Credit: MarTech Today
Resistance is futile — CMOs are going all-in on martech. Organizations are now spending 29 percent of the total marketing expense budget on technology, up from 22 percent just a year earlier.
Proving the value of these investments has been a top priority. Three-quarters of marketers identify time savings as the biggest benefit to their martech, while 68 percent chose increased customer engagement. More timely communications and increased upselling opportunities are among the other top reasons to use martech, according to Adestra survey respondents.
These are all real, tangible business results that have enabled marketing leaders to demonstrate the value of martech to the rest of the C-suite and other stakeholders. More resources are becoming available as a result. The challenge now isn’t fighting for adoption, but in putting the technology to best use, to drive the most compelling consumer experiences possible.
Do you have the people and processes in place to make the best use of your martech?
What’s new for 2019
Alongside the explosive growth in martech’s adoption has come a massive variety of platforms, apps and suites. Technologies that facilitate faster, smarter and more successful consumer-to-brand interactions are giving marketers a vast, overwhelming selection of tools—thousands in content and customer experience alone.
Too much choice can actually hamper decision making and increases the risk of costly mistakes. What we’re beginning to see now is a much-needed consolidation. We’re increasingly seeing ad tech and martech converging, and different stacks full of workarounds losing ground to natively integrated suites of martech tools.
Scott Brinker predicts that we’re entering a “Second Golden Age of Martech,” marked in part by ecosystems trending away from all-in-one marketing suites vs. best-of-breed point solutions. Instead, we’re moving to “open platforms that are complemented by integrated, third-party apps,” he wrote.
We should also expect to see SaaS and services blur as software companies offer expert add-ons to help users maximize the value of their software, he says. Brinker also predicts that no-code and low-code will birth a new brand of citizen developer.
Let’s also just take a moment here to acknowledge the massive contribution AI is making — and will continue to make — across all variety of martech. In your email marketing, ad targeting, social media and more, AI can inform personalizations that deliver to users the exceptional, tailored experience they demand. Take chatbots, for example — 45 percent of people now actually prefer conversing with a chatbot as their primary method of communicating with customer service.
Savvy CMOs are using AI-powered martech to create more meaningful interactions at every stage of the customer journey. They’re making decisions driven by more data than a human could analyze in a lifetime. In fact, the most progressive marketers already have their machines making decisions and optimizations for them.
4 ways to make the most of martech today
CMOs in many organizations are now leading functions that used to be strictly hands-off and for IT only. You may find yourself collaborating more intensely with IT, sales and operations, or even taking responsibilities they used to own under your umbrella, as the harbinger of business intelligence in your organization.
How can you make the most of your martech to support your new goals and often expanded responsibilities?
1. Feed your machines clean, top quality data
Clean, quality data is no longer a nice-to-have but a cannot-live-without. As we increasingly look to AI-powered automation to make decisions about customer-facing content and service, human controls are going to be more important than ever.
Your technology will only ever be as good as the data it is fed, making the human element in your marketing strategy mission critical. What can you do today to prepare your creative teams today for the analytical elements they’re going to be expected to handle tomorrow?
2. Point solution or platform?
Right now, you may be dealing with a variety of point solutions — your stack — as a byproduct of having brought different tools onboard to solve specific problems over the years. The point solution approach worked when we were transitioning from largely manual systems to automating certain facets of marketing.
Martech developers have made great progress though in keeping pace as AI-powered tech has evolved to solve more complex, multi-faceted problems. As the output from the analysis in one area is increasingly needed to drive accurate, insightful action from another, it’s become clear that a platform approach can be beneficial.
Visualize your marketing stack as it is today. (Check out the 54 entries Scott Brinker received for The 2018 Stackies as inspiration.)
How do you use technology to enhance the consumer experience at every stage of their buying journey? Get your marketing stack on paper and evaluate each of the tools it contains. What purpose does it serve? How well does it play with the others? Does it deliver an acceptable value for the cost? Are there opportunities to upgrade, simplify, or improve? Make this an ongoing exercise.
3. Find the right people to power your tech
In 74 percent of enterprise organizations, martech is primarily managed by marketing and in 26 percent of cases, there’s a dedicated martech leader and team. According to Gartner, those with a dedicated martech leader and team are more likely to rate their marketing maturity as “high” than those with cross-functional or leaderless approaches.
Finding team members with the ideal mix of right- and left-brain skills are proving challenging, though. There are more than 10,000 AI-related positions open across the country, according to Paysa, and 56 percent of senior AI professionals have identified the lack of qualified workers as the single greatest barrier to AI implementation (Ernst & Young).
4. Prove the value of AI and tech-enabled marketing across the organization
CMOs are increasingly frustrated with the chaos caused by data silos and inaccuracy, but you are also in the best position to understand these issues and find solutions that work for all.
Implement what you can today and share your quick wins across the organization, always with an eye on what’s next. As martech increasingly offers insights and efficiencies to other departments, it’s up to the CMO to translate, communicate and activate those opportunities to department leaders who may not yet recognize martech’s potential.
Prioritize the “musts” that are going to solve for challenges your customers are experiencing right now. Then look to your 6-, 12-, and 18-month horizons and beyond — what are you going to need to implement to keep pace with their expectations? What technology would really propel your marketing strategies forward, and what is a reasonable timeframe for implementation?
How to make smart martech decisions – a few considerations
As technology fulfills more roles and completes more customer-facing tasks, it becomes more important — but also far more complex — to measure the return of these investments in ways that make sense for your business and its specific goals. ROI is more than a financial metric. As you evaluate the feasibility and potential of different martech solutions, keep these questions in mind:
- How are we tracking customer satisfaction throughout their interactions with our brand, and what value is that assigned?
- What are our desired outcomes at each stage of the customer journey, across each of our channels, and internal departments?
- Are we using your existing technologies to their full capabilities?
- Are there redundancies or gaps in our current stack?
- What’s working well?
- Who will own our martech and what resources can we allocate to them?
- Does our team have the technical expertise to manage this new tool or platform?
- Which internal teams and stakeholders need data and information from the stack?
- Will this integrate seamlessly or are workarounds needed?
AI-powered automation is giving us new, more compelling ways to interact with consumers. What can you do now to build a solid foundation for your marketing strategy in future?
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech Today. Staff authors are listed here.