Marketing technology is an ever-evolving space. It is both overwhelming and yet exciting (at least for me!) But for most people, making sense of it doesn’t come easy. If you fall into that category, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Today, if organizations want to grow – they have to make their digital presence felt. If you don’t exist online you don’t exist. Digital is the front door of all customer engagements. Brands need technology to collect consumer data from different channels, systems and parts of the organization.
Martech which is really the combination of the various marketing technologies, data, advertising technology, infrastructure, and experience is designed to solve that challenge by leveraging customer data and technology.
Organisations have been using or building their own marketing technology stack(s) for more than two decades. Over the past seven to eight years we have seen growing maturity in marketing and advertising technology products that organizations use. They have become more mainstream and off the shelf as opposed to an approach of always building and integrating technology products in their own ecosystem.
Technology that was earlier a barrier to entry for companies going digital has become an enabler since we have commercially available products that are easy to use at a reasonable cost.
Most small and mid-size organizations adopted the path of buying marketing technology products to help take advantage of the digital economy. Most large companies started by building in house and also customizing and integrating the marketing technology products to meet their needs. Two different paths to solve the business problem and take advantage of the opportunity that digital presented.
Fast forward to 2019 and consider the scenarios
- the mid size companies need to scale up based on the business demand and maybe the existing investment in marketing technology is not able to take them there
- b) the larger companies need to be more nimble and their marketing technology stack (which was is a hybrid of home grown systems and marketing technology solutions) has become a constraint and cannot take the organization to the next level. Rather than focus on growth and taking the organization to the next level the organization is dealing with the existing challenges of marketing and technology, and determining how they can scale up
If you are in either of the situations you need to pause and take a look at your business and see where you want to be in the future.
It is very easy to want to buy the latest and the shiniest solution, the latest buzz in the marketplace that everyone in talking about. Chances are that you may not need most of what you buy and are stuck with trying to make it work!
I’ve created a six-step process or framework that may be able to help you evaluate and create your own strategy
Six Step Process: - Discovery:Landscape Analysis - Customer Experience and Customer Journey - Current State of Marketing Technology - Future State: Where do you want to be? - Organization Readiness and Capability - Execution Plan
Discovery: Landscape Analysis
One of the ways to begin a discussion on the martech landscape is to take a look at Scott Brinker’s illustration (you may get overwhelmed with it.. I do every time I take a look at it…), showing us the 7,000+ and growing martech solution providers. To give you an idea of its growth- Brinker’s 2011, representation of the landscape showed 150+ technologies, that’s a near 4,000% increase in seven years.
It’s a complex infographic, one that may bewilder the sharpest, but it does provide the base for today’s MarTech scenario. It outlines one thing clearly- there’s plenty to choose from. That is great because, whatever your need, you will find a solution; but conversely it also presents too much choice, confusion, decisions, analysis-paralysis, costs, and thinking of business transformation
One needs to take a step back and understand its own business, customer, marketing, data and technology landscape to benchmark where you are (more on that later!). Focus on what the business needs are and determine how you need to engage with customers in the most optimal way. It will be different for each organization: a business to business (B2B) company compared to a business to consumer company(B2C) and may vary based on the type of industry as well. The discovery process will help guide where you need to invest in and why.
Customer Experience & Customer Journey
It is common knowledge to a marketer that they need to understand the customer experience and journeys so that they can market their product or service. Organizations need to understand the customer’s needs and the decision process for the product/service at hand. Most organization are very good a understanding the customer needs but don’t have enough insights on the customer decision process. In order to succeed and differentiate themselves, companies need to start focusing on enhancing customer experiences and getting a good understating of the customer journeys. One way to do that is by creating a customer journey map: this visual representation will be able to point out the gap(s) between customer expectation and what the brand is offering. It will highlight the pain points or friction in the process and will show you where you’re missing the mark on consumer expectations. The map, is a holy grail for understanding consumer expectations and behavior. Properly constructed customer journey map should give you insight into potential customers and indicate the right way to acquire them.
The next and more important step would be to personalize these consumer journeys as per the journey map, and ensure a consistent consumer experience each time. Consumers tend to retain the product/brand information longer if the journey is personalized, and tend to become more loyal.
Current State of Marketing Technology: Where we are today?
According to a recent survey done by MarTech Today; there has been a 65% increase in the companies that invest in MarTech but only 28% companies believed that martech boosted their growth (I can’t seem to find the exact source). The reasons for that is that the technologies aren’t utilized to their optimum capabilities, which leads to less return of the high investment on technology or organizations have “overbought” – bought based on the marketing buzz and trying to use solutions they don’t need.
Currently, most companies are not leveraging all the customer data they have. They have customer data from multiple channels and departments, but this data isn’t interconnected with each another, leading to data silos. Moreover, it doesn’t give the organization a holistic view of the consumer journey, leading to less effective marketing campaigns- less ROI on marketing investment.
Future State: Where we want to be?
Not everybody needs a full state of art enterprise MarTech stack. Based on the business and customer needs organizations need to decide on the marketing technology stack, that best helps them achieve their goal of unified consumer data, finding potential customers and nurturing those leads to turn into loyal customers. Organizations should focus to collect data and create “one source of truth”. That is a single unit of data representing consumer profiles and journeys, with the data collected in real time. That data could be leveraged to activate your marketing and customer communication ensuring you can interact with the customer where they want to. Your marketing technology stack should be the enabler to drive the business forward. Organizations should make the shift from multi-channel to omni-channel marketing, which is more customer-centric, rather than line of business-centric. This requires technology but also a cultural change in the company’s set up as well.
Organization Readiness and Capability
Organizations need to evaluate what they can and cannot do – analysis of their internal capabilities. One can start by defining their strength and weaknesses – in terms of their technology, people and other resources. An easy way to judge their progress is by analyzing their success rates on strategic and transformation projects – their ability in achieving the company goals and objectives.
Simply analyzing one’s capabilities isn’t enough, companies need to optimize them as well. They can do that by assessing their budgets and redistributing their resources in areas that give maximum ROI in the long term. They will need to initiate employee training program to ensure that they are giving the opportunity to grow and nurture internal talent – often the best sources to help grow organizations.
All good strategy fails if it is not properly executed. Preparation and execution is the key to success. It is not going to be perfect or go flawless but you will learn and evolve through a well-planned execution plan. I liked the following quote:
How you execute your plan is everything. I would spend more than 70 per cent of my time on execution. If properly executed, the business results and the ROI will be visible to organization.