Digital Marketing and Marketing Automation Hit Critical Mass in 2009

Well, our 2009 IDC Tech Marketing Barometer results are in; and if you missed the Telebriefing two weeks ago, here are some of the highlights:

Marketing Investment:

  • 0.5% Growth for Global IT Spending in 2009, while Average Tech Marketing Investment Drops 10%.
  • Larger companies (>$1B in revenue) will take the greatest hit in marketing budget as they wrestle with significant revenue drops in key parts of their portfolios and continue to improve efficiency.
  • Growth areas still exist within: enterprise social media, security management, mobile data, SaaS, Internet advertising, business analytics and IT outsourcing & BPO to name a few. (source: John Gantz’s presentation at IDC’s recent Directions event)

Marketing Mix:

  • The pendulum of investment swings to demand generation, with sales enablement closely coupled to this priority. (awareness building takes a “back seat”, yet remains a key part of healthier companies’ portfolios)
  • We’ve been all talk as an industry with regards to full-scale shifts of our investment to digital marketing over the past couple of years. The economic downturn will catalyze this shift in 2009 with almost 70% of marketers indicating an increase in investment in digital marketing while 60% and 72% of marketers will decrease advertising and events spend respectively. (refer to the past couple of posts in this blog for additional details about digital marketing shifts)
  • Sales enablement will become a high priority for getting internal and external sales teams (and partners) the most relevant content at the right time and in the right place to assist in moving specific opportunities forward. Endless pages of collateral and white papers will be replaced by more relevant content that is better leveraged across the organization. (check out the previous blog post, “Content Squared”)

Organizational Structures:

  • Here we go again as marketers shift their organizational structures. Some organizations will entirely abandon their relatively cohesive marketing structure to shift to an entirely decentralized organization in an effort to simply survive; while the better positioned organizations will “weather the storm” with a more centralized marketing function and/or leveraging marketing shared services to improve efficiency and effectiveness in execution.
  • Marketing operations and sales operations teams will continue to work together, increasing focus on the lead management process and associated nurturing and lead qualification strategies.

Marketing Automation:

  • Marketing automation will experience a turning-point in 2009 as adoption significantly increases in the technology sector. Drivers include the significant improvements in the transactional CRM system vendors as well as the increased availability and cost effectiveness of SaaS offerings from planning to event-triggered marketing to performance measurement.
  • A few questions to ask yourself: Do I have a marketing operations team in place to deploy and govern marketing automation?; Are we ensuring that process drives the technology versus the other way around? How do we ensure consistent adoption and use of these applications across functions, business units and regions on a regular basis?; Have we partnered with finance, sales and other teams as part of this strategy?; and Do we have a marketing automation road map?

These are just a few highlights of the recent study as well as food for thought as you progress through your 2009 plan. As technology marketers, I continue to believe that we are better prepared than ever to respond to the challenges posed in this difficult environment. This will not only facilitate our survival in 2009, but will enable us to rebound quicker than from prior downturns.

Does Your Go-To-Market Strategy Align with Your Customer Needs? – Insight from IDG’s Recent Marketing Summit and CIO Panel

IDG and IDC recently held its 4th annual Marketing Summit in San Francisco, with over 50 marketing executives in attendance. This annual, senior level event offers the opportunity to not only network with some of the technology industry’s best and brightest marketing executives, but also offers the chance to hear from a panel of CIOs about “the good, the bad and the ugly” of our marketing and sales effectiveness. This year proved to be as valuable as prior years in helping to confirm some of our existing knowledge as well as offering contradictions to our preconceived notions of what works and what doesn’t work.

The CIO panel, moderated by Rich Vancil of IDC’s Executive Advisory Group, included executives from Chevron, Levi Strauss and Byer California (a mid-market company that manufacturers womens’ clothing). Here are a couple of “gold nuggets” that I took away from this event including the actual quotes from the panelists: [my comments in brackets]

