A Snapshot View of What Keeps Marketers Awake At Night

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Marketers know that they need to adopt multichannel strategies to reach consumers. However, a talent gap, the disconnect between marketing and sales, and other obstacles continue to challenge them. This was the underlying sentiment at a ThinkTank session we hosted at Frost & Sullivan’s Marketing World conference last week.

Approximately 30 marketers from a range of B2B and B2C firms weighed in on several online advertising channels and picked the workhorses, rising stars, and underperformers.
Mobile marketing was a clear rising star as more people spend time on their smartphones and tablets. But even though websites are becoming mobile-optimized, “mobile is not always the optimal way of reaching people,” according to one attendee. The small screen and the difficulty of identifying mobile users are among the largest challenges, she noted.  Paid search is also becoming more common as marketers experiment with products like Google’s Product Listing Ads.

Attendees were divided on the value of display advertising—one attendee labeled display ads as an “underperformer” because in his experience, the value quickly dropped after the campaign was over. Another said she saw more benefits from B2C campaigns versus B2B versions. Retargeting methodologies also received mixed reviews. One attendee saw few results, another one saw good results at a previous job that was B2C-oriented.

Unsurprisingly email, social media, and content marketing were the reliable workhorses, mainly because end users are familiar with these channels and they are easier to test than other channels like mobile.

Numerous attendees also chimed in when the topic changed to bridging the gap between marketing and sales. Some of the complaints included, “Sales reps can’t tell what a good lead is” and “they want ownership of the data.” One attendee drew what sounded like an envious gasp when another attendee said her department cut the salesforce and invested more money in marketing. 

The general consensus was that the disconnection between marketers and sales reps stems from the presence of different objectives: Marketers often take a long-term view of how to build relationships with customers whereas sales reps focus on immediate results.

As for other departments that are leveraging marketing data, one marketer observed that it enables her HR department to gauge how much to offer job applicants based on their skill sets. “If you want to manage a marketing automation platform, come talk to me,” she said. 

But when asked how companies are leveraging their first-party data and layering it with third-party data for targeted messaging, few marketers spoke up. One attendee commented that HIPAA regulations restricted her company from personalizing its emails with user data. Another noted that she would like to experiment further with personalization techniques, but lacked employees with the right skills. “We’ve only begun to use all the capabilities of our tools,” she said.

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