How should marketers change their thinking? That was the question I repeatedly asked myself while attending &Then, the Direct Marketing Association's 2015 conference last week.
There's no question: Marketing departments, along with their strategies and the tools they use to engage prospects and customers, have undergone a rapid transformation. Even the conference program and content itself received a shining makeover this year to reflect out changing times.
So how are marketers adapting to the changing digital, ever-present, always-on world in which we live today? Here's a snapshot of comments I heard and conversations I had with some of the attendees.
Margot Vaughan group head senior vice president, Mastercard Advisors, Managed Services, said digital and traditional marketing need to be aligned to respond quickly to what customers are doing. "Alignment is critical to be successful in this environment. The online and digital alignment is the key," she said.
Allie Kline, CMO of AOL, said marketers need to learn how to fail fast. You have to set a goal that is an acquisition goal and elimination goal.... You have to be ok with throwing it away."
Additionally, marketers, she said, must really embrace mobile and begin to understand how society uses their devices throughout their days. "It's a massive change in our industry."
John Puterbaugh, Managing Director at BlueSoho, said mobile is being used less as a side channel and more as an integral path to purchase. "You'll see mobile tying together your top of funnel and bottom funnel.. A lot of people get confused. Apps are the bottom of the funnel. People get mixed up when use apps for customer acquisition."
Lawrence Decapua, director of revenue management, GE, said it's really about having good data. "Ninety percent of all marketing collateral is useless and doesn't drive sales. If 90 percent isn't helping, imagine how amazing it would be if you had the right data."
Patrick Tripp, senior product marketing manager at Adobe, also said marketers need to focus on their data. "Being able to access that marketing database whenever you need to and view that as a broader story is the key," he said.
At the highest level market roles are blending, he added. We're seeing a blend of IT and marketing where marketing has the budget for technology decisions."
Stephanie Newby, CEO of Crimson Hexagon, says social should no longer be run as a separate department but instead alongside the data sets throughout the organization. "It's a great augmentation of that. It's like a stock price. You have all the historical data that represent the financial results but you also have forward-looking data captured in the stock price. Social media is a little like that because if you combine it with sales data you get a sales trend," she said.
Redpoint Global CTO George Corugedo added that many marketing get stuck in logistics, therefore building machine learning into execution will help push marketers more into strategy where they belong. He advises marketers to carefully think about which metrics are the most important and how they'll cascade up the organization. He explained, "We have to think how all the metrics will be connected and feed into the bigger picture."
Finally, Yongyong Kennedy, head of financial service measurement, Facebook, sums up marketers' overall must-have mentality: "There's no silver bullet but marketers must have long-term attitude."