2023 Outlook: Setting Up the Next Level of Marketing Production
Published On: December 15th, 2022|By Comosoft|5.1 min read|
Yes, it’s that time again. Marketing professionals and pundits are predicting the next big trends in marketing and how we can use the latest technology to enhance the art of engaging with current and potential customers. A cursory reading of articles and posts reveals a central theme to these predictions: data. The future of marketing, they say, is all about artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data. Or perhaps it’s about voice search or mobile geo-location. Or maybe it’s about the data we need to drive augmented reality or even virtual reality!
To effectively communicate shopping convenience, inspiration, and value for money, grocery retailers must master a mountain of product data.
Meanwhile, marketing and advertising directors must deal with practical issues like ensuring their multichannel campaigns are consistent, on-message, and on budget. Of course, data of all kinds are critical to plans for the future, but before we can go there, we must adequately manage the actual data we have right now.
Data, Data Everywhere
During the past few decades, we have witnessed the exponential growth of business information made available to marketing and advertising professionals. In theory, it’s possible to know the cost, price, date of purchase, size, color, and SKU number of a t-shirt purchased in Buffalo, along with who the buyer was and how they felt about their purchase afterward. In theory, we can also derive meaningful trend data from millions of other t-shirt purchases that will inform and improve our brand promotion efforts.
In practice, however, that sea of product and purchase data is complicated to manage in meaningful ways. It is especially difficult to respond to customer demands for rapid responses. Web and mobile technology have conditioned us to demand instant gratification in all aspects of our lives—particularly when it comes to shopping. A promotion for a product that doesn’t have a “buy now” button or its equivalent will fare worse than one that makes buying easier. So, it’s vital to integrate all product data throughout the entire promotion-to-purchase cycle.
When it comes to shopping, we demand instant gratification. So, it’s vital to integrate all product data throughout the entire promotion-to-purchase cycle.
Not only must data facilitate immediate purchasing decisions, but it must also be accurate and consistent across the many channels available today. Not to mention the multiple versions of each flyer, webpage, or app screen, customized at the regional, demographic, or even individual level, as we described in a previous article.
Taking the Right Steps
Because every retail operation is different, integrating multiple, often legacy data sources is challenging. So is creating a marketing production workflow that serves all channels equally and eliminates redundant steps. The first step is to identify the isolated ‘silos’ of information made out of necessity – and often without anticipating changes in data and publishing technology.
A typical example is the retailer’s product information management (PIM) system. While powerful in many respects, a PIM is subject to the data quality (or lack thereof) of information supplied by product manufacturers. For example, products may or may not have uniform SKU numbers and other key fields, and one manufacturer’s way of labeling a product’s attributes may be completely different from another’s—or it may be missing fields altogether. Cleaning up PIM and related data is a tedious task, so always look for a system integrator who can automate the process wherever possible.
Cleaning up PIM data is a tedious task, so always look for a system integrator who can automate the process, wherever possible.
The same problem exists with digital asset management (DAM) systems and other data sources. But even when the data is “cleaned up,” they need to be compatible with the retailer’s PIM system and ultimately with the workflow that keeps all the multichannel campaigns running smoothly. System integration on this level requires a working knowledge of the systems’ APIs and a strong commitment to Agile software development.
Even well-integrated data is useless unless it is smoothly connected to decision makers and those who create the campaign outputs.
Finally, having all that data in an orderly, interconnected framework is only the beginning. It is only useful if all those data sources are smoothly connected to marketing decision-makers, designers, and technicians who create the campaign outputs. As described in a previous article, Comosoft’s LAGO system allows marketing and product line managers to plan multichannel campaigns using current data and send it to designers. Then, those designers apply their visual talents to the project without the burden of searching for details and without risking errors from manual tasks. The resulting publications can be easily segmented into regional or demographically segmented versions, and the consequential design decisions can be used to populate ongoing web or mobile app campaigns.
LAGO’s integration with existing systems preserves a company’s prior investments and provides a true, multichannel production workflow, including feedback to the marketing and advertising planners.
Preparing for the Future
In May 2022, digital marketing blogger Azeem Adam noted several trends to watch in the coming months. They include increased reliance on performance metrics and the increased need to utilize AI chatbots and big data in general. Above all, however, he pointed out the need to have the right data at the right time in response to consumers’ increased demand for immediate responses. Of course, all this depends on a retailer’s having that data in the first place – in a form that can be readily available on demand. LAGO streamlines this process for the designer. Even when a product image or other data is updated, the designer automatically gets the new version in the layout. But the “instant gratification” does not stop there. Links to the product’s ordering page can be automatically included in the web or app versions, and ordering-specific QR Codes can be automatically included in the printed catalog or flyer.
Marketing’s abundance of data can seem like a crushing burden in the age of high consumer expectations. But with the right tools and intelligence to put them all together, data is our ticket to the future.