What happened in the marketing technology industry? If it was made for, well, marketers, why is it so freaking hard for traditional marketers to wrap their minds around the space?
Many of the marketing technology solutions solve only one problem or part of the problem. There is no be-all, end-all marketing technology solution that will make the CIO and CMO rest easy at night. Sure, you could buy a Frankenstein Marketing Cloud. However, those companies are mostly busy integrating their acquired technologies instead of innovating.
Embrace The Marketing Technology Beast
Many marketers are an old-school lot, fancying themselves Mad Men even in the digital era. Thus, embracing technology is tough. True, CMOs arebeginning to spend more on tech than their counterparts (the CTOs and CIOs) but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a clue what they’re doing.
However, we are now at a time where marketers need to be “Math Men,” and move toward tracking real results, not just drinking scotch and coming up with a big creative idea. Although I still like drinking scotch and will continue to come up with big ideas, I now have data to drive the idea creation.
The struggle is real. Transforming the effectiveness of marketing as it used to be into digital marketing isn’t easy. Technology is supposed to make it easier. However, with so much marketing technology available, a few questions are bound to pop up.
- What business problem are you trying to solve?
- What is the desired outcome that you’d like to see a technology solve for you?
- Which marketing technologies solve this desired outcome?
- Who are the competitors in the space?
- Which company’s marketing technology is best for your use case?
- How can it be best implemented?
- Who’s the best person or team to manage it?
- What’s the best way to figure out how effective the tool this new marketing technology is?
Best, best, best. It’s a challenge figuring out the “best” approach to marketing technology problems today.
Recognize the Hustler Pace
The pace at which technology is changing is head-spinning. Just one decade ago, “social media” really didn’t exist, aside from Friendster (in which I coincidentally tested my first social media campaign back in 2002).
Facebook was launched in 2004, and Twitter was just a synapse in Jack Dorsey’s brain ready to be deployed at a future date. However, today they are key players in marketing. Every week, dozens of new technologies are announced, and tech-based startups take flight.
Higher-level marketers simply don’t (and can’t) keep up with all the changes. And figuring out how they’ll play into a marketing plan? Forget about it.
However, management and the industry at large expects marketers to master every channel and every technology that pops up, to integrate them flawlessly and to realistically be able to forecast what’s next.
Those expectations are at the crux of many marketing technology issues. You can tackle them by being realistic yourself, but also by having the skills to translate this issue to everyone else from the CEO to the peons who give you side eye when making yet another set of copies for you.
Multichannel, Cross-Channel, Omni-Channel, Oh My!
Those behind marketing technology are tech geeks through and through who are often informed by marketers, but not led by them. This means there’s a lot of techie jargon, slang and unnecessarily-difficult-to-understand code words.
Think big data, CMS, marketing automation, omni-channel, multi-touch, cross-device, agile marketing, optimization, personalization, attribution, open platform, first-party data ownership. What does that all really mean?
Research Marketing Technology Thought Leader E-Books & Whitepapers
The reality is that it’s not nearly as complicated as it’s made out to be. These often aren’t new concepts, but just new ways of saying what you already know. In order to navigate what seems to be a new language, take a deep breath and (you guessed it) Google it. If you need to, create your own “translation guide” and keep it handy.
One of my favorite ways to learn about any new topic is to do just that. I’ll type in “filetype:pdf agile marketing,” this will pull up PDFs by companies like Experian, Ensighten, PWC, Microsoft and HubSpot. Sometimes you need to dive into page 2 or 3 to find the nuggets. Also, make sure to change the date range to one that is a bit more recent. This process will help you find the best articles from the top sites.
You could also do a search for something like: filetype:pdf site:ensighten.com and find PDFs that are only on that particular site. This is a golden way to find relevant information in any space. And it’s particularly useful in the marketing tech space.
Then impress your friends, date or higher ups by throwing those new buzzword terms around correctly like a boss.
I Want It All
Today, marketing, strategy and technology are all intertwined. Instead of diving headfirst into marketing technology shopping without any strategy or goals, you need to first figure out what you want from your technology.
Where are you currently lacking, what problems do you need solutions for, what issues do you want to fix, and how much are you willing or able to spend?
You don’t have the time to wade through all 2,000+ marketing technology demos to figure out what you need. Marketers have to depend on the people around them, mentors, research and resources for direction and advice.
With a little bit of creativity, you can find the best tools that will solve your company’s biggest marketing challenges. You just have to be willing to dig deeply and surface the right information.