Marketing Technology platforms are the buzz words in the marketing world today. In some cases it has been observed that marketing activities have been delegated to MarTech stacks. In many areas it is touted as a differentiator. Right? Wrong? Or a mix of both? Well, the judgement is still out. The fact is that MarTech stacks are here to stay. But, the questions that need answers are – Which Stack? One stack fits all – one solution provider or point based solutions? There is a need to balance customer-centric ideas and technology-centric solutions. Self-service, Personalisation,Contextual content, Real-time communication, Geo-targeting are all customer centric ideas. Integrated platforms, Centralised systems, Automation, Economies of scale, Ease of operations and Reporting are all technology centric ideas. The truth lies in imaginatively integrating customer-centric ideas and technology centric platforms.
Today, most organisations are grappling with making the right decisions in the context of marketing technology stacks. The reasons for this are many –
- Lack of clarity of business objectives
- Lack of understanding of complex customer journeys
- Lack of alignment across Marketing, Sales, Customer service, Operations and IT teams.
- Legacy systems, disjointed platforms and multiple tools performing the same role leading to confusion
- Lack of budgets and in some cases a very large budget leading to random purchase of every available MarTech stack
- Scarcity of competent, skilled and qualified professionals to run these platforms
- The issue of executive sponsorship – Who owns the final business outcome and accountability or business impact?
These are complex issues and the challenges are only getting bigger by the day – Currently 45% Marketers claim to have all the tools and also fully utilise them in Asia Pacific. If one looks at Europe and US the numbers are even lower. The adoption, we believe is somewhere in-between. MarTech stacks account for double digit marketing budgets in some cases. CEOs are signing off on big fat cheques because competition is doing it or looking at success benchmarks in overseas markets without taking local context into consideration. And then the irony of it all, more than 30% Marketers don’t fully leverage the stacks that they have already bought!
According to Avanade’s recent global research with SiteCore, MarTech stacks are failing Customer Experience like never before. In a study of 1,440 CIOs, CTOs, CMOs and other senior marketing and IT decision makers. 60% of the companies surveyed reported losing revenue because of digital marketing technology not working properly, or a lack of collaboration between marketing and IT. 95% of organisations say their CX is in critical need of improvement, but they don’t know how to make it happen. In yet another study, 49% Marketers say their biggest challenge is to leverage technology to make data driven decisions.
According to chiefmartech, there are more than 7000 different Marketing Technologies available to Marketers to choose from! Almost every day, we see new players coming in with one plug-in or solution. Even the big players are acquiring products and adding to their suite to meet the ever growing needs. It is impossible for a Marketer to keep track and make informed decisions. The developments in Analytics, DMPs, DSPs, and CRMs allow for a much more sophisticated and personalised, targeted and real time communication and customer experience. The question is one of integration and orchestration of multiple systems in our view.
No doubt, investing in Marketing Technology is a business imperative. Marketers need to think about it differently. Next-gen communication is demanding a whole new way of marketing and a complete change in mind-set and marketing processes. Marketing Technology has to be business value generating. It needs to integrate and aide customer journeys and help discover more and more insights that will drive business intelligence and enhance customer experience across all channels and touch points. The progression of Marketing Technology solutions has been gradual from CRM-based database marketing to automation and campaign tools to marketing platforms to the current age of Enterprise Marketing Software Suites. The transition has been chaotic and has managed to throw up more questions than answers. Also, the Marketer is no longer a cost centre. She needs to align all goals towards meeting business objectives and generating ROI. How does a Marketer effectively navigate this complex and intriguing web of decisions? The journey starts with aligning business metrics with MarTech goals.
ALIGNING BUSINESS METRICS WITH MARTECH GOALS
This must be the starting point of any MarTech discussion. In a study done by Gartner 46% of CMOs stated that new technology must lead to Revenue growth. Business might use different kinds of marketing technology platforms – DMPs, Ad platforms, Marketing Platforms, 24/7 marketing to drive real time engagement, Analytics and campaigns, Intelligence lead engagement to drive next best product and trigger next best action but all of them at the end of the day must be measurable.
