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The Digital Era is Marketing’s Era, and Marketing is Data

The Digital Era is Marketing’s Era, and Marketing is Data

Mollie Barnett, The SMART Co.

In Sept of 1977, Ben P. Shapiro published an article in The Harvard Business Review “Can Marketing and Manufacturers Coexist?” It starts:

Marketing personnel in companies that manufacture industrial goods often complain about the activities and attitudes of their manufacturing counterparts with laments such as: “Why can’t they become market-oriented or customer-oriented?” “Why are they so provincial?” The manufacturing people, on the other hand, lament like this: “The marketing people have no understanding of costs, profits, plants, or operations. They are just a bunch of dumb peddlers.”

In Shapiro’s article, the argument made against marketing discussed how forecasting was mostly guesswork, not science. Today, web analytics have changed that, and we now can prove the big part marketing plays in customer acquisition.

Still, old habits die hard.

Legacy businesses still contend “they’ve been successful for decades doing what they’ve always done,” but around the turn of the century, when the market truly turned global, many of these businesses began to falter.

New challenges including trade legislation, new competition, labor costs and supply chain disruption have affected the old ‘product, price and relationship’ selling model, but none as big as E-commerce.

While E-commerce has been around for over two decades with new technology advancing the IoT revolution, the 2020 lockdown pushed the digital era in faster than a sneeze on an airplane.

Today, business lives online, with 61% of all B2B transactions beginning on the web (BigCommerce) and sales are driven by digital data content.

If you want to survive in an online marketplace, you must virtually market, and with marketing technology expanding in almost every direction, keeping up with the digital explosion is a full-time job.

The key to a successful strategy today is marrying automation and the human experience.  Companies that align brand message, thought leadership and search engine optimization will be what separates the leaders from the pack.

Unlike in the past, the relationship between your business in the market and the strategies available today to acquire business are quantifiable. Through data, ability to set goals, adjust and deliver desired outcomes are very much a scientific process.

Customer journey, customer experience, intent marketing and content are foundational tactics for competing in the online world — all powered by your data, and the online transactional world has surpassed the physical with unstoppable momentum.

If you are a small to mid-sized business, fear not, there is no reason to feel that adaptation to the new economy is beyond your budget. Everyday new solutions are created to fit a variety of needs and budgets – it is precision in the orchestration of the various subset strategies that will matter.

The Customer Journey

The customer journey is the path that the market audience takes to enter your business realm, become your fan, your customer, and your repeat customer. When customer journey is discussed inside of marketing, it refers to all the data points your customer touches as it enters and interacts with your marketing funnel.

Leading your customers to the point of business sale has much to do with the assets you create and deploy as it does when and where you deploy them. These assets, the content and information you are providing, are what compel the human experience in the digital market space and motivate the path that leads to transactional business.

Measuring what assets work, when they work and where they work improves customer acquisition and provides the ability to pivot early on in the sales cycle by varying timing, follow up and content.

Understanding what, when and where to deploy and adjust your content is imperative to competing in the digital space.

The Customer Experience is the product of the Customer Journey

If the customer journey includes all the interactions between a business and a customer, then the overall product of the journey is the customer experience.

  • Did the effort result in a sale?
  • At what point did the lead move into a sale?
  • Did they abandon engagement with your brand all together? or did they sign up for more?
  • Did they return to your business to become repeat clientele?
  • Did they share the experience?
  • Are they a brand advocate?

Business interaction measured from the audience perspective, also known as omni channel marketing, can now identified, measured, and mapped to provide a clear view of the intent of the audience, eliminating wasted ad spend and increasing proactive measures to motivate the transaction.

Aligning the Marketing with the Audience Intent

Obviously, taking measures to correct your controlled spaces that indicate negative performance will increases your sales pipeline experience, but understanding and deploying the right marketing at the right time within your channels is the game-changing tool that 25% of your B2B competitors have, with 35% more coming online in the next year (Cox Business).

Intent marketing involves understanding your funnel through intelligent data for greater efficiencies in market forecasting and decisions.

Valuable Content is the WHAT in your marketing data

All the technology and automation in the world won’t matter if what you are deploying has little interest to your audience.

Rich valuable content that can be automated and utilized in the form of sharable, modular data creates a difference in your ability to attract an audience effectively. Your brand voice, value and vision, your unique value propositions, are still what differentiate you in the market, it is the delivery service of these brand attributes that have changed.

Automation is what makes your business scalable, but rich, creative brand content is what makes the difference. Disseminating a blather of information wastes your audiences time and can affect your brand equity negatively. It is the equivalent of talking a lot but having nothing to say.

Content value is as relevant and important as it ever was.

Digital has disrupted the balance of the sales pipeline, giving marketing the seat at the table it has always deserved.


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