Jill M. Speirs, President and CEO of M2 Partners, explains how successful marketing technology implementations have tostart with a new approach to procurement
Companies have been investing in marketing technology for more than three decades. On the positive side such technology has helped businesses become more customer-centric and efficient. However, despite progress, organizations still face three key challenges. Marketing data is disparate and not consolidated centrally; different tools fail to talk to each other; and technology is driving processes rather than the other way around.
The good news is that we’re now at a point where marketing technology can overcome these core issues and deliver genuine, one-to-one customer experiences.
That requires organizations to overcome the challenges listed above – and that means looking afresh at how technology is chosen.
Start by focusing on what the user wants
Users often complain that new technology doesn’t deliver on their needs. That’s normally not the fault of the technology, but an issue with the process used to choose it.
What’s usually occurred is that technology selection has been solely driven by an RFP/RFI process which has asked multiple team members or departments within an organization to put together a list of “what we think we need”.
I recently saw an RFP that focused solely on these selection criteria:
• Pricing methodology
• 150+ questions on customer profile, channel capabilities, app marketing and web marketing
• Security review
• Customer references
While these are all important, this approach misses out three key fundamentals which need to be addressed before any new technology is selected:
1. Match technology to marketing team roles
Start by understanding who will use the technology. For example, are the end users all in marketing or is the team a mix of marketing and IT?
If you don’t take the time to understand who your end user team is and how will they be using technology, how can you be sure that the new solution will enable them to fully automate their roles and actions? Typically, team members will fulfil one of four key roles: data analysis; campaign development; creativeand messaging; and campaign management. Each has specific needs, and you have to be sure that the technology meets all of their requirements if automation is going to be successful.
If you don’t take the time to map out your team’s business processes and align it to the technology, a disconnect is inevitable. Selecting a solution that only partially addresses your team’s requirements means that another technology solution will be needed to plug the gaps, or you’ll have to settle for working with a suboptimal solution, leading to manual workarounds and compromises within marketing operations.
2. Take account of current and future customer journeys
The second fundamental of technology selection is establishing exactly what you want to achieve. Take the time to map your current and desired future customer journeys and confirm that the new technology can deliver on all of these needs.
Begin by determining a set of customer journeys from each of these types:
• Simple: welcome series, abandon cart, newsletters
• Intermediate: automated campaigns, triggered emails
• Advanced: very specific, multi-channel journeys
Once you’ve mapped out each step within the journeys, you need to align these steps to the capabilities of the marketing automation technology that you’re considering. Make the technology vendor prove that each and every step in your customer journeys can be automated by its technology. Running the solution through its paces is the only way to determine if you’ll get the 100% automation that you are looking for.
3. Implement one solution that lets everyone collaborate
The most important success factor when selecting a technology solution is aiming for a single platform that can design, build, deploy and report on all of your customer journeys.
Currently, each marketing team member is likely to be using a different tool to do their role, and these technology solutions don’t easily integrate with each other. This creates an inefficient,not fully automated process, defeating the main reason fordeploying a marketing automation solution in the first place.Manual processes remain – for example, processes are routed through email or have to be uploaded from one tool to another.And critically, this means that team members are not working from a common data source.
Customers want to be treated as individuals. For organizations to deliver this one-to-one experience at scale requires their operations to be underpinned by efficient, effective marketing automation. This means taking a fresh look at how you procure marketing technology, focusing on asking vendors the right questions in order to implement the right solutions that meet the needs of customers and users alike.