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We’re two weeks away from Integrated Marketing Week in New York (June 10-13th), and are looking at a few of the topline findings from the report we’ll be premiering at the event. 

Today: is there a connection between the technology and success at integrated marketing?

In the last post, we examined the essential elements of integrated marketing, and saw how internal politics undercut organizations’ ability to field fully integrated campaigns. Today we’ll look at supporting integration with technology.

We asked respondents to the Integrated Marketing Survey what technologies they use to manage and implement their cross-channel campaigns.

The chart below breaks down their responses. 

Naturally, most organizations use multiple technologies, and the most common are general and point web analytics solutions. One small surprise was the uniformity of usage across spending levels - we expected to see bigger spenders skewing toward technologies designed for integrated marketing.

Complex tech and the promise of simplicity

Integrated marketing is challenging for a number of reasons. Any truly integrated campaign has a number of moving parts, each with its own metrics, processes and format and often a variety of internal and external participants.

That being the case, we theorized that there would be a correlation between technologies that reduce complexity and integrated marketing success.

We defined these technologies narrowly as those which specifically aim to assist with the significant challenge of control and analysis of far flung marketing activities – the integrated marketing platforms, aka the “marketing clouds.”

The chart below compares organizations that have integrated platforms with those that don’t, and compensates for annual spending. The percentage of organizations that describe themselves as “very effective” or “very sophisticated” in each area varies significantly, showing at least a correlation between tech and success. 

Although the differences vary, there’s a consistent lift among the integrated marketing technology users. With the exception of attribution, these respondents are between 60% and 285% more likely to describe their integrated capabilities as “very effective” or “very sophisticated” than their peers who are using other means of managing integrated marketing.

Cloud systems promise the ability to tie together multiple systems for the management and measurement of disparate channels, and the largest differences between the groups support the claim.

For most products, the customer journey is complex and getting more so. The data above suggests that a significant benefit of having an integrated system is the ability to get a meaningful view into how customers are interacting with brand assets and how they are buying.

Likewise, integrated capabilities that are process-based appear to benefit from having a single dashboard; successful campaign timing and brand experience have a great deal to do with having assets readily available and easy to field across multiple platforms on a schedule.

It’s important to note that isn’t possible to tease out all of the variables that contribute to the success highlighted in the chart above.  Some of the difference we see in particular activities is likely to have to do with the nature of the marketing organization and its existing capabilities. 

For example, having a unified data structure is a precursor to moving to a marketing integration platform for many companies, which then increases their self-evaluation of “data” as a capability.

­­

Having the right tools is only part of the solution to the tougher problems of integration. Even among companies with integrated platforms, only 11% give top grades to their ability to deliver “user experience” across channels and platforms.

That’s better than the 6% of those using other techs but a long way from where the industry needs to be.

Getting the intended benefits from technology

The emphasis on technology in digital marketing is extreme, and its promise in theory can sometimes outpace the specific reality for companies. It’s quite common for organizations to invest in technology and be disappointed. That can happen for any number of reasons, but in our experience, it’s usually not terrible tech or tech support, it’s a question of priorities; 

In 2006 Avinash Kaushik famously advised that a successful web analytics implementation depended on an investment ratio of 90% “intelligent resources” (people) to 10% technology.

Although this rule was intended for web analytics, our experience is that there are few exceptions in marketing technology. But it’s a lot easier to pull the trigger on a piece of technology than on new employees. Likewise it’s not easy to casually reorient existing staff to become experts in a new technology. 

The most frequent example we come across is in marketing automation. Whether it’s an automation specific solution or an email service provider with that capability, the story is often the same; the technology is brought on, but results don’t change significantly. The issue is not usually with the premise (automation can and does work) or with the technology itself, but with the organization’s insufficient strategy and support.

Whatever the technology, the best way to take advantage of its most powerful capabilities is to turn them into specific goals for specific people. This might mean giving the email team a collective bonus around automation, or tying the evaluation of the mobile team to KPIs accessible through a new mobile analytics capability.

Integrated marketing platforms are the same. They bring an array of features and processes to the table, and the challenge is to use them. 

One place to begin might be to incent marketing teams to use the workflow and communication tools available in most of the cloud/integrated solutions. Integration is all about process, so if the first step draws internal and external communications into one place, you’ll be well on your way.

Has technology helped your integrated marketing efforts? Whether it has or hasn't, we want to hear all about it.

In the final post before the report’s launch, we’ll look at the surprising challenge that stymies the most sophisticated integrated marketers. To get the entire report hot off the press, join Econsultancy and the DMA at Integrated Marketing Week, June 11th-13th in New York.

Stefan Tornquist

Published 29 May, 2013 by Stefan Tornquist @ Econsultancy

Stefan is Vice President of Research (US) for Econsultancy. You can connect with him via LinkedIn.

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