Having a data-driven vision, great customer experience and organizational design are a few tactics for marketers to make sure their technology is balanced.
Technology changes not only what is possible, but also how we work to execute those possibilities. It’s been said often that great technology without a great strategy is useless. I think that a great strategy is also useless if the right technology is not deployed in service to it.
That point of opportunity – where technology meets strategy – is where innovation happens. It’s the new marketer’s balancing act.
The glut of marketing technologies makes it both possible and really complex for marketing teams to embrace the potential of technology to improve customer experience and brand position.
Balancing technology management with innovation not only necessitates new ways of doing marketing, but also requires rethinking of staff, processes, and budgets.
There are three primary levers that help marketers maintain the most effective balance:
1. Data-driven vision
Data management is a technology exercise. Data vision is an act of creativity. Who better than marketers – who have always had to balance science and art – to identify ways that data can be used in service to customer experience?
MarTech has to address the opportunity for strong customer connection and engagement.
Accuweather, for example, sitting on all that big data about weather patterns and more importantly, customer behavior in response to weather patterns, can provide a deeper level of service to its media and service partners through predictive analytics on aggregated data.
It’s a super smart product extension: Weather is emotional. Emotions drive behavior. Voilà: Data analysis as a service. If there’s a storm coming, what products will sell? What types of stores will be frequented? What media will be downloaded or streamed?
The product could just stop at the forecasts. However, Accuweather will deepen relationships with its B2B partners by thinking bigger.
2. Customer experience
Even simple marketing automation and programmatic buying tools allow marketers to embrace a culture of hypothesis, test and iterate. More than ever, customers engage with brands and products across channels and devices – and they expect that experience to be seamless.
MarTech can help us balance the observation of behavior (what customers do) with the guidance of behavior (what we want them to do). Too often, we want people to use one channel or another – say, our new bright and shiny mobile app – when in fact, most people would rather do a one-click order from email broadcast messages.
We can create incentive offers that draw folks to the app, but we also have to listen to the data to ensure that customer preference is honored. Here is where vendors need to step up and configure solutions to solve primary business goals.
Technology for its own sake is meaningless in a business sense, although usually fascinating in an academic sense. Achieving great customer experience is a test-and-learn challenge, utilizing all agencies and vendors as well as internal teams.
3. Organizational design
As managers of an enormous amount of technology and data, marketing organizations have become cross-functional.
MarTech has given new meaning to “agility,” which now crosses technology, process and vendor management.
In many ecommerce companies, the marketing department manages more technology than the IT department. Sales and customer service, and even human resources, rely on marketing technology to function. In the past, the IT team worked in isolation, but everyone needs to collaborate more effectively now.
Starting with build vs. buy decisions, and extending to the decision to integrate point solutions vs. commit to one platform; MarTech management has become very iterative.
Organizational change and the adoption of shared goals are required to make the best MarTech and customer experience decisions. The organization must partner with the people to make sure a marketing department is fully functioning and flexible, despite the real pressures of decision fatigue, integration and channel proliferation.
What are the challenges you face in balancing marketing strategy with MarTech innovation? Where do you see the biggest opportunity this year?
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