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4 Must-Have Digital Marketing Core Competencies

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Marketing is undergoing a dramatic transformation. According to enterprise technology analyst and best-selling author Paul Greenberg, popularly known as "the Godfather of CRM," the battle for customers has gone from competing against other competitors to competing for customer's attention. Marketo's CMO, Sanjay Dholakia noted that this change, coupled with the fact that the way people buy has changed, is forcing marketers to rethink the way they market and the tools they market with. As a result, marketers are spending increasing amounts on technology, digital marketing and sales and marketing automation.

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Paul Greenberg and Sanjay Dholakia (CMO, Marketo)

The different type of world we live in involves going to where consumers are congregating, listening and responding, engaging them with useful content and using data to make marketing personal. To help marketers navigate this new digital marketing age, we brought these two experts together to give us some insight into what is required to effectively market under these new conditions. To succeed in the digital age, you'll want to make sure these four tools are in your marketing repertoire.

Four must have digital marketing competencies: engagement strategy, content, data and automation

1. Customer Engagement Strategy: it's about conversations, not campaigns. The fact that 60-70 percent of the buying process takes place before the consumer even speaks to the vendor sheds light on the fact that there is so much information available to consumers today. According to recent surveys, CIOs spend half of the time of their buying journey doing independent research, 30 percent of their time collaborating with peers and only 20 percent in conversation with the vendor. With all of this information available, marketers need to shift their mindset to think in terms of conversations, not campaigns, if they are to stand a chance at being heard by the empowered consumer.

According to Dholakia, "All campaigns do is make the noise louder and yelling louder does not work. Marketers need to figure out how to engage the consumer in that conversation." This information shift is an opportunity for marketers -- it's their ticket to play and engage in that conversation. But how do you get invited to the conversation? In a word, content. You need to have something useful to contribute, and content, according to Dholakia, is the new job of the marketer.

2. Influence marketing: interesting, timely and useful content -- The job of the marketer has changed. Because of the change in the buying process, it can no longer be about finding the customer, but making sure that their company is found. That empowered buyer is going to go out looking for information and if you don't have content that is interesting and useful, you are not going to get invited into the conversation. This requires marketers to invest in a whole new world of content in order to have relevant things that can go where the conversation goes.

According to BtoB Magazine "Content Marketing" is one of the top priorities for marketing in 2014. Content marketing was listed as the top priority by the Altimeter Group . In a recent survey, 78 percent of CMOs think content is the future of marketing.

Greenberg says that marketers need to use tools in a way that appeals to the 21st Century digital customer and that means using visual content to capture and engage your audience. "We all respond to things that are the most attractive, so the use of things that are visual, the use of humor and the use of storytelling will keep consumers looking," says Greenberg.

3. Data driven marketing and the power of contextual intelligence - The long sought-after "segments of one" is finally achievable thanks to data. As world-class "segmenters", Pandora, Netflix, and Amazon take it to another level by creating "segments of one": micro-segments that target each customer uniquely, allowing the companies to convert visitors into long-term, high-value customers at very high rates. The fact that the technology exists to allow for companies to have these individual and personalized relationships with customers is one of the biggest shifts in marketing, and it is made possible because of data.

Data allows marketers to know people and engage in an authentic relationship with them. The metadata surrounding your contacts is what will allow you to create very fine segments. You can then nurture your prospects with helpful, timely emails and helpful, timely Web content that will dramatically improve your customer conversion ratios. The other piece of data, the measurement, allows marketers to know exactly what is working and not working, and allows them to prove the effect of what they are doing.

4. Marketing automation: lead nurturing, marketing campaign influence, and sales enablement -- Greenberg says that it would be very hard to do segments of one without social listening skills that come from integrating social CRM and social listening technologies into marketing automation tools. How do you respond to customers in real (or near-real) time without tools that can access millions of conversations that are going on? "You're odds are vastly improved with the various tool sets to do it," says Greenberg. Marketo allows all companies to market on a one-to-one basis, similar to Amazon, and allows companies to very quickly and easily start this one-to-one customer engagement.

Sales and marketing automation tools have also done much to dramatically improve the adversarial relationship that existed for a long time between sales and marketing due to the fact that neither side had the tools to take the customer conversations and relationships to the next level. With sales and marketing aligned and finally being able to get on the same side of the table, they can focus on questions like, 'Do we have the right content?', 'Do we have the right skills to market in this new world?' and 'How are we integrating this process throughout the entire organization (beyond sales and marketing)?'.

If you are an enterprise who is not yet doing marketing automation, the time is now. Dholakia says that we are still in the very early innings of this game with just five to 10 percent penetration in the world and the maturity curve of this new way of marketing is well ahead of us. As a Marketo customer for a few years now, I don't understand how any company can consider themselves a digital marketer without sales and marketing automation. This critical tool is something you need to consider, otherwise, as Dholakia says, "you'll be spending half your marketing budget, but you won't know which half." Get started on your journey by visiting Marketo's online resource center, which is intended to help educate people on what marketing automation is.

You can watch the full interview with Paul Greenberg and Sanjay Dholakia here. Please join me and Michael Krigsman every Friday at 3PM EST as we host CXOTalk -- connecting with thought leaders and innovative executives who are pushing the boundaries within their companies and their fields.

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