Modern day marketers: tech savvy or head in the clouds?

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 29 November 2017
Vincent Cotte

It’s not just the CRM and tech giants that have fallen in love with their own lexicon, as an increasing number of brands and marketers are being drawn towards ‘sticky’ services such as marketing clouds and AI.

While this space is traditionally dominated by the likes of Salesforce, Adobe, IBM, Oracle and Marketo, just last week Dentsu Aegis CEO Simon Ryan signaled the network’s intentions to also move into CRM and more rounded ‘end to end’ client offerings.

It’s also no secret that marketers have never had to deal with the level of complexity that they deal with today - from rapidly changing consumer behaviour through to rapid advances in technology which demand attention.

Speaking to AdNews, Salesforce director of go-to-market marketing APAC Vincent Cotte says it was actually five years ago the revolution in marketing occurred, caused by the dramatic increase in consumer and business use of social networks, mobile devices, and new digital technologies.

“Budgets that were previously spent on traditional media were moving to digital campaigns en masse and marketers were told they had to become technology experts,” Sydney-based Cotte explained.

He claims Salesforce was ahead of the curve when it came to pushing cloud based CRM offerings and “democratising the cloud”, with ‘marketing cloud’ soon becoming a term of reference. It’s now used by most marketers to refer to any type of cloud-based CRM solution.

Fanciful terminology 

While the word ‘cloud’ has gone mainstream, with the definition ultimately being a metaphor for services delivered over the internet, Cotte says it’s no buzzword and is simply synonymous with flexibility and scalability.

“Cloud allows marketers to use a wide range of technologies, some of them quite complex, without needing to be technologists or data scientists. This is where the revolution comes from,” he says.

He says companies that use cloud computing don’t worry about upgrades, maintenance, security patches, hardware tuning - they can leave that to other organisations. 

“In turn, they can focus on growing their companies - and for marketers in particular this means having more time and tools, to focus on the customer and deliver what today’s customers expect from a true seamless omnichannel and connected journey,” he says.

“In particular, cloud-based data management mean marketers can have a single view of the customer, and accurate customer contact information across their marketing, commerce and service platforms.” 

What makes a martech savvy CMO

Despite some brands and marketers getting criticised for being behind the times when it comes digital transformation, Cotte says there’s actually a high degree of understanding and sophistication amongst marketers.

“Often where things become complicated for marketing technology is rolling it out to the team,” he says.

He says that increasingly, marketers are being tasked with spearheading the entire customer experience - working across functions to ensure customers receive a seamless, cohesive experience across every touchpoint with a brand. Coupled with the multitude of ‘martech’ solutions available today, he admits it becomes “very difficult” for marketers to know which solution to choose.

“Many CMOs end up stacking various platforms, ultimately making the whole CRM and analytics engine overly complex,” Cotte explains.

“A martech savvy CMO is a marketer who knows how to identify the right technology, the right scalable platform, that will have a greater impact on the customer journey, and deliver seamless, connected experiences to customers throughout the entire sales chain, while improving ROI.

“It is also about being able to choose the technology that will enable you to make sense of all online and offline conversations about your brand or products, and have automated triggers in place to roll out proactive marketing and customer engagement campaigns. Automation is becoming a pivotal element of marketing campaigns and it is important CMOs understand which tools can deliver that level of automation.”

Cotte says part of the change in technology is greater access to data and analytics, which helps the marketer understand not only what works and why but provides clear accountability and benchmarks for agency partners and other parts of the business. It’s this level of insight that means marketers are better armed than ever before to understand if they’re strategy is working, to analyse which part of their spend is most effective and to make informed, real time decisions.

“This means while a marketer may not understand in technical detail every element of the technology they are using, what they can easily understand is whether it’s delivering value for the brand,” Cotte says.

A marketer’s challenge

The most common questions Cotte gets are:

  • How can I add more intelligence into the customer journey?
  • How can I maximise my advertising and media spend budget?
  • Do I need to be a data scientist to deliver personalised and connected journeys?

He says this illustrates perfectly marketers’ challenge today: making sense of the vast amount of data they have, and understanding the different buyer personas and related messages to send out.

Brands from all different industries and of all different sizes are known to have invested in marketing clouds. From HCF, T-Mobile, NBA, Tourism Australia and Mercer through to Medibank, George Weston Foods, Volkswagen, iSelect, Fonterra, Australian Rugby Union and L’Oréal.

Given the upheaval and cost getting on board with a marketing cloud surely the chances off switching to a rival are rarer, compared with the more regular media and creative pitches?

Naturally, Cotte says deploying new technology is a big and worthwhile move as once marketers see the ROI post-deployment “they tend to be quite sticky”.

“Marketers cannot work in silos anymore, it is important they understand the range of solutions available to them and their teams. In the digital age, the market has accepted for some time that both technology and marketing experts need to work hand in hand,” Cotte says.

He says that mindset can be extended across the business, whether it is marketing, IT, service, or sales, speak the same language.

“We’re only getting started when it comes to customers’ appetite for digital services. Most companies now recognise that creating a seamless, elegant and differentiated customer experience is key to success in this increasingly digital world,” he adds.

“In order to do that, marketers need to build relevant marketing strategies that can deliver the experience customers want today whilst improving operational efficiencies and ROI. Marketers also need to keep an eye on what customers will expect tomorrow. Cultivating a range of hard and soft skills will help them be successful.”

In terms of hard skills, Cotte says it is important for marketers to be tech savvy, meaning they don’t necessarily need to have an extensive tech knowledge, but they should be able to understand what technologies such as cloud and artificial intelligence can deliver.

“With the pace of change in the technology landscape, and the pace with which the new generation of consumers’ expectations change, marketers need to be on top of the latest and next big trends,” he says.

“In the span of a few years we saw technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), AR, VR take more and more space, while new digital and social channels as well as connected devices are created every day.”

Cotte predicts AI will become increasingly important for marketers moving forward and marketers who don’t keep up are likely to be left behind.

Want more? See:

Here's how HCF approached digital transformation

How Coles is tackling digital transformation

Swinburne University tackles digital transformation – inks major martech deal with Adobe

Ad Tech 101: The Marketing Cloud

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