The Data-Driven Enterprise Marketing Revolution

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Early on in the development of the Web, marketers talked about the promise of true “one-to-one marketing,” where the experience of interacting with a brand would be unique to the individual. Marketers eagerly proclaimed they would be able to deliver exactly the right message at the right place and at the right time. Fast-forward almost 20 years, and the promise of one-to-one marketing is still unfulfilled. While pieces of the vision have coalesced through technologies such as marketing automation, search marketing and audience targeting, these capabilities currently live in silos, and aren’t yet working together. Marketers are left with piecemeal insights, rather than visibility into the holistic value being delivered by each solution.

However, there is a revolution brewing in the enterprise and it’s starting right at the desk of the chief marketing officer (CMO). The way that products are purchased is being disrupted, and this is forcing the CMO to catch up. Buyers are now in control of the buying process and their behaviors are growing increasingly unpredictable. As such, marketers must strive to be everywhere buyers are; and to do so, marketers are starting to use data-driven automation to reach and address the needs of prospects wherever they may be in the buying process.

The changes that this revolution will bring over the next decade to support new marketing strategies will drive tens of billions of dollars of investment and innovation to the bottom lines of hundreds of thousands of companies around the world. The top marketing technology players — including Salesforce.com, IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Google and Adobe — see the impending fight, and the war to own the marketing technology market has begun to play out. Battle lines are being drawn, and they center on the customer relationship management (CRM) system.

CRM as the system of record

Salesforce has been spending much of the last decade building its CRM system. Since more than 75 percent of the companies that use Salesforce are B2B, the company’s CRM platform is arguably the system of record for the B2B marketer. This puts Salesforce, as the fastest-growing scaled vendor in the space, in the driver’s seat to become the platform where marketers keep their treasure trove of prospect and customer information and interaction data. Oracle, NetSuite, IBM, Google, SAP — and arguably even Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter — don’t want to see Salesforce have the lock on such valuable data. To fend off the Salesforce threat, these companies are developing their own audience data strategies, ranging from aggressive acquisitions to building cookie data exchanges, or even building their own social networks (if they’re not one already). As each realizes, the vendor that controls audience data “wins” because all marketing decisions are keyed off of this information.

With the CRM system as the system of record, seamlessly connecting all of the marketing systems in an enterprise, executing programs and then measuring success becomes possible — once the right data can be plugged in. For example, today’s marketing automation systems sync with CRM systems so that as a salesperson moves prospects from leads to qualified opportunities, the marketing system can automatically send a different messages to each prospect, depending on what stage they are in within the marketing funnel.

However, integration currently ends there and the marketing organization is unable to easily tie the opportunity for unique messaging into any other marketing channel — such as SEM, social media or display advertising. The next step needed is an integration of all of these activities. In the above example, once the salesperson moves a prospect from a lead to a qualified opportunity within the CRM system, the move would trigger display advertising and social media marketing that syncs creative and messages across all channels in real time, and then adds the prospect’s interaction with each mechanism back to the CRM record. Scalable, measurable, one-to-one marketing that requires no additional marketing resource is the result.

What’s next?

The incentives for marketers to realize the holy grail of right message, right place and right time are clearly in place. So what’s getting in the way of all this progress from happening immediately? Two big areas have slowed progress: Integration of data across multiple systems in the enterprise, and privacy. The vendors duking it out for ownership of data — Salesforce, Oracle, et al — have begun work with data platforms to solve the integration issue. Privacy, however, remains a concern. The argument goes: If consumers don’t know what you’re using this information for, you shouldn’t be using it. This is a fair and reasonable argument, and in the CRM world where customer and prospect information is tied to personally identifiable information, it is going to be important that consumers opt in to the information being collected by the marketer. The tradeoff is similar to the one made today in loyalty programs such as grocery store or airline frequent flier programs: You give a company the ability to track your purchases and incentivize you to buy more through discounts and coupons, and they will give you a better experience as a customer.

The future of enterprise marketing is one in which consumers benefit from transparency concerning where and how their data is being used, and through improved, more relevant experiences from vendors, service providers and favorite retailers.

To this end, expect the battle for data to continue as enterprise giants fill their platforms while trying to deliver the CMO increasingly sophisticated and integrated capabilities. Unprecedented efficiency in marketing will result, increasing growth and profits for the enterprise as more dollars become available for investment. The promise of true one-to-one and completely measurable marketing has been a long time in the making. It’s coming fast, and it’s going to transform the enterprise over the next decade.

Russell Glass, CEO of Bizo, is a serial technology entrepreneur, having founded or held senior positions at four venture-backed technology companies. Prior to Bizo, Russ led the marketing and product management teams at ZoomInfo, a business information search engine, where he sharpened his B2B marketing skill set and developed his love for business data.


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