With the influx of marketing technology and tools today, an integral part of a successful inbound marketing strategy is understanding what options are available and worthwhile from a marketing perspective. However, it is also crucial to realize how to utilize and adapt to these tools to maximize their (and your) potential.
Cathy McKnight, Partner and Principal Analyst at Digital Clarity Group (DCG) –which helps marketing leaders to navigate today’s digital transformation – offered up her expert knowledge and insight into how marketers can leverage marketing automation technology and why adaptability lends to the success of overall marketing strategies.
As founding Partner and Principal Analyst, what are your roles at Digital Clarity Group?
As with many small firms, I wear multiple hats. My primary role is as a Principal Analyst, so I cover marketing automation, as well as web content management (WCM) systems and the social space with an emphasis on enterprise solutions. I also act as DCG’s COO.
What are the factors a company should look at to assess the value in using marketing automation systems? Any best practice tips or even things to avoid?
I’m a firm believer that the base of success for most business processes, including marketing, is having a logical streamlined process to support it. This holds true for content marketing and other activities like marketing automation and CRM. Before you can set a process in place, you must identify a goal. Basically, you have to ask yourself why you are using these tools – especially marketing automation, since it can be leveraged in so many ways – with a primary focus on inbound marketing for driving people in.
You must identify the target outcomes related to your strategy and then build supporting processes around that. I strongly advocate taking stock in what’s currently in place with regards to people, finances, technology, existing process, and what is coming up in the future, so you can leverage those and set up a process centered around the big picture. The worst approach a company can take is being unrealistic about their goals and strategy. Marketing automation is not the cure-all; you must truly understand what it has to offer from its functionality, and what is needed to support it.
Your colleague, Robert Rose discussed with us how critical it is for companies to be able to adapt to, rather than scale when it comes to emerging technologies and industry trends. On that note, where do you see the future of marketing going? Is it always going to be changing and rediscovering itself?
Absolutely! Adaptability is the key. If a company is too set in their ways and not willing to or able to shift gears in response to clients and marketing trends, they’ll always be playing catch-up and never be able to position themselves as a leader in their industry. Marketing will always be changing, and will grow and shift quickly and often alongside new technologies. We are no longer in the cycle of learning new technology every few years – instead, we are facing a landscape where innovators are churning out and changing technologies at a much faster pace. One social or technological platform is a leader for a second and then it switches all of a sudden.
Everyone is always trying to one-up each other on a technology front, which makes it hard as a marketer to adapt, know and plan. So you need to be able to adapt on the fly. Content tailored to “technology of the minute” is important; it makes a difference as to how we connect with prospects, customers and evangelist, and we must adapt to constant change.
What are you going to cover in your talk at IMS San Francisco?
I will be facilitating two expert panels in San Francisco. One will be focused on building customer engagement. Customer experience management is imperative for how to approach the industry, vendors and product selection. Since we are currently analyzing the WCM and CEM service provider landscape, I can’t wait to see what our panelists will say. Getting their views will be really interesting and hopefully spark a great conversation.
The other panel is a continuation on a session I did in New York City in May on practical big data strategies for marketers. It will be a discussion based on varying perspectives on how and if big data really affects marketers and how it can be leveraged. We will be addressing the question of whether big data is the real thing to be concerned about or if we should be focusing on small data, and how we should utilize each of them. Is all data just hype or is it a true concern? 90% of organizations are talking about it, so it’s certainly a pertinent topic.
What do you hope or expect to get out of the conference?
Because IMS is set up as a single track event, people get lots of opportunity to connect with one another, so there’s a great rapport between attendees. IMS brings a huge variety of people together; there will be lots of industry representation, vendors, service providers, and also lots of people on the business side looking to learn more about inbound and marketing in general. All of these groups come together to give and get new perspectives with lots of time to connect sparks great conversations. That is why I really enjoy going!