Marketing Technology – The big questions

In my first post on Marketing Technology a few weeks ago, I touched on the growing importance of this space and the building blocks while creating a tech stack.

Today I’d like to tackle three related questions I often find my clients on the marketing side challenged by.

  1. What marketing technology do I need?
  2. How do I choose marketing technology for my business?
  3. Who should be making these decisions, me or my agency?

The answer to the first question depends on the problem you’re trying to solve which will differ based on your core business challenges and your digital maturity. The crew over at Growthverse have produced a simple to understand visualisation that covers 800+ martech solutions, allowing you to choose by need area. Marketing technology covers many functional areas like Analytics, Paid Acquisition, Content Management and Data.

Which brings me to the second question, how do we go about choosing once we know the options. I’d like to advise caution first – many organisations look on new technology as a silver bullet to solve all their troubles. In reality marketing isn’t that complicated, but a poor understanding of customer journeys misleads marketers into finding quick fixes. As consumer confidence gets hit by world events and harsh economic realities and product parity grows, brands can only differentiate and win on Customer Experience. Technology and relevancy of creative enhance customer experiences but cannot substitute poor ones.

“You’ve got to start with the CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE and work back toward the technology” – Steve Jobs

So back to that second question, here are a few considerations while choosing marketing technology irrespective of category:

  1. Customer Experience – Will it deliver on my digital vision and the ideal digital customer experience I’ve drawn up. If you have neither of the above on paper kick yourself and stop wasting time evaluating technology. Technology is only an enabler, it cannot precede strategy. A clear Customer Experience map will define your priorities, the key digital touch-points and influential channels. This will in turn become the beacon that helps you define your needs.
  2. Future Roadmap – Ask prospective vendors for their product roadmap over the next 12 months. Platforms must evolve as consumer behavior and marketing evolves and the best ones constantly invest in R&D to do so.
  3. Transparency – This entails a clear understanding of all upfront and ongoing fees associated with use of the platform. In the current landscape technology platforms may be part-owned by media or advertising entities, who in some cases may be re-sellers making a commission on leads. You always want to know that you’re getting neutral advice that is in your best interest first.
  4. Scale – Is the platform scalable i.e. if your business expands can the technology still meet your expectations. As your marketing program matures you will find yourself entering new geographies and incorporating new channels. The ability of the platform to scale depends on whether it has secured partnerships with other vendors and anticipated its clients future requirements.
  5. Support – An obvious one but most challenges arise during and just after implementation which is when the need for troubleshooting support is crucial. Beyond this stage, marketing technology should always be self-serve so that your in-house or agency people can manage it themselves rather than rely on a remote team regularly. Beware of vendors offering managed services to get over the line – this should raise red flags about poor UX.
  6. Compatibility with existing technology – This is usually my bugbear. I hate it when platforms and technologies don’t play nice with each other across vendors. While there is merit in using a unified stack, sometimes the best ad-server, campaign management software and inventory provider for my needs, don’t belong to the same vendor. The technology just has to work without the end-user having to mediate and identify fixes themselves.
  7. Targeting – The role of martech is to target new prospects or existing customers at the moment of highest receptivity. Ensure your technology can do this. If its a DSP, can it buy into all the biggest ad exchanges or if its a CRM system can be segment your audience for tailored messaging. Marketing automation software must be able to personalise content and serve dynamic creative.

And finally to the third question – how do we do the actual evaluation. In my opinion, this should be entrusted to experts and always the people who are going to be regular end-users. Ensure your entrusted expert can produce an exhaustive list of evaluation criteria they followed before giving you a recommendation. Steer clear of anyone simply forwarding you the vendors sales collateral. Do your own research by referencing reports from Forrester and Gartner who produce evaluations in multiple categories. Over at websites like G2 Crowd and TrustRadius you can read independent reviews and comparisons by real users.

I hope these two posts have shed some light for those of you currently in charge of marketing team technology decisions. This space is only going to get more complex in the future and I look forward to engaging with others on this topic and discussing your own experiences.

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Posted in Digital

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