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Retail Roadblocks: Marketers Versus Time (And How To Get More Back In Your Day)


“Time waits for no marketer!” …said every marketer ever. 

Does any of the following sound familiar to you? You’re trying to accelerate time to value on campaigns. You’re burning hours upon hours on manual technical tasks. You’re sparing a single minute to scream into the void because your boss just asked you to take on yet another responsibility.

If you feel like time is always slipping away, you’re not alone. In our recent marketing report, Retail Roadblocks: The Challenges Holding Retail Marketers Back in 2021, we compiled data from 500+ marketers. Unsurprisingly, time is one of the most significant roadblocks, one that just about every marketer is fighting to overcome, one way or another.

Read on for a deeper look at exactly why time has become such an obstacle. Discover how to take back your power and spend more time doing the things you love to do as a marketer.

Time Flies, But Where Does It Go? 

When you learn that 57% of marketers wish they had more time in the day, the logical question to ask is, “Well, what the heck are they spending their time on?” 

Three factors are having a big influence on how marketers spend their days: an expanded role, the increased need for measurement, and sprawling technology stacks.

57% of marketers working in retail wish they had more time in the day.

Taking on a bigger role

Marketing ain’t what it used to be… in fact, it’s a whole lot more. Our study revealed that 29% of retail marketers are responsible for CX, CRM, digital marketing, branding, customer acquisition, and customer retention, all within a single role. 

It’s no surprise marketers are wearing so many hats when department budgets have been slashed from 11% of revenue to just 6.4%. Furthermore, outsourced marketing is on the decline; roughly one third of activity has moved in-house (source: Gartner).

It’s easy for time to get away from you when you’re trying to do 5+ things at once. 

Measuring impact 

Marketing departments used to be seen mainly as cost centers that chewed through budgets, with little more than brand recognition to show for it. In recent years, however, businesses around the globe see marketing in a new light. This is especially true in the wake of Covid-19, when many brands either sank or swam based on their relative marketing strengths. Today, marketing is widely understood to be a revenue center, an essential contributor to the bottom-line. 

This is a very, very good thing. This mindset leads to greater alignment between sales and marketing and more support for strategic marketing campaigns. However, it also has led to some big changes. 

According to Retail Roadblocks, treating marketing as a revenue center “means more focus on business impact and ROI, while at a tactical level it means more time spent measuring, reporting, and exploring analytics.”

“Because we’re growing so vastly internally, we have started onboarding internal teams that are literally spending day in and day out on data science, working out who our audience is, who we should be spending budget on, who to leave alone, which is then able to help us build our cross-channel marketing strategy, figuring out high-value actions for new audiences.”

Sarah Brereton Gymshark

Sarah Brereton

Head of CRM, Gymshark

Managing technology stacks

Retail Roadblocks revealed that 41% of in-house marketers claim they’re losing time moving between the various technologies in their stacks, and 20% say their martech stack isn’t fit for purpose. Meanwhile, 85% say personalization is important to driving revenue and CX, while 29% say their inability to integrate technologies holds them back from personalizing their content. In fact, it’s reached the point where marketers are pouring more time into preparing and segmenting data than any other task. 

To put all that in simpler terms, marketers are losing time doing essential work simply because the methods and tools they use are inefficient. Frustrating, isn’t it?

41% of in-house retail marketers lose time moving between different technologies.

The problem is compounded by the sheer quantity of martech tools being used — one researcher estimated enterprises use an average of 91 marketing cloud services. (Granted, that was given a fairly broad definition of what “marketing cloud service” means.) Consider, too, that companies routinely change tools. Change-ups to tech mean users need to learn new interfaces and methodologies, all of which takes more (say it with me now) time. 

Reclaim Your Time (And Sanity) by Consolidating Your Tech Stack

In short, as a retail marketer, you have a lot to do, and much of what you have to do probably involves a large, disjointed, inefficient tech stack.

The good news? The problem isn’t you. In fact, you should give yourself a pat on the back because you’ve been fighting against intense roadblocks that have been burning through your time. 

The other good news? You can get time back in your day by solving the actual problem — your marketing technology.

I’m not suggesting you add another piece of software to handle the problem. In fact, you should go the opposite route. To save significant amounts of time, use a unified, sophisticated customer engagement platform to bring together your key marketing channels and data. When your channels and data work together in integrated harmony, you gain visibility into how they work. This visibility opens the door to new and more efficient ways to do your marketing.

As mentioned, marketers spend more time preparing and segmenting data than any other task. It’s also a task that can (and should) be handled through automation and AI. 

“We use Emarsys … as our enhanced SCV, and we link this with our other agencies and channels for contact. Then we go on to the channel that the customer purchases on. So whenever they purchase in-store, online, or the call center, that purchase behavior is fed into that one single source. And having all that data in the one single source, that allows us then to interrogate that data, to make decisions whether to reward or target customers through whatever channel then best resonates with that customer. And that can be store, call center, [website] … email, SMS, targeted social, pre-bought vouchers or even a store card. And having that breadth of channels available to us allows us to be sure that we are hitting the customer where they want to see the most relevant message.”

Simon Rowlands, Head Of Customer Marketing And Comms, Sally Europe

Simon Rowlands

Head of Customer Marketing & Comms, Sally Europe

Automation and AI can also help with things like content creation, building MA or CRM programs, tracking, campaign strategy, reporting, and more

Imagine the possibilities. Your fully integrated marketing automation platform knows that Jennifer Smith looked at a yoga mat on your website. The platform runs an automated campaign, recognizes that Jennifer was interested in yoga (because the data and channels are working in harmony), and sends Jennnifer an email with recommendations for the yoga mat at and two related products, a higher-end mat and a water bottle. 

Now imagine scaling that up and connecting with hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of Jennifers. 

Meanwhile, because you already automated that campaign, you’re free to work on something else entirely while the platform does the heavy lifting of delivering 1:1 personalized experiences. You’ll not only save time but create better, more relevant interactions that your customers will love. 

That’s what consolidating your marketing tech stack can do for you.

Final Thoughts: Retail Marketers Aren’t Wasting Time (Disjointed Tech Is) 

Let me reiterate one thing: The problem isn’t you. If you’re stuck managing siloed channels and data, you’re doing the best you can with the tools you have. When you use an efficient, integrated marketing automation platform, you’re going to kick even more butt than you already do. 

I had a lot to say about time in this article, but that’s not the only roadblock that’s tripping up retail marketers these days. To find out more about the biggest obstacles in your path, get the full Retail Roadblocks report!

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Special thanks to our friends at Emarsys for their insights on this topic.
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