6 critical martech elements to manage in 2020 for the customer journey
Data, content, commerce and user experience are all key in how we prioritize our customer relationships using martech in the coming year.
Marketing budgets dropped in 2019 by 11%, the first decline in five years, although 61% of CMOs expect a recovery (Gartner). As companies have tightened the reins on marketing, CMOs and other decision-makers have faced increasing pressure to deliver more with less. Today, nearly one-third of overall marketing spend (on average) goes to martech, a figure that’s grown 30% in the last year alone.
For about half of marketers, the sheer volume of martech solutions on the market has proven their greatest purchasing frustration. Chief Martec’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic had ballooned from approximately 150 tools to over 7,000 at last count (this spring); where do you even begin?
I think Scott Brinker’s categorization of these tools is as good a place to start as any. Although tools increasingly overlap these functions (and we’re now starting to see enterprise solutions that deliver in all areas—more on that later), these six types of martech categories are critical elements of any constantly-connected customer’s journey:
- Advertising and promotion
- Content and experience
- Social and relationships
- Commerce and sales
The way we use each type of platform or tool is changing rapidly as consumer behaviors and technological capabilities evolve. Artificial intelligence, for example, has dramatically changed the way businesses and consumers communicate even in just the last year alone. And so it is through this lens of the six major areas of martech that we’ll explore the different types of tools available to you today, and how you may use each one in 2020.
Content and experience
What these platforms do: Interactive content, video marketing, email marketing, personalization and performance testing, content marketing, SEO, digital asset management and marketing resource management, CMS and web experience.
Why content and experience matter: Three-quarters of marketers identify time savings as the biggest benefit to their martech, while 68 percent chose increased customer engagement. Content is a vehicle by which all messaging, offers and engagements occur.
How to use these platforms: It can take a massive volume of content to power interactions on all of the various platforms, networks and devices your audience is using. In 2020, marketers will be looking for content tools to make content creation and repurposing less time consuming and more effective. We’ll be looking to video tools that not only enable us to produce better videos but to optimize them for discovery in search, as well.
What to consider for 2020:
- How are we tracking customer satisfaction across each customers’ journey and how do we assign value to their interactions with our brand?
- Are we maximizing our investment in each piece of content by getting the most mileage from it?
- What insights can we use to drive more intelligent content planning?
- How can we more proactively detect obstacles in our customers’ journey and remove those before it affects their experience with the brand?
- Are we using each of the content and experience tools in our arsenal to its maximum potential, or are we perhaps oversubscribed in some areas?
Advertising and promotion
What these tools do: Mobile marketing, display and programmatic, social PPC, native ads in content, video advertising, PR, print advertising and more.
Why advertising and promotion matter: The best content is completely pointless if no one sees it. How content will be promoted and advertised should be a consideration from the early content planning stages. Data insights are driving more precise targeting even as AI-powered tools are being empowered to make decisions and campaign optimizations that improve performance at scale. Marketers are finding time freed up to focus on the creative elements of the campaign and feeding their tools the highest quality data possible.
How to use these tools: Marketers can get incredibly granular in their targeting now and, using the right tools, connect in more meaningful ways with more personalized messages and offers. In 2020, we’ll continue to deepen our understanding of the customer experience from their first point of discovery through research and decisions-making, and beyond. Using ads to drive a segment of the population to generic service pages is long over as customers demand an extension of the advertising experience on their landing page or other destination.
What to consider for 2020:
- Are we fulfilling the promise of each ad on the click-through asset?
- Do our tools have access to clean, real-time data to inform targeting decisions?
- Is our advertising focused too heavily on driving traffic to the point of sale rather than to interact with our brand?
- How can we use our martech to scale our advertising and promote more engaging experiences throughout the funnel?
Social and relationships
What these tools do: Account-based marketing, call analytics and management, events and webinars, online meetings, social media marketing and monitoring, advocacy and loyalty, conversational marketing, customer experience, customer relationship management.
Why social and relationships matter: It turns out, 45 percent of people actually prefer conversing with a chatbot as their primary method of communicating with customer service. Consumers want to engage and develop relationships with brands, but they want to do so on their own terms.
How to use these tools: No one likes to be sold to. Consumers are looking to brands for advice, entertainment, engagement, education, and guidance every step of the way through their purchasing journey. Brands have an opportunity to nurture these relationships and create advocates with powerful AI tools that ensure no opportunity will fall through the cracks.
What to consider for 2020:
- Do we have technology in place to answer consumer questions intelligently around the clock, whatever platform or device they are on?
- Once we have engaged a consumer, does the experience and level of interaction in our follow-up help solve the need that brought them to us in the first place?
- Are our webinars, social media conversations, and other two-way customer conversations just one-off interactions, or could we use technology to create and repurpose brand-building content from these relationships?
