"Marketing" is a very ambiguous word. Unfortunately, many salesman call themselves "marketers." But that's like a flying cricket calling itself a bird.
SEO people are likewise starting to call themselves "marketers." But that's also an egregious exaggeration. SEO experts are no more complete marketers than bookkeepers are CPAs.
The fact is, there's a lot to being a true Marketer. But at it's core should be end-to-end communication, or E2E.
E2E is about constantly getting value from leads and customers you already have
E2E marketing looks past the oft-made mistake of focusing primarily on acquiring new leads/customers and puts a big spotlight on converting, up-selling, cross-selling and retaining the leads/customers you already have.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of companies aren't doing it. Or do it half-assed at best.
According to a 2011 Marketing Budgeting Survey from the Goldstein Group less than 10% of all marketing effort is spent on efforts to retain current customers, while the remaining 90% is focused on acquiring new customers.
The survey indicates that PPC, SEO, online banners, trade shows, print advertising, PR and collateral (all traditional acquisition marketing tools) account for that 90%, while email and other customer-focused marketing media are less than 10% of the budgeting mix.
Now, you can argue it's because E2E media are fairly inexpensive, so they are a small portion of the budget. It's a good point. And I would buy it IF I didn't see, over and over again in the organizations I work with, that the ongoing life-cycle communication strategy accounts for less than 10% of marketing's thinking and execution as well.
Batch-and-blast is still the norm
For the most part, the organizations I work with are still operating in an environment I call "batch and blast." This kind of marketing is campaign-focused and involves a marketer developing a message or two and batching a list of recipients which is then blasted out via email, direct mail or even social media.
There may be some segmentation, and there may be some variable data used in the messaging. But for the most part, the process is still campaign-focused, manual and impersonal.
Successful E2E Marketing is trigger-based, personal and automated
It doesn't matter if it's email, social media, direct mail, online banner or outbound call, smart end-to-end marketing can be made both automated AND personal. They may seem at odds, but they're not.
Your CRM (Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, etc) or Marketing Automation system (Unica, Aprimo, Alterian, Eloqua, etc.) should have workflow tools which allow you to instantly send messages to users when certain data-point requirements are met. And it should allow you to include variable data relevant to an interaction.
When a new customer buys online, you have an email communication strategy for that buyer, beyond a confirmation and thank-you email. In may initially involve an on-boarding plan which sends email messages and an outbound call from a rep. Then, you should have an ongoing communication strategy for that person, so that no matter what happens to him from there, you always deliver relevant marketing messages to him.
And segmentation and personalization helps make the message relevant and leads to staggering increases in response. You can base messages and segments on data attributes like:
- Previous purchase history
- Recency metrics (i.e. "We haven't served you in over six months. Come on back!")
- Monetary metrics ("You're one of our best customers...")
- Demographic data (age, geography, income, etc.)
- Recent logins/visits to your website
- Interactions with sales reps
Make marketing a process, not an event
To truly get to that next step for successful end-to-end marketing, you have to think cyclically. Marketing shouldn't be a bunch of campaigns or events you put on during the year. Marketing should be one big cycle that's tied together by data, and is designed to run automatically.
Your goal should be to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Once you do it, you increase buying and improve overall LTV (lifetime value).
Until then, you're just batching and blasting. And missing the point.