What’s really holding back your messaging program?

It’s not the technology that’s keeping you from building a successful messaging program. Columnist Jose Cebrian explains why you need the people, skills and metrics to get the most out of your technology.


Marketers want to innovate. They want automation and personalization because the ROI can be huge. For many companies, this desire leads to an RFP (request for proposal) for marketing technology to fuel a transformation. But is that really the answer?

From what I have seen, a lack of technology is not what’s keeping companies from building successful, targeted messaging programs. Today’s marketers have access to a wide range of industry-leading solutions that will allow them to meet their specific needs. Like most business problems, the answer lies in a mix of vision, focus and budget.

A company can have the best technology in the market across social, CRM (customer relationship management), messaging, web analytics, DMP (data management platform), DSP (demand-side platform), and other platforms, but without the proper skills or strategy, the opportunity will be lost.

The problem lies in harnessing the power of the platforms you have.

Platform integration

Not all platforms offer the same features, and it can be complicated to connect them and create a more integrated experience. If you are a retailer that sends an email every day, sending more frequent emails is not the answer. We need to make our correspondence smarter, both from a targeting perspective and by leveraging enterprise-wide data.

Data powers marketing. If your data is in separate systems, the first step is to combine all of it. Whether you choose to unify and store your data in a marketing database or use a single marketing cloud platform, integration is crucial. While not a new concept, many companies still fail at integrating and making data easily accessible to marketers.

The people factor

People execute marketing. It’s not enough to have the platforms; you have to know how use them. Sounds simple, but it isn’t.

Leveraging a platform to its fullest extent requires expertise and curiosity. Without these characteristics, teams can become complacent and make decisions that drive up costs.

In order to innovate, marketers must understand what data and capabilities each platform offers and the associated impact on the overall business. Finding a single expert is difficult. Look for a mix of internal, agency and tech vendor services to help.

Don’t fly blind

You need to have a plan. Automation and personalization are not one-off items. They are lasting efforts that should be improved upon over time based on measurement and goals.

To that end, every marketing department should have dedicated team members who focus exclusively on this work, not just as part of their responsibilities and mixed with campaign execution. There are some rare people who can juggle these roles, but for the most part, people tasked with both daily execution and evolution tend to over-emphasize the former.

Budget for a forward-looking team, and hold it accountable. Whether staffed internally or externally, the important component is goal-setting. Task a team with achieving leading indicators such as:

  • live multi-channel campaigns.

  • percentage of email that is sent in an automated fashion.

  • marketing data latency.

Fund the team with either incremental profit from the new programs or cost take-out from more automation.

Secure stakeholder buy-in

Educate and get consensus. A marketer does not act alone. Finance and legal, especially, play a large role in marketing innovation.

Whether we’re talking about a highly dynamic campaign in a regulated industry or the need to bring together known and anonymous first-party data in a privacy-compliant way, we must realize that some marketing concepts are hard for stakeholders to grasp. When they don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve or why, you’re likely to receive more pushback.

Take the time to explain the process and provide concrete examples of successful implementations, either in your business or in the industry at large.

Lack of technology is not the problem large enterprises face. The problem is getting the most out of that technology. To do so requires technological expertise, advanced functionality and better integration between platforms.

You also need people and metrics that are focused on driving automation and personalization. Educating the enterprise on the what, why and how of your marketing initiatives will improve collaboration and lessen resistance to new programs that may push traditional boundaries of data use or dynamic content.

[Article on MarTech Today.]

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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