It’s possible that your e-mails to customers are ending up in their spam folder. Don’t like the sound of that? Consider integrating your marketing platforms, so that things are done the right way.Many companies are hesitant to adopt new technologies because the time and costs required to make the change seem daunting. Focus on the bright side: software integration means improved product quality and performance, as well as reduced operational costs and improved response time. To put it mildly, it helps marketers to analyze and chalk out the current customer trends and align their strategies to reflect an aspiration towards success in that realm. It's a relatively new approach to suit the particular geography in which your organization operates.
Some examples (not to give away my terrible dietary habits, but I am a HUGE fan of these) include: the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine that allows you to mix and match various Coke-brand sodas, as well as the new and exciting flavors of Lays chips that Lay's asked their audience to come up with when your consumer knows that they are involved in your marketing strategy, they are much less likely to switch brands.
More and more systems are designed to connect. With adaptive marketing and marketing automation solutions, you can include all aspects of marketing communication and their respective tactics, methods, requirements and activities, resulting in a unified force where all parts are working together to comprise a whole. The process of software integration is designed to ensure that all communication strategies are consistent across all channels. You can streamline sales, AND liberate your content marketers from the time they spend engaging in habitual and repetitive tasks! Marketing departments can automate these tasks by integrating their existing software, allowing humans to do what they do best.
Now, I’m going to be honest with you: this is going to be a step-by-step process. Adaptation is something that takes time.
1. Identify your needs.
This might be the easiest part. You probably already want to give this a try, which is why you are reading this article. Besides, everyone else is doing it.
What are your organization’s specific requirements? Perhaps your business exhibits a specific functionality of a business need. Perhaps you are updating an old tool, or you need to merge old with new. Maybe you find that you have a need for multi-functionality. Do you find that you need multiple data entries into multiple systems? It is often the case that a lot of time and manpower is spent to maintain this data, as it could not previously flow from one system to another in a timely manner. Do your customers want to use company systems? Are your systems already integrated, but running poorly? Integrated marketing communications takes your marketing channels and merges them, eliminating inconsistencies.
2. Don’t fret; do your research.
Any idea what an API is? Short for Automatic Programming Interface, an API is a series of rules and instructions that enable different bits of software to talk to each other; it's basically how all of this works. Your software development team can integrate these services through simple web interfaces before the day is over. However, we advise that you take advantage of free consultations from software companies who want to sell you their product. In the process, you might find out that one particular piece of software might work better for your organization.
3. Know the risks, and how to avoid them.
It's common for there to be reluctance within management teams; there are many different departments involved in a change like this. There are so many perks to integrating your software, but if there is a security breach in one of the sub-systems, it makes it easier to breach the entire system. Thus, it is important to prepare yourself and your teams to come to an agreement and share resources. Take a good hard look at the structure of your teams and how such a challenge might be handled.
Work with sales, PR, design, marketing, and consider both objective and shared goals. This is going to take some time and attention, so other ideas might have to be put on hold. Plan in advance, and know who the leaders are. Brief your team; in order to be successful, everyone needs to be prepared for the change.
4. Start with integrating social media if you haven't already.
Success is going to depend entirely on the type of software you choose. Start with combining your social media accounts with your email marketing strategy; it's one of our biggest online social events and essentially brings what your customer needs right to their inbox. It's cost-effective, easy to manage, and establishes direct contact with customers. In fact, potential customers will do some of the marketing work for you, because videos, imagery, and copy can be passed from one medium to another. With system integration, you can create engaging emails, manage your contacts, segment users, and track the performance of your content.
5. Perform an integration test.
Integration testing is essential. By doing so, you will uncover errors, troubleshoot, and fix problems that occur during the test. Prior to testing, determine which specifications will need to be reviewed. Depending on the integration problems detected and solved, you might need to re-evaluate before pushing through an upgrade. Software integration setup and planning should occur with the program and project managers, facility operations manager, engineers, among others. Keep an integration log: this way, software designers and engineers can fix and debug problems, ensuring that the newly integrated system is ready for release.
6. Integration verification (that rhymes!)
At this point, your existing software has become integrated. This stage requires reviews, audits, and more tests.
7. You did it! Be proud of yourself and your team.
Reward those involved in the software integration process.
8. Employ a steady and consistent SEO strategy.
Feel free to weigh in on broader conversations in your industry. Don't be afraid to contribute something different to the conversation and start a discussion. Controversial is okay; innovative is even better. If you're a tech marketer, be sure to clearly convey the complexities of your product. Invest in social media for the long-run.
9. Consider encouraging your children to major in software engineering. There is a software lifecycle, and these guys are going to be highly sought after for solutions in the future.
About the Writer: Meghan Carron is a Content Marketing Intern at Cortex, as well as Data Associate for Amazon. With a degree in Philosophy, Psychology, and Cognitive Science, she contributes what she knows about the human mind to the field of machine learning.