[Posted by Ed Hadley, Senior Marketing Manager, Neolane, Inc. & Christophe Kühner, Product Marketing Manager, Neolane]
For direct and digital marketers, it’s been a long, slow trek towards empowerment. Because of their complexity, many core marketing processes (e.g. campaign targeting, creation, execution, and analytics) have historically required technical resources or skills. Consequently, marketers were at the mercy of IT or other specialists with often-conflicting priorities.
Historical Advancements: Marketers Gain Control of Targeting and Creation
Technological advancements have gradually put these processes in the hands of marketers, increasing their independence and agility. Campaign targeting was an early example. Segmentation and list selection once required complex database queries typically performed by IT. When the first generation of campaign management tools hid the underlying SQL code behind a visual interface, marketers were able to assume ownership of these processes.
A similar shift occurred in digital content creation, with WYSIWYG editors that allowed marketers to create and modify emails, landing pages, surveys, etc. without HTML knowledge. While agencies still produce a good portion of brands’ digital content, marketers can easily edit these assets or create ad hoc campaigns using templates, limiting their dependence on external resources.
A New Era of Analytics: Empowering Marketers to Turn Data into Actionable Insight
We believe that the next domino is falling for marketers: analytics. Until now, analytics has been an area reserved for data specialists because of the complex, dedicated tools required for essential tasks. However, with the proliferation of digital channels and real-time data streams, marketers can no longer afford to rely on, or wait for, these specialists to perform the analysis needed to extract customer insights and optimize marketing performance.
To further empower direct and digital marketers, cross-channel campaign management tools must provide a user-friendly data analysis environment that minimizes dependence on data specialists/analysts. By simplifying analysis and reporting through drag-and-drop and highly graphical interfaces, these tools can help marketers transform growing data sets (think big data) into actionable insights, perform targeting, optimize campaigns in real time, and create personalized reports. As an added benefit, marketers would have a single platform and UI to perform all essential functions.
Let’s face it: the number of communication channels—and the volume of data they produce—will only increase. In order to effectively leverage big data to engage today’s empowered customers, marketers must in turn be empowered with the right tools, including analytics capabilities that don’t require a PhD to use. Like campaign targeting, creation, and execution before it, analytics must be simplified and put in the hands of marketers. The end result will be greater efficiency and effectiveness.