According to a survey published by the search marketing software company, Conductor, nearly 70% of marketing executives plan to spend more on marketing technology in 2018.
Understanding and justifying the technology choices that make up your marketing engine is increasingly becoming a top priority of CMOs and marketing professionals. Superior customer experience now plays a starring role in the marketing strategy, with personalization being part and parcel of this. In order to offer a great customer experience, your marketing technology stack needs to contain the right components that will allow you to streamline and automate as much of the process as possible. But it also needs to include technology platforms that will offer consumer data and insights so that your CX and personalization efforts are always in synch with your customers and their behavior.
“2018 will be the year where companies apply their extraordinary amount of data to improve the customer experience. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will drive a more efficient and personalized customer journey.” says Jim Lyski, CMO of CarMax.
There are always new technologies and phenomena that should be considered when building and optimizing your Martech stack such as AI, blockchain, GDPR, voice/search assistants, chatbots…the list is endless.
“Instead of a single technology, marketing will focus on evolving team capabilities and redesigning processes and organizational structures to take advantage of the rapid evolution of technology and data in marketing.” Rishi Dave, CMO Dunn & Bradstreet
Most marketers believe that technology is central to marketing in 2018. So how do you go about realigning your marketing stack to ensure it evolves seamlessly with the latest trends in digital?
Appoint a Martech Steward
Elect an official steward of marketing technology who is accountable for spearheading regular evaluations of the stack, introducing new software for pilot testing and ensuring that the marketing engine is running like a well-oiled machine. This individual might be the CMO or another member of the marketing team who has the necessary skills to educate other company members on the rationale and functionality of the stack while also promoting it.
Rationalize and Visualize
A major consideration is what Scott Brinker (editor at chiefmartec.com, Program Chair of MarTech and VP Platform Ecosystem at Hubspot) calls rationalization of your stack. Does everything in your stack serve a justifiable purpose? Do you have duplicate technologies? Can those duplicates be justified or do you need to eliminate some platforms? In order to rationalize, it’s easiest to visualize. Creating a visual representation of your marketing stack will help you to see the big picture. Here are some nice examples from the Stackies Awards presented at the 2017 Martech Conference:
As you can see from the 3 examples, each business has its own unique needs, but the main components of the tech stack remain constant:
CMS – the platform on which your website functions. This could be a proprietary platform or a widely-used one such as WordPress or Drupal.
CRM – the customer relationship management tool that houses all your customer data and allows you to understand your sales pipeline from entry touchpoints all the way through to retention and growth (advocates and evangelists). LTV (customer lifetime value) is also an important metric that your CRM holds. Salesforce, Zoho, Hubspot, FreshSales come to mind as popular examples of CRMs here.
Automation – segmented email nurture campaigns and lead scoring, amongst other functionality. Examples are Eloqua, Marketo, Hubspot, Pardot, Silverpop.
Ad delivery – Google Adwords, Adroll, YouTube, Facebook, DoubleClick etc.
Conversion Rate Optimization – Optimizely, CrazyEgg, ClickTale, HotJar, Lucky Orange, Qualaroo
Data Analytics – Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Moz, SEMRush, SpyFu, Power BI, Tableau
Other technology platforms for functions such as live chat, social listening, asset management, productivity, project management, communication, presentation, content creation and education also play integral roles in the overall Martech stack.
Keep Evolving It
Using the 80/20 rule of innovation, devote 20% of your marketing technology budget to new tools and platforms. Develop pilot tests of viable options that will integrate into your infrastructure and provide additional value and ROI. The Martech Steward should have this on their radar at all times and be able to effectively research, identify, test and evaluate new platforms at a regular cadence. Not all new platforms will be winners but, to maintain your competitive advantage, it’s important to stay on the leading edge and not to fall behind your competition. By the same token, the Martech Steward should be cognizant of platforms that are no longer needed or that have become outdated or superseded by newer technologies. Weeding those out and replacing them is an essential part of the evolution process.
Maintaining and evolving your marketing technology stack is a major aspect of digital transformation that all too often can get overshadowed by all the other digital innovation considerations looming over any technologically conscious company.
Conductor’s survey included multiple questions about concerns executives had around their marketing technology. 56% admitted they felt “overwhelmed” by the amount of data available from their Martech stacks. When asked to rank the internal challenges they fear may negatively impact their online performance in 2018, they cited them in order as:
1. Lack of budget
2. Not having the right team
3. Not having enough time
I would argue that Martech management should be the driving force behind any marketing strategy.