Trend/Prediction: Marketing Will Ultimately Own the Customer Experience. We’ve all heard this from multiple vendors, analysts and thought leaders. So what has to be fundamentally in place to make this happen?
  • 2016 Transformational Strategy #1: Make love, not war with IT. You will never be able to improve the customer experience without data. And you will never be able to fully integrate, leverage and improve data without IT. So lay the foundation for a long, successful partnership with them. Digital marketing success ultimately hinges on your ability to acquire, standardize and integrate data, regardless of channel or device. You WILL need IT support. And as we all know, they tend to be very circumspect and extremely protective of their systems, their processes and their data security practices. And who can blame them. So the better the relationship, the better the odds are that both teams can work through disparate challenges in meeting common CX  goals.
  • Tactic #1: Start by first getting aligned and in sync with the common goal of addressing full ownership of CX. It will certainly help if the CEO has already mandated this, but you may not have that luxury. If not, IT may need to fully understand and embrace the long-term importance of CX ownership. Alignment can be facilitated by first identifying the benefits of CX ownership, chief among them, a shared success in reaching the company's revenue goals.

  • Tactic 2: Once alignment and conceptual agreement is established, next evaluate the current relationship. Define the commonalities and differences that might prevent a successful CX joint partnership and work through the high level challenges, frustrations and concerns of both teams. One of the best ways to facilitate this is to over-communicate. Increase meeting frequency until all relationship challenges are ironed out and consensus is reached. Also, it doesn’t hurt to spend time building personal relationships. You may want to buy them each Apple TVs , or take them bowling, or some other group activity. Hey why not. To succeed in CX, marketing and IT are not allowed to get a divorce. That option is off the table. So you might as well commit to a blissful and meaningful relationship.

  • Tactic 3: Once a shared vision and a fully cooperative working relationship is established and strengthened, (and IT is bowling in the mid 200’s and thoroughly enjoying their Apple TVs :) begin to analyze the initial data connections that will be required in order to meet customer CX expectations. Start with integrating your own internal CX data points, including customer service, tech support, eCommerce, customer portals, etc. This may be easier said then done, but remember, customers already expect us to have a consistent, cohesive conversation with them. They expect us to know their entire history aligned with every new engagement, no matter where they are in their relationship with your brand. So start by integrating the customer data that your company already owns and controls, but that may reside within disconnected departments/systems.

Trend/Prediction #2: Content Marketing - The Age of “Me” is Upon Us. The days of creating self serving content are all but over. The focus is now on help, not hype.  Of course this is what customers have responded to all along, but it is now more formalized and socialized. So how do we move forward?

  • 2016 Transformational Strategy #2: Make a fundamental shift in content development that moves from hype to help. In Jay Baer’s book, "Youtility, Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype", Jay outlines the impact of creating marketing that is so useful, that people would actually pay for it. In the B2B world especially, potential customers are looking for solutions. No one really looks for marketing collateral, they look for solutions collateral. They have no interest in hearing how great you think you are. They are only interested in authentic content that is the most useful in helping them solve their problem. So begin with that. Answer the question, “What’s in it for me” right up top. It’s really your only hope of getting through the clutter. I’ve written about this many times.
  • Tactic #1: Conduct a complete asset audit and analysis.  Identify all your existing assets and categorize them as either self-serving hype or useful and helpful. Be honest here. Look at each piece of content through the lens of a potential customer. Get past any psychological need to explain why your company is so great. At the end of the day is the content really about you (the company or the product/service) or about me (the customer). Will it enable me to be more knowledgeable, more effective and more valuable?

  • Tactic #2: Once you’ve completed the audit and you have your list of content “keepers”, overlay the content you keep to broad buyer personas and stages. This will help you identify where you are asset rich and asset poor. It will also help you focus 2016 budget and resources on filing the most important content gaps first.

  • Tactic #3: Whether you produce all your content in-house, or outsource some or all of it, making a successful transition from hype to help will ultimately depend on the relationship Marketing has with Creative. As in the IT relationship above, marketers and creatives need to work in lockstep in order to deliver fully executable useful, authentic content. So evaluate the existing relationship. Chances are there are some challenges and frustrations that need to be addressed and resolved. Marketing is sometimes challenged with off-target creative deliverables, while Creatives complain of incomplete or vague Creative Briefs, for example. Easily fixed with better, more consistent communication, along with an aligned understanding of the need to shift from hype to help. Again, gifts and group activities can go a long way here as well.Maybe you can all go skydiving together?

Trend/Prediction #3: A Blend of Marketing Mix Modeling and Attribution Modeling is likely the future of Digital Marketing Measurement. The advantages of measuring “natural” revenue drivers, such as seasonal spikes, global economic factors and competitive pressures/pricing together with attribution modeling is very powerful. While CPGs first adopted Mix Modeling, B2B digital marketing in particular lends itself to Revenue Attribution Modeling, mainly due to the additional inherent data and insights that digital channels and nurturing assets bring to the analysis. So for the sake of this post, let’s focus on B2B  getting a firm handle on marketing’s return on investment.

  • 2016 Transformational Strategy #3: Its time to get serious about implementing ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment), whether the CEO is asking for it or not. If the goal of the CEO is revenue growth (99.9% likely) then we must begin to finalize and fully implement the tools and processes by which marketing will use to evaluate which channels and assets are contributing to revenue, in a holistic way. Especially if we consider the first 2 strategies above surrounding CX and content development shifts. We'll want to also evolve our current measurements to fully capture our overall strategic success.
  • Tactic #1: If you haven’t already, decide whether to adopt basic or advanced revenue attribution. Basic meaning you attribute all the revenue to either the first marketing touch or the last marketing touch. Advanced meaning you spread the revenue across all touch-points, either linearly or weighted. I did a video blog about this back in 2012 that goes into further detail. I vote Advanced revenue attribution for several reasons. First it gives you insights into the effectiveness of ALL your campaigns and assets. Second it begins to expose patterns of content consumption, especially if you focus on the digestion of assets by your best customers, in terms of revenue. Third, this helps create a CX roadmap, and begins to define the strategies and tactics of where to begin. I recently wrote a blog about CX strategy vs technology that goes into more detail about this.
  • Tactic #2: Once you've decided on Advanced Revenue Attribution :) work with IT  and your systems admins to establish the tools and connections that will need to be made in order to tie the revenue with the investment. Typically MA tools provide the investment data and CRM provides the revenue data. These connections may already be productized or may need to be fully customized, depending on your tech stacks. There are also a number of 3rd party tech point-solution tools that address revenue attribution.
  • Tactic #3: Establish a timeline and roadmap for piloting, evaluating, measuring and adjusting the reporting. It’s very likely that the initial outputs aren’t exactly what you expected, so there is almost always an adjustment period. In fact this adjustment period may never end, as technologies, processes and people change. Its critical to start with a pilot. It is sheer suicide if you launch this to the entire organization without first invoking this critical pilot process. And finally, as we consultants like to say, don’t try and boil the ocean. Adopt a crawl, walk, run methodology. It can sometimes take several years to fully refine ROMI.

While this is not an exhaustive list of 2016 digital marketing strategies, use these 3 key strategies and supporting tactics to lay the groundwork that should get you ahead of some of the most impactful trends coming your way. You will very likely reap the benefits long-term and springboard past competitors who aren't ready to make the adjustments in 2016, required to leverage these and other trends.

In keeping with my own conviction to provide help, not hype, I hope you found this useful.

Steve Kellogg is a Digital Marketing Leader, Strategist and Technologist. He is currently Sr. Director of Global Marketing Strategies, Technologies and Partnerships at Astadia, Inc.