My last post about connection strategy sparked a healthy discussion recently among some of my colleagues. On one side were the strategists and creatives, who vehemently voiced that the “what” in marketing and communications is more important than the “how.” In fact, they argued, “what” drives “how” and, when done well, facilitates purposeful connections with the hearts and minds of our audiences.
The tacticians agreed, but also reminded the group that great content is all for naught if it doesn’t reach those audiences, and at scale. In the end, everyone agreed: You can’t have one without the other and be successful.
So I threw out to the group a self-made definition of connection strategy: efficiently and effectively connecting purposeful content to a specific audience through the right channels, at the right time, to bring about the desired audience behavior.
In order to deliver on that, marketers like us must understand the following factors:
- Human behavior that determines which information channels are best for a given situation
- Knowledge about how channels interrelate and should be synchronized
- Best-of-breed technologies that allow us to market more efficiently and effectively
No. 3 is critical to understanding No. 1 and 2. In the right hands, technology fuels successful connection strategies.
First, it allows us to capture and analyze target behavior data to inform the strategy and creative direction of our campaigns; engage and nurture our audiences through the right channels; and, at the right time, measure for continuous improvement.
Second, we can automate our efforts to run at scale.
And third, through continuous improvement, we can increase sales and marketing effectiveness (brand awareness, revenue, etc.) and efficiency (time and costs reduction) in ways that are repeatable and predictable.
There’s no shortage of marketing technologies across all of the PESO channels – nearly 2,000 and counting in 43 categories, according to Scott Brinker of chiefmartec.com. The challenge of being competent in all this technology is daunting. Just look at the range:
- Major platforms for CRM (e.g., salesforce.com)
- Marketing management software (e.g., Percolate, Demandbase)
- Content management platforms (e.g., Brainshark, Kapost)
- Marketing automation systems (e.g., Oracle, Marketo)
- Advertising solutions, such as programmatic ad buying and specialized solutions for social community platforms (e.g., SocialCore)
- Influencer marketing (e.g., Sysomos)
- Video advertising services (e.g., Vimeo).
That’s just a small sample – and marketers even find gamification technologies appearing in their toolboxes. If that’s not enough for you, just check out this list by Curata.
As digital marketing increasingly replaces traditional offline touchpoints, the importance of these marketing technology solutions grows in order to execute a successful connection strategy. And the train is moving fast. More than one-third of CMOs say that digital marketing will account for 75 percent or more of their spending within the next five years, according to the CMO Council. IDC predicts CMOs will drive $32.3 billion in marketing technology spending by 2018.
Putting in place the right strategy, developing extraordinary creative and producing the right content is a must. It’s what captures hearts and minds, and inspires our audiences to take action. How and where you get it in front of them requires precision at scale – and, as is increasingly clear, that requires savvy use of technology tools.