Understanding the Marketing Maturity of the Organisation
Different organizations are at different stages of maturity and it is important to understand the level of maturity state they are in before they embark on a MarTech journey. Businesses are eager to transform from ROI to ROC (Return on Customer). From fragmented and different data sources to unified single view. From dark mystery data to analysing all data points. From carpet bombing mass communication to 1:1 personal communication. From having fragmented digital presence to integrated digital presence. It is imperative to understand the maturity and then make these MarTech investments accordingly. The Hansa Cequity Customer Marketing Maturity Framework assesses the level of customer marketing maturity of an organisation. This is measured across 5 functions: Customer Strategy, Data and Tech Maturity, Analytics Maturity, Campaign Maturity, Digital Maturity. It enables Marketers to get a realistic assessment of where they stand.
Having well defined customer goals is key. Customer strategy is central to any solution. Clear customer segments need to be identified. The segments must be aligned with business objectives. A detailed understanding of the segment behaviour needs to be articulated and incorporated as a key input in the customer data. Also, the sources of different data available in the enterprise must be mapped and the quality of data must be assessed. Most customer journeys are broken and fragmented due to data silos. There is a need for persona identification, understanding how they move through the system currently, identifying gaps in the process, delivering and customer experience, recommending integrated data management solutions that can talk to each other in real time and exchange information and benchmark best practices that drive the organization toward intelligent customer interaction and experience leading to greater ROI.
Data and Tech Maturity
A clear data stewardship program needs to be a part of the framework and creating an organization wide data governance process and appreciation of data quality to every stakeholder in the organization is key.
Align with organisational objectives and KPIs. KPIs to analytics is very important. There is a need to develop an analytics framework & solution that aids decision making across acquisition, retention, and customer growth across marketing, sales, operations, finance, HR and they need to work in tandem to help achieve the business and customer goals. There is a need for a shared business agenda and outcome within the analytics and realistic assessment of current state of collaboration for data-driven decision making in the organization.
With the advent of technology in marketing, it is often said ‘imagine doing marketing as if it were customer service’. There is a need to build a ‘sense and respond’ culture with the customer facing team to realign marketing process for campaigns across touch points. Again, a clear assessment of how the different departments need to work together for a ‘to-be’ state from ‘as-is’ state post campaign automation is key.
Customers expect a unified experience across different digital channels and even the difference between offline and online has blurred. Ensure that the digital channel is built into the enterprise strategy. Seamless integration of digital with offline channels and vice-versa and tracking digital interaction while personalizing digital experience is key to this transformation. All digital journeys and movement from physical to digital and digital to physical must be mapped and the need to make it possible is essential. A benchmark of current digital operations and process across various channels is an important step to take. All interventions in the digital journey must be captured. Need to make the online, offline and multi-channel as integrated as possible. Once you have done all of this, the softer and one of the most difficult part of the process commences.
Understanding, Aligning and Collaborating with Key Internal Stakeholders
It is often mentioned ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. The CEO-CMO-CIO combine must build a culture of collaboration and alignment. The combine must fire together to create a robust and successful MarTech stack. The customer feedback loop, the organization feedback loop and the market feedback loop must be extremely nimble, quick and development sprints have to be short, course correction has to be immediate and experiments have to be endless.
All of this is not possible if the CEO-CMO-CIO do not collaborate. For this a culture of collaboration, interdependencies of KPIs, governance mechanisms have to be embedded in the operating processes.
Let’s look at a Best-in-Class MarTech Stack example:
A good example is Red Wing Shoes – a 110 year old business, headquartered in Red Wing, Minnesota, Red Wing boots protect workers in more than one hundred countries across the world, an accomplishment built on years of hard work, endurance, and the promise to never compromise on quality. The stack is a complete one as it captures the entire journey and the loop backs to different organisational systems and stakeholders. It simplifies and demystifies the role of technology in alignment with business strategies.
The Red Wing Shoes stack is simple and lucid. It articulates the strategy of personalisation, productivity, scale, standardisation and driving business value. It showcases what MarTech Operations and Analytics are all about for a consumer brand, especially one where there is interaction with both B2B and B2C customers. It showcases the entire journey from reach – engagement – conversion – retention-feedback loop that is used to iterate and optimize.
