Outlook 2023: Efficient use of current trends in marketing production

Yes, it’s that time again. Marketers and experts are predicting the next big trends in marketing and how we can use the latest technology to improve communication with existing and potential customers. Reading the articles and posts, one central theme of these predictions becomes clear: data. The future of marketing, they say, is all about artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and Big Data. Many posts also talk about voice search, mobile geolocation and it’s all about the data we need to power augmented reality or even virtual reality.

Meanwhile, marketing and advertising managers have to deal with practical issues such as how to make sure their multichannel campaigns are successful, hit their brand message on the mark and stay within budget. Of course, data of all kinds is vital for planning, but to successfully manage the day-to-day business, we need to manage the data we have now appropriately.

Data, data everywhere

Over the past few decades, we have seen exponential growth in the amount of business data available to marketers and advertisers. By exhausting all tracking methods, some of which are possible with consents under the GDPR, data such as the cost, the price, the date of purchase, the size, the colour and the item number of a t-shirt purchased, as well as the person who bought it and how they felt after the purchase, can be obtained. Theoretically, we can also derive meaningful trend data from millions of other T-shirt purchases to adjust and improve our brand advertising.

In practice, however, it is complicated to manage this flood of product and purchase data in a meaningful way. It is particularly difficult to respond to customer requests for quick answers. The ubiquitous coverage of mobile internet has led us to demand instant gratification in all aspects of our lives – especially when shopping. A promotion for a product that does not include a “buy now” button or similar icon will perform worse than one that facilitates the purchase. Therefore, it is critical to integrate all product data throughout the entire cycle from promotion to purchase.

Not only does the data need to facilitate immediate purchase decisions, but it also needs to be consistent across the many channels available today. Not to mention the multiple versions of each brochure, landing page, whether on the website or app, customised on a regional, demographic or even individual level, as we described last month.

Taking the right steps

Because every retail operation is different, integrating multiple, often outdated data sources is a challenge. The same goes for creating a marketing production workflow that serves all channels equally and eliminates redundant steps. The first step is to identify the isolated information ‘silos’ that have been created out of necessity – and, of course, often without anticipating the changes in data and publishing technology.

A typical example is the retailer’s product information management (PIM) system. A PIM system, while powerful in many ways, is subject to the data quality of the information supplied by product manufacturers. For example, products may or may not have consistent SKU numbers and other key fields, and the way one manufacturer labels a product’s attributes may be completely different from another manufacturer’s – or may even be missing fields altogether. Cleaning up PIM and related data is a tedious task. Therefore, always look for a system integrator who can automate this process as much as possible.

The same problem exists with Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems and other data sources. But even when the data is “cleaned”, it must be compatible with the retailer’s PIM system and ultimately with the workflow that keeps all multichannel campaigns running smoothly. System integration at this level requires a good knowledge of the systems’ APIs and a strong commitment to agile software development.

Finally, having all this data in an orderly, networked framework is only the beginning. It is only useful if all these data sources are smoothly connected to the marketing decision makers, designers and technicians who create the campaign results. As described in a previous article, Comosoft’s LAGO system allows marketing and product line managers to plan multichannel campaigns based on current data and send it to designers. Designers can then bring their visual talent to the project without having to search for information and without risking errors through manual tasks. The resulting publications can be easily divided into regional or demographic segmented versions, and the designs can be used for ongoing web or app campaigns.

Integrating LAGO with existing systems preserves a company’s previous investments and creates a true multichannel production workflow that includes feedback to marketing and advertising planners.

Preparing for the future

In May this year, digital marketing blogger Azeem Adam pointed out several trends to watch out for in the coming months. These include the increasing reliance on performance metrics and the growing need to leverage AI chatbots and Big Data in general. Most importantly, he pointed to the need to have the right data available at the right time to meet consumers’ increased need for instant answers. Of course, all of this depends on a retailer having that data in the first place – in a form that is immediately available when needed. LAGO streamlines this process for the designer. Even if a product image or other data is updated, the designer automatically receives the new version in the layout. But the “instant gratification” doesn’t stop there. Links to the product’s order page can be automatically included in the web or app versions, and order-specific QR codes can be automatically inserted into the printed catalogue or brochure.

In this age of high consumer expectations, the abundance of data in marketing can seem like a burden. But with the right tools and expertise to bring it all together, data is our ticket to the future.