surrounded by walls in a stairwell
The introduction of a wide variety martech tools has increased data and technology silos, rather than decreased them PHOTO: John T

A quick glance at the 2019 edition of Scott Brinker’s famed graphic of the marketing technology (martech) landscape shows that the industry is more crowded than ever (with over 7,000 tools and counting). Most marketers welcome more tools as they look to prove ROI and justify their budget by tracking, measuring and analyzing content and data, a whopping 80% believe that attribution is important, according to the Walker Sands’ State of Martech 2019 report.

Martech Can Enhance the Customer Experience

“Marketers ask for more tools to track key performance indicators (KPIs) to help them demonstrate that their spend is supporting the awareness, engagement, conversion and loyalty goals they’ve been tasked with,” said Jennifer Mulligan, marketing technology account director at Walker Sands.

Martech can enhance the customer experience — if used correctly, says Andrew Hastings, CMO of Taplytics, a mobile optimization company. “If you ask your customers about some of their favorite digital experiences, they’re likely to sound off about Netflix, Spotify and Amazon,” he says. “People will almost always say it’s because those companies understand them, deliver personalized content and provide a continuous experience across every device they own.” Their marketing stack, he explains, empowers that customer experience strategy.

Martech Customer Experience Challenges

But for marketers seeking to improve the customer experience, the proliferation of martech has also created multiple challenges: Different pieces of the customer journey may live in a variety of tools, apps and departments, creating a confusing, siloed view.

“Not only does this result in disparate experiences, it promotes the idea of every platform owner or department coming up with their own goals and tactics, says Omar Akhtar, industry analyst at Altimeter, a Prophet Company. This creates fiefdoms and conflict over who ultimately owns the customer experience. “The platforms can be integrated, but it’s much harder to integrate people and align them on shared goals, data and content,” he said. The stack is a secondary challenge, while the primary challenge is determining who owns the stack, who the stakeholders are and what their goals are.

According to Sabra Willner, CMO of Lenovo Software, the Scott Brinker graphic is a perfect example of the challenge with managing and monetizing your department or company’s tech stack. “These tools represent a great opportunity to collect and leverage data to improve the way you connect with and delight customers, but it also adds fuel to the fire of ‘app anarchy.’” With the resulting data silos, there are issues including the number of sources holding data; lack of standardized or normalized data; and the location of data — which all add up to the inability to analyze, interpret or act on data-driven insights. 

The first step is for every manager to visualize all the tools they, and related departments, are using. “I think they’ll be surprised by the total number,” she said. Teams need to ask if a new tool has true value-add compared to something they or another group is already using, and they also need to ask if it integrates well with other tools the team already uses. “Does it suck tremendous time for evaluation vs. the time it would take to go deeper with the tools they’ve already invested in?” Most importantly, she explained, companies need to question how they roll out new tools and provide ongoing training.

With an accessible and streamlined technology stack, marketers can create personalized experiences, analyze past behavior and present the right value message or offer at the right time. The marketing stack also provides the ability to track meaningful data to fuel the product roadmap and empower sales and customer success teams. However, it’s not just about the stack itself, Willner cautions: Marketers also need to find the best talent or outsource to the strongest partner and arm that talent with the right technology and supporting resources to use that technology.

In addition, processes also need to be addressed strategically with a governance system over how technology is selected and how data are managed. ”They must set policies, permissions and provide training to ensure their people are compliant and that the processes are effective,” she said.

Related Article: How to Simplify the MarTech Stack

Marketing Is Evolving Into a Customer Engagement Discipline

The best way to approach a martech stack strategy is inside-out, said Akhtar. That means starting with the best strategy and then working out to the solutions necessary to reach and truly engage customers. “The best rule of caution is to not let vendors dictate your strategy or take you off course,” he said. The good news is today’s martech platforms are embracing openness, allowing greater integration and expanding the possibilities of what’s possible to deliver in terms of a unified customer experience.

“The biggest change we might see is that marketing itself is being changed to become more of a ‘customer engagement’ discipline,” he says.