The marketing technology landscape is crowded, for sure.
But too crowded? That's a different question, said Lori Wizdo, principal analyst and marketing automation specialist for Forrester Research.
"There are many, many different processes that are performed by the marketing organization," Wizdo told CMSWire. "These processes comprise many many different tasks. And, automation all of these processes and tasks will help marketers scale operations and drive consistent, quality execution, and results. So, it’s hard to say that there is too much automating technology out there."
Develop a Road Map
Wizdo sees a problem with the landscape -- too many vendors automating tasks (like predictive lead scoring, or content attribution) rather than end-to-end processes (such as new customer acquisition).
"It becomes the responsibility of the marketer to turn these point solutions into a business system," Wizdo said. "Marketers are not systems integrators. Nor should they aim to be."
So where do digital marketers start on their journey in the vendor market? Develop, Wizdo said, a marketing automation road map. Take a strategic perspective and look at your end-to-end processes.
"You can’t transform marketing -- the promise of automation -- by automating tasks," Wizdo said. "It’s also critical to find a trusted IT advisor. Marketing is -- and should be -- inexorably bound up in technology, as the majority of customer touchpoints are digitally enabled and the digital landscape of customer experiences is evolving at a breakneck pace."
Find your trusted IT advisor. Many CMOs will be rethinking their relationship with IT. Some will turn to an external service provider, and others will create a shadow IT organization in marketing operations.
"Whatever the source ... find your IT champion," Wizdo said.
Vendors: All the Same?
Many marketing automation vendors have product portfolios replete with features and functions.
"Within each of the software categories, there are a probably a dozen vendors who can tick just about every box in the average Request for Proposal," Wizdo said. "In general, a marketing exec can automate his/her marketing tasks and processes with a great many of the vendor solutions out there. But marketing leaders need to inspire their teams to avoid making a quick decision: the differences are in the details."
The best vendors offer a "pragmatic approach to transformation." The good ones give their customers a path to transformation that is littered with the residue of quick wins.
Digital marketers, in weeding out vendors that won't work, must do their homework.
"Talk to peers. Talk to the vendor’s references," Wizdo said. "Read product reviews and analysts' analyses. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to make a good decision."
Title image by alphaspirit (Shutterstock).