Keeping Up with Marketing Technology - 3 Ways to Stay Ahead of the Curve

At HubSpot's INBOUND17 conference, one CEO of a large digital agency said, "Marketing has gotten so complex, I don't know if I'd start a marketing company today." I think that anyone seriously engaged in marketing feels the same way about once a month.

Advances in marketing technology, MarTech for short, contribute to the issue. Marketers are constantly optimizing their approach to gain as much advantage as possible. Better differentiation. More reach. Better prospect targeting. Then the technology articles pop into the feed. Changes to SEO. Local SEO. Messenger marketing. Chatbots. Artificial Intelligence. AR, VR, MR (now collectively referred to as XR). Many haven't even implemented old advances in marketing technology like contextual marketing or simple marketing automation!

We're seeing more requests from our clients for education. They want to know if they're missing something that can help them get better results, or save them money. We also see the need to do more education. Clients have features or tools that aren't configured correctly or even enabled. This issue is so pervasive we've started delivering free seminars on it. In this article, we're going to dig into these issues and tell you one way to help yourself stay abreast of marketing technology.

There are three key problems we see and hear about with clients regularly:

Problem 1: Keeping up with Marketing Technology

The marketing technology landscape is changing so rapidly, just keeping up is a problem. Marketing automation tools have been around for a long time, but it was only in 2016 that we saw lot of articles from multiple sources stating that marketing automation was a must have for all businesses. But the cycle of marketing technology has evolved in two ways.

First, marketing technology adoption cycles are much shorter. Where it took years for marketing automation to grow into a commonplace part of the marketer's toolkit, many new technologies are on a fast-track. For example, messenger marketing seems to be on track to become a staple of engagement next to email marketing within the next 12-18 months. As soon as a new technology reaches a minimum level of maturity, adoption starts and moves much more quickly. Brands that don't adapt risk being left behind.

That first change in evolution is greatly influenced by this second change in evolution. More investors and more companies are seeing the opportunity offered by new marketing technologies. Opportunities to optimize their marketing, but also opportunities to monetize the technology itself by building tools and expertise to sell to brands and marketers. This focus and investment are helping new technologies mature more rapidly and increases the amount of buzz around every new technology.

The problems most marketers have is that they already have a 55-hour per week job that they'd really like to get done in 40.


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Problem 2: Deciphering which Technology is Worthwhile

With limited time and new technologies popping up all over the place, it's hard to know where to start. Properly vetting a new marketing technology to determine if it's useful and worthwhile for your business is a multi-step process. You have to:

  • Investigate the technology so that you understand what it does conceptually.

  • Study examples and use cases to determine its core benefits.

  • Translate those core benefits to your industry, brand, goals, and marketing plan.

  • Investigate available tools and integrations to determine how easy or difficult implementation might be.

  • Come up with a cost-benefit statement for your organization.

Do you have to do all of this? If you're going to have a serious conversation with your CMO or VP of Marketing, then yes. Because they're going to ask you all of that, and you'll need to explain it right then and there. If you plan to ask for money to implement, then you're going to have to convince them that spending the money on something new is going to achieve better results than adding money somewhere else.

Compounding this is the number of new marketing technologies that are emerging. When marketers and brands ask us where they should start, we often end up pointing out marketing technologies that they already have and aren't using and tell them to start there.

Problem 3: Implementing Marketing Technologies

For all the preparatory work required to vet technologies, get approval, and funding, implementation is usually far more difficult. You see "implementation" of marketing technology runs along a spectrum from flipping the on-off switch to the on position, to thoughtful configuration to achieve the best benefit for your organization.

Take website chat. You can enable website chat with a single message that says click here if you have questions, or you can do it right by:

  • Customizing messages by website page so that messages are relevant to the content the visitor is looking at.

  • Ensuring that website pop-ups and chat message boxes don't conflict (because, when someone is about to click the chat box, nothing kills the mood more than the screen going grey and a pop-up offer appearing).

  • To configure internal routing so that chat sessions are directed to the correct internal resources so that no-one gets burned out, and messages are responded to by the right people.

  • Configuring inbound and outbound playbooks to automate engagement, turn prospects into leads, and move leads down your funnel to become customers.

Do you know the marketing technology you need, but need help planning and implementing? Sign up for a workshop and we'll help your team get it done!

 How Do You Keep Up with It All? Get Help.

You can read the plethora of articles on new marketing technologies published daily, but it's often difficult to see how technologies apply to your brand or industry. It's even more difficult to think through the nuts and bolts of implementation if you don't talk to someone who's done a few.

Our advice is to get help. Three ways to do this are to engage with a marketing company that is plugged in, start a meetup, or engage with an expert online. But to get real value, you need to focus the conversation.

In our free MarTech seminars we've found that just talking through technologies may help, but to get a good understanding of which technologies are most worthwhile you need to keep the following in mind:

  • Sales is part of the discussion. Marketing exists to facilitate sales. If sales wins with the help of marketing everyone wins.

  • The marketing and sales goals and priorities of the organization. What are you trying to achieve in the next 6-12-18 months?

  • What marketing or sales problems are you seeing and trying to solve?

  • What marketing technologies are you interested in and why? The why is super important as that invariably gets to goals you're trying to hit and problems you're trying to solve.

Moving beyond that, you need to determine which technologies are a good fit. Lots of things factor into that including:

  • Staffing and available hours. Can you implement or do you need help?

  • Budget. Are there tools and options that you can afford?

In more than a few cases we've seen clients discount the right tools because of cost. A detailed cost-benefit can show why the investment is worth it!

  • Fit with your marketing approach. Where do you get your leads and how do you make your sales? E-commerce? Inbound Marketing? Email marketing? Advertising? Calling? What's the mix and what's most successful?

  • Potential other benefits of implementing the marketing technology.

Get the Right Information to Bring it All Together

However you're informing yourself, your goal should be to walk away with enough information to do a real analysis to the point where you can discuss it with your CMO or VP of Marketing. You need to tie it all together. Explain why the technology you're recommending is the best fit based on staff, budget, marketing approach and other benefits. Then lay out how implementing the technology will help achieve marketing goals and solve some of those marketing problems in a time frame that creates impact.