• What are the top skills you need for digital marketing?

    What are the top skills you need for digital marketing?

    Hiring talent with analytics experience is emerging as a critical priority this year. By hiring marketers who can effectively analyze data and glean insights, organizations can stay ahead of the curve and make more informed decisions. This article explores the most sought-after skills in digital marketing and what they mean for marketing professionals and the industry. Top skills marketing leaders look for when hiring Up to 57% of marketing leaders prioritize analytics experience when hiring new talent, according to the State of Marketing 2023 report. As brands grow and become more data-driven, marketers who can effectively navigate and interpret data are highly valued. Other skills that marketing leaders are hiring for and prioritizing are: Social media management (12%) Copywriting (9%) Video production (7%) Graphic design (6%) Search engine optimization (6%) Google Ads (2%)  Although marketing analytics is specified, the ability to use data when managing social media communities, producing content and managing paid search marketing is also critical. This shift towards prioritizing analytics experience reflects a growing recognition of data’s vital role in marketing strategy and decision-making. This makes sense for a few reasons.  The need to demonstrate business value Companies are tightening budgets to weather the current economic storm. At the same time, CMOs have been demanding that their marketing and PR teams demonstrate ROI from their programs. This is a trend that I’ve seen over the last 5 to 7 years. Marketers were asked about their KPIs and how they plan to measure their programs’ performance in the same report, and 26% said that cost per acquisition/sale was the number one KPI, followed by: Social engagement (19%) Customer lifetime value (17%) Cost per impression (9%) Customer retention rate (9%) Cost per click (8%) Cost per lead (8%)  These data points clarify that marketing leaders prioritize metrics that prove value. Outside of social engagement, these KPIs are all aligned with financial metrics. Third-party cookie deprecation Google plans to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome by 2024. Aside from rethinking audience targeting and focusing on first-party data, marketers must up their analytics skills to use the data effectively and draw meaningful insights. Consumer privacy is also a significant consideration. Legislation, like the GDPR and CCPA, require companies to obtain explicit customer consent before collecting and using their data. Still today, 75% of marketers rely on third-party cookies. Dig deeper: Why we care about compliance in marketing Marketing budgets are on the rise This year, over 50% of marketing leaders plan to increase budgets, but just 14% will make substantial investments, according to the same report. This is likely due to the uncertain financial times that have characterized the last 12 months. However, despite these budget constraints, marketing leaders are still investing in data-driven strategies, such as: Investing in analytics tools. Hiring talent with analytics experience. Other initiatives to help them better understand their customers and engage them on a deeper level. The demand for analytics skills will likely remain strong as marketing teams continue leveraging data to improve customer experience, drive sales and maximize ROI. Per Gartner, almost 30% of the digital marketing budgets are being allocated to analytics across three functions:  Marketing data and analytics (9%) Customer analytics (8.8%) Marketing insights (8.3%) While each function serves different purposes, all require an in-depth knowledge of data and analytics. Marketing data and analytics is about performance Hiring marketers with an analytics background is necessary to measure marketing performance better. Marketers should be able to analyze data from various channels such as paid search, email, display ads and social media to identify opportunities for improvement and provide actionable insights. Knowledge of conversion rates, budget optimization, clickthrough rates and other performance metrics are critical. One mistake in reporting can result in millions of dollars of loss for brands. Typically, someone working within this function would review the data and provide actionable insights after the campaign has ended. Always-on customer analytics Customer analytics is the process of collecting, analyzing and interpreting data about customers to better understand their behavior, preferences and needs. This involves using data sources such as customer transactions, demographics, web and social media metrics and customer feedback to identify patterns that inform business decisions. In most cases, initiatives that require in-depth customer analysis using survey data happen quarterly or bi-annually. In large companies, this is usually outsourced to a research firm managed by an internal staff member with expertise in analytics. Bringing the outside in with marketing insights Marketing insights refer to the actionable knowledge gained from analyzing third-party marketing research from firms like Gartner, Forrester, Global Web Index, Kantar and Nielsen. These insights can help marketers and PR pros understand the current macro trends, consumer behavior and competitor activity in their industry. This might be similar to customer analytics, but it’s more focused on industry trends and macro-level insights. Again, this helps marketers plan their strategies and understand the broader industry landscape. Cultural trends and insights can also come in other ways. In the report, 31% of the marketers surveyed have designated cultural insights teams in-house. This approach is more expensive, given the cost of salaries and the current economic climate. But having an internal team can be beneficial in speed to insight and data ownership.  Invest in the right resources to drive marketing ROI Data and analytics are essential tools for modern marketers. Investing in the right talent, tools and processes helps you keep up with the competition. Building a team with different functions specializing in customer analytics, marketing insights and data and analytics is key to success. With the right talent and resources, brands can tap into valuable insights, drive revenue and maximize ROI.

