Distributed marketing technologies were primarily introduced five years ago to address the challenges distributed organizations face when selling and marketing their products and services through local channels (independent agents, franchisee, resellers, etc.). However, many of the same challenges faced by distributed marketing organizations now apply to almost all organizations. Today, just about all organizations face the same challenges associated with managing, optimizing and distributing content across channels and throughout various layers of the organization (sales, partners, regional offices, etc.). (Of note, “The Rise of Distributed Marketing” is a great video that explains this in more detail).
As multi-channel distributed marketing automation software platforms continue to rise in popularity we thought it was important to clearly define the anatomy of a top performing distributed marketing platform.
Access & Permission Management: The ability to manage system users, groups, access rights and permissions. Permission management is a core fundamental building block that controls the entire user experience including content access and customization options, interface and navigational elements, approval flows, channel options, spend management, vendor selection and more. Single-Sign-On capabilities allow for seamless integration with existing internal permission management applications to prevent unnecessary data duplication efforts.
Profile Management: The ability for system users to manage their user profile. System administrators have the ability to create and designate content fields that system users are required to fill out in order to utilize the platform. Contact information, bios, photos, logos, etc. are all examples of information users can provide to personalize their profile. This profile information will be used to automatically personalize content and assets throughout the system.
Multi-Channel Campaign Management & Execution: The ability for corporate and local marketers to initiate campaigns across one or more channels. Examples include, e-mail, social, direct mail, landing pages and more. Multi-channel distributed marketing automation software often times replaces preexisting single channel applications (e.g., e-mail marketing software, etc.) thus providing additional cost savings for the organization.
Dynamic Templates: The ability to create campaign or collateral templates where certain areas of content can be locked by corporate marketing to maintain brand and regulatory compliance. In addition, content can be automatically personalized with the profile information of the system user as well as that of the recipient (see Contact Management).
On-Behalf-Of Marketing Automation: The ability for local representatives to opt-in to campaigns, upload or select contact lists and then rely on the corporate office to execute campaigns on their behalf. As campaigns are executed, the local representative will receive an e-mail confirmation that the campaign was sent along with a campaign report link that provides real-time campaign performance statistics.
Contact Management: The ability to manage contact lists and contact ownership within the system as well as track and control message frequency. System administrators have the ability to create and manage contact data fields as well as incorporate field names into marketing materials for dynamic mail merge personalization. A Distributed Marketing Software Platform allows for numerous contact ownership models and the ability to integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) systems such as Salesforce.com.
Preference Management: The ability to centralize and manage communication preferences such as opt-in, opt-out, interests and channel preferences.
Marketing Asset Management: The ability to centralize marketing assets for use within marketing communications. Distributed marketing platforms have sophisticated digital asset management (DAM) features that should easily replace preexisting DAM applications thus resulting in a cost savings for the organization.
Approval Management: The ability to control, manage and route customized content, collateral and campaigns through designated approval workflows to ensure brand and regulatory compliance. Detailed reporting and archiving capabilities are also often times necessity for organizations operating within regulated environments (e.g., financial services, insurance, healthcare, etc.)
Spend Management: The ability to manage and control marketing spend throughout the organization. Co-Op spend management capabilities are also often times a necessity for organizations that rely on independent agents.
Vendor Management & Inventory: The ability to manage and control vendors and fulfillment options. In addition, system administrators have the ability to establish rules that can route orders to the appropriate vendor based upon product, location, cost and/or quantity. Automated inventory notifications, direct CXML vendor data feeds, and detailed reporting capabilities round out this feature.
Measurement & Analytics: The ability to track and monitor performance across all campaigns and channels. In addition to its own reporting features, a distributed marketing platform should also have the ability to integrate with leading third party analytics applications such as Omniture and Google Analytics in order to provide true closed loop reporting as well as insight beyond just direct campaign interactions.
Robust API Capabilities: Extensive API capabilities ensure data can easily flow in and out to additional legacy infrastructure applications as needed. In addition, the ability for other third party systems to trigger campaign messages to be sent out of the platform automatically is also a big plus.
To learn more about how a multi-channel distributed marketing software platform can benefit your organization we invite you to download the Gleanster Research white paper: “How Top Performing Distributed Marketers Power Multi-Channel Marketing“.