The use of technology to support marketing activity has boomed in the last 10 years. In this guide we walk through the four main types of marketing technology which can support your business goals. We discuss where CRM fits in and a simple way for you to define your marketing technology requirements.
How this guide raises your game
1. Learn about the four major groupings of marketing technology
2. Understand where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) fits in your marketing plan
3. How to define your marketing technology requirements
The amount of marketing technology (martech) services which can support marketing has grown dramatically in the last 10 years.
This means anyone who works in marketing faces the challenge to make themselves more technologically savvy. So, they can understand how marketing technology will help deliver their business objectives.
In the past, marketers and IT teams worked together only rarely. This might have been the marketer forgot a password or needed a new laptop.
But now in many businesses marketers and IT teams work hand in hand on a daily basis. They use marketing technology to improve the customer experience and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the marketing plan.
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Marketing technology for marketers
There are three key business objectives that sit behind all marketing activity.
Firstly, you want to understand your customers and their needs. For this, you need customer insights.
And lastly, you want to carry out your brand activation in a way that generates increasing sales and profits.
Marketing technology can help you achieve all three of these objectives.
Marketing technology for consumer insight
And while these techniques are still in very common use, they are no longer the only option when it comes to learning more about your consumers.
With internet penetration at over 85% in developed countries, and the average Australian spending over five and half hours online every day, the online world has become a rich source of information about consumers.
Because as consumers spend more time online and interact with websites and technology platforms, so they generate more data.
In this guide, we’ll cover the types of technology that capture this data about consumers. You can read more about how to use that data in our separate digital data and insight guide.
Marketing technology for brand identity and marketing plans
If online is where consumers increasingly spend their time, then online is where marketers want to make their brands come to life.
With the increasing capability of systems like advertising technology, website platforms, CRM software and other marketing automation tools, brand owners have many more options to how, when and where consumers can interact with their brand online.
Rather than the traditional “push” model of advertising, there’s now the opportunity to create more of a “pull” model. This is where the consumer chooses what they see or interact with rather than having it forced on them.
Marketing technology to drive sales and profit
The increase in capability that comes with marketing technology has also had a significant effect on companies business model and financial set-up.
This capability lets you be more targeted and personalised in how digital brand activations lands. It lets you set up large scale opportunities to drive marketing spend efficiency.
Marketing technology can help drive more sales from the same level of investment by being much more precise. Or it can reduce costs by identifying and eliminating non-effective brand activation.
Marketing technology also has a benefit when it comes to cost of operations, since many tasks can be automated, reducing the need for actual people to do repetitive and administrative tasks. This is particularity true when it comes to e-Commerce order to delivery systems. It is possible to set up a whole end-to-end online store and delivery service, with only access to a computer and an internet provider. We know, because we’ve done exactly that.
Marketing technology for IT people
Marketing technology tools are designed to make life simpler for marketers to market. They look at specific tasks within the overall marketing plan or customer experience. And they use technology to remove as much manual intervention as possible in these tasks.
They automate difficult, time-consuming and repetitive manual tasks. So performance reporting for example in a monthly dashboard can be set up to automatically pull and update data from multiple sources at the touch of a button. Where previously, an analyst would have had to visit multiple sources of data and collate them into a report.
Marketing technology also helps brand operate in real-time and adjust and optimise their brand activation in direct response to customer actions. Most digital media channels now work on a programmatic basis, where AI and machine learning systems ‘learn’ what is likely to work and prescribe the best way to invest media spend.
And in terms of the customer’s interaction with the brand, these interactions can be set-up to take the customer though a pre-planned journey or conversation, so that they feel they have received a personalised experience. Even though there has been very little ‘human’ interaction on the part of the brand owner.
Before we go on to define how marketing teams can get the best out of marketing technology, it’s worth looking more closely at how the landscape has grown and what the options are.
The marketing technology landscape
Ten years ago, there were less than 100 marketing technology suppliers. Now the number of suppliers to chose from is over 7,000.
The Martech annual landscape survey identifies 39 groups of technology solutions for marketing.
These 39 technology groups can be further grouped into key activity areas.
