Tech Line

More Tech Does Not Equal Better Martech

There’s an inescapable irony associated with today’s digital marketing initiatives. As organizations accumulate tools, technologies, and solutions, all the pieces and components together generally don’t equal more than the sum of the parts. In fact, it’s often less. Rather than delivering value, the marketing framework leads to rigidity and complexity—along with subpar results.

The resulting pain can be difficult to endure. Instead of establishing a state-of-the-art martech stack, an organization can find itself coping with an unwieldy Frankenstack. When this happens, the software dictates the marketing methods rather than the CMO. In this tail-wags-dog world, navigating marketing and achieving the full promise of digital technology can become a murky proposition, at best.

Fortunately, there’s a solution: adopt a more holistic and value-oriented approach to marketing, and particularly to customer interactions. This requires a smarter and more orchestrated framework that encompasses both digital and analog tools. The resulting hybrid approach makes it possible to act and react to signals—and better understand what customers want.

Changing the Equation

It’s safe to say that a proliferation of digital marketing tools has actually made things more complicated. According to research conducted by website, only about 150 solutions existed in 2011. Today, the number exceeds 8,000. Too often, products overlap, they conflict, and they interfere with one another. The result is a mishmash of uncoordinated and disjointed marketing efforts.

The consequences are palpable. Consulting firm Forrester found that companies are continuing to accelerate digital marketing efforts, even while they’re underperforming. The problem is partly rooted in the ability to measure digital efforts more easily. “B2B marketers have more digital means and opportunities to engage their customers, but few use these to create the right impact,” Forrester wrote in its recent report, Hybrid Experiences Bring Direct Mail Into The Digital Age.

In addition, Forrester noted: “Marketers’ overuse of digital touchpoints, including emails that get ignored, phone calls that lie forever at the bottom of a voicemail inbox, and banner ads that fail to register an eye flicker, have trained B2B buyers to duck and cover when marketers reach out, rather than lean in and engage.”

The result, for consumers, is often a perception that they are being treated as an exploitable commodity rather than as a valued and symbiotic partner in business. When this happens, the outcome is usually unfavorable. An onslaught of misdirected missives and irrelevant content amp up the noise level and, over time, lead to digital fatigue and an ensuing attention deficit that isn’t easily fixed.

Pursuing the Customer Connection

In fact, once a consumer shuts off mentally, it’s remarkably difficult to get that person to tune in again. Messages go to spam, or the person clicks on an unsubscribe link. In a worst-case scenario, a business doesn’t only waste time and money pursuing a customer connection that’s a complete dead end, it permanently damages the brand. Social media posts and reviews can lead to collateral damage.

What’s required, Forrester argues, is a more nuanced and sophisticated approach that revolves around improved technology orchestration. This best practice framework reduces the dependency on disparate marketing tools and services and, instead, introduces a hybrid experience that is likely to better resonate with those receiving marketing materials.

To be sure, best practice companies and CMOs understand that digital and analog marketing aren’t mutually exclusive. Each has a time and place, and together the right digital messaging along with timely physical artifacts—brochures, samples, gifts, and other flat and dimensional mail—together introduce a more tangible and value-centric approach to marketing.  

This framework—which aims to balances digital and analog experiences optimally—is at the center of marketing ROI. For customers, it reduces, and perhaps even eliminates, digital fatigue by making content more relevant. At the same time, orchestration allows organizations to use channels more effectively. The resulting level of personalization and customization can prove transformative.

Joining the Engagement Party

A starting point for marketing leaders is to understand which methods work and how they work. For example, Forrester found that 81 percent of those who receive a package while at work are likely to open it. Meanwhile, 78 percent who have adopted analog tools—brochures, packages and other direct mail pieces—have witnessed a bump in performance.  

Each organization must forge its own path. Analog marketing and sales tools can also take the form of webinars, phone calls, live events, and influencer engagements. When these tools are used at the right moment and in the right way, consumers perceive interactions to be more human and connected.  

The takeaway? “Direct mail has many advantages but that doesn’t make it a perfect solution to [address] all digital marketing woes. It works best when applied as one part of an organizations’ overall marketing strategy, complementing and amplifying other digital and human touchpoints in the buyer journey,” Forrester concluded.

Data is at the center of everything. It’s vital to understand where a customer is in the product or service lifecycle, and when it’s appropriate to deliver any given message or item.

How can marketers reach this higher plane? Data is at the center of everything. It’s vital to understand where a customer is in the product or service lifecycle, and when it’s appropriate to deliver any given message or item. This, in turn, translates into a need for analytics tools but it also requires business analysts that can read the tea leaves and understand how to put the data into motion.

Forrester points out that many organizations overlook the value of modern Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms, which are equipped to orchestrate and deliver the right combination of digital and analog content. Remarkably, Forrester found that about half of organizations currently do not have such a framework in place. In all, 38 percent lack the technology to support direct mail and other analog efforts, and 35 percent do not have the internal skills to personalize direct mail.

On the other hand, organizations that adopt a more highly evolved marketing framework gain several key advantages:

  • They’re able to scale direct mail delivery up and down as needed;
  • They’re able to read signals and respond rapidly—typically in a highly automated way;
  • They have their finger on the pulse of buyers journeys and can respond to signals better;
  • They orchestrate touchpoints in a more natural way;
  • They are better positioned to measure results and outcomes.

Optimize the Martech Stack

In the end, these organizations are equipped to optimize the martech stack and extract the maximum value from systems. It isn’t unusual for these marketers to trim the number of systems the enterprise uses while actually accelerating performance and innovation. Rather than accumulating numerous underperforming systems that generate noise, friction, and frustration, there’s a streamlined and optimized ecosystem in place—all the more important in challenging economic times.

It’s no small matter. Forrester concluded that a more personalized, contextualized, and scalable hybrid platform makes it possible to take relationships and performance to a new level. Suddenly, automation is an ally rather than a hinderance. When this takes place, marketers can focus their attention and resources less on production and mechanics and more on real-world results. They, quite simply, create more highly engaging—and valued—marketing experiences.