Through my various start ups I have seen first-hand the explosion in multichannel digital marketing over the last few years being both a blessing and a curse for marketers. Marketers are presented with more and more data points to examine than ever before and rarely the time or ability to interrogate it properly. The frustration for most marketers is that they know they have access to a rich stream of high value data, but frequently have the wrong or limited technology in place to understand it. In some cases their technology is adding to the problem, rather than solving it. So many platforms do good things in silos – creating useful data and understanding performance insight in search, social, display, email, mobile, content etc. But how many join the dots when looking to understand what is driving sales? However, as a marketer surely the information on what works well for one channel is only valuable and insightful if you can compare it like for like with all the others?

This is one of the reasons why there has been an explosion in the number of marketing roles dedicated purely to data, and more frequently ‘customer data’. CRM, customer or digital acquisition managers are taking greater prominence within marketing depts. Client marketers are increasingly trying to join the dots internally and create valuable and more importantly ‘actionable’ insight from their customer data. Where did they buy from? What channel drove the sale? Which other products are they interested in? What was the ROI? But it is an extremely difficult task for marketers if the technology platforms that underpin that information have limited scope or ability. Managing customer data in a way that can be used effectively is a very difficult action for a marketer.

That is why I am so passionate about platforms that help join the dots, as they provide real time feedback on the ROI, both online and more importantly connecting online marketing with offline sales, both of which for me is the Holy Grail for a lot of marketers.

Gone are the days where you have to guess the ROI from your marketing campaigns. You can now use platforms that can tell marketers what channels are driving offline sales right down to individual site level, and enrich data captured in real time from third and first parties, such as social profiles, data providers and clients own CRM systems. It can validate leads and prospects in real time and feeds back to lead generators on the performance of the campaign. It enables marketers to dial up or down individual channels and executions based on real time sale value to the business. But most importantly of all it integrates seamlessly with the client CRM system, giving the client that rich, high value customer data and insight they need, but delivered directly to the sales person ready to close the deal.

The future of marketing is running complex, multi-channel, multi-format, multi-message campaigns that react and adapt in real time. The successful marketers of the future will need fully rounded technology platforms that mirror this change and enable them to both execute and enhance campaigns as well as providing the insight that drives their business forward.