- Are we missing out on opportunities to engage due to an inability to recognize opportunities in real-time and at scale?
Commerce and sales
What these platforms do: Proximity and IoT marketing, channel marketing, partner and local marketing, sales automation, affiliate marketing, e-commerce.
Why commerce and sales matter: Retail beacons entice shoppers to buy at the moment with personalized offers; consumers order groceries or book travel from voice-activated speakers in the comfort of their own home. People demand a seamless sales experience or they’ll take their clicks and dollars elsewhere.
How to use platforms tools: In this segment, as with the others, we’re seeing dramatic improvements in scalability and precision thanks to AI. It’s simply not possible to do personalization or sales optimization at scale without martech. Given the volume of data that goes into commerce and sales tools and how deeply they affect the customer experience, it can be difficult to switch once you’re invested. Ensuring the right fit is critical.
What to consider for 2020:
- Can we identify where we’re losing customers throughout the buying process and why – and can we fix it?
- Are we effectively maximizing the value of each interaction and each customer over their lifetime with our brand?
- Where could technology help improve our cross-selling, upselling and suggestive selling whether online or in-store?
- Are the recommendations and suggestions our technology makes helpful or intrusive?
- How can we make it as simple as possible for our customers to get from point A to point B?
Data and analytics
What these tools and platforms do: Analytics of all kinds, data enhancement, performance and attribution, mobile and web analytics, data visualization, business intelligence, customer intelligence, cloud integration, tag management, data management platforms, compliance and privacy, customer data platforms.
Why data matters: This impact, influence and the critical importance of data in all aspects of your business are impossible to sum up within the scope of this piece. Today, it’s just as important that you know what data doesn’t matter as what does. Real-time optimization is made scalable by AI, but marketers are responsible for designing the flow of information to feed the machine.
How to use these tools and platforms: You are probably already using several different types of tools to manage your brand’s data, but are you using them effectively? In a report from ClickZ and Fospha, we learned that data complexity is one of the greatest challenges for marketers today. And although the average respondent business was using 7 platforms to get insight from their data, 67% did not believe this gave them accurate attribution of their campaigns. Proving ROI will continue to challenge (and in all likelihood, stress out) marketing leaders in the coming year.
What to consider for 2020:
- Which stakeholders across our organization can benefit from these data insights?
- How can we get those stakeholders onboard and encourage the reallocation of a sufficient budget to ensure adequate funding for our data solutions?
- Do the team members responsible for using our martech have the training and knowledge to make best use of it?
- Are there data gaps between tools that are hampering the success of each one?
- How do we get the insights needed to make real business improvements into the hands of the right departments and leaders in a way that proves the ROI of our martech?
What these platforms do: Management of all manner of talent, product, budgeting and finance, collaboration, projects and workflow, agile and lean processes and vendor analysis.
Why management matters: Much of the technology being used for project management, collaboration, budgeting, and more in marketing has the potential to transform every aspect of the business. As the team members skilled and experience in using this tech, marketers are positioned to drive and lead this change across the enterprise.
How to use these platforms: We’ve moved beyond simple automation to smart automation. Management tools not only reduce the manual labor involved in repetitive tasks but can help marketers work together more effectively, optimize processes and workflows, and ultimately make better decisions from budgeting all the way through to sales and loyalty programs.
What to consider for 2020:
- Could the process and workflow improvements we’re seeing in the use of our martech produce the same results in other areas of the business?
- Are we giving employees the training to not only work alongside these tools but to maximize their impact?
- Are we listening to our employees’ experiences with these tools and using their feedback to improve processes?
The big question for 2020: Platform or point solutions?
According to Gartner, the average enterprise uses 91 marketing cloud services. As I said in my last column, the constant addition of new tools and services to your stack can not only make integrations incredibly complicated but may cause you to lose sight of how each one aligns with your core data strategy.
New solutions like Salesforce CDP serve across categories and aim to deliver an end-to-end solution for brands. Enterprise cloud giant Adobe has evolved through the launch of the Experience Cloud to offer a holistic suite of advertising products, analytics software and design packages. Now, maybe you aren’t at that level yet, where an enterprise solution that robust makes sense for you. And to be clear, these enterprise-level solutions aren’t a one-stop-solution, either; each brand will still have needs outside of the scope of these platforms to fill.
But it is critically important, whatever the size of your company, to take stock of your stack on a regular basis. You need an evaluation process to help narrow the field as you choose new martech tools, and you need periodic audits to ensure that each tool within your stack still serves a necessary purpose and aligns with your business goals.
The last several years have been all about growth, experimentation and growth again. Make 2020 the year you refine and quell the chaos created by point solutions that have outlived their utility inside of your organization. And as for categories, the most innovative companies create their own.
This is part of a special feature from our community of experts on what successful marketers will do in 2020. Read more >>
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech Today. Staff authors are listed here.