IMV15 Panel: Master Marketing Technology in Service to Customers

Technology should empower the marketing organization to better serve customers, but many times, we find that the organization is mastered by the technology. Decisions are made not because they are good for the customer, but because they are possible in the existing tools.

Technology should empower the marketing organization to better serve customers, but many times, we find that the organization is mastered by the technology. Decisions are made not because they are good for the customer, but because they are possible in the existing tools.

Getting out in front of this potential rut was the focus of a great discussion I was humbled to join for the closing session of IMV 2015, a virtual conference put on by Target Marketing earlier this month. (Free access to the archive is available with registration through September 2015.)

The key, I said in the session, is to think of technology as being less about pure systems and more about PEOPLE. Technology is about utility and purpose — and that has to factor in the needs and abilities of the people who use it, the people who are reached by it, the people who are interacting with it. Really, technology is only there to enable marketing at a personal level.

Most marketers do not have a technology problem. They have more technology than they can use well. Instead, most of us have a training, integration, process, poorly aligned strategy, competing goals problem. Automation of a bad strategy only gets you to the FAIL faster, and does nothing to improve your customer experience or level of connection.

Moderator Thorin McGee, editor-in-chief of Target Marketing, said it well in his intro, “Technology is essential to modern marketing, but gaining control of it is something many marketers have not yet mastered. The question is how to take advantage of technology without having it take over your marketing world?”

In evaluating a new technology, it’s important to consider both the utility of the existing stack and investments, in addition to the future objectives, said fellow panelist Adam Bravo, executive director of loyalty marketing for MGM International. “Ask if your business has the capacity to adopt a new technology, and if your organization has the capacity to change what you are doing,” he recommends.

“Some new things sound great and are sold well, but if you don’t have the infrastructure from IT or a team who is willing to adapt to new processes and adopt the tools, the investment will not pay off,” he said. Truly, I’ve seen marketing organizations invest in technologies because they have a person on staff now who has the experience to manage it well, but then that person leaves or gets promoted and the rest of the organization is stuck with something that is outside the company’s capacity to master.

It can be daunting. The number of technologies available for marketing are impressive. Panelist Mitch Rose, SVP of marketing for BillTrust says: “You have to be nimble, because what you envision now could be obsolete in a year. Our planning and technology investment is fluid. I recommend everyone try to get approval for some ‘skunk works’ fund, so you can test some things in a pilot. Plan for that – set aside a modest budget and team.”

This is especially good advice in a world where a five-year vision is not unusual for an enterprise marketing organization, but a five-month go-to-market roadmap is life or death for a mid-tier organization. Technology investments must be strategic and should never be taken lightly, but you can be nimble at the tactical level by doing pilots with point solutions, porting data manually from one system to another in a proof of concept, or working with key vendors to test their new functionality in a hosted solution. It takes a level of creativity and curiosity to be a successful marketing technologist.

“The traditional marketing role is dying,” Adam said. “Today, those of us who embrace technology and customer experience, and who aim to understand the customer through analytics, can drive a lot of optimization. It forces the need for a marketing leader who can be close to IT and embrace data analytics.”

This requires marketers to think outside of the traditional functional box. “We have 40,000 hotel rooms, just about as many gaming stations,” Adam said. “Those things are in the budget of hotel operations. However, as a marketing person, I want to capture all the data on our guests’ experience, what type of machine they play, where they eat, how they check in, what sort of room do they upgrade to, etc.

“I’m not the owner of that data, but I want to use it in my marketing operations to improve the customer experience and drive loyalty.”

Collaboration with other departments is essential to success today. It’s sometimes more important for marketers to partner with other departments – sales, IT, customer service, product, operations – than to OWN everything directly. Customer touchpoints and insights are found throughout the organization, and smart marketers focus on empowering consistent and aligned experiences across the entire branded landscape. Marketers have to get used to not owning every media channel, not owning every database, not controlling every message. However, marketers must do the work of setting clear, aligned and actionable messaging, tools and analytics across the entire organization. Technology can be a big part of that, but not all the technology needs to be in the marketing department.

However, marketing organizations can be first movers in technology investments. “Marketing is increasingly approved to invest in technology because we generate revenue from it,” Mitch said. “By our nature we are curious beasts, we are trained to be strategic, and so we are interested in new technologies and want to test them toward a strategic goal.”

Take a minute to listen to the entire panel discussion for richer commentary on these points. Thanks to Adam, Mitch and Thorin for including me!

Meanwhile, how are you setting up your marketing technology to serve the needs of your customers? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

13 Copywriting Quick Tips, Brought to You by IMV15

A few takeaways from the Integrated Marketing Virtual show which stuck with me as particularly helpful for copywriting purposes.

Did you get a chance to check out the Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference? It was live on August 13, but all sessions are now available on demand. The virtual show is co-presented by Target Marketing and is all about helping marketers and marketing service providers gather highly actionable tools and resources for the most effective integrated marketing efforts.

I was able to attend most of the live sessions, and I just wanted to share a few takeaways which stuck with me as particularly helpful for copywriting purposes. Even sessions not strictly focused on copy/creative had tips that could easily apply!