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  • 5 tips to get more value from your tech stack

    5 tips to get more value from your tech stack

    Businesses are under increasing pressure to optimize expenses and find ways to do more with less. Tech stacks, which have grown from a small portion of the budget a decade ago to a significant piece of the pie, are often the first to go under scrutiny.  As marketers, we need to get more out of our current tech stack, whether through consolidation or more strategic use of existing tools. Finding areas for improvement isn’t new, so why all the fuss now?  Why your tech stack ROI is worse than it should be In the last three years, my company has conducted over 500 calls with HubSpot customers about their platform setup, spend and optimization. We’ve identified some of the most common martech stack issues — from underutilized capabilities to redundant spending. The result? The average company is wasting 35% of their budget on cloud and SaaS tools. Reason 1: You don’t know what you don’t know  Unfortunately, this overlap is unintentional and may stem from a product purchased to solve a specific problem at a certain point. If you’re not an expert in your company’s tech stack, you won’t know how to use existing tools to boost results or maximize new functionality that could replace apps you no longer need. Unfamiliarity with stack capabilities leads to redundant tools and inefficient workflows. To keep up, you must continually read product updates, beta launches and more to learn how your tech stack functionality is expanding.  In early March, HubSpot announced a new tool that leverages AI functionality within their platform, useful for portal research, market research, writing copy and more. This brings together additional content creation and research tools you might only find with other vendors. Dig deeper: Marketers making less use of martech’s expanding capabilities  Reason 2: It seems too expensive to upgrade Upgrading to a more functional version of your stack can seem expensive, but the sticker price is rarely set in stone, especially for enterprise deals. It’s worth exploring options or negotiating a better deal with your vendor. (You might be paying for features you’ll never have any use for.)  Remember providers often offer bigger discounts to upgrade your account than to renew it at the current level. If you can identify ways to generate ROI on that upgrade, it could pay for itself and then some.  For example, in the sales enterprise version of HubSpot, your portal gains automatic enrollment into sequences and team roles. This standardization of information for the sales team, plus the ability to communicate 1-to-1 with leads who may have ghosted or gone silent, could mean huge time savings and more growth opportunities.  Reason 3: Disorganized buying processes and “grandfathered-in” systems This reason is often underrated, but it’s important. At larger organizations (and even smaller ones), it’s easy to lose track of all the systems you’re paying for, especially when there isn’t a consistent, organized process for buying new software.  And when new leaders come into the picture, they might not know the full extent of what tools are being used, or why, so unnecessary costs are less apparent. Dig deeper: 3 steps to building an effective martech stack How to get more value out of your tech stack 1. Negotiate your software contracts This should be a no-brainer, but there are people more skilled at this than others, so companies often leave money on the table. Many software companies are willing to negotiate to keep you as a customer and expand your usage within their platform.  Consider working with a partner to help you navigate the negotiation process and ensure you get the best deal possible. Partners will have the expertise and relationships to secure better deals. 2. Invest in team training Knowledge disappears with turnover. Newer team members may not have the same grasp of a system that previous leaders did and, therefore, won’t use it to its fullest extent. This is where training and development can help. Individualized training may also uncover gaps you weren’t even aware of.  Dig deeper: In this economy CMOs need to spend more on training, not tech 3. Consolidate tools With the accelerating rate of mergers and acquisitions, larger platforms are buying smaller ones to expand their offerings quickly. Many of the larger tools on the market (such as HubSpot) now offer functionality that does an “okay” job of other things once relegated to specific software. While not always as sophisticated as leading competitors, a unified system adds convenience and cost savings. For instance, HubSpot Marketing Pro and Marketing Enterprise make it possible to schedule and post social media inside the platform.  Does it offer all the full functionality you’d get in a Sprout Social or a HootSuite? No. But it might do enough to save money by discontinuing another tool . Do an audit of your current tech stack, looking for areas where you can cut old or poorly functioning tools and eliminate redundant services. Dig deeper: My stack is bigger than your stack, so what? 4. Cut seats, not just tools Most SaaS companies charge per “seat” or user, so costs increase with each additional employee on it — even if they’re not using it. Look through your platforms and see where you can downsize the number of users you have. This seems obvious, but companies of all sizes consistently overlook it. Many mistakenly give seats to employees who don’t need access to the platform’s paid features, driving up costs unnecessarily. They may be set with X number of paid users, and the rest of the employees accessing the system can do so using a view-only free seat.  Taking a closer look at who needs access to your SaaS tools and platforms can significantly reduce the seats you must pay for. This can result in substantial cost savings without sacrificing functionality or performance. 5. Bring in external resources While bringing a consultant or external resource reduces in-house hiring and training costs for marketing and sales software, the advantages often go beyond cost savings.  By leveraging external expertise, you can tap into their deep knowledge of tools and platforms, reducing the risk that you underutilize tools. These folks often have fresh perspectives and can help upskill your existing team, providing training and processes to ensure you’re continually leveraging your investments efficiently. Lastly, external resources can help with continuity and information transfer. This includes the knowledge you don’t want to lose from employee turnover so that you can ensure consistency in your technology strategy, even as your company restructures or changes. Dig deeper: 5 tips to boost user adoption of new martech tools

