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The marketing automation software industry remains a serious big business, a $3.3 billion market in the United States and growing 30% annually claims SharpSpring in their recent Investor Presentation. Adoption of these products has passed the tipping point. The majority of Marketing leaders – 67% – currently use a marketing automation platform according to the Salesforce “State of Marketing,” Out of those who don’t use one yet, 21% plan to adopt one over the next two years. Investment in Marketing Technology (Martech) remains strong based on the Gartner CMO 2017-2018 spend survey which found that Marketing leaders are allocating 22% of their expense budget to martech.

Despite the investment, many marketers struggle with making the most out of martech. Why? They lack an effective strategy and adequate contact data quality, they are weighed down by the overall complexity of systems and they forget to focus on the customer.

MarTech investments should be customer centric

Keep your customer strategy in mind before you make your MarTech investment.

Focus on the Customer Before the Technology

Martech promises improved ROI on customer acquisition and loyalty, in part because technology enables your company to be more customer-centric. But like any tool, its real value lies in its ability to scale. With technology you can do more, faster.

Technology, however, is no substitute for insight, strategy, and creativity.

The more you know about your customers, the better you can help the organization compete. As marketing leaders, the best way to make sure your technology investment pays off is to incorporate customer insights to the process BEFORE implementation. In today’s highly competitive environment, customer engage at their choosing with organizations that will enable their success. To achieve this level of a relationship requires thorough knowledge of industry-specific best practices and attention to your customers’ needs and challenges.

Your company’s long-term future depends on you knowing your customers better than your competitors do.

Know Your Customers Better Than Your Competitors

Below are three questions any company and its Marketing people ought to ask about its customers that will improve competitiveness, potentially develop new revenue opportunities, and make a martech investment more productive:

  1. What is a company’s customer workflow? What are their interactions with their customers like? The more you know about this, the more likely you can identify creative and practical solutions.
  2. What are the customers’ biggest information challenges? What information do they need but have trouble getting? Learning about and addressing information gaps may create opportunities for new products or services that will not only enhance your relationship but may also provide new sources of revenue.
  3. What are the customers’ biggest business challenges? Are the customers struggling with quality issues, compliance, streamlining processes? These challenges provide you with opportunities to create new services and products to help your customers successfully overcome these challenges. Initially these new products or services may be designed to support a specific customer, in the long term though, you may actually be developing advantages over your competitors.

Four Steps To Make Your MarTech Investment Pays-off

Listening to the voice of the customer is crucial to any successful MarTech  implementation. You can improve the ROI of your MarTech efforts with these four steps.

  1. Define a customer-centric strategy. According to Michael Porter, effective business strategy means being distinctive. Your ability to be distinct is derived by how well you differentiate your company’s core solution offerings, impact the price or total cost of ownership or affect the total relationship and customer experience. Acquiring, growing and keeping profitable customers are key to creating a sustainable competitive advantage, making this third element of differentiation one of the most critical. Jon McKean in his book, Customers Are People: The Human Touch, he found that 70% of customer decision making is based on how customers are treated. Yet over 80% of customer initiatives are focused more on how to sell the customer better rather than how to treat the customer better.
  2. Use Loyalty as a metric: Frederick Reichheld’s studies have found that loyalty leaders on average are more than twice as fast as the industry average across a wide variety of industries. And they do it more cost-effectively. The Net Advocacy Score, discussed in our book Measure What Matters, is a measure of behavioral loyalty based on willingness to recommend and buying behavior.
  3. Base your MarTech efforts on a customer-centric strategy. Studies have found higher ROI was related to companies that tended to listen to their customers in a variety of ways, such as using customer satisfaction data, analyzing churn or attrition data and getting customers involved in the planning process. This is a good example of how a listening process, done effectively, is extremely important if you want to get a measurable ROI. The companies that measured their current performance and their achievement against their specific MarTech business goals tended to perform better than those that used much more informal types of assessments of their progress.
  4. Redesign work processes and training the front line as needed. The companies that attained higher ROI changed the roles and responsibilities of how people did their work and the design of the workflow and the organization structure or they changed the way they motivated employees. Frontline training and support and organization change are closely related in that both pertain to the people side of your MarTEch.One final note, academic research (Reinartz) reveals that companies that get the most value out of their MarTech, particularly CRM viewed CRM as one strategic initiative and worked hard to integrate functions across Marketing, Sales and Service, to generate a 360-degree view of the customer.

Marketing technology doesn’t create loyalty – it secures it

While Martech may make connecting with customers and prospects easier and run a more cost-effective business, avoid letting technology place your marketing on autopilot.

Our focus must be on using technological enhancements while keeping the customer in the line of sight.  Each of the following three capabilities serve to remind Marketing that. Be sure you can do the following three things well manually – before you try to automate the process.

  1. Engage the customerEvery touch point should reflect that you value your customers and that you understand the world they are living in. If you can’t even get their name right in your emails to them, odds are you aren’t sending a message that you care.
  2. Content is King. This is a repeat of an old song, but the message still rings true. It’s not about how cool the technology is – your messages should focus on the customer and deliver relevant and valuable content. Use the customer knowledge that you already have to target the right message to the right person at the right time. For example, for existing customers, make sure they know you know they’ve purchased something from you before. For new prospects, make sure you’re sending an email that addresses something of relevant interest or concern. Help them learn something, or give them information that will make them smarter.
  3. Create an experienceYes: another repeat chorus. The more you can use marketing and technology (note the intentional separation of these words here) to create a positive experience with your company and your products/services, the better. Customers feel more in control when they encounter a consistent and comfortable customer experience. Customers are also drawn to unique interactions. Determine what makes your company stand out, and focus on that.

Learn More

If you are about to implement marketing technology, or even if you’re in the middle of an implementation, download our Marketing Technology: The Power Tools for Optimizing Performance and Agility white paper to ensure your company reaps the full investment value and to improve and prove the value of your marketing organization.

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