Marketing services that lose efficacy when insourced

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With over two decades of addressing the marketing challenges of local and global brands, I’ve come across the famous antinome that CMOs have always been consumed with – what can be outsourced and what to keep inhouse?

Large enterprises with their army of resources have a clear demarcation of what their agencies can do for them and the role of marketing teams in the scheme of things, and a few have a prescribed rule – stay away from creating, instead be a cognitive part of the creative process.

With agencies holding the prowess to create, have exhibited fortitude, and waded off any blows by corporate teams attempting to take charge of the creative process. Creativity is in the DNA of agencies. However, this is the least of challenges for the CMO. The function has evolved, and marketing operations has a new orientation.

 

Marketing as a service (MaaS)

 

A prudent question to every CMO.

How much can a team really handle without specialists?

 

The simple answer to the question can be deduced by defining your marketing priorities. Do you want your marketing team to do the heavy lifting with marketing operations or would you want the team to focus on the strategy and the management of delivery of KPIs through agency resources?

 

Fine, you got some specialists onboard, but the evolving demand on smart automation, content marketing, and analytics has led to the expansion of marketing technologies. Today, there is a software that addresses every critical marketing process.

 

Marketing Technology (martech) as a space is evolving and at a much faster pace than we believe it to be. The size of the global martech industry is over $120 billion. From 150 martech solution providers in 2011 to 8000+ software providers in 2020 – that’s surely a quantum leap.

 

The learning curve of agencies is shorter than that of marketing teams. With the ebb and flow of talent in agencies, there is a continuous momentum to onboard the new in the form of people and practices.

 

Marketing-as-a-service (MaaS) is the new way to go. Some might debate that the practice is very old, but it holds relevance today. We’re referring to outsourcing services that require a high intensity of acumen, precision, and continuous learning. In the scheme of meritorious things, outsourced teams must function as your own and occupy a seat at the table. And unless your team is geared to handle fast paced change – Bring in the Specialists.

 

 

Inbound marketing with emails

 

According to SendGrid, email is a critical piece in your marketing arsenal as it offers the highest return of any marketing channel – at an average of $42 for every dollar invested.

 

Building on an email conversation thread can be a meticulous task. Most companies have not experienced the success of smelting results through applied inbound marketing. There is a science behind it. The most important rule being – Information earned is better than information bought. Can email marketing get you a qualified lead? Tough but Doable. It’s the right resources, infrastructure, and practice that drive results.

Unless you’ve invested in all the above, you’re not likely to experience optimized results.

 

An industry-wide benchmark by Campaign Monitor is provided below. Are you hitting these numbers?

 

Industry-wise benchmark for email marketing

 

 

Email marketing is not a ‘Mail-it and wait-for-it activity’. It’s a continuous undertaking. Does your email automation trigger an instance or action in the manner it should. Does it factor various response scenarios and actions as a follow-up to a user’s response. Do you have a sequence of events programmed in your marketing automation software?

Technology is important but it is a means to an end, you also need talent to harness technology. If you’re running an ecommerce business, imagine the importance of emails to your customers that provide information on purchases, refunds, shipping, loyalty points, cart abandonment, grievances etc. Your team must be able to plan these events and your automation software must be able to orchestrate the delivery of these events.

 

The moving parts of your email program – Creativity, compelling content, personalization, and email hygiene such as options to ‘unsubscribe’ define the deliverability of your email campaigns. Better deliverability results in a better ROI.

 

Marketers must have meaningful metrics to define the success of email campaigns. HubSpot has the listed the critical ones – Open Rate, Clickthrough Rate, Conversion Rate, Bounce Rate, List Growth Rate, Unsubscribe Rate, and Overall ROI. To know more about these metrics, go through this piece by HubSpot.

 

Digital Asset Management (DAM)

 

Today content is produced at a phenomenal rate, and what I mean by content from a marketer’s view is all the digital assets that are created, edited, and ingested regularly. Your own organization has troves of images, graphic content used for social media, print, marketing material, press releases and events.

 

Imagine the content that is created and shared by your own internal teams, agencies, vendors, and channel partners. Digital Asset Management (DAM) is serious business. Digital assets have a (monetary) value assigned to them and tagging them like a physical asset is now possible. DAM software at an enterprise level can sort, curate, search (through AI), distribute, control usage, and publish digital content. Read more on DAM on our blog This Digital Tool is what Marketing and Agency teams need.

 

There are various stages to the adoption of DAM in an organization, and Gartner nicely sums it up.

 

Use cases for Digital Asset Management

 

 

This is something that cannot be ignored by growing organizations.

According to statista.com – In 2020, we consumed over 64 zettabytes of data (1 zettabyte=1 trillion gigabytes), and up to 2025, data creation is projected to be more than 180 zettabytes. The COVID pandemic being a factor in growth.

 

The role of a MaaS partner here is to mine, curate and at times publish these digital assets. It involves managing the lifecycle cycle of the asset. Adoption is a slow process and requires commitment of resources and time from the marketing division. We’ve witnessed that it ends up being a joint responsibility of marketing and technology in a company, with marketing being the primary stakeholder. The MaaS partner can accelerate the implementation and utilization of DAM software within an organization allowing marketing teams to focus on their core responsibilities.

 

Social Reputation Management

 

You have the best digital agencies conceiving and executing your social media plans. There’s plenty of buzz created for your brand – paid, owned, and earned media.

But the thing that companies don’t invest enough time on is monitoring and managing their reputation online – on social media, forums, blogs, review sites, etc. An untoward tweet by an employee or senior leader in the company, a review by a disgruntled customer unhappy with your service or product can snowball into a crisis. ‘No response’ is not the right way to deal with an issue. Your business and company valuation are at stake here.

The graph below indicates the impact of responding to customer complaints on business.

 

mpact of timely response to customer complaints

 

Here’s an article form Harvard Business Review on how angry customers can turn into loyal ones.

A MaaS provider can set up a ‘listening room’ to capture every mention (neutral, good, bad, and ugly), gauge sentiment and measure share of voice for your brand – All of this to build a long-term strategy to maintain consumer trust. A view by a third-party such as a MaaS provider can be objective.

 

 

Brass tacks

When appointing a MaaS provider, the KPIs must be explicit.

You may have defined the metrics for various activities but what really matters is the value delivered to the business.

E.g., A good Click-to-Open-Rate (CTOR) for an email campaign is a metric that is a relevant, but what is important is whether the campaign has led to customer acquisition or new business from existing customers. Agencies or marketing service providers will stop at a superficial level to ascertain the true impact of a campaign, because they are not fully integrated into the marketing operations of a company – something that CMOs must ponder. This is a discussion for another time.

 

A Marketing Technologist with over two decades of building global brands.

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