January 11, 2021 Sharat Sharan
The vast majority of CMOs today struggle to keep up with the pace of technological advancement in marketing and the incredible number of tools and technologies at their fingertips. In fact, Scott Brinker reported that there are currently 8,000 martech companies, up 13.6% from last year.
This article was originally published on Forbes.com. Shared with the author’s permission.
The proliferation of martech has not only bombarded marketers; it can also act as a barrier to consistent adoption, standards and impact for businesses. While automation and other technologies have made it possible to scale campaigns, create more content and extract more data, capturing attributable impact on revenue remains elusive. For B2B marketers specifically, my company and Heinz Marketing found that only 13% felt very or extremely confident that their content drives their desired revenue results.
So, how can marketers cut through the noise? As the co-founder, president and CEO of a digital experience platform, I believe it’s simple: Their martech strategy needs to put people first. Instead of amassing new technology just to keep up, marketers need to create a focused tech stack that prioritizes real, human engagement every step of the way.
1. Create High-Touch Engagement — Even Online
Unfortunately, marketing at scale has become synonymous with superficial engagement and spam. B2B marketers today often lure prospective customers with flashy email marketing campaigns that say little about what the technology offers and instead make bold, untethered claims. Over half of B2B executives Heinz Marketing and Drift surveyed are frustrated by receiving too many irrelevant emails and ads from suppliers.
So for the marketers who have committed to prioritizing digital strategies through the end of the year, it’s important they get it right. What is often missing from digital marketing is the type of engagement that flows naturally in person –– the handshakes and conversations, the personalized questions that spark from captivated audiences, the demos at trade show booths, etc. But, I’d argue that even in the absence of face to face interactions, it’s possible to have more personal engagement.
The key is to foster more interaction and online touchpoints rather than bombarding folks with typical one-way marketing messaging. If you’re planning a webinar, for example, encourage potential customers to participate –– whether that’s through polls, chat features, Q&As or integrated content options. By encouraging audience participation, marketers can create conversations that more effectively lead to conversion.
2. Beware Of Silos And Build An Ecosystem
According to Gartner research (via Martech Today), 24% of marketers surveyed indicated that martech spending will still be a priority in 2021. But marketing teams need to be cautious: More tech doesn’t necessarily mean more impact. Instead of amassing a hodgepodge of tools, marketers should strive to focus on a few integrated technologies that can all sing together to impact the bottom line. Before making any purchase, they need to identify top pain points within the organization, their ideal time to value and who will be utilizing the technology to choose the right solutions for their company. But I’d argue that their potential to integrate is a top priority.
True power comes from integration and ensuring that data and insights across the tech stack — from advertising and promotion to content, experience, commerce and sales — can all be utilized at once. The trap that far too many marketers fall into is data siloing where, for example, a powerful sales enablement or CRM tool is incompatible with the company’s other platforms. Digital engagement provides a wealth of actionable data that can dramatically help sales teams, but that data is only as good as its ability to integrate into other sales and marketing systems. In those instances, instead of new technologies accelerating growth with companies, they may simply exacerbate age-old problems like sales and marketing misalignment. And given LinkedIn found that 87% of sales and marketing leaders say that “collaboration between sales and marketing enables critical business growth,” they need technology to help — not hinder — progress.
3. Turn Up The Dial On True Personalization — At Scale
Historically, marketers have been constrained by nondescriptive, top-line metrics like the number of attendees, downloads and clicks. But today, digital engagements provide marketers with more data than ever before. And for those marketers who have redeployed experiential marketing budgets to digital, the sheer volume of data their companies are generating will likely continue to grow.
Marketers should deploy actionable insights across the customer journey. Instead of analyzing data in a vacuum, marketing and sales teams should focus on quantitative and qualitative metrics –– like poll results, Q&A session themes and buyer-intent signals (like who requests a product demo). In turn, they will be better equipped to provide prospects with the right content at the right time across the entire marketing funnel.
Ultimately, marketers need to remember who martech is supposed to serve: people. Instead, many have gotten too caught up in the power and promise of new technologies that distract from a people-first marketing strategy. The goal for marketers should always be more engagement and impact, not just more technology; I believe if we refocus on the why, the how will become a lot easier.