So we know now the marketing technology landscape is jam-packed with 947 vendors. At least that.
Now as a digital marketer you have to figure out what to do with it. How do we weed out the pretenders from the contenders?
"Digital marketers must guard against getting seduced by the shiny new object," said analyst Richard Fouts, vice president at Gartner for Marketing Leaders. "While a new vendor’s approach might sound hugely exciting, you have to relax a bit and evaluate things, that while seem mundane, are hugely important."
Today, we start the first article in a short series examining ways to approach the thickly-settled marketing software vendor space.
Avoid the Hype
Today, it's not hard to find hype around a new idea that promises to generate new revenue or reduce costs. New tools. New capabilities. Products that Give you, the digital marketer, a better way to sell your product, consolidate marketing functions or collaborate and engage more closely with customers.
Sounds great, right? Well, it could be. "There’s some very innovative work going on out there," Fouts said, "and I don’t think any vendor deliberately tries to be phony."
However, watch for overselling. It's common, Fouts said, especially for those vendors that are in early embryonic, emerging stages where the hype is in high gear.
"The best ways to protect yourself in these situations is through reference checking or peer to peer conversations with marketers that are testing a vendor’s technology," Fouts said. "Or conduct a pilot. Even if you have to pay for a pilot phase, spending a fixed amount of dollars to prove the application’s ability to solve your problem -- is always a good practice before you put something into production.
Questions to ask regarding your potential vendor:
- Does the vendor understand the market?
- Do they have a valid underlying business proposition?
- Do they have a plan to keep innovating?
- Are they financial viable?
- Do they have the product and service capabilities to manage a product portfolio, its quality, distribution and service plan?
Has the senior management team worked together before? "This is another critical attribute digital marketers should look at -- but is overlooked -- because digital marketers don't think to ask," Fouts said.
Are Vendors Too Much Alike?
Yes and no, Fouts said. When the market matures, they do start looking the same. In the digital marketing space, marketing automation vendors, many who focused on automated lead nurturing, traversed this scenario, Fouts added.