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Ask the expert: Tom Farrell, Vice-President for Marketing, Swrve

Q1: How significant have new technologies such as mobile networking and communications become in today’s business world?
A1: The first and most obvious point is around efficiency.

But in fact that only tells half the story. The more interesting influence of technology is around the creation of what I would call the ‘data- driven’ business. Not long ago, large budgets were spent and significant efforts expended sometimes on little more than hunches or at best informed opinion. John Wanamaker’s old line “50% of my marketing budget is wasted; the problem is I don’t know which half” springs to mind. That doesn’t have to be the case anymore — in almost every aspect of the business we have the data to make informed decisions and know what works — rather than guess.

Q2: Can you outline some of the main uses of technology in marketing, customer management and other core business functions?

A2: The list is almost endless. In the marketing sphere, technology now exists to track the customer journey from awareness to revenue, which in turn means it is possible to invest heavily in marketing channels and campaigns that deliver valuable customers, and turn down those that don’t. In customer management modern CRM tools are able to aggregate and share all information relating to a customer across the organisation. In fact in many cases they become a platform for the conversation themselves. And when customers become users, technology allows us to keep track of exactly what those users are doing, what aspects of the product they value, and which groups might merit further attention.

Q3: Please outline the business case for digital marketing as an alternative to conventional approaches. Does this use of technology deliver measurable results?

A3: In most cases digital is all about measurable results! Consider the simple example of Google AdWords (the ads that appear alongside organic search results). In this situation we’re delivering relevant advertising to potential customers already searching for what we have to sell! We can control how much we pay for them to click to a website, and we can track those individuals all the way to purchase (and beyond). Compare that level of insight with the world of television advertising, and the approach speaks for itself.

Q4: Does that mean that conventional ‘brand’ advertising is effectively dead?

A4: Absolutely not! As with any marketing spend, it’s about isolating the target audience, understanding what you want them to believe about your organisation, and establishing the right way to make that happen. For businesses targeting a broad population with a high-level brand message, television and other broadcast channels can work: and of course these channels still retain some ability to target. But as a general rule of thumb, we’re better off making an effort to understand each individual consumer, fit in with their behaviours and attitudes — and in some cases even anticipate their desires.

Q5: What will mark out the successful mobile businesses of the future?

A5: A huge amount of business is moving to the mobile — and to apps specifically. It’s a huge benefit to have your brand front and centre — right there on a device used by your consumer every day. But to get there and stay there takes a total focus on giving that consumer what they want. Conventional marketing can certainly help drive initial installs. After that it requires constant optimisation and personalisation of the user experience, plus what you might call ‘in-app marketing’ to get those app users to deliver revenue. All of that requires those data-driven, digital techniques described above. Listen to your customer — analyse how they behave, and talk to them in a relevant, meaningful way.

* Tune in to our Live Blog today with Tom Farrell of Swrve at 12.45pm at: www.irishexaminer.com/gettingahead


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