One to one interactions with the customer
- Email Marketing
- Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM)
- Identity Management
- Community and Reviews
- Customer Service
- Feedback and Chat
- Advocacy, Loyalty & Referrals
- Lead Management
- Interactive content
- Mobile apps
- Call analytics and Management
- Audience / Market Data
- Data enhancement programs
- Marketing Analytics, Performance and Attribution
- Mobile and Web Analytics
- Dashboards and Data Visualisation
- Business / customer intelligence and data science
- Predictive Analytics
- Tag Management
- Customer Data Platforms
Media and advertising
- Events, meetings and webinars
- Social Media Marketing & Monitoring
- Mobile marketing
- Display and programmatic
- Search & Social Advertising
- Native / content advertising
- Video advertising / marketing
- Content Marketing
Enabling and optimising systems
- AI and Machine Learning
- CMS and Web Experience
- Marketing Automation
- Digital Asset Management
- Asset Approval Systems
- Optimisation, Personalisation and Testing
- Cloud/data integration,
One to one interactions with the customer
Marketing technology has changed the way consumers interact with brands. From scanning your own groceries, to paying bills online, access to the internet has made life easier for consumers.
You can now carry out many mundane and administrative tasks without the need to engage a ‘real’ person.
The most obvious example of this has been the growth in voice assistants like Siri and Alexa. But there are many more examples as we’ll move on to next.
Examples of automated brand interactions
Take flight or holiday bookings for example. In the past, these required the expertise of a trained travel agent. Now, the consumer does most of the work to choose destinations and hotels and flight times using an automated system.
The same approach goes with restaurant bookings and takeaway deliveries. Even access to films and music is now much less done through a physical visit to a store and much more through a technology-based access with Netflix or Spotify for example.
Or take online store orders as another example. When you buy something from Amazon, your order goes in to their highly efficient system. You are sent regular updates on the process of your order from the warehouse to delivery. But unless something goes badly wrong, the chances are you never speak to a ‘real person’ in this whole process.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t cases where interaction with a ‘real’ person isn’t required. But it does mean for day to day tasks, customers can complete them quicker and with less fuss through using online systems.
This reduces the need for large customer service teams in many businesses. It means the customer service teams who remain are more skilled. They only need to get involved with more difficult topics.
Where ‘real people’ come in for customer service, it’s where customers face real issues or challenges that cannot be fixed by the system. So, a quality issue with the product or a question about how to use a product for example might be answered with a message on the website or an FAQ section, but in many cases the consumer will want to talk to a real person to fix their issue.
Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM)
Behind these automated interactions is the concept of Customer Relationship Marketing. Customer Relationship Management is a way of organising how your business interacts with its customers. The ability to do Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) is one of the most important benefits that digital marketing can offer your business. Key benefits include
- You can connect directly with a consumer rather than via a third party
- You can keep a track of those interactions so you have a customer view history
- It is usually scaleable because it is largely automated.
A key requirement for any CRM system is the ability to manage data about the customer. To be able to store the data securely and safely. To make the data accessible by systems and people as required. All this has to be done within the rules around data privacy and anti spam laws. We cover these areas in our guide to digital data and insight.
There are three key areas where your CRM system can have a major impact on your digital marketing. These relate back to the three key external goals we set up in our digital business model RESTART guide. Reach, engage and sell.
CRM and Reach – Tagging
Whenever you place a digital media advert, it is possible to create and insert a piece of code into the advert which sends you a ‘signal’ when that code is activated. This system is called ‘tagging’ and is run through a system like Google Tag Manager.
This ‘tag’ lets you identify consumers by their behaviours so that you can start to re-target them. So for example, if two people watch your ad, and one clicks on the ad and another one doesn’t, you can serve a follow-up ad to the one who clicked with a different message.
It’s important to note that the consumer is not actually identified by “who” they are. Their personal details are not part of the data captured by a tag. They are identified by “what” they do. From a marketing point of view, this is still important, because you can use that data to segment and target potential customers based on this behavioural data.
While, these tagging behavioural identities won’t give you a total audience view of segmentation, targeting and positioning, they do give you a real-time and on-going view of the audience who sees your online activity. And how they respond to it. This data is more quickly available and generally cheaper to source than many traditional market research approaches.
On your website, you can also set up cookies that track where a website visitor goes and enable you to separate out consumers by their online behaviours.
Again, this identity is based on “what they do” on the site, not “who they are”. But again, it helps you build up a profile of the types of behaviours that are happening on your website. And it helps you change the experience for that particular consumer based on your knowledge of their prior behaviour on your website.
So, rather than blast all consumers with the same advertising message, you can start to tailor and target specific consumers with the highest potential. And save yourself spending media money on consumers who don’t react to your ads. So, it’s a huge efficiency driver.
We’ve all had that experience where we’ve visited a site to research a subject and then start seeing ads for that product appear over the next few days. That’s driven by tagging and cookies.
