The ways and means in which consumers interact with business are becoming increasingly sophisticated. With the rapid rise in the number of digital devices and touch points, marketers are facing greater challenges in understanding the needs and wants of their customers. Although there has been a corresponding increase in the number of tools to help marketers make sense of this vast amount of information, many suffer from a common flaw.

Marketing technologies are typically developed to address a particular situation such as website analytics or A/B testing, without regard to how these tools integrate into the overall decision-making process. As a result, many marketers still struggle to gain an overall picture of the value of their marketing strategies and tactics.

One size does not fit all in this new environment. The increasing use of mobile devices by consumers to make informed purchasing decisions places an additional burden on marketers. Consumers are making decisions faster than ever, and marketers must not only react to events, they must predict actions in advance. They need to deliver the right content at the right time, often at a moment’s notice.

This level of operational excellence requires an integrated marketing platform that can rapidly measure and analyze vast amounts of data. It requires a standard set of data about customers, including transactional, behavioral and motivation data. Tracking key metrics is not enough anymore. This data needs to be analyzed to understand consumer behavior, gain insight and create tactics that improve engagement.

Google recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to study how marketers are responding to this new real-time integrated marketing paradigm. Forrester surveyed 150150 marketing, analytics, and information technology decision-makers at North American companies to determine best practices. Here’s what they found:

  • Companies that tie marketing performance to business results are far more likely to reach and exceed their goals.
  • According to the research, nearly half of enterprises employing analytics best practices use tools that work together via some kind of integrated marketing platform.
  • All marketing technology and data sources need to integrate with analytics. Twice the number of companies using this strategy exceeded their revenue goals by 10%.
  • Access to relevant data and technology ease of use are both critical factors to consider when purchasing tools, according to the marketers surveyed by Forrester.
  • Marketers that focus on data analytics benefit from increased efficiency, relevancy, ROI and performance when those analytics support integrated marketing activities.

In addition, the survey found when tools do not integrate well they are often difficult to use, offer sparse actionable data and provide little insight into the value they contribute to the business as a whole. Based on the Forrester results, here are some recommendations for creating a high-performance integrated marketing system that offers genuine value for customers and real returns for the company:

  • Align marketing activities with the main business objectives. Sustained business success comes from focusing marketing efforts on the things that actually matter.
  • Ensure marketing tools are sufficiently integrated. They must use same data sets, seamlessly share data in real time, if required.
  • Choose marketing tools that can be easily utilized by both marketers and non-marketers. This avoids any potential bottlenecks in capturing, validating, analyzing and optimizing data.
  • Plan for integration up front before purchasing any technology. Integrating a new tool into a marketing technology stack takes time and must be part of any purchasing budget.
  • Use these integrated analytics tools to show the worth that marketing brings to the business. By communicating this value, marketers can ensure their company’s continued investment in the appropriate resources.

Twenty years ago, a small percentage of the population went online for mostly recreational purposes using a very slow dial-up modem. Times have changed, and the majority of consumers are wired to the Internet, making rapid decisions and frequently making ever-larger purchases. Marketers need to respond to this change by taking an integrated marketing approach that includes both strategy and measurement.