  • “In a recent RFP process, I had discussions with five companies’ sales teams. Only one out of the five companies was able to understand our needs and reiterate our challenges and communicate a solution without making it a one-way sales pitch.” [How can we as marketers improve our sales enablement strategy to better equip our sales teams for these engagements?]
  • “I prefer to print out white papers and read them at home, while my staff prefer web casts and other online material.” [That’s right, the CIO uses printed material to absorb information while more junior staff have adopted newer consumption methods. Always segment your customers. A role-based marketing strategy may highlight significant differences in how individuals consume information; including the continued need for an integrated, multi-media go-to-market approach.]
  • “As a mid-market company, spend more time telling me about how you’ve deployed your solutions at companies similar to mine. Yes, you may have a Fortune 50 company as a client, but those companies will buy one of everything and put them on a shelf! I’ll be investing my entire budget into one solution.” [Segmentation and understanding of your customer, an often neglected area, continues to be a key success factor for marketing and sales engagements with customers.]
  • “As a CIO, I may not use webcasts since every minute that I’m in the office someone is coming into my office; however, I may pass on the opportunity to my staff who I greatly depend upon to influence my decisions.” [Once again speaking to the importance of a role-based marketing strategy. As B-to-B marketers, we need to not only understand the importance of selling to different members of an extended buying team, but embed this knowledge into our go-to-market and sales enablement strategies.]

As if we ever need reminding, the importance of maintaining our connection to our customers should never be underestimated. In fact, I find that the best marketers serve as a “beacon of light” for customer and market information for the entire organization. Don’t let your marketing cuts inhibit your drive to serve this role in your company. Now more than ever your customers’ needs are changing, if not due to rapid adoption of the Internet then most certainly due to the economic downturn.

The Changing Marketing Mix

The press is filled with stories about the demise of traditional advertising and the in-person, public trade show. Sounds quite similar in fact to the predicted disappearance of the “brick-and-mortar” storefront, and the emergence of a new on-line world where we can do all of our shopping in our slippers from the comfort of our home. Well, IDC CMO Advisory’s recent 2009 Barometer study does continue to indicate that our traditional marketing mix is in the process of permanently changing. In fact, almost 70% of technology marketers indicate that they’ll be increasing their program investment in digital marketing in 2009, while 72% of companies will be decreasing their in-person events spend and 60% decreasing their advertising spend (print, broadcast and corporate sponsorships). What are the top digital marketing initiatives for technology companies in 2009?

  • Corporate web site: No longer simply a marketing billboard, the corporate web site has become the window to the customer. The most effective corporate sites offer visitors the opportunity to not only learn about your products and solutions, but to also learn about the latest technologies and business challenges as well as offering the opportunity to interact with their peers and your technology experts. (e.g., through a community portal) The best sites also track the details of visitors to enable more of a 1-to-1 experience as well as tracking detailed customer data to improve marketing’s lead management and nurturing process.
  • Email: An often over-used vehicle for sending marketing collateral to the masses in a one size fits all mentality, this channel is being used more effectively for engaging with customers through an event-triggered marketing process. For example, providing respondents with additional, customized, relevant information based upon their responses to earlier communications.
  • Search engine marketing: Although display ads will continue to be part of a strong portfolio, search ads and search engine optimization(SEO) will increase in importance. Search ads offer the opportunity to more surgically target your prospects as they reach out for information, while SEO continues to yield a strong return in increasing your companies’ prominence in organic search.

However, before you hand the “key to the city” over to your digital marketing team, there are some important things to consider:

  1. First and foremost, the rest of the marketing mix will continue to be an important part of a strong portfolio of marketing’s strategy; and the balance of this mix will only get harder. For example, the CIO may prefer to continue reading their magazines and printing out pdf whitepapers; their direct report(s) will attend webcasts and read interactive white papers; and third level staffers will attend virtual events and online communities as part of their everyday job. Your mix will need to address the information consumption patterns of each of these roles – hence the need for role-based marketing.
  2. As you continue to rush into digital marketing, ensure that your team does not leave their Marketing 101 learnings behind. For example, continue to leverage market intelligence as part of a market segmentation strategy; to identify your target customers, to understand what information is most relevant to your customers along different stages of the buying cycle, and to understand how and where your customers’ consume their information.
  3. Look for opportunities to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. While everyone is shifting to email and webcasts, a portion of your investment may be best spent on direct mail or in-person proprietary events.
  4. Yes, continue experimenting with digital marketing, however, now is the time to begin including digital marketing as part of the fabric of your go-to-market strategy. Best practitioners are establishing campaign management teams to maintain an integrated marketing strategy focused on the customer, as well as developing centers of excellence in the digital marketing space as part of a shared services strategy.