Marketing technology has become both a necessity and a burden for B2B marketers. Technology solutions for practically every marketing function have multiplied – and that poses a challenge. Selecting the right vendor, integrating the tools, and even deciding if the organization needs a specific technology in the first place can be mind boggling. Marketers now consider tools for marketing automation, customer relationship management, project management, artificial intelligence, personalized video, and social media monitoring and analytics, to name just a few.
Marketers cannot be sure which technology may fail to gain traction or which vendor may soon disappear. While technology tools can provide competitive advantages, a wrong decision could hamper the brand’s growth for years. The vendors and media often predict a technology will soon provide tremendous benefits and “disrupt” the sector, when in reality it may only introduce modest change or need more time to mature and reach mainstream use.
Handing the Marketing Stack
“It’s easy for everything to stack up on your team, and before you know it, your marketing mix is a tangle of mismatched reporting, tiresome manual inputs, and arcane pathing that only one person on your team fully understands,” frets Kyle Harper, digital marketing coordinator at Harvard University, for the Content Standard.
Marketing technology accounts for almost 20% of most B2B marketers’ budgets, a figure that’s bound to increase.
To help marketers understand which tools are beneficial and necessary, Forrester describes potential benefits of three general marketing technology categories in a new white paper:
Insights technologies can help marketers uncover insights in data and transform data into actions. Insights technologies include attribution, content intelligence, and customer data platform technologies. All of these platforms are designed to help marketing become data insights-driven.
Engagement technologies can help firms engage with customers: Advocacy platforms, intelligent agents, personalized video, programmatic advertising solutions, and virtual and augmented reality will help you improve engagement with your customers.
Enabling technologies help firms become connected and fast: Artificial intelligence, identity resolution, and internet-of-things technologies will help your B2B business become fast and connected.
Choose New Tech Tools Cautiously
No business will – or should – invest in all the technologies, Forrester cautions. New tools require a substantial investment in education, due diligence, evaluation, and consensus-building. Decide to pursue a technology only after clearly defining a strategy, long-term vision and how tools will support business goals.
Realistically assess your data management capabilities, Forrester recommends. Don’t invest in the next trendy technology before your organization can realistically support the data or process requirements to handle it. Many technologies require large quantities of accurate and timely customer data to deliver worthwhile insights. “So jumping in before you can truly deal with these challenges will lead to frustrating delays and dissatisfaction with your investment,” the report concludes.
Three Key Questions
Harper recommends asking three questions when considering a new tool:
What do you have to justify? List what your team must report on accurately, such as conversion tracking and spend attribution.
What would you like to learn? Once the list is complete, group your answers by the type of data that would help you test your hypothesis. That will help find tech solutions that can test your hypothesis.
Who will eventually see this? Will executives and non-marketers try to interpret your data? Or will only marketers view the numbers? Think about how your information is presented—or how you want to avoid presenting it.
Harper recommends choosing tools that can be customized, integrate easily with other tools, are easy to use, can consolidate data into a single dashboard, and help understand marketing’s contribution to ROI.
Bottom Line: Because of the many and varied technology tools available, deciding if an organization needs a tool and picking the right vendor can be challenging. While the benefits of automation can be great, the disadvantages of investing in an unneeded tool can be substantial. Experts urge marketers to think carefully before reaching a decision.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.