Morning Keynote: How Mindful Marketers Thrive in a Data-Driven World
Featuring: Lisa Nirell; Author, “The Mindful Marketer: How to Stay Present and Profitable in a Data-Driven World.”

A session all about being as clear-headed and deliberate in your marketing as possible, learning to tune out all distractions in a distraction-heavy world to the benefit of your marketing.

  • Research shows only about 2 percent of all people are actually able to multitask effectively – so most likely, our phones and emails should ideally be off and out of reach while trying to write the most focused and engaging messages no matter how good at it we think we are.
  • “You’re just not going to get your best ideas sitting at your desk.One of Nirell’s suggestions is even to go to an entirely unrelated quiet place like an art museum to try and better foster creativity while working on your projects.
  • Use more intentional language – Lisa explains the subtle differences between words that imply aggression or desperation, and words which imply a helpful and accommodating relationship with the reader, i.e.: pursue and push vs. nurture and shepherd.

Reaching Across Generations: The best ways to message from Baby Boomers to Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z
Featuring: Dr. Howard Moskowitz, Award-winning Marketing Researcher and Psychophysicist and Luke Heffron, SVP Integrated Marketing, sg360.

The title is self-explanatory. So what key takeaways did I get from this session about copywriting?

  • Similar viewpoints exist in every generation.
  • “You have to empirically discover each viewpoint,” then tailor your viewpoint message to that generation, rather than assuming a major disconnect in views between the ages.
  • Example: A buyer’s viewpoint might be “eco-driven” whatever their generation, but a millennial might just need to hear “good for the earth” where a Boomer would resonate with “healthier for the family.”

How to Overcome the 3 Most Common Content Marketing Barriers to Increase Traffic and Conversions
Featuring: Dan Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute and MarketingSherpa.

A fascinating session on how leading brands connect with their customers using content marketing as part of a multichannel strategy and major mistakes to avoid. Copywriting takeaways, especially in the context of content creation:

  • Good content is focused on the audience and message, not the medium.
  • Message should be helpful, educational, sharable, and mostly non-promotional.
  • These hugely helpful tips for writing blog posts as content marketing (whoa, getting meta here).Capture

This list is in no way exhaustive. With over six hours of integrated marketing sessions, free resources and sponsor booths, it’s definitely in your interest to pop into the show during its on demand period and take in all the marketing smarts you can stuff into your cranium. Additional sessions cover topics like MarTech, creating profitable video, the return of direct mail and plenty more.

If you’re interested in more hot tips and tricks from the best in the biz, you can click here and sign up for your free, instant access to the show. It’ll be available until November 17.

Direct Mail Is Back

Last week during my IMV15 presentation for “Direct Mail Is Back” we had some questions that we were not able to get to. So we wanted to address them in this blog post. If you have your own questions feel free to reach out and ask them.

Last week, during my IMV15 presentation for “Direct Mail Is Back” we had some questions that we were not able to get to. So we wanted to address them in this blog post. If you have your own questions, feel free to reach out and ask them — or leave them in the comments below!

Here are the questions we didn’t get to:

URLs on the mail piece: We used to be able to use “friendly” URLs, but our webmaster has discouraged it due to the way search engines penalize the site with multiple URLs landing in the site. What kind of URLs do you include?
We create and register a new site for each campaign. That way, the multiple landing pages are not part of our normal website. We do offer links to materials on our regular website to drive traffic there and provide more content. This is sometimes referred to as a microsite.

What would you recommend as a price point for a good direct mail piece as far as expense is concerned?
This is hard, as so much of the cost depends on what you are doing. So, instead of giving you prices that may not reflect what needs to be done, let’s look at what is the cheapest direct mail. That would be a postcard mailing to local recipients all near each other. This gives you the low cost of a card and the low cost of local postage. Specific prices will vary depending on your service area and your provider.

Are there metrics available that demonstrate a significant lift using DM as a precursor to digital follow-up (i.e. email) that justifies the extraordinary increase in costs when using DM?
That can be a challenge, as every list will have a different result. Your best bet is to run a test on your list. Knowing your results from your last campaign, you can then see if you had an increase in response or an increase in purchase amount. Who your recipients are and your offer are going to be major factors in your statistics, and can be dramatically different than a quoted statistic. Here is a case study on adding email to direct mail.

• Where can we learn more about augmented reality in marketing?
Check out these sites for more information on augmented reality:


Augmented reality can be really fun for recipients, as a couple of the above examples show. The cost to start this is very high, but if you do it right, you have the potential to reach many more people than you had on your mail list.

• Are QR codes really utilized much today? I feel like they are outdated already and no one uses them anymore.
It really depends on your audience and your offer. The two states with the most QR Code scans are California and Texas. So if you are mailing there you know that people are open to the idea of scanning a QR code. The best way to know if they are going to work for you is to test them. On your next campaign add the QR code and see what happens.

As direct mail is back in favor with many marketers now, you need to be even more vigilant when creating your direct mail. The only way that direct mail will continue to work is if we as marketers, send direct mail to consumers that is designed well, has a clear call to action and is targeted to the right people. This keeps recipients happy and increases your response rates.