What does technology mean for marketing? Part 1.

Well nothing really. That is if you mean to use the technology in isolation, as a tool to plump up your monthly report to your boss or to impress the executive at the next ex-co meeting.

You see, as marketers, we get very excited about every analytic platform, touch screen data gathering tool or location-based push technology. Very often when said marketers get approval to acquire these technologies, the execution goes horribly wrong and doesn’t generate the insights or excitement that was expected and the technology is deemed a failure and sits on a server gathering the equivalent of digital dust.

Of course, as with any technology, its output is based on its input within the framework provided. Or bullshit in, bullshit out excusez mon français. So what does technology mean for marketing? In this 3-part post I’ll give my opinion on how to decide what technologies to use, how you implement them and hopefully answer the question “But what does it mean?!”, spread across 3 main areas where technology has become more prevalent in, and critical to, marketing. I’ll be wading into analytic and monitoring platforms, marketing and/or advertising technologies and then lastly the stuff that makes you go WOW!

Damn, I’m starting with the boring one, *whiney voice* analytic and monitoring platforms . Please, keep reading or worst case, skip this one and go to the last one and maybe then wind back to this one. But don’t skip the second one, it’s less boring than this first post but not as “can-I-please-throw-you-with-money-I-want-it-I-want-it-I-want-it” as the third one.

Without further ado…

Analytic and monitoring platforms

You would’ve heard of most/all of these: Google Analytics, Sprout Social, SocialBakers, Hootsuite. The list naturally goes on ad infinitum. You have the larger international players and you also have local vendors who have tailored software for specific geographic areas.

All things being equal, these technologies are the easiest to implement. They normally require a live website or a published social media account and a credit card. A short sign up process later and within a few hours you’ll start getting statistics. Wonderful, lovely statistics all doffed in flat design, Helvetica Neue and  swanky infographic layout. And lots of bright colours, enough bright colours to make your eyes bleed. I jest.

Empowered and emboldened with your report on the well-being of your companies’ digital persona, you walk confidently into the boardroom ready to dazzle the crap out of the ex-co. Problem is, they don’t give a damn but once they start looking at the report, at worst, they’re going to start asking all sorts of uncomfortable questions and at best they’ll give it 5 seconds of air time and we’re off to the next point on the agenda.

Impact of your investment? Zero. Frustration level? Gazillion. So how do you maximise the impact? Return to basics. Before you even embark on searching for a measurement tool, agree with your ex-co what the need is, what the expected insights need to look like and how the reports that are going to be generated are communicated so they have the desired effect on the business.

  • Have a clear motivation for why you have the digital personas and be able to explain their existence in one sentence. Your ex-co needs to understand what these activities contribute to the strategy of the company and if and how they are aligned in achieving business goals. Also, be able to detail the resources involved in running these digital activities, input needs to be equal to or less than output.
  • Once the foundation is set, determine what the critical measurables are, why are they important, what is the minimum standard and what is the industry benchmark. No use in measuring yourself in isolation, you need to be able to measure your own growth but you also need to be able to assess your effectiveness against your competitors.
  • Once you gather enough data you need to be able to analyse them. What are the trends you see in the data over time? Is the trend good or bad and how does it compare to your benchmarks? What do the trends mean and how will the information assist you in shaping business decisions?
  • This next part is the tricky one. With all this data on hand, you can’t just present it as the software spits it out, no matter how pretty it is. You need to put the data in a framework that leads to insights based on what the business needs to measure. Your data thus needs to be interpreted in a manner which supports decision-making within the businesses’ overall strategy.

And it’s done! Not quite. Generating data, interpreting data and aligning the data with business goals is one thing. The data needs to translate to actions. Real decisions that will translate to growth and sustainability. This is why it’s important to get the buy-in from your ex-co on what is being measured, what we learn from the data and what gets done with the data once understood by all concerned. Now the decisions borne from the data need to be communicated and implemented. Typically these decisions, within the marketing portfolio, should translate into actions around positioning of the brand, relevancy of the product or service within the chosen target market, availability of the product or service, the price and value proposition and lastly (and these elements are by no means exhaustive) the satisfaction levels of customers.

Only once you are able to close the loop from generating data to implementing business decisions, can you call your investment into analytic and monitoring software viable.

Finally, how do you choose a platform? Believe it or not, that’s the easy part:

  • What’s your budget?
  • What’s your or the designated users’ technical proficiency?
  • How much time can you invest in getting the maximum from the platform?
  • What is the level of integration required?
  • How many people will be using the system?
  • How basic or advanced do you need the feature set to be?
  • Good ol’ personal preference, what feels right?

Analytic and monitoring tools are there to provide real-time, objective insight into your marketing activities and that’s where the value lies. Feedback that tells you whether what you’re doing is working or that maybe you should transfer to HR… Bazynga! I hope my small contribution lends a hand in setting direction. Just always be aware of analysis paralysis!

This whole post is for naught though if you consider this post by TC.

Next post: I’ll be weighing in on advertising platforms and marketing platforms. Hope you haven’t dozed off…