Why read this? : We explore the different types and uses of marketing technology. Learn how it supports customer interactions, analytics, media, advertising; and enabling / optimising systems. We also examine its role in Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM). Plus, we show how to write user stories to define requirements. Read this to learn how to get more out of marketing technology.
How this guide raises your game :-
1. We share the 4 main types of marketing technology.
2. Understand how Customer Relationship Management (CRM) fits in your marketing plan.
3. Learn how to define your marketing technology requirements.
The number of marketing technology (martech) companies has soared in the last 10 years.
Marketers have been forced to rethink how they use technology. It’s no longer just presentations and emails. Technology now shapes how you connect with customers and drive sales.
In the past, marketers and IT teams only really came together if the marketer forgot their password, or needed a new laptop.
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Marketing technology for marketers
It does that via :-
Together, these help you grow your online business by winning and keeping more customers.
Data and insights
But these are no longer the only options. You can find out a lot by looking online.
Internet penetration is 85%+ in developed countries. The average Australian spends over five and half hours online every day. And they generate data wherever they go as they interact with websites and technology platforms.
This data is a goldmine of insights for marketers.
Bring your brand and customer experience to life
If online is where customers spend their time, then that’s where marketers have to bring their brands to life.
With the growing sophistication of advertising technology, websites, CRM software and other marketing automation tools, brands have more options to where, when and how customers interact with them online.
Rather than traditional “push” advertising, brands can now “pull” customers in. To create experiences customers choose to interact with rather than having them forced on them. As we’ll come onto, that has implications for your marketing plan and brand activation.
The overall business impact of martech
These new marketing technology opportunities change how you do marketing, and the brand’s business model.
For example, you can be more targeted and personalised with digital activity.
This leads to more efficient marketing spend. You only talk to customers with the highest potential. There’s less wasted spend. You’re more precise with your brand activation.
That means you get more sales from the same level of investment. Or, you reduce costs by identifying and eliminating ineffective activities.
Marketing technology also reduces the cost of marketing operations. Many tasks can be automated, reducing the need for people to do repetitive and administrative tasks.
For example, you see this with e-Commerce order to delivery systems. It’s possible to set up a whole warehouse to last mile delivery system, with only a laptop and internet access. We know, because we’ve done exactly that.
Marketing technology for IT people
Marketing technology tools make it simpler for people to do marketing. They aim to free up more time to spend on tasks which can’t be automated, like idea generation, innovation planning and comms development. You use them to automate tasks which are difficult, time-consuming and repetitively manual within the marketing plan and customer experience.
For example. performance reporting. You can set up a dashboard which automatically pulls the most recent data from multiple sources. Historically, an analyst would’ve spent a lot of time visiting multiple data sources to collate this data into a report. Martech helps mark that happen automatically.
Marketing technology also helps brands operate in real-time. They can adjust what they do in direct response to customer actions. For example, most digital media channels now work on a programmatic basis. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning systems prescribe the best way to allocate your media budget as they “learn” what’s working.
Also, martech can automate some customer interactions in their journey e.g. chatbots. It will still feel personalised to the customer, even though there may be very little ‘human’ interaction from the brand.
Let’s now move on to look at the martech landscape in more detail.
The martech landscape
The number of marketing technology suppliers has grown to 8,000+ in the last 10 years. The Martech annual landscape survey identifies 39 groups of technology solutions for marketing, which can be collated into 4 macro groups :-
- One to one customer interactions.
- Media and advertising.
- Enabling and optimising systems.
- 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.
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 customer interactions
Marketing technology changes the way customers interact with brands.
From scanning your own groceries, to paying bills online, access to the internet has made life easier for customers as they access digital services.
You can now carry out many mundane and administrative tasks without needing to engage a ‘real’ person.
The most obvious example is the growth in voice assistants like Siri and Alexa. But there are many more as we’ll show.
Automated brand interactions
Take travel bookings, for example. In the past, you needed help from a trained travel agent. Now, the customer does most of the work. They choose destinations, hotels and flight times using an automated system.
Same for restaurant bookings and takeaway deliveries. Even access to films and music is now more tech driven with Netflix and Spotify, for example.
