Why read this? : We go through the 4 main types of marketing technology which can help you meet your business goals. Learn the role technology plays in customer interactions, analytics, media and advertising, and with enabling and optimising systems. We also dive into its role in Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM). And how to write user stories to define your requirements. Read this to learn how to get the most out of marketing technology.
How this guide raises your game :-
1. Learn the 4 main types of marketing technology.
2. Understand where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) fits in your marketing plan.
3. How to define your marketing technology requirements.
The number of companies selling marketing technology (martech) has grown dramatically in the last 10 years.
Marketers have had to re-think how they work with technology. It’s no longer just basic work tasks like presentations and emails. You now use technology to connect with customers and drive sales.
In the past, marketers and IT teams rarely worked together. They’d only connect if the marketer forgot a password, or needed a new laptop.
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Marketing technology for marketers
Next, it’s how you represent yourself to customers when they go online. Technology helps you put your brand identity in front of online customers.
Martech - insights
But these are no longer the only option when it comes to learning more about customers. There’s lots you can find out by looking online.
Internet penetration is at over 85% in developed countries. The average Australian spends over five and half hours online every day. For marketers, the online world has become a rich source of customer information.
Marketing technology helps you work out what online shopper really want, for example.
Because as people spend more time online and interact with websites and technology platforms, more data gets created. And you can analyse much of that data to find insights into what customers do, and what they want.
This guide will focus on the technology which captures this data. You can also check out our digital data guide for more on how to use data in marketing.
Martech - brand identity and customer experience
If online is where customers are spending more time, then online is where marketers need to make their brands come to life.
With the increasing capability of systems like advertising technology, websites, CRM software and other marketing automation tools, brand owners have many more options to how, when and where customers can interact with their brand online.
Rather than the traditional “push” model of advertising, there’s now the opportunity to “pull” customers in. To help customers choose what they see or interact with rather than forcing it on them.
Martech - business impact
The increased capability from marketing technology affects the marketing business model and financial plan.
You can be more targeted and personalised with your digital brand activation.
This leads to more efficient marketing spends as you only talk to customers with the highest potential. You become much more precise with your brand activation. There’s less wasted spend.
This 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 life simpler for marketers to do marketing. They look at specific tasks within the overall marketing plan or customer experience. The aim is to use technology to remove as much manual work as they can from these tasks.
They automate difficult, time-consuming and repetitive manual tasks. So performance reporting, for example. You can set up a dashboard which automatically pulls the most recent data from multiple sources. Where in the past, an analyst would’ve wasted a lot of time visiting multiple data sources to collate the data into a report.
Marketing technology also helps brands operate in real-time. They can adjust their brand activation in direct response to customer actions. Most digital media channels now work on a programmatic basis. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning systems ‘learn’ what’s likely to work and prescribe the best way to allocate your media budget.
Also, customers interaction with the brand can be set-up to take the customer though a relatively automated journey. This makes it feel like a more personalised experience. Even though there may be very little ‘human’ interaction from the brand.
Before we get into how these all work, we should first look at how the martech landscape has grown, and what the different options are.
The martech landscape
Ten years ago, there were less than 100 marketing technology suppliers. That’s now grown to more than 7,000.
The Martech annual landscape survey identifies 39 groups of technology solutions for marketing, which can be grouped into 4 key areas :-
- 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 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.
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 to choose destinations and hotels and flight times using an automated system.
The same goes with restaurant bookings and takeaway deliveries. Even access to films and music is now done more through technology with Netflix and 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 delivery system. They send you regular updates on the progress of your order. But unless something goes wrong, the chances are you never speak to a ‘real person’ in this 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 do them quicker and with less fuss 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 queries.
So, a quality issue, or a question about how to use a product for example. Those might need a real person to fix. But how long a delivery takes or how to get a refund – those can be automated with a FAQ section on your website.
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. 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 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. See our guide to digital data and insight for more on this.
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 from our digital business model RESTART guide. Reach, engage and sell.
CRM and Reach - Tagging
Whenever you place a digital media advert, you can 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 runs through a system like Google Tag Manager.
This ‘tag’ lets you identify customers by their behaviours so you can 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 different follow-up ads to each one. That’s what tagging lets you do.
Note that 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. 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 full audience view, they give you a real-time and on-going view of the audience who sees your online activity. And how they respond to it. You get this information fast and and at no cost, other than to set up and maintain the system.
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 customers with the same advertising message, you can start to tailor and target specific customers with the highest potential. And avoid wasting money on customers 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’s 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 customer 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 actively engage by offering sign ups for a newsletter, or some sort of alert or notification system.
This newsletter could be advance notice of promotions or new product launches. It could be informative or educational news not available elsewhere. These registrations are valuable as they tend to be your most interested or 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, so for example you can write an email welcoming people when they sign up to the service, then have it sent automatically when someone registers.
There are many of these automated email systems. It’s a competitive market. Below are three of the most well-known systems if you want to explore this topic further :-
Mailchimp – https://mailchimp.com/
Convert Kit – https://convertkit.com/
Sendinblue – https://www.sendinblue.com
CRM and Sales
If you’ve set up your own online store then CRM systems can be 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.
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, include a “title” with a consumer’s name, such as “Mr”, “Mrs” and “Ms” when they contact you or place an order. This lets you respond to them politely. 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?
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.
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 some customers only buy at certain times of the month or year? If you understand when 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 customers always buy ‘extras’, then you can make offers to bundle these complementary products together to drive more sales.
And if in the worst case, someone just stops buying from you, you can send them an offer to 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 be to remove or reduce the need for IT involvement.
Use technology to anticipate needs. Use it to to set up and 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 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.
When you need to define your marketing technology requirements, we’ve found the concept of a “User Story ” very useful. The User Story comes from IT but it’s similar to the positioning statement from the world of marketing. So recommend you use this tool to define your martech 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. 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.
- 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 data on brand performance, 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 data on brand performance, so that I am able to 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 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.
- 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 engagement with my target audience.
- Martech 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.
- 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 consumers directly, so that I increase the frequency of contact without having to spend more media dollars.
- Martech 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.
- 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, Krux, Sprinklr, Exact Target, Adobe, Sitecore, 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 martech depends on the customer benefits 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 sort of martech in your plan.
If we’d to choose a martech system to focus on, it’d be Customer Relationship Management.
As we said 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 more relevant experiences for your target audience. And this ultimately makes your digital marketing more impactful.
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
Three-brains have a lot of experience and expertise in the use of martech. We understand the challenges and skills required to manage its set-up and management.
We offer consulting services to business looking to identify and scope their martech requirements. And coaching services to businesses working with martech companies to make sure they get the best value out of their technology.