Digital marketing: More data-driven and measurable

Marketers are moving to a data-driven mindset: going digital gives them more concrete ways to tie marketing metrics back to business objectives. In an interview with the DX Talk, Don Lee, general manager of Magnolia Singapore and an advocate of digital disruption and evolution, shares some insights on digital marketing: the challenges, the shifting ecosystem, dealing with data silos and modelling customer journeys.

Some excerpts from the podcast:

What makes great digital marketing

What really matters is that digital marketing has a direct impact on key business objectives. For example, if your business objective is around self-help for website users, and using automation to reduce helpdesk or call-center costs, then investing a lot in brand awareness does not solve the business issue at hand.

In a nutshell, digital marketing should be seen as a solution to a business challenge. Great digital marketing in my opinion is when the investment can pay for itself by addressing the actual problem at hand and getting ROI quickly so as to justify investment in the next phase.

Challenges that marketers face in the digital world

In the past, marketers tended to rely on their gut feel, but we are seeing a change to a data-driven mindset, which is good. However, many do not get the right alignment with management in terms of where they see the role that marketing has to play. Working with many different silos, each with different KPIs, convolutes this challenge.

The other challenge is when there is a highly innovative marketing team, but they are unable to realize their creative potential due to a mismatch in their technology solution. Also, understanding the customer journey is one thing, but getting customers to make the quantum leaps from one stage to another remains a challenge.

The rapidly changing digital ecosystem and how marketers can simplify yet be effective

First of all, the same stages apply to everyone: crawl, walk and then run before you fly. Too many companies get crushed under the weight of their own marketing or technology initiatives. Ask yourself: What are my top three business goals and what are the digital marketing functions I need in order to help me achieve those goals?

Get the fundamentals right before you embark on more. It is very tempting to buy a turn-key solution, but more often than not, it usually is an overkill. Because of all the additional features, you feel obliged to use them, but doing that will suck your own limited resources, which should be focused on getting the basics right and achieving measurable business goals. Many marketers simply want to get from point A to B; you don’t need a Ferrari to do that.

How marketing teams should pick the tools they need: monolithic and best-of-breed approaches

Each approach has its pros and cons. Monolithic, and usually proprietary solutions are very convenient, but the concern is that you are not getting the best of breeds. In addition, you need to deal with change management as your teams will have to learn a new ecosystem. You also pay a lot more for the convenience and the brand.

A best-of-breed approach is typically more cost-organic and provides you with best-in-class technology, but you need more effort on your end to stitch together the requirements that make sense for your business. You will definitely need a knowledge partner to integrate this solution for you, or have a competent in-house team in order to do that. The good thing is once this is done successfully, your team will be motivated, as the customized solution fits into their current processes, allowing them to be even more effective without a detrimental adjustment period. Marketers don’t always want to learn a new solution or manage more digital marketing functions simultaneously. They just want to get their job done on time and having a bespoke solution which can address that is very helpful.

Breaking down data silos inside marketing teams and outside

I’ve seen success stories where the barriers are broken down within the team, but not very often outside of it. They would need buy-in from leadership in order to get everyone in the organization aligned. The success rate also depends on how flat the organization is: the bigger and more complex the hierarchy, the harder it is to manage the differences in KPIs, cultures and egos.

The other question is, does the company have the right technology in place to store the data in both unstructured and structured formats, in a centralized repository like a data warehouse or even a marketing datamart. This should be prioritized from the start, because having a 360-degree single customer view is the key to world-class customer experiences.

Modelling customer journeys from being inside-out to outside-in

Companies who actually do this successfully easily become top revenue brands. Some like Apple and Amazon deliver amazing experiences during each stage of the customer journey. Others like Disney create a seamless omnichannel and cross-channel experience for the customer.

Apart from understanding the customer journey, these companies have figured out the fastest way to shorten the journey. They do this by making the leap from one stage to the other much easier in the form of micro-steps, or a powerful call-to-action using a combination of emotional content, user-friendly interface, real-time personalization and so on. This way, the prospect can reach the goal in a much faster time frame. The faster they become converted, the less chance for them to get disrupted in the digital world nowadays.

Think out of the box to look for ways where you can either shorten the journey, or create guidance along the journey, so that prospects have a clear incentive to keep moving along.

How marketers can effectively track and measure results

First of all, define how your marketing metrics can tie directly to the business goals of the company. This will give you buy-in from management for your digital marketing investment. Next, look at the touchpoints along the customer journey where you can measure effectively. Also, look at the parameters which you can tweak to improve the results.

For example, if you have a component on a page which leads to a campaign you are promoting: you can measure the clicks, hits on the landing page, the mouse-overs or a heatmap. Those would be your metrics and how you improve could be measured through either A/B or multivariate testing.

The important thing is that improvement in results along this touchpoint should positively impact your conversion scores, and that leads to positive results for the business. For a long-term approach, look at your customer journey and define engagement scores for each stage. The scores are based on how important that touchpoint is to the end goal.

For example, a click on the landing page is worth 30 points. Filling up a form could be 50. Adding items to the shopping cart could be 70, and checking out with payment processed is worth 100 points. This way, you can start measuring customer engagement scores with the aim of increasing the score by focusing on each individual touchpoint.

So in summary, you can only improve what you measure. When the improvement positively impacts your conversion scores, that will lead to positive results for the business. This means a win-win scenario for everyone.