When it comes to advertising, the customer might see an eye-catching ad on social, a short video on YouTube or even a cinematic TVC on their screen.
Any marketer would know, however, that this ‘end result’ is only a fraction of the overall process. Driving these campaigns are personalisation engines, recommendation engines and all types of digital tools which connect the right message to the right customer.
It’s something Accenture ‘s head of sales and marketing operations ANZ Philippa Spork describes as ‘the machine’.
“It might be seen as the unsexy part of marketing,” Spork told B&T. “But the reality is, the more efficient you can make it underneath the hood, the more you can invest in what the customer does actually see.”
So how do you develop this machine? The temptation is always going to be to invest in best-in-class technology solutions that promise results.
Although these solutions are incredibly powerful and can bolster any technology stack, the fact is they are only as good as the data that powers them.
“All the tech in the world can’t live up to its expectation unless the data, the systems and the processes are connected,” added Spork.
Spork explained that in most cases, the right data does exist, however pre-existing data siloes, or fragmented infrastructure might be standing in the way.
“There’s no shortage of data. Everybody’s got data, it’s about extracting the value from the trends in that data and being able to thread the data around the customer, knowing that the customer who’s walked in the store is the same one that clicked on the ad,” she said.
“In some cases, it boils down to operating model and, and others it’s purely an architecture problem.”
With Accenture, Spork works with businesses to help them move towards what she describes as marketing’s ‘Holy Grail’ – a truly omnichannel personalised experience.
This means the notion of MROI – that is marketing return on investment – is a constant discussion.
A quick Google search will show that MROI can be calculated using any number of formulae, considering factors like the number of leads, average sales price and the cost of marketing.
But according to Spork, what really matters is who is asking.
“My view of this is, it depends on who’s measuring,” she said. “Your CFO may just tell you it’s a matter of cost of sales.”
But an oversimplified approach to MROI can discount the ongoing costs associated with marketing technology.
A major advertising technology solution will not be able to deliver return immediately and might require continued investment before it yields proper results.
This should be seen as an investment into the machine as a whole, Spork explained, as it is driving things like awareness and word of mouth.
“Early on, there was this assumption that we can invest in this piece of tech, and then we can run that piece of tech, and, we will receive an uplift,” she said.
“The reality is that it often costs as much to run the tech as it does to buy and build it. We don’t have the time to prove that out, it takes time for the machine to catch up.”
There is also the matter of investing – and reinvesting – into the people and skills that are required to effectively run this machine.
“The tech can deliver the dream, no doubt about it. But it’s the work, effort, connections and architecture in the backend that makes that dream possible,” said Spork.
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