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  • How to choose the right martech partner: 6 practical tips

    How to choose the right martech partner: 6 practical tips

    Having been around the horn as a martech vendor customer, seller, partner and employee, I know how vendor-partner relationships work. At a high level, martech partner programs are created to help vendors expand their reach. The partners become an extension of the vendor sales team. These programs also provide value to customers since partner companies lend additional credibility, experience and ancillary services and products (i.e., implementation, customization and third-party connectors).  The open secret The vendor can compensate partners in various ways, including: Commission-based compensation. Revenue sharing. Lead generation. Co-op advertising funds. And more.  Commission-based compensation The partner earns a percentage of the revenue from selling the vendor’s technology to their clients. The amount of commission can vary and is typically based on the size of the deal and the level of involvement the partner has in the sales process. In some instances, this can be very lucrative to the partner. Revenue-sharing The partner earns a portion of the recurring revenue from the customer over the contract’s life. This compensation structure incentivizes the partner to focus on customer retention and satisfaction, as the recurring revenue they earn is tied to the customer’s continued use of the technology. Lead generation Partners are compensated for providing the vendor with qualified leads that result in a sale. This can include providing contact information to arrange demos or meetings with potential customers.  Co-op advertising This provides the partner with soft dollars that can be used for events, advertising, vendor conference fees and more. 6 practical tips for martech partner selection When working with martech partners, you must ensure their recommended solution fits your specific needs rather than their financial gain. Clear communication is key here. Ask questions about their motivations and process. Evaluate the technology and the partner’s approach to ensure it aligns with your needs and goals. (You know, adult conversations.) I’m sure most of you practice safe martech vendor and partner interactions, but sharing some practical tips for choosing a martech partner can’t hurt.  1. Define your marketing objectives Before you search for a martech partner, get your business, marketing, CX and technology goals in order. You must understand what you want to achieve with your martech.  Identifying your goals and objectives lets you determine what martech solutions you need and what you should look for in a partner. 2. Conduct a needs assessment After you’ve identified your marketing objectives, conduct a needs assessment. Consider: Your current-state marketing infrastructure. The skills of your in-house marketing team. Your budget (set one and stick to it).   Dig deeper: How to unlock the power of your marketing technology 3. Evaluate potential partners With a clear understanding of your needs, you can now evaluate potential martech partners. Look for a partner with a proven track record of delivering successful martech projects. Consider factors such as: Their experience level. The types of martech solutions they offer. Their willingness to customize their services to meet your specific needs. 4. Request references and case studies Before deciding on a partner, ask for references and case studies from past clients. Happy or maybe not so happy, speak with current and former customers to better understand the partner’s ability to deliver successful martech projects. Dig deeper: Martech is mainly about relationships 5. Meet with the partner Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential partners, schedule a meeting with each one. Discuss your needs and objectives in greater detail and determine whether the partner fits your business well. That includes asking the partner directly how the martech vendor compensates them. 6. Evaluate the partnership Finally, after you’ve selected your martech partner, it’s essential to evaluate the partnership on an ongoing basis. Set KPIs to effectively measure the outcomes and assess the project’s success and the partnership’s value.  Checkpoints allow you to assess whether to continue working with the partner or if it’s time to look around. Partnerships, like any relationship, are not “set it and forget it.” They take effort and commitment. Selecting the right martech partner Investing in a martech partner is a crucial decision. It significantly impacts how your martech projects perform. Research your options thoroughly and select a partner that aligns with your needs and goals. The tips above will help you minimize risk, reduce exposure and maximize the chances of successful outcomes. Dig deeper: Managing martech relationships: Partnerships and agility in marketing

