Simplifying Marketing Technology — A Practical How-to Framework for Every Marketer’s Needs
Brian Rickert, Senior Director of Technology & Tools at SAP Marketing, in the first of his blog series on evaluating marketing technologies, presents an easy-to-use structure for teams to drive their marketing processes without being bogged down by jargons
One of the biggest challenges I’ve found working at a large company is explaining to stakeholders the importance of marketing technology, and the vast scope of choices available.
Most people fundamentally understand that the way people buy — whether it’s a camera or a multi-million-dollar software package — has changed because of the availability of information, and that the buying power has shifted to the consumer. Almost everyone is doing their research and mining the internet to understand the best options before they meet up with sales.
But, anybody who has tried to master the Marketing Technology landscape will be challenged to explain it in a simple manner. The technology zoo, as I like to refer to it, consists of 3500+ vendors that service the Marketing department in various forms. The vendor landscape runs the gamut from the mega-platform players of SAP, Oracle and Adobe to small startups around the world.
Scott Brinker has put together a mind-boggling view of the zoo, breaking it into six core technology categories, and it serves as a comprehensive reference for those unfamiliar with the vast array of technology impacting a Marketing department:
- Advertising & Promotion
- Content & Experience
- Social & Relationships
- Commerce & Sales
I like this model — six distinct areas — and this graphic is excellent for showing just how many vendors there are in each area and in total. At the same time, it is overwhelming and unsuitable for a business-level discussion.
The only way for Marketing to show its true value is through managing and integrating key layers of processes and technology. To meet this challenge, I have created a simplified process and technology framework for Marketing that consists of four core categories that explains the objective of each category, as well as highlighting the greater importance of the end-to-end process in order to be successful.
Each of the categories builds on each other, creating the process and technology stack. Within each one of the categories is a breakdown of the fundamental processes / solutions that encompass the needs of Modern Marketing.
The four categories are:
- Demand Management
- Experience Management
- Planning and Analytics
As with building a house, the foundational elements are essential and the key starting point for every other layer within the framework. These components are the most critical and often the most neglected. Each respective layer brings additional process and capability needs for an organization and must work in harmony with the other respective layers to have a truly successful organization.
Objective: Know your customer and manage your message
Overview: The building blocks of everything in Marketing come down to two core components: the collection of data (prospect, customer, interaction, pipeline, etc.) and the ability to deliver content (social, web, email, advertising, etc.).
Advanced Marketing organizations understand this basic principle and embrace it. With the centralization of content and data, an organization can understand its customers, how they react to content and start to truly personalize experiences.
Objective: Accelerate your customer in their journey
Overview: This category is truly the engine that drives Marketing collecting, analyzing, routing and automating marketing and sales processes. I typically associate it as the quarterback, who manages and coordinates the interactions with prospects and customers. These platforms provide the ability to see cross-channel effectiveness — what resonates with your customers and what doesn’t. It enables Marketers to accelerate the customer’s journey by providing the relevant content at the right time.
If managed appropriately and connected to a solid foundation of data and content, the automation solutions can remove waste and feed intelligence. It ensures the right content is presented versus the typical practice of carpet-bombing your Marketing contacts.
Objective: Enable world-class personalized experiences
Overview: Experience Management is by far the most confusing space in Marketing given the wide variety of processes and technology supporting it. The confusion is compounded by the fact that most employees think they are siloed and are not concerned about their connectivity with adjacent teams.
What typically gets lost is the true value of each customer interaction. Each respective channel (events, web, social, email, etc.) can only show value when it is integrated with other channels via your demand management layer. Without this connection, most teams have fluffy metrics that cannot be tied to meaningful corporate results.
On top, in each one of these channels, the Foundational story holds true. Content and data are the keys to success. Without the connections and coordination of downstream (demand management / foundational categories), companies hinder their own ability to show the value of Marketing.
Planning & Analytics
Objective: Agile planning and analysis of business results
Overview: Planning and Analytics are components that ultimately wrap around the three layers beneath and allow for setting the baseline plan and tracking the results. It is used to define the campaign architecture, measure your results, learn from what your customer interactions are telling you, and then re-plan to take advantage of your insights.
Planning is broken into two core components to call out the differences between strategic planning and the tracking of executional plans (campaigns, tactics). One could argue that Analytics belongs next to data within the foundation. I prefer to think of the bigger picture of driving an end-to-end view that includes planned targets, budgets, revenue and customer support. This would require the solutions to be connected tightly to planning as well as to the back-end ERP systems and potential customer support systems.
The reality is that within each Experience Management and Demand Management subcategory there is an analytics and planning component, but the real value is being able to connect the baseline plans with cross channel data to deliver true insights. Once unlocked, teams can leverage modeling capabilities to drive actionable insights from plan to revenue.
I personally have used this framework to open the eyes of marketing teams to the importance of adjacent, upstream and downstream processes and technologies. As I move forward, I will dive deeper into the respective layers and share examples of how I use the framework to shed light on investments, impacts and team alignments.
In his subsequent columns, Brian will analyze each category of the framework threadbare and evaluate technologies relevant to them as a ready reckoner that marketers can refer before making investment decisions. Watch this space!