Down the garden path? Six ways for brands to blend martech with customer journeys
Heading in the right direction or down the garden path? It’s time to start using martech to create better customer journeys, says Nicole Stirling.
Martech promised to disrupt the marketing sector for good and all when it originally burst onto the scene. Several years on, the market is awash with products – more than 6000, according to recent estimates.
They include specialised systems for CRM, marketing automation, lead generation, advertising, social media and content management.
But have these solutions delivered on their promise of aiding decision making, automating repetitive sales and marketing processes and helping businesses connect more effectively with customers?
Or is it past the time for organisations to take a hard look at whether they’ve been splashing cash on cool tools and technologies willy nilly, rather than using them in a smart and strategic way?
One of Australia’s leading marketing professionals, Natalie Truong, Mercer’s business to business marketing head for Australia and New Zealand, flagged the issue of martech running out of control earlier this year.
In an opinion piece for CIO Advisor APAC, Truong wrote that marketing automation systems can do more damage than good, if they’re implemented in ways that don’t support a genuine customer experience.
Her article revealed how racing to roll out a martech solution before the sales and marketing departments had developed shared strategic goals backfired at Mercer.
Research suggests disillusionment with martech is spreading. Gartner’s 2017-18 CMO Spend Survey highlighted a 15% drop in CMOs’ budgets allocated to marketing technology.
As organisations rein in their spending, it’s an opportune time for them to re-evaluate their martech stacks to see how existing systems can be put to work to meet customer needs more effectively.
Adopting a customer journey mindset
‘The customer is king’ is an old marketing truism, and in the digital era it’s more true than it ever has been.
Consumers have the whip hand. It’s up to businesses to reach out with relevant and actionable content and offers across an array of channels if they hope to attract and retain their customers.
Personalised customer engagement is no longer a novelty – it’s now mandatory for companies which hope to keep up with the competition.
The challenges this environment poses can be compounded by disjointed marketing infrastructure which has customer data and content collected and stored across multiple departments and systems.
Pulling it together
It’s impossible for marketers to gain a comprehensive view of their customers if data is dispersed across the enterprise and marketing technologies are used in isolation, rather than deployed in concert.
If there’s no single view then there’s no chance of executing data-driven customer journeys which are tailored to the prospect or customer at every touch point and which deliver them offers, content and experiences that are likely to resonate.
Unifying technology, touchpoints and customer data is the key to delivering powerful omni-channel, one-on-one engagements which boost sales and retain business in the long term.
Creating compelling customer journeys
Connecting all the pieces of the customer journey isn’t an overnight process. Here are some steps to get started:
- Understand the customer and map their journey
Adopting a ‘customer first’ mentality means putting yourself in the customer’s shoes; thinking of them as an individual with needs, wants and goals. Identify what they require to fulfil these and the ways in which your organisation can help.
- Unify customer data
It’s impossible to build authentic personalised customer journeys unless you know your customers intimately. Chances are, you already do know a lot about them – via data that’s stored in a slew of separate systems. Unifying this data to create a single view of the customer will give you a powerful foundation for developing end-to-end campaigns and experiences.
- Link martech and adtech
A unified customer journey calls for unified systems, not marketing and advertising technologies that operate in silos. Connecting tools makes it easier to give customers a consistent and high quality experience across all channels.
- Create clever content
Targeted and relevant content can help companies capture customers’ attention and translate it into sales. Creating it begins with developing a clear understanding of their interests and the format in which they prefer to receive communiques.
- Right place, right time
A killer customer experience doesn’t just provide customers with on-point content; it ensures it’s sent at appropriate times and intervals. Customer journey orchestration tools can be used to plan campaigns and sequence communications, both digital and non-digital, to increase the chances of connecting with customers and prospects when they’re most receptive.
- Evaluate your efforts
Evaluating the effectiveness of customer journeys is the key to continuous improvement. Data analytics can yield a wealth of insights into the content individuals are engaging with, the channels they’re using and the triggers that are seeing their interest converted to action.
Making the most of martech
Customers and connections still matter – more so than ever in the digital age. Companies which use martech tools with intelligence and strategically to develop and enhance these relationships can expect a sound reward on their high tech investments.
Nicole Stirling is JPAC director of marketing at Acquia
Image credit:Thomas Smith