Insight | 15 July 2020

Demystifying the MarTech landscape for CMOs

Helen Walters 800

Helen Walters

Chief Marketing Officer

Tags: Performance & Optimisation

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At first glance, the MarTech landscape is overwhelming. But fear not, we break down exactly what you need to do before investing in any MarTech.

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The impressive MarTech landscape

When Scott Brinker, aka, updated the marketing technology (or MarTech) landscape last year, I was convinced that I’d never seen such a complex congested space and, in some way, I felt like we were truly in the golden age of MarTech. So much choice in so many facets of digital. In 2011 when it was first published, it was an impressive 150 strong list. Ten years later, at more than 50 times the original list, the MarTech landscape now sits at 8,000 vendors, across six categories and 49 subcategories. In the blink of an eye, it may even become 500 million by 2023!

Where to start – a CMO’s prerogative

As a CMO (or even the CMT), part of your remit is to adequately choose suitable MarTech to complement and enhance marketing efforts. But where to start and how to decipher effectively and appropriately what’s needed and when?

In truth, the best place to start is not where you’d think. Don’t begin with the end solution in mind or even try to decide which MarTech category to prioritise. Instead, you should start with the customer and their journey. Identifying each customer touchpoint is the key to helping you decide which MarTech product or service will deliver your customer the optimum experience. You need to understand their world from their point of view by stepping back and taking a holistic view of every single interaction that a human has with your brand. I use the word ‘human’ here, not ‘consumer’, because a human’s first interaction with your brand starts long before you’d consider them to be a consumer. For example, going to friend’s house and seeing a product on a shelf in the bathroom can trigger the human brain to form an opinion of that brand straightaway.

Sounds simple, right?

And yet the customer journey is often the most overlooked piece in the puzzle. But without identifying every interaction a human has with your brand, how do you know what to deliver on? You’re missing the most important pieces. We’ve talked extensively about why understanding the customer journey is paramount before. Grabbing colleagues and some post it notes for an afternoon to physically map out every customer touchpoint is a criminally undervalued exercise. Discovery workshops need not be overcomplicated but they are essential in understanding what your customer needs from your brand and when.

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Customer journey mapping

Ignore vendors, start with the categories

Once you’ve mapped that customer journey, the most important part of this impressive graphic to focus on, isn’t the vendors at all, or the sub-categories, it’s the overarching category ‘islands’:

  • Advertising & Promotion
  • Content & Experience
  • Social & Relationships
  • Commerce & Sales
  • Data
  • Management

Each of these main categories represents the core need for tech and should be the starting point in terms of selecting where to prioritise budget and building business cases for inclusion in those budgets.

One of the best ways to look at this is to be aware of the types of problems the sector a brand sits in typically has. For example, the FinTech sector has two key challenges that startups and established businesses face alike, namely the adoption of digital services. In particular:

“A significant part of the population remains digitally excluded. 9% of adults have never used the internet and many more are missing out on the opportunities the digital world offers, whether through lack of connectivity or digital skills.” (as outlined by the HM Treasury’s 2018 report on FinTech Sector Strategy: Securing the Future of UK FinTech).

This makes it essential to have data and content & experience MarTech in place to make sure that services are usable (UX). Without a constant feedback loop on how digital assets are being used the FinTech firm would struggle.

The FinTech sector also has a large focus on its data usage in the form of GDPR. Whilst Deloitte might say that it could be a blessing in disguise and an opportunity for smaller FinTechs looking for a competitive edge, the regulations mean that it’s practically impossible to have any sort of offering without a tight control of data, how it is processed, stored, and ultimately used. Having robust tech to manage data is essential and could potentially mean more consumer trust due to a better brand reputation in a much more competitive landscape.

These common challenges mean that, whilst advertising, social and commerce might be important categories to look at, the priority clearly needs to sit with experience, data, and management.

Making data make sense

Having all the datapoints connect and talk to each other is a longstanding issue between marketing and IT teams. Developing a perfectly joined up, utopian ecosystem is very rare indeed. It relies heavily on the overlap and relationship between marketing and the chief data officer, CTO, digital transformation officer, etc. MarTech, by its very nature, spans multiple accountabilities and requirements with a lot of overlap and so it’s extremely hard to integrate it all. Adopting an agile approach is key given that the one stop shop approach is likely to have huge ramifications for migrating and even bigger problems around re-platforming. Taking the microservices approach means that it’s possible to be more agile within your teams and more agile with delivering on customer experience (this shift is one of the main reasons there is just so much more choice now compared to 2011).

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Is it possible for every single datapoint to connect and talk to each other?

Lockdown has already caused brands to push into a more agile framework of working anyway but it’s a trend that was happening before the pandemic and will only exponentially accelerate in the ‘new normal’ – a blended model of software and services within platform ecosystems.

A single solution or integration might give you a sense of comfort when there’s a lot of potential that can run all at the same time. But in practice this can have the opposite desired effect of making the CMO’s job incredibly complex and difficult. In general, marketers already know how to run campaigns with a test/learn approach. That’s how a CMO should approach the data management of the chosen MarTech. A try and see/test and learn approach. Not everything has to be connected but it’s vital you don’t overlook what should be.

Forget the tech, it’s all about your audience

It’s so easy to get wrapped up with MarTech. It’s exciting, constantly changing and, most of the time, easy to see the immediate benefits of using it. Be it either in saved time, saved costs, happier customers, or increased revenue. However, picking your MarTech stack without knowing the full human journey and brand experience equates to picking a holiday for your entire family without knowing where they want to go, what they like to do on holiday or what their budget is.

Even after this is mapped out, ratified with data and agreed upon, you must prioritise your MarTech categories as it’s unlikely you’ll have the time, budget or will to connect all those datapoints in the first instance. Talk with the data guys, the CTO and your marketing teams around their biggest issues, customer pain points or reporting ‘gaps’. Consider your sector and your competition. Prioritise, move forward with a test/learn approach, and expand if needed.

If you need help assessing your customer journeys, identifying pain points, sector research or even tying data points together, reach out and start a conversation today.