Now that South African marketers have become more comfortable with digital marketing, they are beginning to ask themselves and their agency partners some important questions. What value am I getting for my spend? How do I get more, so that I can deliver more value, compete more effectively and improve conversion?
The answer to these questions (and more) lies within the wealth of data produced by their online interactions with their clients.
The challenge lies in accessing, consolidating and understanding the data that provides marketers with the insights they need to improve their digital campaigns. Over the years, the number of tools marketers use to achieve their digital marketing strategies has multiplied, as has the number of service providers they work with.
Today, marketers have ad-serving, social media, web analytics, email, search, and mobile among others, to manage in the digital mix, and the toolset is constantly expanding. In the average company, some of these may be managed in-house while others are outsourced to a number of service providers.
Now, how does one begin to even understand customer engagements across these channels in a unified manner? Most of these tools were added haphazardly as companies needed them, with no underlying strategy or architecture to unite them.
Some marketers might not even know where all of their data is and may be shocked to find that a search or ad-serving partner actually owns much of their customer information. This is a potential problem since ownership of data is actually about ownership of customers.
Enterprise architecture is the key to wrestling back control of data and using it in a manner that improves a company's digital performance. One of its key benefits lies in helping marketers to better understand customer behaviour and conversion across multiple touchpoints.
By now, most marketers understand that their marketing channels all influence each other. For example, a customer might arrive at a company's website via a search query, but decided to click through because of an earlier engagement with a marketing email or a banner ad.
The problem lies in understanding where to attribute a conversion and where to allocate budget in future campaigns. Businesses pay for engagements through affiliates - but can these affiliates always be rightfully credited for the conversion?
Companies' inability to leverage customer data means missed marketing opportunities and poor customer insights. Marketers need to start using their data to understand customer interactions and behaviour if they want to boost their return on investment.
The process starts with understanding the current structure of the marketing environment and putting a clear structure in place that gives a roadmap for the future.
This will enable one to secure customer data ownership across all systems and supplier relationships. With a clear view of where customer data sits and the ability to analyse it across channels, marketers will be in a better to position to use data to differentiate their brands. They will be able to understand the value of each channel and budget appropriately. This will lead to better performance and return on investment across all their channels and most importantly, their business.