on that customer journey, what that journey should be like, and how can we create enough great experiences along the way to ultimately make that person a customer for a long time. To make that customer feel like a valued part of our team - not just adding value by way of their wallet, but also by collaborating with us to create even better products and services - and then helping to spread the word about them.
Going back to the Eloqua survey, smaller companies are more reliant on technology overall. Both SMBs and marketers in general feel they can improve their technology adoption and usage strategies, as well as the development of engaging content, and efficient conversion techniques in conjunction with sales. But marketers in smaller companies are more committed than bigger marketing organizations to using digital marketing technology. And as the below figure shows, the most important thing they need from marketing technology vendors is help with using the service to understand how they can find the right metrics to help them understand the right actions to take, at the right time, with the right customer/prospect to keep relationship building process moving efficiently. This is more important to them then:
- 35% more important than getting a quick ROI
- 2.5X more important than training on how to use the system
- 3.7 more important than needing the service to be cloud-based
- 6X more important than attractive financing
SMB marketers understand that it's a new ballgame, and they can't do things the way they did in the past. In order to get up the pyramid with customers, they realize they need a better strategy, made up of better processes, implemented with better applications, in order to create better experiences for customers and prospects... to entice them to go on this journey with them. This should get them closer to being ideal, modern marketers today. More importantly, it gets them closer to the modern customer.
To check out the full Eloqua/BtoB report click here. There's some good information on how SMB marketers are approaching the future and what roles technology will play going forward in the marketing process.