The world has shifted from a product-centric approach to a relationship-centric economy. Marketing is no longer linear; all channels must be orchestrated around the customer and their individual journey.
Omnichannel — or connected — marketing pursues the deepest possible level of integration by developing a centralized ecosystem built upon customer singularity, insights and a data-driven mindset.
The goal is to increase an organization's marketing efficiency and effectiveness as marketing environments become more complex and competitive.
Key Elements of Connected Marketing
- Consistent: Strategies and messages are de-fragmented and aligned across all channels, so the user is always reinforced and never confused.
- Transparent: Everyone on the team has access to what's happening across all channels and devices in real-time.
- Synergistic: The entire purpose of connected marketing is to maximize communication so that it elevates beyond a series of one-off messages. “The whole should be more impactful than the sum of its parts,” said Gerstel.
Gerstel noted that connected strategies are the ultimate methodology for creating a meaningful engagement with consumers — or buyers, in the case of B2B. He said the first step is to conduct a "fragmentation audit."
"Map out all your interaction and touch points and identify the messages that are delivered across those channels and devices," he explained. "In the vast majority of cases, this audit will demonstrate how you are creating messaging chaos."
CMOs, he added, should hyper-focus on first-party and zero-party data. "It is far easier to connect your marketing when the nucleus is a rich repository of your owned data.”
Related Article: From First-Party to Zero-Party Data
Assess Interoperability With Cloud Tools
Gerstel pointed out that there are numerous marketing automation clouds that can deliver connected marketing solutions — but advises they must be assessed on a case-by-case basis to see how they integrate with existing platforms, such Salesforce, HubSpot or Braze (on the mobile side).
Connected marketing will be even more important, he said, as digital environments become more complex. "Further, the looming deprecation of cookies and focus on privacy will make it more important to connect messaging to avoid irrelevant, disconnected communication."
Namrata Gupta, engagement director, digital customer experience at Capgemini Americas, explained that a connected marketing strategy enables brands to understand customers and help build relationships.
"They need to know who they are, where they're from, their goals and challenges, the devices they use most, the content they love and on which channels they spend most of their time," she said.
Meanwhile, the explosion of data, driven by the acceleration of digitalization and the rise of ecommerce, is enabling marketing to achieve its potential as a growth driver.
"However,” said Gupta, “most organizations are struggling to be data-driven in marketing owing to capability, talent and access challenges. For those organizations that are successful, they are reaping benefits ranging from more effective decision-making, better business outcomes and the ability to perform real-time marketing that consumers increasingly expect."
Data Led Marketing Drives Growth
It’s critical for today’s marketing teams to be data-led so that they can drive sustainable growth, said Gupta.
She added that technologies like AI and ML are playing key roles in today’s connected marketing technology stack, beginning with helping tame the vast volumes of data available to marketers.
"Leading measurement and reporting tools apply intelligent modeling to generate automated insights, which can further be leveraged for use cases such as customer propensity building, campaign forecasting and anomaly detection," she said.
On the customer journey side, algorithms are being activated to provide real-time optimizations based on advanced predictive capabilities.
Gupta pointed out that many of the powerful AI/ML applications that were custom-designed and specialized are now built into many connecting marketing technologies. "This allows for lower entry barriers and innovative ways of gaining insights and leveraging customer data and analytics.”
Related Article: Consumer-Led Data in Marketing Is Path to Personalization
Increasing Automation, Building Trusted Platforms
From Gupta's perspective, guiding principles for technology that enables a connected marketing strategy include connecting all marketing touch points with a unified data and technology platform for compelling and engaging experiences.
Businesses must also unify and activate all data across the platform for relevant content, messages and propositions, and infuse advanced analytics and data science for actionable insights and measures.
Other key best practices include Increasing the level of automation across content production and activation for efficiency, quality and relevancy, as well as building a trusted platform in terms of data quality, privacy and consent.
Gupta pointed out that over time, the role of the CMO has evolved beyond the traditional remit of brand-building to become more holistic.
"CMOs are now responsible for a wide range of activities, including data and technology, business strategy, business growth and customer experience," she said. "Marketing has never been more integral to the business as it’s no longer seen as a cost center but as a strategic partner in driving business growth."
Given the growing importance of ecommerce and the need for marketers to understand how customers interact with brands and companies (and to know when and where to engage with them), real-time marketing can be a key enabler for CMOs to deliver on this broadened mandate.
"Technology has transformed marketing by making interactions more personalized and immersive for people and creating ecosystems that are more integrated and targeted for marketers," Gupta said. "And it’s not just the interface between brands and people that have been transformed. New technology in marketing has permeated the infrastructure and systems on which companies are built."