There are hundreds of quotes about clouds, so why should it be any different in marketing? Like those clouds that pass overhead and continually evolve and reshape themselves, cloud marketing, too, has gone through many changes.
Most marketers agree that cloud marketing aims to reach consumers where they frequent, whether it’s social media, websites, or email. But from there, one can find many differences in priorities and approach. One of the primary reasons is that historically, many marketers have singular focuses on customer acquisition or management of different forms of engagement. The result is scattered cloud cover. The nucleus of cloud marketing should be data mining and proper application to ensure greater success and ROI.
Collecting consumer data is not as easy as it appears. The major challenges are data fragmentation and accuracy. Data can often be found in more than one database in many companies and must be reconciled, checked for accuracy, and unified. It’s impossible to personalize communications, much less interpret and predict behavior without a clear and accurate portrait of consumers. Placing data as a cloud priority starts with a unified foundation for data. This means having an integration layer with a real-time application programming interface (API) that can reliably extract data from CRMs, e-commerce platforms, loyalty and event management systems, customer service platforms, point-of-sale solutions, and any other relevant source being used. It’s equally important that the integration layer be flexible enough to import data from digital, offline, and even home-grown systems.
The next key element is ensuring that the integrated data feeds into a customer data platform (CDP). The CDP will maintain the unified customer profiles and help provide up-to-date, accurate, and consistent records that may be used and analyzed by marketing and sales teams. Another cloud layer is the customer journey. Tracking, nurturing, and helping guide customers through each channel they’re on can generate more sales. This could be as simple as sending customers a text message if they click on a link or an email if they don’t respond. Holding customers’ hands throughout their journey without being pushy can maintain their interest and awareness.
Yet another layer in the cloud is providing consumers access to any of the brand’s channels. This flexibility across all touchpoints, including email, SMS, website, social media, etc., can also help drive sales. Here’s where consistency in messaging is important across all these channels.
Six major ingredients make up a good marketing cloud. They include:
1. an integration network to ingest and handle all the data,
2. an identity resolution component to tailor messages,
3. a customer analytics component,
4. machine learning that segments, targets, and predicts market performance, and
5. a cross-channel engine that can track and choreograph messaging. The sixth element is personalizing customer experiences and interactions with the brand.
The common ingredient to all this success is data. By wisely and properly gathering, analyzing, and using it to create more personal experiences for consumers, marketers will experience more growth and sales.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of leading PR agency 5WPR.
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