Clout of the Cloud: Cloud Marketing Automation Tools

With any novel technology comes its promises and pitfalls. It may have taken some a while to work out the unforeseen flaws and kinks of the cloud … but over time cloud-based technology has taken the digital marketing world by storm.

According to a recent Forbes article, 47% of marketing departments will have 60% or more of their applications on a cloud platform in two years. As the idea of cloud-based technology is no longer in its infancy, businesses continue to yield to this intangible technology trend.

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Cloudy with a Chance of ROI

Industry influencers predict that over 1/3 of digital content in the world is estimated to be stored in the cloud by 2016 … and for cloud technology as a digital marketing solution, the forecast looks promising. As cloud technology rolls in, it continues to influence our ever-interconnected online space … and for marketing in the digital age, it seems as though the sky’s the limit.

To cloud or not to cloud, is not an easily answered question for marketers alike. For some companies, cloud-based marketing may be an all-in-one solution, while it may not be as practical for others. But use of the cloud doesn’t have to be all or nothing to yield marketing benefits. Cloud-based software can augment a company’s marketing or serve as an extension strategy within its marketing mix.

Cloud marketing tools offer great potential to coordinate and leverage business efforts, expanding reach, inbound marketing, and audience engagement through these features of the cloud claim:

  • Cost effective
  • Accessibility: Significantly greater because always accessible online
  • Storage: Big data storage, asset management, bigger bandwidth
  • Backup and recovery system, archiving
  • Tools: Web-based applications, plug-ins, apps, and other tools to supplement your marketing mix
  • Automation: Workflow management, streamline tasks and operations, maintain content
  • Collaboration
  • Sync across devices, multi-device support
  • Platform: Industry-focused innovative platforms, multichannel and multiple media management, interoperable with cloud-based marketing tools and extensions

How Suite It Is

Cloud technology offers a dynamic service or platform that can support an array of apps, plug-ins, and other innovative tools that emerge every day—creating a suite of interconnected and interactive marketing tools. Cloud infrastructure is adaptable, customizable, and scalable for a seamless user experience whether for the marketer, IT manager, or customer.

Cloud-based platforms can facilitate an integrated marketing approach that coordinates marketing efforts across multiple platforms and channels, and streamlines tasks with technologies for unified branded messaging. Cloud-based tools are also capable of optimizing marketing efforts, taking common marketing tasks and making them faster and easier—aka automation. There is a number of automation technologies out there that can be used with cloud marketing platforms, but it can be challenging to understand how to make the most of its functionality … so the consensus remains cloudy as for whether cloud marketing sounds better in theory than in actuality.

Aligned or Just Online?

Cloud marketing uses web-based applications to connect with end-users over the Internet. Anywhere at anytime, with cloud technology you can access information, data, storage, systems, platforms, etc.—just as long as you’re online. For both the marketer and the consumer, our constant connection to the Internet opens the gateway for anytime access to the cloud data sphere, bringing online access and interaction to new heights. Staying up-to-date and aware of the ever-emerging technology relevant to your service and system is necessary for smooth operations at all levels of business.

Another pronounced feature of the cloud is its ability to align data, operations, information, resources, etc. Cloud-based apps and tools link our physical (mobile, devices) and digital (multimedia, online) worlds—it coordinates our tangible tech devices with its web counterparts. With the use of cloud-based applications and tools, cloud technology can span multiple devices, syncing everything along the way. And though the cloud connectivity keeps you from going off the grid … it’s not necessarily as seamless as it may seem.

Cloud Catch-22

The digital age we live in has pushed enterprises to digitize their products, services, and assets—shaping the way we as both consumers and marketers interact and engage online, in real-time. As innovative tools and apps used to market and target audiences arise, technology trends pave the way for how to engage consumer audiences. The cloud may be reinventing the IT wheel, but digital marketing may not be adapting quite as fast as cloud-based technology is transforming.

Industries and businesses seem to be investing more than ever in cloud technology as solutions to meet their digital marketing needs. But despite the promises cloud technology has to offer in marketing, there are some pitfalls to consider.

Just like other elements of a marketing scheme, only the right technology that fits your business needs can elevate your brand to new heights—but with the highs, can come the lows, so keep in mind some of the setbacks when incorporating cloud technology to your marketing mix:

  • Privacy, Security and control
  • User experience, limited functionality
  • Digital Divide: Not all business workloads/tasks are made to or capable of sharing/compatible with other data storage, including the cloud
  • Technical glitches: Problems with network and internet connectivity can cripple your entire business operations in the blink of an eye

Blurred Lines

As new age marketing and technology collide, the lines become blurred when it comes to confidentiality, privacy and security controls, restrictions, access, asset management. When there are so many avenues to access, interact with, and share information, assets, and data—the lines of authority can be poorly delineated. Managing who has access to which sets of cloud content can be a daunting task. Another issue of the service centers around who “owns” certain data developed or stored in the cloud. Setting appropriate rights and permissions is important when granting unlimited access to information that is necessary to perform, but also creates vulnerabilities that can put enterprises, as well as its clients and customers, at significant risk.

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William Flanagan

CEO & Founder, Audienti. Former VP-Cognio, Founder-sentitO/Verso, SALIX/Tellabs, PrimaryAccess/3Com, CompuServe. Expert in data-driven marketing.

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