Or take online store orders as another example. When you buy something from Amazon, your order goes into their highly efficient delivery system. They send you regular updates as your order progresses. But unless something goes wrong, chances are you never speak to a ‘real person’ at Amazon.
This automation reduces the need for large customer service teams in many businesses. It means those teams only handle the more difficult queries. For example, if there’s a quality issue. Or a question about how to use a product. Those might need a real conversation. But how long a delivery takes? Or how to get a refund? Those can be automated with a FAQ section on the website.
Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM)
Behind these automated interactions is the idea of Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM). This is a system to organise how your business interacts with customers. Marketing technology is a key enabler of Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM). It’s particularly common with B2B businesses, where long term customer loyalty is important.
Key benefits include :-
- You can connect directly with a customer rather than via a third party.
- You can track those interactions so you’ve a customer view history.
- It’s usually scaleable because it’s largely automated.
A key requirement for any CRM system is managing customer data. To store the data securely and safely. To make the data accessible by the right people. All done within data privacy and anti-spam laws. See our digital data and insight guide for more on this.
You use CRM to help deliver your digital business model goals such as :-
CRM and Reach - Tagging
The ‘tag’ lets you identify customers by their behaviours so you can re-target them. For example, if 2 people watch your ad, and one clicks and the other doesn’t, you can serve different follow-up ads to each one.
Note the tag doesn’t tell you “who” the customer is. Their personal details aren’t part of the data from the tag. They’re identified by “what” they do. This is still valuable as you can use that data to segment and target potential customers based on their behaviour.
While these tagged identities won’t give you a full audience view, they give you some idea about the audience seeing your online activity. And how they respond to it. You get this information fast and at no cost, other than setting it up and keeping track of the data.
You can also set up cookies on your website, which track where visitors go and what they do. Again, this doesn’t tell you “who they are”. But, it helps you build a profile of the types of behaviours happening on your website. It helps you know what’s working and what isn’t.
The aim of cookies is to find insights for digital media planning, website development and if you have one, to improve your online store. Rather than give all customers the same experience, you target specific customers with the highest potential.
We’ve all experienced visiting a site and then seeing repeated ads for that site over the next few days. That’s driven by tagging and cookies. These help you avoid wasting money on customers who don’t react to your ads.
CRM and Engagement
Engagement is usually classed as either passive or active.
Passive engagement is when there’s an interaction, but the user doesn’t identify themselves. Typical passive measures include time spent on your site or the number of clicks on a link.
Active engagement is when the customer interacts AND identifies themselves. For example, they request further contact. Typical measures are enquiries, shares, likes and registrations, and obviously, sales.
You see many websites (including our own) offer visitors the chance to actively engage by offering newsletter sign-ups, or some sort of alert or notification system. Newsletters are usually informative or educational. For example, they give customers advance notice of promotions or new product launches. These registrations are valuable as they’re typically your most interested and loyal customers. And they’ve given you permission to contact them.
This channel is very cost efficient if you get a large enough mailing list. It only costs you the time to create the email. Many systems now automate the emails. For example, you can write an email welcoming people to the service, then have it sent automatically when they register.
CRM and Sales
If you’ve set up your own online store, CRM systems are a great way to deepen the relationship with your brand. Along with your customer contact data, you’ll also have their purchase data. You can use this to plan how to turn them into more loyal customers.You use what you know about them to create more relevant offers for them in the future.
You can use the CRM sales data generated by marketing technology to identify groups of buyers based on demographics or behaviours.
Demographic sales data
For example, include a “title” with a customer’s name, such as “Mr”, “Mrs” and “Ms” when they contact you or place an order. This is partly being polite. But it also helps you segment your customers by gender.
Look at where your customers live. Do groups of people with similar postcodes, or from similar regions tend to buy similar products, for example? The goal is to build up your level of knowledge about your customers and who they are.
Behavioural sales data
There’s a lot of data you can analyse from the behaviours you capture with Google Analytics or your e-Commerce order system, for example.
Maybe some customers only buy at certain times of the month or year? If you understand when that is, you adjust your marketing activity to take that into account.
