Technology’s Place in Marketing

In 2012 Gartner presented a prediction that by 2017 the CMO would outspend the CIO when it came to IT costs. It’s now 2016 we’re a year away from 2017 and this statement appears as if it could be true.  CMOs/Marketers are influencing more digital spending decisions than ever.  Marketing has embraced technology at a rapid pace, and cloud marketing platforms are becoming a standard part of any marketing arsenal.

Innovation and Growth Isn’t Driven By Technology

But you know what? Technology isn’t going to drive innovation.  You can have the best technology on the planet, and yet if you don’t have the right vision for how to use it, you will never see the results.  It’s like giving a hammer to someone and telling them to build a house.  You might even have a great architect, but a general contractor is needed to bring the vision to life.  The marketing tech stack is no different.

I often see companies that are investing into the technology, they may even have a road-map of what technology they need, and how it all fits together.  Where they fall short of the goal line is when it comes to applying the capabilities. I’m not talking about getting up and running and deploying something on the platform. I’m talking about ensuring that as an organization they are getting as much value as possible out of the technology.  Most cases companies are using maybe 20% of the capabilities.

Sometimes this is due to lack of training, but most of the time it seems to be due to the lack of a cohesive approach to digital marketing.  Organizational silos, campaign and program planning, and ownership of the customer is distributed across multiple teams.  There is little governance around how the customer is passed along to each team,and more so each experience they have across a company in the digital world.

Build a Better House

How do you fix this? I see two approaches, you need to have a customer experience team that is focused on flow and transition of the customer end to end, or you need to lean on your agency to operate as the gatekeeper of consistency.  What you are looking to solve for is identifying a way to give ownership to both the experience architect as well as experience development to a single owner.  The owner of the customer experience, is responsible for ensuring customer tasks are top of mind during every engagement.  That ease of task completion is the critical path, and that the right checks and balances are in place to ensure measurement of these experiences is possible at all times.

Great Experience Architects, are focused on both marketing experience, and performance marketing.  It’s role that will be new to many organizations, and one that is needed sooner than later. Experience Architects think about usability first, then function, then presentation, and then they turn around and they use data to measure each of these elements.  They can tell you not only where your customers are having issues flowing through your digital ecosystem, but also understand how to solve and improve each experience.  They don’t just look at the bottleneck, but the whole bottle as well.  They understand downstream influence on upstream issues.  Really great experience architects also know how and when to move the building blocks around to create shorter paths to success.

When you start planning your next budget for marketing technology, don’t forget that the end consumer of this technology will be your customer.  Technology should operate in servitude of creating greater, more relevant customer experiences.  It’s important for marketing to have a heavy voice in the selection of technology, but more important is understand the role they need to play in that selection.  They need to ask “how will this improve customer task completion?”, “How will this enable my marketing team to better communicate with customers?”, “What will this do differently from what we do today, and does that matter? Why?”. Marketing needs to be at the table for technology selection and ask not how this integrates with the current tech stack, but with the current customer experience.

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