Today, marketers are able to connect and engage with audiences in ways—and at a frequency—never before possible, thanks to digital technologies. To stay top of mind, brands need to be “always on”–constantly publishing interesting and relevant content that aligns with customers’ needs. The better the content, the more customers will engage, opening up new opportunities and revealing increasingly useful data about their interests and intentions. While marketing technologies are needed at every stage, marketing leaders need to establish the right organizational structure to get the most out of these technologies.
"Digital technologies will continue to play an increasingly critical role in how brands market to customers"
The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.– Sydney Harris
What Does it Take to Make it All Work?
Getting it right requires an approach that brings together content, design, and technology, including their associated teams, processes, and tools. These three departments cannot deliver maximum value when they operate in a siloed or linear manner. It is normal for individual functional leaders to focus on making their own piece great, but achieving a superior user experience with integrated marketing programs requires that they also work in concert with each other. It is like an orchestra, where masterfully engineered instruments, meticulously written sheet music, purposefully laid out stage configurations, and expert performers are all needed in order to create a cohesive, exceptional output the audience will appreciate.
Unfortunately, there are hurdles most marketing leaders have to clear before reaching that level of performance. Many marketing organizations are structured by discipline–including web, email, social, design, print, video, creative, marketing tech. These may be aligned, but they also typically have disparate goals and objectives, resulting from differences in inputs, expectations, tools, skillsets, and processes.
Coordination across channels can also be challenging. Processes and tools can be instituted to facilitate coordination and ensure information and deliverables flow properly, however this does not necessarily mean people are collaborating. Additional focus needs to be placed on bringing people closer together in ways that take advantage of diverse skillsets and points of view to create more compelling marketing programs and maximize the use of marketing technologies.
What Have We Done?
In the past, the Bloomberg marketing department had separate teams focused on web, email, social, creative, etc. While highly coordinated, they all operated as individual teams, which sometimes led to overlap, miscommunication, and missed opportunities. As we evolved and pushed to improve processes, increase impact, and deliver more integrated solutions for our clients, we decided to bring all of these groups together onto one team – we call it the Bloomberg Studio.
The Bloomberg Studio is comprised of art directors, content marketers, copy writers, creative directors, designers (print and digital), digital producers (web and email), motion graphics animators, project managers, social editors, technologists (marketing tech and web development), user experience designers, and video producers-working together in an integrated way across mediums, channels, and geographies. Key to our strategy is how we uniquely blend content, design, and technology into exceptional experiences for a variety of audiences.
This approach has enabled us to have cross-discipline groups-content marketers, designers, technologists-come together to think creatively about how they want to tackle a problem or opportunity and measure success. Everyone involved knows that creativity is not the sole domain of the “creatives”, nor do the technologists have sole domain over how technology should be employed. Problem solving requires creativity at every level and we have been able to deliver more creative, integrated programs than ever before. In order for this to work, individuals need to be confident in their domain expertise and open to non-experts suggesting new, unconventional ideas.
One common problem this has helped us address is that marketing technologies can often be sold as silver bullet solutions, especially to non-technologists, promising 'automated' or 'plug-and-play' answers to challenging problems. Now that we have the right structure and inputs in place, we can consistently apply technologies to focus on challenges – generating revenue, increasing customer engagement, and enhancing the brand).
Why Does it Matter?
Putting this all together enables marketing teams to be more customer-centric and produce content and programs that align with what customers want and need. For example, content marketers can use search data to help create the best, most relevant content for their audience. Designers can use marketing technologies to inform their approach and test across formats and channels. In addition, marketers can move from measuring email-marketing activity from simply a reporting exercise to a process that determines what to do next to keep an audience engaged. By simplifying how work gets done and flows internally, more emphasis can be put on the customer–where it should be.
While it is impossible to predict the future, it is safe to say that digital technologies will continue to play an increasingly critical role in how brands market to customers. In addition, organizations will need to figure out how to stand out in an increasingly crowded and noisy landscape. No matter the new technologies, the creative—and collaborative—application of content, design, and technology will remain the key differentiator for the most effective marketing programs.