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Taking A Customer Centric Approach To Marketing Technology

Earlier this month unveiled it’s 2017 Marketing Technology Landscape Supergrahic that listed an eye popping 5,381 technologies, which signified approximately 40% growth over 2016.

Clearly the marketing technology landscape is showing no signs of slowing down and marketing departments are in a feeding frenzy when it comes to acquiring technology:

  • 70% of marketers stating they expect their martech budgets to increase in 2017, according to a study conducted by WalkerSands.

  • According to Oracle the average marketing technology stack has 17 different tools

  • IDC predicts that that marketing technology spend will reach $32.3 billion by 2018

  • Gartner states that the average company spends 27% of their marketing budget on technology

These statistics indicate that this may well be the golden age of marketing technology and underscores the strategic role of marketing. However, CMOs now have the challenge of managing the pace of technology acquisition and deriving value from these investments.

Technology Is Not A Strategy

I was speaking recently to a CMO who told me, “I have no desire to adopt another technology as my team has a tendency to look at the latest technology as the cure to all of our problems.”He was right in being wary of adopting more technology as his team had become enamored with the new “shiny objects” that were available.

When looking at a technology purchase, B2B marketing organizations need to think strategy first and then determine what, if any, technology is needed to enable that strategy.

As marketing departments look to drive better customer engagement, deliver relevant content and produce higher quality leads, the belief that technology alone will get you closer to these objectives is faulty thinking.

Value From This Technology is Elusive

Recent studies by Content Marketing Institute and ANNUITAS show that less than 40% of B2B marketing departments are finding success with their content marketing and/or their demand generation efforts. This despite the many options with content marketing management and marketing automation technologies.

Additionally, the Walker Sands study mentioned above states “only 3% of marketers surveyed stated they are getting the full value out of their tools.”

While marketers are not realizing the value from these tools in terms of performance, there is also an added opportunity cost that is further limiting the value of these investments according to a 2015 article by Rachel Balik:

  • 56% of companies underuse their technology, and 21% have technology that has literally become “shelfware”

  • Over 50% of respondents reported that when marketing technology doesn’t work, reduced new sales revenue and increased cost of customer acquisition were among the top negative impacts

  • Around 40% said it reduced customer lifetime value and decreased renewals

With such significant investment in these technologies, CMOs need to demand full utilization. While I believe technology is a must, marketing leaders need to begin to analyze the true value and how these technologies are enabling, not limiting, business outcomes.

Customer Alignment is Necessary

Buyer disruption has changed the role and the focus of marketing departments. With up to 6.8 buyers involved in an average B2B buying process and B2B buyers moving 57% of the way through their buying journey before connecting directly with a vendor according to CEB, it would seem to make sense that marketing departments need to harness the power of technology to do their job efficiently.

A recent article by McKinsey states, “One typical shortcoming of traditional operating models is a strong focus on optimizing internal capabilities instead of making the customer’s needs and wants the organization’s central orientation point. The strong individual silos that make up the organization of so many of today’s organizations are another barrier, at odds with the need for achieving truly cross-functional collaboration.”

Many organizations view technology through the lens of their marketing function rather than looking at it through the customer journey. The problem with looking at the tools with a functional view is too many marketing departments are organized the same way – email teams, social teams, web teams, event management, etc. However, customers do not treat channels and functions they way marketers do. Understanding the customer journey and aligning the enabling technologies to it are the first steps that every marketing organization should take when assessing further technology adoption.

At the end of the day, B2B marketing departments do not need more technology; we need to utilize the technology in a more strategic way that enables a better connection with our customers.

While the technology landscape will continue to grow, CMOs need to give careful consideration to the investment and assess if it is really making a difference in driving revenue and improving customer lifetime value.

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