Cloud computing isn't just another marketing buzzword. Far from it. This is the real deal, an enormous change with huge implications for marketers, and competitive advantages for those who act on it early. Out on the front lines, marketers need to explore how these changes can affect how we do business. Here are 11 ways cloud computing can improve marketing:
1. More accessible marketing software. Software in the cloud (SaaS) is now being used to track leads, test new channels and much more. CRM applications in the cloud will have a particularly large impact due to its affordability.
2. Levels the playing field versus larger competitors. Smaller marketers and agencies can now compete with their larger counterparts and deploy marketing communications cheaply and very, very quickly. As it gains traction, even areas like marketing analytics will open up to smaller players.
3. Low price means more money for campaigns. When less money is spent on infrastructure, there’s more to spend on communications which deliver ROI. These savings will let smaller marketers "stay focused, be more collaborative, and bring products to market more quickly, because they’ve got access to the infrastructure that only large companies used to have," says Judith Hurwitz, coauthor of Cloud Computing for Dummies.
4. Ability to scale up and down quickly. Marketers no longer have to grasp details like how much storage it will take to hold all their data. Instead, they'll just rent what they need from the cloud. This "pay-as-you-go" feature eliminates large upfront expenditures on infrastructure.
5. Collaborate with many constituents. To execute multichannel campaigns, marketers need to interact with a variety of internal departments and outside suppliers. Multi-tenant portals allow marketers to share information more readily and standardize processes across many disparate groups.
6. Data integration and data mining can be timed to use off-peak pricing. Since a lot of the work we do with data can be done in batch processes, it's possible to perform them in the cloud at off-peak times, which can save even more money.
7. Cloud computing is easier for non-technical people. The last thing marketers want is to get embroiled in IT discussions. Cloud-based applications are generally easier to set up and use, and they typically require less internal IT support.
8. Redundant storage of invaluable customer data. Cloud computing enables even small companies to have secure, geographically diverse, reliable services that allow data to be accessed anywhere and anytime. This kind of back-up and redundancy is crucial for disaster recovery, which was heretofore very expensive.
9. "Freemium" pricing makes it easy to sample. Several cloud providers offer the proverbial free trial. This model allows you to use some of the features for free. There’s not much to lose so my advice is to give it a shot.
10. Deploy marketing campaigns faster. Cloud applications are pretty easy to get up and running quickly, especially when compared to in-house offerings. Generally, the applications can set up within hours or days rather than weeks or months.
11. New insights. Cloud computing now enables marketers to use the power of cloud computing to gain new insights from Big Data (terabyte, petabyte) that is both structured (data files, DBs) and unstructured (e.g. Facebook likes, blogs), which at one time was only possible from the likes of Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Twitter.