February is now behind us and with it, another TFMA. The keynotes I was lucky to attend stood out this year as quite strong and focusing on the importance of true integration across channels, stakeholders, and resources within the organization.
The exhibition floor on the other hand was quite the same: as every year, Earl’s Court was buzzing with all sorts of technology vendors offering Marketing solutions. And as every year, many vendors kept claiming that they do “everything”.
An email application vendor was boasting that they do social media; when I asked questions about how, they claimed they have full integration with social networks. Did they provide the ability to target content in the email based on the social media profile? No. How about tracking activities in social media after clicking on a link from the email to the social network? No. How about providing a comprehensive report showing conversions driven from email to social to purchase? Yet another No. So what type of integration are we talking about here? When I pressed some more, it turned out that they only offer the option to use social media logins to access the Marketer’s site… a useful feature but that’s not a full-scale social media integration.
Another vendor answered the question “What do you offer?” with “We do everything in Digital Marketing.” Hmmm…. Do you do Email Marketing? No. Social Media monitoring? No. Do you provide a solution for paid media? No. After a few more excruciating minutes of questioning, it turned out they offer a content management system and an analytics solution, which of course are core to any digital Marketing presence, and very much in demand to support Customer Experience management, but that’s not a full Digital Marketing solution.
And there lies the heart of the problem. Some technology vendors are still making exaggerated claims to Marketers and giving the impression that they can solve all sorts of challenges. Marketers end up with a strong sense of frustration, confusion and in some cases, the sense of being at the mercy of a technology that does not deliver.
Fortunately, not all technology vendors are like this. I picked a couple of extreme cases to illustrate how some can be misleading. I was actually impressed by several vendors at TFMA who provided a more realistic description of their offering, clearly defining points of integration and highlighting the additional services that would be required for a comprehensive solution. This is the successful approach, one that creates a sense of trust and true partnership. And it pays off: these vendors are often mentioned in research and trends reports as the leaders in the field.
This also highlights how important it is for Marketing and IT to work closely. With a tight partnership, they will better understand how they can each support the other and invest in technologies that will help them achieve corporate objectives that they can be accountable for. Most importantly, they will present a united front to dispel the smoking mirrors thrown at them by those vendors that “do everything”.
But that close partnership alone might not be enough. To deliver that truly integrated solution that I heard in several of the keynotes, the close Marketing and IT partnership must be supported by a strong Marketing Operations foundation. Breaking the silos that have sprung in the past few years within the organization through a Marketing Operations strategy is the glue to bring together People, Process and Technology and to deliver a seamless customer experience. And that is the ultimate goal.
March 3, 2014 by Adele Ghantous