Marketing in the Cloud – A User Guide
The new era of the cloud—together with the expected explosion in connected devices and the dynamic applications optimized for them—information can be continuously fed to cloud-enabled “big data” and analytic engines, opening up the promise that all of marketing could migrate to a true real-time Internet marketing model.
In an ever-increasing extent, every company must become an “app provider”—using websites and cloud applications to support, enhance, and in some cases become drivers of its traditional marketing offers.
Very few chief marketing officers (CMOs) have thought through the capabilities they will need to drive these new marketing activities. And very few are ready to lead their organizations into this new world. Over time, marketers were able to learn from each marketing cycle what kinds of value propositions would work with each customer segment, and what kinds wouldn’t, allowing them to deploy their marketing resources as effectively and efficiently as possible.
There were exceptions: Some cutting-edge marketers succeeded in devising ways to collect timely data about customer responses, allowing them to create ever more precise, targeted, and dynamic marketing campaigns.
Then came the Internet. Marketers, and particularly business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers, have developed a variety of dynamic, real-time marketing tools and concepts that allow them to track customer behavior on the Internet in great detail, improving their understanding of and relationships with customers and vastly increasing the efficiency of their marketing efforts.
The “digital” part of their marketing efforts is for the most part restricted to the campaign and consideration funnel rather than integrated across the full value chain of marketing activities, from strategy and offer design through service and loyalty.
Now, however, new technologies associated with the advent of cloud computing are extending the depth and reach of connected, real-time marketing well beyond simple Internet portals and siloed digital marketing efforts and campaigns.
It is just these continuous, tight connections companies can make with their customers that will enable the true promise of marketing in the cloud—a new and higher level of continuous contact along the entire marketing value chain, increasing the level of insight among marketers and boosting relevance and loyalty.
Ultimately, the marketing cycle itself will shorten, becoming virtually instantaneous, as it is in Internet marketing. But it will become much wider in scope, all the way from upstream marketing strategy and product design to downstream sales, service, and loyalty.
The shift to the cloud offers CMOs an opportunity to completely rethink how they organize and lead their marketing operations, and to put in place the tools, processes, structures, skills, and resources needed—indeed, an entirely new marketing value chain—to take advantage of connectivity and the cloud.
The traditional marketing value chain begins with the effort to gain insight into customers and develop and test new products in light of those insights. Where the connected, cloud-enabled world will have the greatest impact on marketing will be in the opportunity to deepen relations with customers at every point across the value chain, and ultimately to integrate the value chain completely, blurring the distinctions between up-, mid-, and downstream efforts.
At the upstream end of the chain, where marketers traditionally sought to gain insight into their customers and markets, they will now be able to gather much more frequent feedback from customers and massive amounts of real-time data on how customers use their products.
Cutting across the traditional marketing value chain, these capabilities will ultimately promote a far greater level of integration among all aspects of the marketing function -even extending beyond the marketing organization itself, as CMOs work with product teams to promote customer-centric innovation by embedding marketing functionality into everything they sell.
Traditionally limited to the development and execution of channel, pricing, and communications strategies, midstream efforts can now be integrated with upstream efforts, enabling marketers to increase the frequency of product releases, including real-time updates for existing customers.
Moreover, the insights gained about how customers use cloud-enabled products and services will allow marketers to reach out to them in new, more targeted ways. Over time, companies will need to rethink their strategy for their sales channels and channel partners.
Companies that already have experience in offering on-demand SaaS, as well as social media firms, retailers, and anyone who delivers services through the cloud, are likely to find themselves on an easier path to effective connected, cloud-enabled marketing.
Companies well established in the connected cloud are already trying out different approaches to digital campaigns. In marketing Google Apps, on the other hand, Google automates the process completely.
Companies looking for a competitive advantage as business computing shifts into the cloud and devices become connected must develop new ways to capture and analyze all that data, and ultimately to integrate it throughout the marketing value chain.
Internet Marketers – If you are the CMO of an Internet-only company, then the marketing capabilities you and your team have today will be almost exactly those needed to win in the new world—but not quite.
Hybrid Marketers – If you are the CMO of a traditional company that nevertheless has a component of its marketing function focused on Internet marketing, or you are moving your products into the cloud—and you have access to a dedicated online division with Internet marketing expertise—then your challenge is more complex.
Traditional Marketers – If you are the CMO of that rare B2C company with no Internet marketing activities—are there any left today?—or one of the many B2B companies that have managed to ignore most of the innovations the Internet marketers have been making, then you have a lot of work ahead of you.
Achieving success in connected, cloud-enabled marketing will be an ongoing process that requires companies to be agile and innovative in a fast-changing marketing environment. Under these conditions, CMOs will be forced to become experts in all aspects of real-time marketing and “big data” analytics, and will need to transform their marketing organizations into real-time dynamic execution engines.
As CMOs begin making plans to build the capabilities that will be needed, they should enlist the aid of the Internet marketers on their teams with the most relevant, developed capabilities to take the following steps:
Assess where your company stands now.
Identify who has the requisite skills and experience.
Define the future state of your marketing organization.
Make a comprehensive plan to create a true continuous marketing capability.
Start now. There is not a moment to lose.
This article is an excerpt from “Standing Up a Cloud-Enabled Marketing Capability” by Booz & Company. Booz & Company is a leading global management consulting firm, helping the world’s top businesses, governments, and organizations. Visit booz.com to learn more about Booz & Company.
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