CRM and Engagement
Engagement is usually classed as either passive or active.
Passive engagement is when there is an interaction but the user doesn’t identify themselves. So these types of engagement can be measures with for example, time spent on your site or the number of clicks on a link.
Active engagement on the other hand is where the consumer interacts AND identifies themselves. For example, they request further contact. These can be measured with for example enquiries, shares, likes and registrations. And obviously, the most “active” engagement is that which results in an actual sale.
You will see many websites (including our own) offer visitors the opportunity to drive active engagement by offering the opportunity to sign up for a newsletter or some sort of alert or notification.
This newsletter could be advance notice of promotions or new product launches. It could be informative or educational news not available elsewhere. These registrations can be very valuable since they tend to be your most interested or loyal consumers. And they have given you permission to contact them.
This channel is extremely cost efficient if you can generate a large enough mailing list. It only costs you the time to create the email. Many systems now automate the emails, so for example you can write an email welcoming people when they sign up to the service, but have it automatically sent every time someone registers.
There are many of these automated email systems and it’s a competitive market. Below are three of the most well-known systems to get you started with your research in this area if you don’t already have an email registration system set up.
Mailchimp – https://mailchimp.com/
Convert Kit – https://convertkit.com/
Sendinblue – https://www.sendinblue.com
CRM and Sales
If you have set up your own online store then CRM systems can be a powerful way to deepen the relationship with your brand. Along with your contact data, you will also have purchase data about each customer who buys from you.
Information about what consumers have bought previously and when, can be a powerful tool to help you create relevant future offers for them.
You can use the CRM sales data generated by marketing technology to identify groups of buyers based on demographics or behaviours.
Demographic sales data
So for example, you should include a “title” with a consumer’s name, such as “Mr”, “Mrs” and “Ms” when they contact your or place an order. This lets you respond to them politely. But is also helps you segment your consumer data by gender.
You can also look at where your consumers live if they place an order. Do groups of people with similar postcodes or from similar regions tend to buy similar products for example?
Behavioural sales data
There’s a rich seam of data you can mine from the behaviours you capture with for example Google Analytics or your e-Commerce order system.
What about time of day or day of the week that orders are placed for example? Are certain times more popular than others? Could you use this insight to time when to place digital media campaigns or to send out emails?
Maybe there are some consumers who only buy at certain times of the month or year? If you understand what that is, you can develop marketing programmes to get them to buy more often.
For example, if your product is consumable and needs to be re-purchased after a certain amount of time, could you set up a reminder service or a subscription offer?
If you know that some consumers always buy ‘extras’, then you can start making offers to bundle these complementary products together to drive more sales.
And if in the worst case, someone has just stopped buying from you, you can send them an offer to try and tempt them back. Although if you haven’t heard back from a customer for a while, it’s usually best to have a bit of a spring clean of dormant accounts.
Define your Marketing Technology requirements
While the Marketing and IT teams have to work closely to set such systems up, the idea is not to create more work, but to reduce it.
The end goal of marketing technology should actually be to remove or significantly reduce the need for IT involvement.
Technology is used to anticipate needs. It should be used to set up and automate systems and processes to do the “work” using the technology and not an actual person.
This also means there is an increasing need for marketing and IT people to work more closely. But this can be a challenge. It can sometimes feel that IT people and marketing people speak different languages.
Both marketing and information technology come with terms, processes and ways of working that don’t always overlap.
Marketers rarely have specific training in technology beyond the basic software used in most businesses like word processing and spreadsheets.
But when it comes to defining your marketing technology requirements, we’ve found the concept of a “User Story ” very useful.
The User Story comes from IT but it bears a similar structure to the concept of a “positioning statement” from the world of marketing.
So we’d recommend you use this structure to build out your marketing technology requirements.
It follows a very simple format.
As a (USER), I want to (NEED), so that I can (BENEFIT).
IT definition of a user story
A user story is a tool used in Agile software development (see also our guide on marketing innovation for more on agile working). It captures a description of a software feature from an end-user perspective. The user story describes the type of user, what they want and why. A user story helps to create a simplified description of a requirement.
For an IT professional who has to build the technology or code to support a project, it makes it clear to them what the end outcome or goal is. They can then apply their technical expertise to develop the best technology solution to deliver that outcome.
Marketing definition of a user story
A marketer would look at a user story more like a positioning statement. (check out our guide to segmentation, targeting and positioning for more on this). A user story is a simplified version of the positioning statement applied to a much more specific challenge or situation.
