A wide range of companies has emerged to serve specific automation needs of marketers. Some products focus on one job function such as public relations or investor relations, and others on particular marketing tasks such as brochure creation, data asset management, and fulfillment. "In a marketing department, there are pockets of data that you can get your hands on, including marketing assets, pre-leads, and industry intelligence," says Scott Richardson, president of Longwood Software, developer of the TagTeam marketing materials management system. "We focus on marketing assets including datasheets, press releases, collateral, and brochures by delivering a system to manage them."
Richardson developed TagTeam because he saw a huge amount of waste in the development, printing, management, and distribution of paper-based brochures and other marketing collateral. "Marketing people need to step up and get control of the process by automating marketing data," Richardson says. "Marketers are going to make the salespeople in their organization better by managing the data." The TagTeam system allows each audience (including media, distributors, salespeople, customers, and prospects) to view materials appropriate to them on the Web, all with measurable tracking.
"All of the clients we talk with are interested in metrics," agrees DVCO Technology's Rambeau. The RelationsCentral Communications Dashboard from DVCO organizes the collaborative aspects of the communicator's role into one integrated system. Clients using RelationsCentral range in size, but each wants to simplify collaboration between members of the internal communications team, outside suppliers, and the public. DVCO Technology has a partnership with PR Newswire to create MediaRoom Web sites that extend the integration of the communications function to external constituents. The joint offering is used by companies such as Cingular Wireless, Lowe's, OfficeMax, and Tupperware. "Our clients want to know, press release by press release, where traffic is coming from," Rambeau says.
"What has been amazing is that the IT departments at these big companies have been the biggest proponents of the system for the PR team because it takes work off their plate," he says. "The news release distribution is completely automated, as is email and RSS delivery options. So, when a company sends a release to PR Newswire for distribution, it automatically populates the appropriate MediaRoom, which triggers an opt-in email launch and updates the RSS feed. Tracking is the key; we help PR people show the results for each campaign."
In public companies, it's not just the PR department that's automating content. According to Bradley H. Smith, director, marketing and communications for Shareholder.com, a provider of services for shareholder communications, Investor Relations Officers also benefit by automating. "IR Officers have told us that there is no synchronization of content for a single investor," Smith says. IR Officers look at a variety of information to understand investor motivation such as participation on earnings conference calls and Webcasts, questions asked on earnings calls, fundamental information such as what stocks they own, and if the investor or analyst has already visited the company's Web site and, if so, which pages were viewed. "Since the content is disjointed (requiring IR Officers to have multiple software applications), consolidating data on a single investor is time-consuming manual labor. They want a complete picture of each investor and analyst to better qualify opportunities," Smith says.
Shareholder.com developed a specialized MRM application for IR Officers called Pinpoint Intelligence. The system brings corporate shareholder communications, capital market information, investor contact management, and board-level reporting together into a single workflow environment. "Companies that embrace the strategic value of IR and rely on the IR Officer as the company's face on Wall Street understand that automating legacy intelligence streams, like targeting, with new data created from the company's shareholder communication activities creates opportunities unique to each company," Smith says.
Many observers say that marketers are at the very early stages of the content management adoption curve. "This technology has taken 50 years to emerge," says MarketingPilot's Kornbluh. "If you go back 20 years, for marketers it was all about the creative and the branding elements." Kornbluh says that as companies adopted technology solutions, the big problems like managing warehouses and accounting came first, and many marketers became risk averse. "It might take another five years before most marketers know about this category of product," he says. Kornbluh, like every other MRM proponent, says the value of the metrics to the marketing mix is well worth the investment in technology.
MediaRoom from PR Newswire