In recent years, as Inter­net mar­ket­ing has leapt ahead again and again in terms of new ways to reach con­sumers, mar­keters have had to keep up with and learn a host of new technologies.

It is a tes­ta­ment to our flex­i­bil­ity and inno­va­tion that we have been able to con­cep­tu­al­ize, use and ulti­mately mea­sure such a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent tools — email, search mar­ket­ing, site search, ad serv­ing, and now Web 2.0 tools, for exam­ple — in such a rel­a­tively short amount of time.

Such multi-channel mar­ket­ing strate­gies have allowed us to under­stand pur­chas­ing habits, to reach our prospects when and where they want to be reached, and to bet­ter engage with customers.

But as we’ve rushed to cre­ate and imple­ment such a vari­ety of multi-channel tac­tics, some­thing has occurred that has made it dif­fi­cult for us to inte­grate and under­stand the over­all effec­tive­ness of each of the chan­nels: because inter­ac­tive media is in con­stant growth, there has, as of yet, been no indus­try stan­dard­iza­tion in terms of mea­sure­ment. That means that inter­ac­tive mar­keters have had to work with a vari­ety of tech­nolo­gies and ser­vice providers to cre­ate order across programs.

This leads to mar­keters using one set of met­rics to look at search mar­ket­ing, another to look at pur­chase data, another for email mar­ket­ing, and yet another for Web 2.0 tech­nolo­gies like social media or video.

The result is a frag­mented dis­ci­pline that has mar­keters look­ing at stats from a vari­ety of ven­dors, try­ing to com­pare apples to oranges. Often, in spite of the tremen­dous strides we have made in reach­ing new cus­tomers, we are left pulling our hair out in frustration.

A recent study by For­rester Research sug­gests that there is hope for frus­trated mar­keters. Now is the time for the indus­try to move toward an “online mar­ket­ing suite,” the report sug­gests. Such a suite, under­pinned by a cen­tral hub, “is the even­tual des­tiny for all online mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy and will enable a sin­gle view of the cus­tomer across chan­nels, pro­vide process tools to sup­port col­lab­o­ra­tion, cen­tral­ize opti­miza­tion and sup­port a part­ner ecosys­tem,” accord­ing to the authors (Suresh Vit­tal and Shar Van­Boskirk) of the study.

The For­rester report explains that today’s solu­tions for man­ag­ing inter­ac­tive mar­ket­ing across chan­nels fall short for a num­ber of rea­sons. Enter­prise mar­ket­ing suites lack Web exper­tise. Cur­rent offer­ings from ven­dors like Ora­cle and Unica auto­mate mar­ket­ing processes through expen­sive cam­paign man­age­ment and mar­ket­ing resource man­age­ment appli­ca­tions that need exten­sive IT sup­port and aren’t tai­lored to inter­ac­tive mar­keters. Spe­cial­ists, on the other hand, are too focused.

Mar­keters need a new tech­nol­ogy frame­work to fill inter­ac­tive marketing’s tech­nol­ogy and process short­com­ings. Such a frame­work would lead to inter­ac­tive mar­ket­ing orga­ni­za­tions finally own­ing a set of skills stan­dard­ized around tech­nol­ogy, ana­lyt­ics and strate­gic plan­ning, lead­ing to bet­ter account­abil­ity and sim­pler processes. In fact, an online mar­ket­ing suite — one which sup­ports the end-to-end inter­ac­tive mar­ket­ing process from plan­ning through exe­cu­tion and opti­miza­tion — is inevitable, the report predicts.

I got really excited when I first read the For­rester report on online mar­ket­ing inte­gra­tion, because it jibes so well with what we at Omni­ture are doing with Omni­ture Gen­e­sis. Gen­e­sis is a prod­uct designed to reduce com­plex­ity by automat­ing the inte­gra­tion of mar­ket­ing tools into the Omni­ture Online Busi­ness Opti­miza­tion Plat­form. By inte­grat­ing tools and under­stand­ing their impact upon one another, mar­ket­ing ROI is sub­se­quently increased.

Gen­e­sis offers cross-channel, cross-application dash­boards that pro­vide mar­keters with a holis­tic view needed to mea­sure per­for­mance and opti­mize cam­paigns across the mar­ket­ing mix. In this way, mar­keters can stop com­par­ing apples to oranges and begin to truly under­stand the sum of the parts.

In upcom­ing weeks, I plan to launch a series of inter­views with some of our 140+ Gen­e­sis part­ners who can share what they’re see­ing in trends in terms of inte­gra­tion, the best prac­tices they have iden­ti­fied, and other ideas on the topic. They’ll talk about what it is like to no longer have to sift through dis­parate report­ing sys­tems to make strate­gic dif­fer­ences, and how that has had an affect on ROI.

Mar­keters are under more pres­sure than ever to prove return on invest­ment for their online mar­ket­ing spend. Adver­tis­ing spend on the inter­net is on the rise, up by 30 per­cent to $12.6 bil­lion, accord­ing to the Inter­ac­tive Adver­tis­ing Bureau. Under­stand­ing the value of mar­ket­ing efforts has never been more impor­tant, par­tic­u­larly now, as the cost of invest­ing in new Web 2.0 appli­ca­tions — RSS feeds, blogs, social net­work­ing, etc. — is so significant.

Check back in the next week or so for the first inter­view in the series with with Peter McCormick, Co-Founder and Vice Pres­i­dent, Part­ner­ships for Exact­Tar­get. In the mean­time, click here to down­load the For­rester report, Defin­ing the Online Mar­ket­ing Suite, by Suresh Vit­tal. And if you have any ques­tions about Gen­e­sis, or want to pose some ques­tions of your own to the Gen­e­sis part­ners we will be inter­view­ing, please let us know.

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