Marketing’s role in building a customer-centric company

This article was originally published in Forbes

Digital technology and access to customer data are constantly reshaping the role of marketing, and as more and more businesses are reorienting toward a customer-centric focus, this extremely valuable customer data becomes a big part of that shift. Marketing is now a research hub, a creative lab and a growth engine—all in one. Marketing’s ability to make data-driven investments and accurately measure and analyze the success of those investments in driving sales and revenue has earned marketers a strategic seat at the decision-making table. 

Yet, so many businesses are still struggling to determine where exactly and how much to invest in marketing, and how to measure the success of those dollars. As the CEO of a tech startup, I have my own perspective, which considers three major forces that shape the role of marketing today: leadership, technology and strategy. 

Leadership & team alignment

While technology allows us to constantly push marketing boundaries (marketing automation, customer and behavior analytics, social media, etc.), it can quickly become overwhelming and costly. On the flip side, the delayed adoption of marketing technology can cost you customers and revenue. That’s where leadership comes in. When you make marketing technology decisions, hire staff and set expectations, think about it as an investment in growth. With marketing automation, including built-in customer and behavior analytics tools, marketing now owns a significant part of the customer journey and can provide strategic insights, such as brand sentiment, buyer intent and customer satisfaction levels, to sales and customer service. So instead of treating your marketing as mainly a lead generation machine, use its insights and capabilities to amplify efforts, iterate and pivot when needed. 

Your customers see you as one brand: whether they get a marketing newsletter or talk to a customer support rep, they might form an opinion on your entire business based on one interaction at any point in their journey. Align your teams around the customer journey and your brand to ensure your marketing investments pay off. Just one bad customer experience or off-brand communication can ruin a brand image much faster than your team can build it.

It’s easy to spend money on marketing, but today you have the ability to plan, track and measure marketing’s contribution to revenue. Develop key performance indicators (KPIs), which can cover everything from email click rate to cost per lead to conversion rate (the ultimate performance indicator). Monitor results and use data to make decisions.

Marketing automation technology

It seems like every day there’s a new marketing tool or platform that promises to engage your customers like never before and set you apart from your competitors. Stay focused. Broadly speaking, your marketing technology should help you to address two needs: customer acquisition and marketing performance measurement. Customer acquisition encompasses everything from email marketing to advertising to content marketing, social media and more. In order to know what works and what doesn’t, you need to be able to track and measure the performance of each channel and individual campaign. The right marketing automation tool can help you to do that. 

There are a number of modern marketing automation tools that are easy to use and more affordable than legacy systems. When evaluating a marketing automation system, make sure it addresses all your key requirements

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