By Brian Hansford, marketing technology practice lead for Heinz Marketing
CMO’s and CIO’s must work closely to build a marketing technology stack. Scott Brinker’s 2015 Marketing Technology Landscape captures over 1,800 vendors in 43 categories. This is exciting and overwhelming! The technologies currently used by your organization and the options to make changes are daunting. With the right approach a CMO can work with their team to focus on the priorities and make sense of the chaos. And the CMO should work with the CIO for stewardship in managing data and supporting the overall stack. Ultimately this focus and partnership will help drive revenue and engage customers.
Marketers have so many choices to do so many things with the plethora of technologies. It’s very easy to sign up for services without thinking about data models, integrations, analytics, and the customer experience. There are lots of shiny objects and too often CMO’s focus on tactical applications without a vision on the entire stack.
Here are some ideas how to approach building or enhancing a B2B marketing technology stack.
Assess the Current State
Random technology acquisition happens more than we would like to see. CMO’s often learn of a new tool or platform that can perform certain tactics or functions. Over time the inventory of platforms grows as well as the complexity of integrations, data management, workflow, and analytics. Tribal knowledge develops on some tools and problems emerge with staff attrition.
One of the most common statements I hear from a CIO is that a new base marketing automation platform isn’t needed because they have a suite of disparate programs that perform all of the necessary functions. This may be true in theory and on whiteboards. In practice these point solutions may operate in a completely inefficient and ineffective manner due to poor integrations and data flow. What worked 5 years ago likely isn’t right for now.
An inventory of the platforms doesn’t go far enough. Assessing the functional performance of technologies is required. Map their usage to the overall business and objectives. An email platform and a disparate landing page program along with a call center program may serve the needs of the business – in theory. But if data doesn’t synchronize and flow consistently and customer experiences are terrible, and results are impossible to measure they are not serving the needs of the business. The CMO and CIO must go beyond the whiteboard to truly assess the current state of marketing technology operations.
Map the Gaps and Align with Objectives
A CMO’s strategic plan will include business objectives. The assessment will identify what is working and the gaps that require a solution. Be realistic and prioritize where new technologies are needed. It’s very important that the CMO and CIO identify the technologies that don’t meet the requirements to achieve the business objectives. Again, on paper and the whiteboard a technology may seem OK. In reality it may be time to pull the plug.
The Data Model – Put the Customer at the Center
Brinker’s Landscape has 43 categories, which I think can be broken into two camps – strategic and tactical. He states that “categories are a myth” and new categories will emerge or disappear. I agree. And some technologies won’t fit cleanly into a category. (For example, Google spans several categories.
CMO’s need to develop their requirements for a marketing stack with the customer at the center. This starts with the data model. What are the required data points to capture and analyze? Who are the customers? Where do they come from? Why are they interested in us? How do they engage? What do they buy.
Chances are the company already has some kind of CRM platform in use which captures some of this information. That’s a great start and CRM should be the hub for marketing technology. That’s because CRM platforms should wrap around the customers.
CMO’s are increasingly measured on revenue influence. It’s wasteful and ineffective to randomly spend on technologies without investing in program design and execution. CMO’s that show the impact and influence to revenue will have greater success with their business and careers.
CMO’s should focus on planned spending, versus reactive, as much as possible. The CMO should seek the support and counsel of the CFO to work through this process. Opportunities will often arise where an unplanned technology spend is necessary later in the year. A vendor’s ROI calculator will prove the value of a tool or platform. But the value won’t be realized if the organization doesn’t effectively use the technology.
Planning the expenditures at the beginning of the year helps put a percentage focus on the programs needed to drive revenue influence. Allocate and spend wisely, not randomly.
Strategic Marketing Infrastructure and Platform
The marketing stack should support customer data models, the customer experience and measuring results. CMO’s shouldn’t fall into a short-sighted trap of looking at a marketing automation platform just for email marketing. Marketing automation and CRM form a robust foundation and infrastructure which most of not all other component technologies should integrate.
A marketing stack requires a framework. A framework will help identify the “must have” and “nice to have” technologies. Identify the strategic infrastructure requirements and build the stack from there.
Analytics are a Strategic Priority
The biggest problem with marketing technology is finding efficient and accurate means to measure performance. It’s impossible to effectively and accurately measure the metrics that matter when technologies operate in silos and the data model isn’t wrapped around the customer.
CMO’s should make an analytics engine a top priority when developing the plan for a marketing stack. Many of the core components of marketing automation and CRM have a strong foundation of reporting and analytical capabilities. But, they don’t go far enough.
CMO’s must develop the data models to capture marketing program performance in order to accurately measure revenue attribution. Marketing automation and CRM platforms offer only limited visibility into meaningful attribution. CMO’s need to tell a full story how their effort influences revenue and identifies the right opportunities for the future. Strong analytics and attribution programs provide the prescriptive intelligence needed and they should be a high priority for the marketing stack.
Integration is Strategic (Silos are Deadly)
Many organizations have technology legacies where multiple platforms operate in a standalone silo. This is deadly. Call center platforms and paid search programs that don’t capture and measure overall performance will create terrible customer experiences. Silos don’t support an efficient customer data model they only provide unreliable data to measure results.
How can a CMO expect to present accurate information on performance, influence and attribution when application silos each capture data in isolation from each other? Data silos were standard in the 1990’s but today they are deadly. Platforms must be integrated with the marketing automation and CRM framework. If integration isn’t possible, the technology should not be purchased.
Tactical Tools – Distinguish Nice to Have and Must Have
Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape shows dozens of tactical tools and applications in many categories. Some of these may be nice to have. Others may be a must-have. CMO’s shouldn’t fall victim to the latest shiny object technology that doesn’t serve the business requirements. More technology means more complexity with integrations, data flow, workflow, people skills, and the customer experience. Choose wisely and stay focused on the plan.
Utilization, Management and Administration
Technology enables business processes. But marketing automation doesn’t automate marketing. Business processes still need to be designed and implemented. People need the skills to operate and support the platforms. Integrations require vigilance to maintain data flow. There is no such thing as set-and-forget with marketing technologies. A stack requires trained staff and ongoing management and administration. Don’t buy what won’t be fully utilized.
CMO’s will succeed with a marketing technology stacks by following a plan with clearly defined requirements and objectives. Stating “we need a marketing automation platform” or “we need a new email service provider” without a plan will snowball into a hodgepodge of tools and technologies. Look at the big picture when building your B2B marketing technology stack.
JOIN US: Webinar Thursday March 26
Join Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing as he leads a panel discussion on Marketing Technology best practices from marketing technology innovators and leaders:
Evolving in the Ever-Changing Marketing Tech Landscape
Thursday, March 26, 2015
The webinar will cover:
• Selecting the right model for your organization and objectives
• Determining ROI on marketing technology
• Building marketing and tech collaboration
• Taking advantage of predictive intelligence in marketing and sales