For example, if your product is consumable and has to be replenished after a certain amount of time, you could set up a reminder service or subscription offer.
If you know some customers always buy ‘extras’, then you can make offers to bundle these extra products together to drive more sales.
And if worst case, someone just stops buying, you can send them an offer to tempt them back. Although if you haven’t heard from them for a while, it’s usually best to spring clean your dormant accounts.
Define your Marketing Technology requirements
While Marketing and IT teams have to work closely to set up these systems up, the idea isn’t creating more work, but reducing it.
The end goal of marketing technology is to remove or reduce the need for IT involvement.
Use technology to anticipate needs. Use it to automate systems and processes so a real person doesn’t have to do the “work”. The technology does it for them.
This also means there’s more need for marketing and IT people to work together. This isn’t always easy. It often feels like IT and marketing don’t speak the same language.
Both marketing and IT use terms, processes and ways of working which don’t always translate well.
Marketers rarely have specific training in technology beyond basic tools like word processing and spreadsheets. Similarly, technology experts rarely get trained in marketing basics like market research or brand strategy.
To solve this challenge and help define marketing technology requirements, the concept of a “User Story ” comes in very useful. The User Story comes from IT. But it’s similar to the positioning statement in marketing. So it’s a useful tool to connect marketing and IT.
It has 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 our marketing innovation guide for more detail on this). It describes 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 building the technology or code to support a project, it makes the end outcome or goal clear. 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 as a simplified positioning statement. And it’s applied to a much more specific challenge or situation.
Unlike the positioning statement which is a single long-term statement covering the whole brand, you can have multiple short-term user stories. They’re 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
All fine in theory. But let’s look at some examples to see how practical and applicable the user story format is. It’s a great way to get marketing and IT people talking the same language.
In each of these, we share the types of software solution and companies who offer these services. It’s 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 customers showing the highest interest, so that I can increase media spend efficiency.
- Martech 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 brand performance data, so that I don’t have to waste time manually running reports.
- Martech 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 brand performance data, so that I can optimise campaigns and channels on a daily basis.
- Martech 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.
- Martech and example provider : E-commerce – Market Track.
User Story 5
As a Social Media manager, I want to analyse what customers are saying about my brand, so that I can act if there’s an issue or opportunity.
- Martech 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 customer engagement.
- Martech and example providers – Content Management like WordPress, Wix, Adobe Experience Manager and Sitecore.
User Story 7
As a website manager, I want to monitor issues with the content of my site, so that I can ensure the quality of the experience of my website.
- Martech and example providers – Automated Site monitoring like Siteimprove and Wordfence.
User Story 8
As a website owner, I want to be able to contact customers directly, so that I increase the frequency of contact without having to spend more media dollars.
- Martech and example providers – Email CRM like Adobe Campaign, Sitecore, Mailchimp, many others.
User story 9
As an online store owner, I want to be able to sell directly to customers, so that I don’t have to rely so much on retailers.
- Martech and example providers – E-Commerce CMS like Shopify, Square, World Pantry, Amazon Marketplace, Ebay, Magento.
User Story 10
As a 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.
- Martech and example providers – 360 Database and Data Integration like Krux, Sprinklr, Exact Target, Adobe, Sitecore, and Oracle.
Conclusion - marketing technology
It’s clear marketing technology is a broad subject, full of both opportunity and challenge. How much time and budget you invest in it depends on the customer benefits and the goals in your marketing plan. We’ve show how to use it to reach, engage and sell customers.
If we’d to choose choose a single marketing technology system to focus on, it’d be Customer Relationship Management. As we said at the start, understanding customers and creating relevant experiences to meet their needs is a fundamental part of marketing.
A strong CRM system touches every part of the customer experience. It allows you to create more relevant experiences for your target audience. And that ultimately makes your digital marketing activity have more impact.
It’s clear you can use many of the other martech tools to further enhance the customer experience. Your aim is to find the right level of sophistication and integration in your marketing technology ‘stack’ to help you meet your business and marketing objectives.
Three-Brains and marketing technology
We have lots of experience and expertise in marketing technology. We understand the challenges and skills required to manage its set-up and management. Plus, how to track and measure it to make sure it’s driving your overall business
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