Climbing in tube socks

Things are changing around us faster than we can catch up. Marketing, which has always been integral to business success, now has the potential to be an even bigger game changer. With marketers engaging directly with prospects and customers in a growing number of places — through websites, advertising, social channels, tradeshows and more — marketing has taken on an evolving role in the enterprise, becoming less siloed and expected to contribute directly to the bottom line. 

To do this, though, marketing teams need to restructure so they can better support broader business goals — or risk being left in the dust by their competition.  

The Economist’s research arm surveyed nearly 500 senior-level marketers worldwide about the changes we can expect over the next three to five years. Its study, “The rise of the marketer,” identified three major areas to anticipate: 

  1. Digital and data technologies will dominate.
  2. Marketing is shifting from a cost center to a revenue driver.
  3. Marketers are more often leading customer experiences and engagement.

So what does this mean for the future of marketing teams? The study’s findings indicate that marketing can have an impact throughout the entire company. That’s something we already knew. What’s less clear is how marketing teams need to evolve, given these trends, and how companies can strategically integrate marketing to boost the bottom line, rather than bolting it on ad hoc.

In order to stay ahead of the changing landscape and lead their organizations to success, marketing teams need to adjust their practices. Here are three strategies to revamp marketers’ roles — and, in turn, improve the bottom line of the businesses they support. 

Integrate Digital Tools

Marketers need to update their strategic planning functions around digital activity and develop a strategy that unites all individual digital engagements – bringing all of the digital platforms together to create a unified customer experience across the board. 

To create an effective digital strategy with today’s influx of data, employ analysis tools to properly read and understand the data you are are collecting. This will ensure marketing efforts align with your overarching business drivers. 

With nearly 2,000 marketing technology solutions available today, it can be overwhelming to determine which solutions to choose. Its best to start with a marketing automation platform as a backbone and slowly build out a stack of technologies that best align with your business priorities. You can then layer analysis tools on top of the tactical tools you’re using for your marketing activities, to get a broader understanding of the kinds of data you have access to and lay out plans to put that data into revenue-driving actions.

Invest in Predictive Analytics

Because marketing teams now have the tools to gather data about the entire customer journey, it is easier to attribute ROI to marketing functions. One way to further cement marketing’s new role as a revenue driver is to introduce predictive analytics into your capabilities. Predictive analytics for marketing improves the quality of leads sent to sales, boosting the productivity of sales reps and increasing conversion rates. 

Marketers have ample opportunities to leverage technology and partner with data scientists to make smarter marketing decisions, and they can also easily track resulting success. 

Prioritize Customer Advocacy

Seventy-five percent of respondents in The Economist study said that marketing will be fully responsible for customer experiences in the next five years, and 78 percent of respondents believe this engagement is related to sales outcomes. Customer engagement is a key driver of overall business health. Renewals directly contribute to the bottom line, and happy customer advocates can bring in new clients. All of the data that marketing teams collect is crucial in mapping customer interactions and driving the loyalty that comes with personalized engagement. 

Bottom line: Marketers have a unique opportunity to have a major impact on the business outcomes of their organizations, by collaborating with sales, IT and other teams. Aligning your marketing teams with these three areas of change will evolve it from a group that has a mostly creative, cost-center role to a data-driven machine that delivers on business goals. 

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