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  • How enterprises are pursuing martech and adtech integration today

    How enterprises are pursuing martech and adtech integration today

    Large enterprises have traditionally seen advertising and marketing technology platforms align into separate stacks and teams. This presents problems for goals like accurate attribution and full-cycle journey optimization. The demise of third-party cookies makes this separation more intolerable. In a peer group session we organized for omnichannel stack owners, a large B2C firm and a B2B enterprise shared case studies with contrasting and identical points. Here are takeaways from each presentation that are worth tracking. Looking at today’s B2C and B2B martech and adtech systems The B2C firm had understandably made heavy investments in adtech. Their systems — from content to data and decision logic — had predated their martech stack to some extent. This stems from pre-digital (especially pre-pandemic) business models, where the firm had gone to market through distributors and retailers. Now in the era of growing direct-to-consumer business, “It’s all martech,” the B2C stack leader noted.  But as their initial engagement strategy transitioned from transactional selling to building omnichannel customer relationships, the firm needed to think about their media buying efforts more holistically in the context of customer journeys.  Based on the ensuing conversation, it is clear that some leading enterprises are formally structuring marketing plus adtech into “madtech” teams. Even if not formally re-structuring, at a minimum, it became possible to glean that nearly all leading companies are: Joining data and marketing teams and making measurement part of every activity. Focusing heavily on metadata, both at the campaign and asset level, since it’s impossible to draw analytic conclusions without it. Developing more in-house AI capabilities to keep building off early learnings. The B2B case study revealed similar insights but with a greater emphasis on journey optimization as the initial driver. The firm optimized its ad spend for longer and more complex buyer journeys, not just front-end lead generation. This meant integrating media buying and account-based marketing, which isn’t always easy. They simplified the process by having a single DAM that fueled both media channels and messaging via owned-and-operated properties. Dig deeper: Customer journey orchestration: What it is and why marketers should care Closing the loop: Striving for martech and adtech alignment In theory, better martech and adtech integration and alignment should bring enterprises closer to the holy grail of a single, “closed loop” motion — from media buy to loyal, repeat customer. Yet, all the martech leaders agreed that the processes and analytics required to achieve a fully closed loop remain an aspiration.  To that extent, you need to avoid over-promising. In a world where most enterprises still struggle to align adtech and martech at a basic level, you may, as one leader put it, “have to work with a “180-degree closed loop.” It will take time to consolidate appropriate technologies, data flows and teams. The necessary skill sets needed to execute in a blended martech and adtech world are rapidly evolving, too. Increasingly, the lines between technical, content and data people are blurring. Sprinkle in the right level of legal counsel, and you’ve got the makings of a modern madtech team. All this uncertainty and change enhance the argument to focus on core data, content and process capabilities that can work underneath your adtech and martech stacks as foundational building blocks. This may present the most critical objective for overall architecture this decade. A good time to start is now.

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  • Martech spending continues strong despite rocky economy

    Martech spending continues strong despite rocky economy

    Some 60% of businesses are increasing their spending on martech this year, according to a study by Clevertouch Marketing and the University of Southampton. However, more B2B businesses are reporting trouble in the stacks.  This year 23% of B2B firms said their stack was several, unconnected disparate platforms. That’s a huge increase from 2022 when only 10% of companies said this. No surprise then that only 27.4% of these businesses say their martech stack is fully integrated and can pass data seamlessly between solutions. That’s a 12 percentage point drop from last year. Despite this, 31.7% say their customer experience is seamless.  Dig deeper: B2B martech spending growth slows, may hit $8.5 billion by 2024 On the B2C side, 40.6% say their stack is fully integrated, which is essentially flat from last year’s 39.7%. Also, 7.7% have unconnected platforms that are not connected, down from 9.9% last year.  Overall, marketers are happy with how their platforms are performing, with 84% saying they are satisfied with them, up 4 percentage points from last year. The survey of 659 senior marketers across the U.S., U.K. and E.U., also showed the biggest marketing investments this year are: Campaigns: 19.7% Services: 19.3%  Integration: 15.9%  People: 9.6% Why we care. While the B2B numbers are perplexing, it’s good to see that investments in martech remain strong amid the choppy economic waters. Also, those satisfaction numbers are strong and getting stronger. All this suggests that there are solutions even for companies having stack problems.

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