Unlike the positioning statement which is a single long-term statement which covers the whole brand, you can have multiple short-term user stories. They are much narrower in scope, and are quicker and easier to do.
For marketers, the user story defines the (BENEFIT) from an end-user perspective (CONSUMER ORIENTATION). The user story describes the type of user (TARGET AUDIENCE), what they want and why (NEEDS/OUTCOMES). A user story helps to create a simplified description of a requirement. (GOAL OR MEASURE).
Example marketing technology user stories
This all sounds fine in theory, but it is when you start to look at some examples, you realise how practical and applicable the user story format is. It’s a great way to get marketing and IT people talking the same language.
Let’s have a look at some example user stories, In each case, we share the types of software solution and companies who offer these services. It is not a complete list by any means. Remember the format. As a (USER), I want to (NEED) so that I can (BENEFIT).
User Story 1
As an online media buyer, I want to focus my media spend on consumers showing the highest interest, so that I can increase media spend efficiency.
- Technology and example providers : Data Management Platform (DMP) systems like Krux (Salesforce), Adobe Audience Manager and Sitecore.
User Story 2
As a Marketing Analyst, I want to have 24-7 access to live data on brand performance, so that I don’t have to waste time manually running reports.
- Technology and example providers : Automated dashboards – Beckon, Tableau and Datorama
User Story 3
As a Brand Owner, I want to have 24-7 access to live data on brand performance, so that I am able to optimise campaigns and channels on a daily basis.
- Technology and example providers : Automated dashboards like Beckon, Tableau and Datorama
User Story 4
As a Website Owner, I want to make it easy for website visitors to quickly buy from an online retailer, so that I increase the chances of a sale.
- Technology and example provider : E-commerce – Market Track
User Story 5
As a Social Media channel owner, I want to analyse what consumers are saying about my brand, so that I can act if there is an issue or opportunity.
- Technology and example providers – Social Listening tools like Meltwater, Radian 6 and Radarly
User Story 6
As a brand owner, I want to be able to easily create new content for my website, so that I drive engagement with my target audience.
- Technology and example providers – Content Management like WordPress, Wix, Adobe Experience Manager and Sitecore
User Story 7
As a brand website owner, I want to monitor issues with the content of my site, so that I can ensure the quality of the experience of my website.
- Technology and example providers – Automated Site monitoring like Siteimprove and Wordfence
User Story 8
As an website owner, I want to be able to contact consumers directly, so that I increase the frequency of contact without having to spend more media dollars.
- Technology and example providers – Email CRM Adobe Campaign, Sitecore, Mailchimp, many others
User story 9
As an online store owner, I want to be able to sell directly to my consumers, so that I don’t have to rely so much on retailers.
- Technology and example providers – E-Commerce CMS like Shopify Scquare, World Pantry, Amazon Marketplace, Ebay, Magento
User Story 10
As an marketer, I want to have a Single View of a Customer across all marketing touchpoints, so that I can create more relevant and engaging experiences.
- Technology and examples providers – 360 Database and Data Integration, Krux, Sprinklr, Exact Target, Adobe, Sitecore, Oracle
Conclusion – marketing technology and your business
It’s clear marketing technology is a broad subject, full of both opportunity and challenge. How much time and budget you invest in marketing technology depends on the benefits for customers and the goals in your marketing plan.
But in terms of overall global reach, the ability to engage consumers and the ability to drive online sales, it’d be unusual not have some reference to marketing technology in your marketing plan.
If we had to choose a marketing technology system to focus on for someone completely new to the subject, Customer Relationship Management systems would feel like the natural choice.
As we stated at the start of this guide, the ability to understand consumers and create experiences based on that understanding is a fundamental part of marketing.
And a strong CRM system touches every part of the customer experience. It allows you to create much more relevant experiences for your target audience. And this ultimately will make your digital marketing stronger and more impactful.
It’s clear that many of the other tools available through marketing technology can be used to continue to improve and enhance both the customer experience and your marketing activity.
Your aim is to find the right level of sophistication and integration of your marketing technology ‘stack’ which will best meet your business and marketing objectives.
Three-brains and marketing technology
Three-brains are not a marketing technology agency, but we have a lot of experience and expertise in this area. We understand the challenges and skills required to manage marketing technology implementation.
We offer consulting services to business looking to identify and scope their marketing technology requirements. And coaching services to businesses working with marketing technology companies to make sure they get the best value and business impact from their activities.