Take These Steps to Avoid Wasting Your Marketing Technology Budget

Avoid Wasting Your Marketing Technology Budget
Don’t Waste Your Marketing Tech Budget

This year, the irresistible pull of digital marketing met an unstoppable force: Girl Scout cookies. It’s an $800 million-a-year fundraiser that is only expected to increase with a newly announced addition of digital sales.

The New York Times reports that beginning in this month and into January, for the first time, the Girl Scouts of America will be able to sell Thin Mints and other favorites online through invite-only websites. The websites will be accompanied by a mobile app, giving customers new digital options.

As the Girl Scouts update from a door-to-door approach to include a newly introduced digital program, it’s just one more sign of where marketing trends are heading.

From digital cookies to digital marketing technology:

If 2014 is the year of the digital cookie, then 2015 will be the year of marketing technology. Here’s just a few of the strongest indicators:

  • A study found that 67% of marketing departments plan to increase spending on technology over the next two years, according to the Harvard Business Review.
  • Gartner predicts that by 2017, CMOs will outspend CIOs on IT-related expenses.
  • Also by 2017, one-third of the total marketing budget will be dedicated to digital marketing, according to survey results from Teradata.
  • A new LinkedIn/Salesforce survey found that 56% of marketers see their relationships with the CIO as very important or critical.
  • Social media is a mainstream channel for marketers, making technology for measuring and managing this channel of paramount importance. This is not just true of B2C companies. Of high level executive B2B buyers, 75% used social media to make purchasing decisions, according to a 2014 survey by market research firm IDC.

From social to analytics to email marketing, much of what marketers see in technology offerings is often labeled as “cloud-based.” While cloud technology has many features and benefits, what are we really saying when we talk about the cloud?

What the cloud means… to marketers.

Beginning around 2012, multitudes of businesses in many industries began adapting “the cloud” as a feature or a benefit to their products or services. Whether or not the business truly was cloud-based was not as clear, which led to the term “cloudwashing.” We hear the so much about cloud, it is easy for us to overlook what it really means and what the benefits really are.

The cloud is more than a buzzword – and in particular, marketers need to know what it truly means to them.

For marketers, “the cloud” has many benefits. A service that is cloud-based gives you amazing flexibility and choices over the way you use a product or service:

  • A cloud-enabled product or service can be integrated into your existing systems. For marketers, this can range from integration into websites, marketing automation systems, CRMs, point-of-sale platforms, and any other business application.
  • You don’t have to learn a new system, the way you might when adapting a new application, software, or other enterprise system. You won’t have to set aside a lot of time and effort for new training for you or your staff.
  • Due to the flexibility that lets you integrate anywhere, you can deploy a cloud-based product or service across all of your organization’s applications or processes, increasing efficiencies and ensuring that all of your employees have access to the same technology tools at the same time.
  • There’s no need to worry about ongoing system updates, as those happen automatically behind the scenes.

In 2015, marketers should embrace the convenience of cloud-based services, as they help put the focus on benefits instead of spending time managing the technology.

Are you using data quality in the cloud?

If you are planning to move data out of an on-premise application or software to a cloud-based service, you can take advantage of this ideal time to ensure these data quality best practices are in place.

Verify and cleanse your data first, before it is moved to the cloud. Since it’s likely that your move to the cloud will make this data available across your organization — within marketing, sales, customer service, and other departments — applying data quality best practices first will increase operational efficiency and bring down costs from invalid or unusable data.

There may be more to add to this list, depending on the nature of your own business. Make sure that:

  • Postal addresses are valid, accurate, current and complete
  • Email addresses are valid
  • Telephone numbers are valid, accurate, and current
  • Increase the effectiveness of future data analysis by making sure all data fields are consistent and every individual data element is clearly defined
  • Fill in missing data
  • Remove duplicate contact and customer records

Once you have cleansed and verified your existing data and move it to the cloud, use a real-time verification and cleansing solution at the point of entry or point of collection in real-time to ensure good data quality across your organization on an ongoing basis.

The biggest roadblock to effective marketing technology is: Bad data.

Budgeting for marketing technology is going to become a bigger and bigger piece of the pie (or cookie, if you prefer) for B2C and B2B organizations alike. The first step all marketers need to take to make sure those investments fully pay off and don’t go wasted is great customer data.

Marketing technology is fueled by data. A recent Harvard Business Review article listed some of the most important marketing technologies. They included tools for analytics, conversion, email, search engine marketing, remarketing, mobile, and marketing automation.

What do they all have in common? These tools all drive customer communication, engagement, and relationships, all of which require valid and actionable customer data to work at all.

You can’t plan your marketing strategy off of data that tells you the wrong things about who your customers are, how they prefer to be contacted, and what messages work the best. Make data quality a major part of your 2015 marketing technology planning to get the most from your investment.

Marketing technology is going to be big in 2015 — where do you start?

With all of this in mind, how can marketers prepare for their technology needs in 2015? Get started with this free virtual conference from MarketingProfs that is totally focused on marketing technology.

This great event includes a keynote from Teradata’s CMO, Lisa Arthur, on “Using Data to Build Strong Marketing Strategies.” Register here for the December 12 Marketing Technology Virtual Conference from MarketingProfs.

Even if you can’t make it live that day at the virtual conference, it’s still smart to sign up so you receive on-demand recordings from the sessions when the event ends. Register now!

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