Open Marketing: Freeing Your Brand To Compete, Succeed
by David Mennie
Living a digital world comes with a lengthy list of benefits–and challenges. While new advancements in marketing technology make it easier to gain customer information and insights, keeping up with the speed of these developments is the true challenge.
Marketing still owns the brand and messaging. However, with a sharp focus on a more customer-centric approach, the conversation is now two-way. The customer’s thoughts and opinions now directly influence your brand messaging (or at least it should). Customers expect a personalized experience with your brand and won’t settle for less.
Adding yet another layer of difficulty, marketing is now charged with digging through mountains of customer data to find relevant insights to continue to improve the customer experience along with helping sales close new revenue. From web logs to point of sale systems, much of the data collected by a modern organization is associated with customer activity.
How does a marketing team focus on improving the customer experience, keep up with emerging marketing technologies, and gain insights from endless streams of customer data?
Marketing the Open Way
Open Marketing is conceptually based on the fundamentals of open source software. An Open Marketing Platform is designed to work best not with a small and limited “family” of compatible systems but instead is built from the ground up to thrive in an environment of endlessly changing integrations and an unknown set of future technologies.
Open Marketing enables data to flow freely between all your systems, creating a unified view of your marketing efforts and, more importantly, your customer. This eases the distribution of content through multiple channels—from web to email to social—but also enables you to adapt your content to whatever the future of personal technology may bring.
For example, you might use Salesforce to track your pipeline, Google Analytics for your web analytics, and Marketo for your e-mail campaigns. On top of this is your content management system (CMS) which is the central application for building your websites, delivering them, and integrating them with these other systems. Whether it’s a legacy system or an open source platform, the CMS has been called the “backbone” of digital marketing by Forrester Research and is critical to the success of your marketing efforts. As a technical marketer, a truly integrated system would be a dream come true, but is that even possible? It is with Open Marketing.
Open Marketing takes a more agile (and admittedly more comprehensive) approach that allows you to assemble a truly best-in-class set of marketing tools. This is important to provide the agility to respond to new opportunities or challenges, to take advantage quickly of new opportunities, and to give you the freedom to change or switch out marketing tools as you please.
The Myth of the Marketing Cloud
Some vendors offer all-encompassing, proprietary marketing cloud solutions. Each one has several different marketing technologies, but they vary slightly based on what the vendor has deemed most important.
While this bundle of foundational marketing tools might seem like a cost-effective, time-saving solution, often it’s not for the following reasons:
- The typical “integrated” suite of marketing technologies is usually not built by the vendor but acquired.
- It is designed to encourage you to use a vendor-prescribed set of marketing tools instead of what you’re currently using—or want to use—even though those tools are often not fully integrated and/or do not share a common architecture.
While each marketing cloud may have one or two products that are considered best-of-breed, one all-star does not make a winning team. If you’d like to use the marketing tools you’ve already invested in—ones that best suit your business needs or can help you accomplish a new strategy you’d like to try—you’ll likely run into one of these scenarios:
- The technology you’d like to use, although on the marketing cloud vendor’s roadmap of future enhancements, won’t be ready for months, or even years.
- You can integrate the technology you’d like now, but it will require expensive custom code—and very likely much more time than you can afford if you want to remain competitive.
Either scenario leads to your missing out; you are losing time, budget or both. The time vendors spend integrating these “suites” means time not spent innovating. So ask yourself: Do you want a future based on their roadmap, or one responsive to the reality being set by your customers?
Open Marketing is about taking back control in this increasingly competitive marketplace, gaining real, actionable insight into your customers, and future-proofing your business.