Prove it! That’s the new metric driving marketers everywhere. Yes, you must succeed in facilitating sales, building your company’s brand, and spreading the good word. But now you need to show your work, just like back in calculus class. You need to prove, in the classic scientific sense, how you achieved your results.
There are at least three major reasons for this new mantra. First, it’s now possible. Legendary retailer John Wannamaker once said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” That’s no longer the case. Today, marketers can track anything and everything that travels on the Web, often via clicks and cookies. And that’s a lot.
Second, you must be able to sell your story to the business, whether that be your boss, your board of directors, your employees, or even your contractors. While creativity and enthusiasm can go a long way, there’s something quite compelling about showing someone the numbers, and thus demonstrating with crystal clarity the story you’re trying to tell.
The third reason is axiomatic to the scientific method: You want to be able to repeat your success by implementing the models and tactics that got you across the finish line. Granted, the shifting sands of reality in the business world today will require iteration in your marketing efforts; and sometimes, a complete overhaul. Nonetheless, quality data will always add value.
Marketers today enjoy an embarrassment of riches with respect to the tools and technology platforms available. By some counts, there are more than 3,500 cloud-based products that address some aspect of the marketing spectrum. The blessing is that there are best-of-breed products that do all sorts of wonderful things. The curse? Who can possibly know them all?
Reality on the ground is that today’s competitive companies use some mix of tools to get the job done. In a perfect world, all these tools would embrace a similar data model. For certain dimensions — name, company, title, phone, email — there are some baseline standards to which the vast majority of tools adhere. This provides at least a foundation for integrating data.
However, tremendous disparities pervade this plethora of products. For just one example, take iContact versus ConstantContact, two popular email marketing platforms. The former’s data model includes 20 fields; while the latter’s boasts nearly twice that many, mostly because they include secondary and tertiary fields for email, address and phone: home, work, and mobile.
And that’s just for basic customer details. The more valuable data revolves around activity and preferences: what did those customers do? What do they like? How do they prefer to be contacted? When are they online? What kind of ads seem to appeal to them? Which topics tend to turn them off? How often have they visited our site, as opposed to dialed our call center?
Those are the types of data that can drive better decision-making; and not just strategically, but even in real-time. As long-time industry Analyst Allen Johnson says, data has a half-life, just like complex atomic particles. While historical data can be valuable for providing context, and for building predictive models, the immediacy of today’s marketing needs is palpable.
Arguably the biggest challenge these days is not so much collecting the data, but rather normalizing it for effective use. Exactly how that’s done will depend largely upon a company’s business model. Are you selling a handful of products at a high margin? Or many products at a low margin? Are you a service provider that works locally, or a world-class consultancy?
The number and nature of your prospects is another critical component. The more focused a business model is, the more careful marketers must be about choosing their tools, and spending their money wisely. But even for products that folks use every day — paper towels, water, gasoline — significant attention must be paid when choosing how and why to use budget.
And then there are the end points, where rubber meets road: Web sites, point-of-purchase systems, call center applications; all of the customer-facing solutions that can make or break a sale. Tying back into these systems poses a serious challenge, especially for companies that use a multitude of applications in their marketing efforts.
The Marketing Terminal
What marketers really need is a terminal, a marshalling area, some place where the streams of information can come in, get processed, normalized, analyzed; then sent back out in the form of insights and recommendations to all those customer-facing applications. They need a platform, the proverbial single pane of glass, where the marketing team can study, learn, analyze and act.
One company that focuses specifically on this space is Domo. With over 1,000 customers, and 400 native connectors built into its platform, Domo is strategically positioned to help marketers manage the increasingly complex landscape of tools, technologies and customer behaviors that constitute the modern online conversation.
The array of connectors itself provides a veritable Rosetta Stone for making sense of customer data. From Adobe Analytics to Amazon Redshift, Bing to Box, ExactTarget to Excel, Facebook to GitHub (yes, the developer’s dream: GitHub!); from Google Analytics to Hubspot, IBM Digital Analytics to Instagram; well, you get the point!
And Domo also knows the value of focusing special attention on the major players in their world, like Salesforce.com. Several senior executives from Domo spoke at the big Dreamforce event in October of 2016, delivering insights about how to use data to better understand customers, business processes, opportunities and threats. The company even sported two separate booths, to capitalize on foot traffic at both ends of the utterly massive super-conference.
One of the executives who spoke was Chief Marketing Officer David Thompson. In a podcast recorded during that conference, Thompson spoke to the vision of Domo:
“Getting clarity around marketing data, getting transparency and most importantly being able to tie it all together to business outcomes is what we like to talk about at Domo. What we really focus on with our business cloud platform can make it super-easy to cross-correlate whatever your source of clicks and interaction is, and response on your website, or your other digital properties, your apps — to actually turn it into revenue, and understand that dynamic and clarify that murky river of data.”
Thompson stressed the importance of being able to prove your theories in today’s marketing world. “In today’s data-driven world, there’s theoretically no excuse for that because everything is being followed by a cookie, everything is being tracked by a cookie. I like that they don’t lose track of your cookies. For heaven’s sake, that’s the first piece of the recipe, but then it’s not enough just to eat your cookies, you also have to be able to understand the ingredients of those cookies and be able to mix it with the broader meal of the business.”
The bottom line? You don’t want to lose context these days. That means you must find a way normalize and reconcile all that customer data, then deliver it in a fashion where a business person can look at some visualization and then drill down fairly quickly to get some details; and within minutes, have a very deep understanding, a contextual awareness, about what has happened and how it happened; and then be able to translate that into action for a company.
That’s what Domo does, and for today’s digital marketer, it’s heaven-sent.