According to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2017-2018, marketing technology investments by CMOs are on the decline, due to concerns regarding return on investment. MarTech (the blending of marketing and technology) should be an enabler of marketing growth and differentiation, with the goal for any MarTech stack investment being to drive value and quality throughout your marketing value chain. So why the disconnect?
MarTech is a Marketing Investment, Not an IT Spend!
My theory is that the root of this problem lies in how organisations are currently handling the purchasing of marketing technology. This process is often lumped in with other enterprise technology purchasing, which is led by procurement and IT. The issue with burying MarTech among these other technology investments is that the focus tends to be on purchase and run, and not on exploit and adopt. This focus on short-term gain is significantly weighted towards cost, and has considerable impacts on value and quality.
Here’s what happens when CMOs aren’t directly involved in making MarTech investments:
- Disconnect with strategy. No link or direct tie to the strategic impacts of all marketing efforts.
- Poor employee experience. Product choices aren’t the best fit, and business users don’t use the marketing technology due to unwieldy processes.
- Loss of efficiency. Marketers try to use overlapping technologies with unclear processes, resulting in duplicated and shadow tasks (having to repeat the same action or create manual workarounds due to lack of systems integration).
- Handover issues between agencies, shared services and internal teams. Campaign execution slows as the nature of production falls due to a lack of adaptable technology-enabled workflows. These unknown black-box operations can spiral costs.
- No version of the truth. The technology is viewed as a disabler and disinterest hinders enterprise scaling. Goals cannot be measured efficiently when data/insights are inaccessible at the pace required for marketing automation.
The MarTech Challenge for CMOs
CMOs need to know why, where and how Martech stack investments are going to align to their marketing priorities. If you focus on cost as the rate-determining step, you will be left trying to force-fit the operating model to generate what little value you can.
When CMOs are directly involved in MarTech stack decision-making, the result is they can extend and adjust the stack to measure ROI while weighing value and quality in every instance.
Establishing a Blueprint and Roadmap
- Your marketing blueprint is the first step to uncovering and connecting your MarTech stack to your investment priorities. The blueprint includes:
- The brand experience vision, detailing the desired customer and employee brand experiences, marketing culture and ways of working.
- The operating model and business case aligned to your overarching business portfolio.
Marketing data and MarTech architecture to feed into your MarTech roadmap. This includes the data and technologies needed by your shared services, creative agencies and in-house teams to help govern and operate marketing.
The blueprint will help build and frame your roadmap, which captures end-to-end business and capability requirements and details out metrics that matter in order to highlight where your adaptable MarTech stack targets your business goals. These enablers will begin to feed and align your MarTech stack acquisition and management program, always aligned to your priorities and the value each element can bring to the table.
This is the first piece of the value puzzle.
Layering Your MarTech Stack
The next question to answer is, “how do enterprises differentiate investments or activities that are core to the marketing strategy and execution from that of newer and more fluid processes, or systems that are still being defined and may be used in new ways?” Examples would be introducing voice, virtual reality or artificial intelligence to your CRM or marketing automation programmes.
The next piece of the value puzzle involves the three-tier layering of your MarTech stack. As the pace of change in marketing execution continues to accelerate, the layering of your MarTech stack will help you make decisions from the foundational level through to innovation-oriented MarTech stack investments. This layering is critical to aligning your enterprise challenges with your strategic marketing priorities and agility. The three-tier approach is an adaptation of Gartner PACE layering to manage operational cadence in marketing.
Strategic planning in your marketing environment necessitates flexibility to define and iterate on new capabilities, programmes and even technologies that can co-exist alongside your tried-and-true processes. To differentiate these activities, your roadmap will highlight where the value will be delivered, while the layering helps identify the degree of value each layer provides. The layering should be balanced by the prioritised purchase activities from the roadmap. The layering clarifies the operations of where and why rationalisation will drive marketing value chain effectiveness (whether this is focused on awareness, engagement etc.)
Each piece of technology will flow from innovation to the marketers’ system of record, visualising where value resides and where investments need to be made to align with the roadmap:
1) The Marketers’ System of Record Layer, an environment that contains marketing-ready data for driving common execution activities and governance. It creates the value-add of driving reliability, re-use and security of these common actions. These processes and actions can be codified and automated to drive the scale of your operations. An example would be a CRM / CDP core with detailed event-driven activities, mapped to budget management across brands and markets.
2) The Differentiators Layer acting as accelerator, defining better ways of working with unique operations and technology used in novel ways. There will be some level of flexibility regarding governance balanced by appropriate stability. An example is a personalisation service run with agency-enabled stacks that connect into your core datasets.
3) The Innovation Layer for driving rapid test and learn in a safe environment. This layer will have the least amount of control at an enterprise level due to the rate of change new ideas require. This layer would also include unique processes for emerging strategy. Projects may eventually percolate through to the differentiator layer and the system of record layer.
Measuring Martech ROI
MarTech decision-making is all about making the right investments to improve business. Gartner’s Ewan McIntyre explains that, “in dealing with financial constraints, the tracking of accountability for business performance and building budgets is based on future returns rather than past assumptions.”
Establishing a defined blueprint and roadmap enabled by three-tier MarTech layering gives CMOs the ability to continuously measure MarTech stack ROI. In addition, a dynamic guide to managing fluid marketing activities via your stack will empower your marketing teams to work across the enterprise to adapt objectives and delivery based on changing customer needs. The purpose is to deliver technology adoption that drives marketing quality, efficiency and effectiveness across the enterprise.