Stefan Gass, Chief Marketing Officer, International Workplace Group (IWG)
A huge amount has been written about the explosion in marketing technology (MarTech) and its vendor ecosystem. It’s a sector that’s seen unprecedented growth, both in terms of venture capital investments (over $80b since early 2010) and a number of vendors.
From just 150 vendors in 2011, the MarTech landscape of early 2019 boasts almost 7,000 vendors, according to Scott Brinker. However, more options don’t always mean more success. We’ve all seen the horror stories of failed projects, like the BBC’s $100m write-off of its Digital Media Initiative.
At the same time, ignoring the new landscape is not an option. In an increasingly competitive environment, if you don’t utilize some of these new technologies to get more productive, faster and more innovative, others will – and they’ll out-compete you.
Three Frequently-Overlooked Factors For A Successful Implementation
Based on my experience in leading various marketing automation, web content management, mobile app, e-commerce, predictive analytics, and partner platform projects, I’d like to share three factors that are often overlooked – but which can make the difference between success and failure.
Involve An External Guru Early On
Most marketing leaders know they need to modernize their MarTech stack. However, when it comes to writing requirements or finding the right vendor from the 7,000 options mentioned above, their in-house knowledge often falls short.
It’s tempting to rely on what you know from the past or what you used at a different company, but that’s not going to cut it. You don’t know what you don’t know in terms of leading-edge capabilities, which is why it’s a good idea to bring in an outside expert very early on.
A true marketing technology expert can act as a neutral voice that can challenge you during the requirements definition process, and help with the vendor selection process.
" The marketing technology landscape has become extremely complex. These three commonly-overlooked success factors will help you choose the right tools and implement them effectively"
There’s no need for a big consulting team at this point, but if you’re planning to spend hundreds of thousands (or even millions)on a new MarTech solution, it makes sense to invest a few thousand in someone who knows the landscape inside out, and challenges your team to think beyond their own frame of reference.
Assign A Senior Business Leader to Review/Approve IT Requirements
For large MarTech and digital transformation projects, you obviously need executive sponsorship, a steering committee, and related proper project management. But this is about senior business leaders going one step further and engaging at the IT epic-and storyboard levels: the level where business requirements become IT requirements. While senior leaders are usually involved in defining the business
requirements, they tend to leave it to specialists or more junior team members to translate them into IT requirements. And that’s where many mistakes, misinterpretations or misplaced prioritizations occur – because specialists and juniors lack the end-to-end business understanding and fail to provide much-needed context.
To avoid this, you need a senior marketing leader to roll up their sleeves, dive into the detail, and ensure there are a joint review and sign-off of the translation from business to IT requirements.
Clarify Your Data Strategy
You want to become a data-driven organization, and your new marketing technology will either rely on existing data or generate new prospect and customer data. That means it’s essential to integrate your new solution with your existing MarTech stack and your customer data platform. You can buy a fantastic “best of breed” solution based on core functionality, but if you can’t bring the data it generates into your wider stack, much of that value will evaporate.
You need to be very clear with your new vendor that you own the data, even when you end the service contract, and you need to know how to extract the data from their system into your systems. Your IT team also needs to fully understand the available APIs for integration and the effort it will take to connect them.
As a marketing leader, you want to build your own customer data warehouse with as much first-party data as you can get from your MarTech solutions. Why? In the age of GDPR and other privacy initiatives, the acquisition and purchase of third-party data will become more and more challenging.
In the end, gathering first-party data and pooling it in a customer data warehouse is the only way to deepen your knowledge about your prospects and customers. In turn, that will allow you to do better targeting and segmentation – ultimately leading to a better acquisition, upsell, cross-sell and retention.