From customer data to CDP and Data Management Platform (DMP) for second and third party data, to planning campaigns, to campaign dashboards and analytics to forecasting. From Marketing Automation to Sales Enablement. From Ad Delivery to Social and Web Content the stack integrates 32 different marketing solutions – it vividly captures the entire customer journey and puts the technology usage in a context.
The Hansa Cequity MarTech Evaluation Framework
As mentioned earlier, there is no one size that fits all. Each organisation will have to embark on its own unique MarTech framework, maturity and journey. The means and tools will be different but the end objective is the same – Driving business value through customer centricity.
In this context, find below a MarTech evaluation framework that will help organisations understand their current state, assess tools and technology and embark upon a journey of driving business value through the confluence of product, service, data and technology leading to unmatched customer experience.
Design a model that is unique to your business needs
Ensure that all solutions can be integrated
Automate as many processes as you can
Leave room for plug and play Let technology be the enabler not a constraint
Simplify and demystify Get a buy-in from all leaders and CEO
Develop the solutions Develop Alternative solutions
Explore all tech stacks – Integrated or Point based solutions
Iterate and conduct multiple experiments. Do POCs.
Test robustness of system
Ensure systems ability to integrate new develpments, tools and APIs
Have an alternate back-up plan
Develop skills within the organisation -Technology, Data, Analytical & Experiential
Nominate a Martech leader
Keep innovating. Drive Agile processes
Understand the current organisational maturity level
Connect with multiple business processes
Identify needs and gaps in the customer journey
Discuss with current users of the tools and platforms
Understand all data sources
Talk to Integrated and multiplestack providers
Discuss with service providers
Take opinion of users of existing stacks outside of your organisation
Evaluate possible Platforms and Solutions
Deploy the platform in a phased manner
Develop a strong governance and data privacy processes
Have KPIs for each process
The Customer Marketing Maturity (CMM) assessment and MarTech Evaluation framework is just the beginning but it will put in context organisational needs vis-à-vis business goals. It is a long journey and calls for leadership, collaboration and culture change. And whether organisations like it or not they will have to embark on this journey. The change must start at the top but it has to resonate down the line, because that’s where the rubber meets the road. A Customer Marketing Maturity (CMM) and a MarTech Evaluation framework need to be guiding principles and not written in stone. It will need to be malleable and must factor in complexities and evolutions in technology or change in business strategy. In this entire process, the most underestimated effort is Change management. It is relatively simpler to change technology and systems but to get people to change their behaviour or habits is a fundamental challenge. The leadership will have to drive this. Aligning senior management, communicating effectively the need for the change, getting people to collaborate and then drive this change resulting in a successful implementation is the biggest challenge in this evaluation and decision making process. And finally, what do Marketers want from their MarTech stacks? They want simplicity and business results. They seek flexibility to add, delete and modify the architecture to stay current. They need to be able to measure business impact and they are willing to pay the right price for the right value when customers can feel the difference in their pre-purchase and post-purchase ownership experience. That’s when Enterprises will value the MarTech stack they have invested in.
Scott Brinker: ‘I agree that most companies only use a tiny fraction of their tools. That’s partly because marketing leaders have the least time to understand the tools to see what experiments can be run. The ability to match insights to existing tool capabilities exists further down the organization, which is why you need to implement agile processes and ways of working so people at a lower level can experiment within a framework without creating chaos. You need to allow them to push forward and work with these tools to understand what they’re capable of. That’s when you can find new value pretty quickly.’
• CX magazine – https://cxm.co.uk/cx-and-marketing-tech/
• Marketing Sherpa – https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/chart/biggest-technology-innovation- challenges ; study done by Marketing Sherpa and Source Fuse,
• Chiefmartech – https://chiefmartec.com/2018/04/54-marketing-stacks-stackies-2018-marketing-tech -stack-awards/
• McKinsey – https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/making -the-most-of-marketing-technology-to-drive-growth
• cnswire https://www.cmswire.com/digital-marketing/what-is-the-cmos-technology-strategy-for-2019 -and-beyond/
• Gartner – 2018 Gartner Marketing Technology survey