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The Evolving Digital Marketing Landscape

The Evolving Digital Marketing Landscape

Earlier this week, Forthea partnered with Google for an exciting panel discussion that brought together some of Houston’s greatest marketing minds. The topic: the evolving digital marketing landscape. The conversation touched on creating information from data, utilizing personas to deliver personalized content and how you can learn a tremendous amount about your business through marketing measurement. Check out Google’s presentation here.

It’s no secret that the role of marketer has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. New technologies have forced marketers at all levels – from CMO to Sales Associate – to become part-time technology experts.

Reaching customers takes more than an intricate knowledge of your buying personas. It requires fluency with the rapidly changing tools needed to reach them. Smart, automated marketing tactics aren’t just a theory, they’re reality.

Understanding the full customer journey and mapping out how to communicate with that customer separates the good marketers from the great ones.

The moderator, Matt Benner of Chief Outsiders, led a thought provoking session by leaning on his experience in the digital space.

“The panelists have a great story on how to take data and actually turn it into the information that is understandable and allows management to make decisions. Data is useless, information is wonderful.”

Customer Journey

Gregg Knight, CenterPoint Energy’s senior vice president and chief customer officer, brought his wealth of experience in sales and marketing to discuss the new challenges of marketers in today’s economy. Today, traditional advertising methods like television, direct mail and even billboard placements simply aren’t as effective as they once were. What’s more, these traditional marketing avenues lack the ability for deep predictive analysis that’s pushing CenterPoint to the bleeding edge of their field.

“The foundation of our customer journey starts with foundational experience. One of the things that we’ve undertaken is the belief journey and that comes to what we refer to as ‘moments that matter.’ We’ve started out with a marketing and communication strategy that says ‘what do we need customers to know, understand and believe about our company to be successful?”

Digital Marketing Direction

Brenna Croom, digital media director for Zadok Jewelers, discussed how the integration between digital marketing and CRM allows them to grow the relationship beyond the first sale. “I want to put that trust in people. We have great value and it’s a big deal buying a piece of fine jewelry. You want to trust people. That’s what we’ve had to do with our digital is make people understand who we are. Maintaining the customer relationship is really important. We want to take them from their first purchase all the way through the rest of their lives…In a competitive world, digital marketing has to be done flawlessly.”

A common theme woven through the panel is something we hold very dear at Forthea. Data without analysis is chaotic, unhelpful and distracting.

By bridging the gap between digital and traditional sales, employing personal communication driven by live data that connects marketing teams to sale milestones like birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and more can give you an advantage over the competition.

Digital Marketing Measurement and Attribution

John Whiteside, vice president of global marketing programs at Alert Logic, spoke about how they analyze data and use it to map to the buyer’s journey. It ultimately influences his marketing budget. Multi-touch attribution modeling can create a new level of symbiosis between marketing and sales teams.

Deep understanding (and attribution) of your users allows a company to deliver personalized user tracks, altering page content for an individual user based on prior actions. In this way, a company can cultivate a relationship with the user before a phone call is made.

Answering buyer needs before they ask for it forms trust far earlier in a purchase cycle than ever before.

John explained how Alert Logic is taking the next step in personalization, “we look at the behavior of people who are consuming our content, we identify which persona they are and create super personalized email nurture streams. What became clear is people aren’t sitting around waiting for our emails. Our buyers are consuming their information on their phone, they’re doing web searches, they’re following social media, they’re watching webinars, they’re going to conferences.”

Web personalization is a big part of it. It’s digital behavior based.

“So we started taking that data and really leveraging it in different places. An enormous amount of our website visitors see something different. We have personalized tracks on our website. We can provide subtle offers on the homepage that offer a specific solution. By doing that, we’ve seen steady increases in the productivity of everything that we do. We want to really figure out ‘what’s the next step?’ Then generate lots and lots of data about when those next steps are succeeding and when they’re getting stalled out.”

Digital Marketing Spend and Budgets

Forthea president, Chris Pappas, expounded on the ideas presented by the other panelists. Chris urged marketers to consider the lifetime value of customers.

Data, alone, isn’t enough to grow your business. You need to test hypotheses and isolate different marketing channels as much as possible. “Lifting activities” – search marketing, social, sales – need to be strictly evaluated. Marketing budgets need to be earned by showing attribution, ROI and more. Studying your sales pipeline allows you to see where breakdowns happen, isolate victories and failures, and get a full understanding of your business.

“What we look at is the lifetime value of a customer on the B2B side. Is it going up or down over time? On the B2C side, oftentimes it’s loyalty and referrals, especially if it’s a transactional business.”

On the short-term side, the sales lifting activities, those we can easily measure.

  • How much did I spend on paid search last month?
  • How many hours did I devote toward SEO?
  • What’s the fully loaded salary of everyone on our social media team?

“That’s the stuff you can pull out. You can see returns from certain channels. It’s how well the sales and marketing team is at being able to take someone who has interest and converting them over. It’s a big deal.”

“When we’re working with a client and we see a problem in a certain area, it may be that they’re not spending enough, not visible enough or maybe it’s a disconnect in conversions. This is why we do things like listen to phone calls and work with the sales team to discuss if these are really qualified leads or not? Or is it that the sales office is just having some trouble turning this into a deal.”

The panel provided great insights into what’s next with digital marketing and how companies can position themselves to succeed.


Nick Lindauer
Nick is the vice president, client services and operations at Forthea. He’s been working in internet marketing since 2002, when – ironically – he answered an ad in the newspaper. When he’s not at work, he’s off spending time with his family, working on his house, building furniture, cooking on his two Big Green Eggs & brewing hot sauce.

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