Margaret Wise - Chief Growth Officer, ClickDimensions
In the past year, marketers have faced a remarkable amount of change. From upending their carefully crafted marketing plans to transitioning to entirely digital strategies and leveraging new technologies, marketers had to skillfully adapt to a new pandemic-induced reality to meaningfully connect with customers.
Now well into 2021 – and more than a year since the onset of the pandemic – marketers whose organizations use Microsoft Dynamics 365 have begun to shift out of COVID survival mode and are now looking ahead, strategizing to address the challenges of today’s new business landscape where digital everything is here to stay. In order to craft an impactful marketing strategy that engages customers and impacts the bottom line, marketers should dedicate attention to five key elements this year.
1. Focused Tactics
Microsoft Dynamics marketers today are using a wide variety of marketing tactics, resulting in a wide range of effectiveness. By examining tactics deployed in the overall strategy – including what is and isn’t working – marketers can identify opportunities to expand their audience engagement efforts, achieve their goals, and better contribute to organizational performance.
According to a recent ClickDimensions survey, 99% of Dynamics marketers point to email marketing as the most impactful tactic supporting overall success. Other impactful tactics include content marketing, marketing analytics, events and campaign automation. Ultimately, marketing leaders should prioritize goal setting and determine the best tactics that support those goals.
2. Marketing Budget
With an abundance of tactics at a marketer’s fingertips, every marketing dollar must be thoughtfully allocated. This is especially true in 2021, as many organizations have faced pandemic-induced marketing budget cuts in the past year. While that alone is challenging, there’s reason to be hopeful for the future. Gartner’s recent Annual CMO Spend Survey uncovered 73% of surveyed CMOs expect COVID-19’s negative economic impacts to be short-lived, meaning that while budgets took a cut in 2020, they are expected to bounce back in 2021.
This year, it is important to evaluate marketing budgets both realistically and carefully, while identifying the items that contribute directly to revenue. A few buckets to consider include marketing technology, lead generation, brand awareness and management, content creation, and website and e-commerce.
3. Team Integration
While sales and marketing have worked together over the years, it is no longer enough to be merely aligned. To thrive in a post-COVID era, sales and marketing must now become integrated. This means tools, tactics and technology must work together to drive revenue. According to MarketingProfs, organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions enjoy 36% higher customer retention rates. Additionally, sales and marketing alignment leads to 38% higher sales win rates.
If the integration of these teams has not been a priority for your organization prior to 2021, now is the time to re-evaluate. Through integration, sales and marketing can work together to ensure revenue-driving efforts aren’t siloed and that a potential prospect is in the right place in the buying cycle. In the world of digital everything, it is critical that these two departments function as one to create and execute a plan that will meet overall revenue objectives.
4. Address Pain Points
Marketing teams today face a number of significant challenges, many of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. By examining perceived pain points, marketers can address challenges head-on and create an action plan – albeit a fluid one. According to ClickDimensions users, the biggest pain points Dynamics marketers face include time (19%) and team skillsets (15%), while budget and integration in technology were both indicated by 12% of respondents.
Another pain point to address, according to Sirkin Research, is managing shifting priorities and strategies necessitated by the pandemic. Shifting priorities led to a surge of investment in new channels, with 78% of surveyed marketers expecting an increase in virtual events and another 72% citing an increase in web content. Not only did the pandemic shift the format, but it also created new resource challenges for content teams striving to communicate proactively and frequently with customers and stakeholders during uncertain times.
Rather than letting pain points derail marketing strategies, marketers should take inventory of perceived challenges and work tactically to reduce the strain they cause on the overall team. For example, hold an open dialogue with all levels of the marketing team to assess things that are working well, and areas of improvement. By addressing internal pain points proactively and adapting accordingly, marketing teams work more effectively while efficiently meeting customer demands.
5. Measuring Success
Marketing team goals provide significant insight into what matters most to businesses today, specifically organizational achievements rather than vanity metrics. As such, understanding the quality of an organization’s data can be a predictor and a measure of marketing success. That’s why it is vital to address KPIs when forming an effective marketing strategy to carry out the rest of the year.
First, start by determining the KPIs that are most relevant to your organization. According to SEMRush, 83% of organizations use organic traffic to measure marketing success. At your organization, is the primary KPI the total number of leads generated? The number of marketing qualified or sales qualified leads? Maybe even the marketing percentage contribution to the sales pipeline? Whatever the KPI, make sure there is a reliable way to measure against it and track success. As consumer behavior shifted in the wake of COVID-19, marketing metrics have become even more important for businesses to validate ideas, strategies and processes.
Despite a 2020 filled with incomparable changes and challenges, marketers in 2021 can look ahead with a renewed sense of optimism about where the industry is heading. Further, there are tremendous opportunities for Microsoft Dynamics marketers to expand their campaign tactics, operate creatively within a budget, increase efficiencies with team integrations, address key pain points, and measure marketing success. A thoughtful marketing strategy prioritizing these five elements can be the engine that drives future business achievements in the digital world.