Why do I feel so strongly? Because the business case for lead-to-revenue management delivers credible improvements in marketing program and sales productivity and can no longer be sidelined or ignored.
In research published earlier this month (subscription required), I talked to marketers, technology vendors, and marketing service providers deep into transitioning from competent campaigners to owners of the new customer relationship. Those involved in marketing automation today recognize that these systems not only affect revenue generation efficiency but also deepen the bonds between buyers and the firms that serve them.
"A central technology hub that allows marketers to manage every interaction between the company and its customers as they progress along the customer life cycle."
There is a diverse group of vendors vying to become customer life-cycle marketing systems (CLCMS) providers, in large part due to demand from marketers to reduce complexity in their technology roster and help them make the shift from the marketing funnel to a customer life-cycle-driven discipline. Friday's not-especially-unexpected news from Oracle further reinforces the conclusions in our report. The press release succinctly makes the point:
"The addition of Responsys extends Oracle's Customer Experience Cloud, which includes Commerce, Sales, Service, Social, and the Oracle Marketing Cloud. By bringing together Responsys and Oracle Eloqua in the Marketing Cloud, for the first time CMOs that support industries with B2C or B2B business models will be equipped to drive exceptional customer experiences across marketing interactions and through the customer lifecycle from a single platform."
2014 is going to be a big year for B2C CMOs. We just published our "Predictions 2014: B2C CMOs Embrace The Post-Digital Landscape" report that predicts CMOs will: get creative with digital lifestyle media; get their hands dirty with customer experience; bring strategy to mobile; invest in marketing innovation; and reconsider their social networking priorities. Here are the five predictions:
Media decisions will focus on the intersection of audience and lifestyle targeting. In 2014, CMOs will invest in branded content, product placement, and advertising on lifestyle-focused YouTube networks with large audiences like StyleHaul (shopping, beauty and style), Machinima (eSports and gamer), and Tastemade (food lovers) where they can reach millions of consumers. These networks having growing Millennial and Gen Z audiences that cannot be ignored.
Customer experienceneeds C-level ownership. C-level execs need to blend marketing and customer experience leadership to ensure that the brand's promise is expressed at all touchpoints.
Mobile will rise from project to primacy. CMOs will grab control of the mobile strategy, increase mobile budgets, and bring the broader perspective of mobile's impact to the executive table in 2014.
As we end 2013 and look toward 2014, there is an old Japanese proverb that, in its simplicity, conveys some very profound truths. It goes something like this:
“If you sit on a rock for three years, it will get so warm that you will get used to it.”
What exactly does that mean? It means that accepting the status quo and staying within the familiar confines of 2013’s comfort zone can lead to complacency that CMOs cannot afford. The pace of change is accelerating all around you. Empowered business-to-business (B2B) customer behavior, the proliferation of engagement channels, and technology advancements all demand that B2B CMOs recognize, respond to, and exploit these changes — transforming them into opportunities for 2014 business growth.
Base 2014 strategies and plans on a strong data foundation.B2B CMOs must base product, messaging, and marketing execution decisions on data insights. Gut feelings, instinct, or “we’ve always done it this way” won’t cut it any longer.
Next month will mark the (gulp) 20th year of my tenure in "digital strategy." I started working on projects back in 1994 using Mozilla, Usenet, and WebCrawler as my guides. The World (its 2006 website is still live at www.std.com) was my ISP. We were still more attentive to CD-ROMs than graphical websites. Hair was still on my head, my dogs were not yet born, and my career was still developing. It was also 20 years ago, in 1994, that the first web design agencies — what became USWeb, Agency.com, and others — started to emerge.
I mention this anniversary, because, like other industries that evolve quickly, the concept of a "digital agency" has become somewhat of an anachronism, if not categorized properly. Specialized agencies that deliver digital capabilities are common, as are the digital or interactive practices within tradition creative, media, and consulting firms. Because of this new and more complicated mix of participants, marketers have shifted their agency relationships to more project based work, at more types of agencies, and with less long term commitment to any one firm.
This week, Apple confirmed the longstanding rumors that the company has agreed to acquire PrimeSense, the Israeli company that invented the technology behind the original Kinect for Xbox 360. All of Apple's moves are scrutinized closely, but this one is worth paying closer attention to than most.
The PrimeSense technology was astounding when it was first incorporated into the Kinect. This was not only because of what it could do — see you in 3D and model your skeletal structure as it observed you moving in physical space — but also because of how the company did it. Instead of imitating the $10,000 military-grade hardware of its predecessors, the company insisted on using off-the-shelf technology, whether hardware or software, so that the cost to deploy the solution would be laughably low, compared with prior imaging solutions. That's what made Microsoft so interested — Microsoft's own motion-sensing engineering group was years away from a homegrown Kinect experience and saw a chance to jump ahead of the market with PrimeSense. And jump it did, selling by our estimate more than 30 million cameras around the world, boosting sales of the Xbox 360 console even after it was already nearly five years old.
Now that Microsoft has moved beyond PrimeSense with the Xbox One and Apple has swooped in to buy the company, it will be tempting to think that Apple wants the technology so that it can finally make a successful play for the living room, something it has repeatedly failed to do with Apple TV. Certainly, the Primesense tech works great in the living room, and Apple would be foolish not to try it out there.
As we head into the fourth year of the age of the customer — a 20-year business cycle that began in 2010 in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers — focused marketing innovation programs are now table stakes to enter this new customer-controlled game.
My latest report on marketing innovation discusses how companies are creating and where they are locating marketing innovation labs and talent to meet aggressive goals to win in this new age of increasingly empowered customers — "The Costs And Benefits Of Marketing Innovation Labs" (paid subscriber access required). The primary goal of these labs is to create new customer experiences and brand engagement that take divergent and discontinuous leaps from previous efforts. Some of the labs are focused more on technology transfer back into the organization, while others are focused on changing the culture of the organization and laying the groundwork for an entirely new mindset to emerge. Whichever focus they choose for their innovation labs, these organizations know they now must invest in customer experience and brand engagement innovation just like they did during the age of information (1990-2010) in supply chain, logistics, manufacturing, and back-office systems innovation and talent.