Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Australian marketers are ahead of their international peers when it comes to embracing marketing technology. Yet there’s a way to go before they have the cross-channel, real-time capabilities and customer lifecycle view needed in modern marketing.
That’s one of the key findings of the new Why you need to be a modern marketer: The business impact of marketing maturity in the age of the customer report, produced by Forrester Research and commissioned by Oracle. The research sought to understand best practices in modern marketing and how these correlate to business success.
To do this, the analyst firm devised four stages of marketing maturity – novice, developing, experienced and modern marketer - based on a range of criteria including customer segmentation, data strategy, measurement and attribution, and ability to tap into and utilise real-time intelligence.
According to Forrester, just 12 per cent of global respondents were ‘modern’ marketers, a figure that was slightly higher in Australia. Most respondents either fell into the ‘developing’(41 per cent) or ‘experienced’ (33 per cent) marketing camps.
Top-level marketers are employing intelligent targeting based on real-time feedback data and behavioural tracking and analysis; have a fully integrated cross-channel marketing automation platform; maintain a lifecycle understanding of customer personas used to guide marketing strategy, messaging and execution; and use predictive and statistical modelling for lookalike customer targeting and next best offers.
Those that had reached the advanced marketing stage were clearly contributing to stronger corporate performance, the report claimed. Nearly half of those in the ‘modern marketers’ camp reported their organisation’s revenues exceeded plans by at least 10 per cent in the last 12 months, versus only 25 per cent of those in the non-modern marketing camps.
In addition, 95 per cent of modern marketing leaders have some form of market leadership position, and 49 per cent claim to be sole market leader in their category.
The report was based on a survey of 523 marketing decision-makers in the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia.
Oracle Marketing Cloud vice-president of marketing, Andrea Ward, told CMO the report was aimed at understanding data-driven marketing maturity, as well as the transformational impact of new marketing techniques.
“The good news was that absolutely, modern marketers are driving greater revenue, seeing better market position for their company. But most surprisingly, they were also considered best places to work,” she said.
Seventy per cent of modern marketers surveyed by Forrester had received national recognition as a ‘best place to work’ in the past three years, compared to 38 per cent of marketers in the ‘novice’ category. “People want to work at companies that are innovating and understanding their customers, and driving success.”
Australians shine in technology adoption
Where Australian marketers stood out from global peers was in their support for technology. Only seven per cent of local marketers aren’t using some form of marketing automation platform, compared to 22 per cent globally, and 83 per cent are willing to invest in marketing technology that supports an ecosystem of complementary, partner-created applications. This contrasted with a global average of 64 per cent.
“With digital making the world so much smaller and giving customers so much more access to global offerings, there’s a need to jump in – that is what we’re hearing in the conversations we’re having with Australian marketers around adopting technology,” Ward said.
But despite this, only 20 per cent of Australian marketers have standardised, fully integrated cross-channel marketing platforms, versus 15 per cent globally. Just over half admitted their marketing infrastructure is separated by channel and lacks integration.
There are other hurdles, too. More than half of all marketers still focus on conventional conversion and customer acquisition processes rather than looking across the whole customer lifecycle, and only 17 per cent extend activity to include lead scoring, nurturing, behavioural triggers and lead recycling.
Fifty-six per cent are also still conducting mostly one-way, outbound communications. And when it comes to the skills they’re looking to recruit or develop, brand/marketing management took top spot, while data analytics was ranked third.
“There is a general feeling from marketers that they feel like they’re behind – they hear about all this advancement. The news is that’s not true; in general as a market, it’s still early for us all on this journey and there has been a lot of change and innovation,” Ward said in response to the results.
“People see the potential in that, but knowing that at least Australia’s in there, if not leading the way in some categories, is a good message.”
However far they’ve got to go, the Forrester/Oracle report does show data-driven marketing capabilities are increasing. Two-thirds of respondents globally have formal, consistent data gathering techniques.
In addition, 87 per cent agreed their messaging has become much more targeted thanks to the ability through data to address specific segments, personas or client needs.
Sixty per cent claim to have had either already combined, or were in the process of combining, real-time customer data with predictive models and statistical techniques, with retail and telco industries leading the way. And 83 per cent of marketers are able to use existing customer data to analyse their best customers and understand how they buy.
Ward described data maturity in marketing as three buckets. At a base level, marketers needed to manage marketing data. The next level was data attribution, and being able to demonstrate progress and what’s working; while the third stage is data activation, and using data to drive better engagement with the customer.
“People feel like they’re pretty good at the first stage of cleaning data and are getting their arms around it,” Ward said. “Attribution is where it’s at, and that’s where it’s most important in terms of leading that transformation in your business.
“We see quite a bit of maturity in that data attribution piece and for me personally, that’s been the most exciting part of using the marketing cloud – to be able to sit down with my business leaders and tell them the results, where we’re seeing progress, how different parts of the channel play in the overall mix, where investments are strong to a detailed level.
“It’s really about understanding the outcomes you’re trying to drive, and being disciplined about them, because the tools are now there.”
The other piece of marketing maturity is organisational structure, Ward said. “Marketers are still in a lot of cases organised by functional area, so it’s harder to measure attribution if you’re doing cross-channel marketing unless you have to manage that across all those functions.
“Those people need to be connected around measurement organisationally. It’s not necessarily the tools, but the organisation that gets in the way.”
Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu