How to create a top-notch Digital Marketing Platform?

Visiting car dealership. Handsome bearded man is stroking his new car and smilingDo you really need a marketing software platform such as Adobe, Marketo, Oracle or Salesforce? Or are there better solutions? Read this article and find out within five minutes.

The art of marketing is continuously evolving. In the coming weeks I will present you a series of articles about Marketing Technology or in short MarTech. What is it? What does it do? And what do I have to do with it?

The last week we explained What every marketer should know about Marketing Stacks but doesn’t dare to ask (link to the previous post). Now that you know how the new marketing technology landscape will put you in the driver seat, let’s zoom in. How do you build a top-notch Digital Marketing Platform?

Marketing technology determines your market approach

From a humanity perspective not so long ago, we did not know there was DNA or how it worked. In the same way we, marketers, are today not aware what kind of marketing technology stack we actually have. We just do not realize it.
Adobe, Marketo, Oracle or Salesforce are examples of enterprise marketing platforms that offer full functionality to organize and personalize the content in your marketing projects. Even if you operate such an enterprise marketing platform, that supports a multitude of marketing tasks, it is simply impossible to stick to that one solution. The adoption digital marketing tools is everywhere. It is happening in the market place and for sure also in your company. And likely without you knowing it.

Like DNA defines the characteristics of you, the “string” of marketing tools in your company determines how you do marketing.

Think about this example of a MarTech stack in a company:

  • An e-mail platform such as Mailchimp, Tripolis or Robomail.
  • Plan and send social media posts via Loomly, Kontentino or Buffer.
  • A content management system (CMS), such as Word-Press or Sitecore, for managing its website or blog.
  • A DMP (Datamanagement platform), for instance IgnitionOne.
  • Analyzing the customer funnel with Google Analytics or Adobe.
  • And as an integration platform the company uses Zapier or Mulesoft.

Such a set of specialized digital marketing tools is the DNA of marketing team, if we keep following that analogy. And like it or not: You better get to know it. Manage it and benefit from it.

A stack for every occasion, a natural fit

A MarTech Stack may differ greatly from company to company depending on its size, the nature of its business, the objectives and the necessity felt to automate marketing processes. It might even vary per department or project. New tools are introduced every day, which even reinforces the large variety.

To come back to my earlier question: Do you need such an all-encompassing marketing software platform or do you need a marketing stack?

The answer begins with a look at what is the pure essence of the marketing profession itself. The aim of marketing is to deliver the right product in the right market at the right time with the right price and of course you have to support all this with personalized and relevant content. Often marketing systems limit a marketer in achieving these goals.

From “one size fits all” to “fits like a glove”

Many decades have gone by since the time that every product offer created its own demand. And in promotional messaging too, a “one size fits all” approach does not do the job anymore. The modern marketer delivers personalized, relevant content to new customers, aiming to convert leads into buyers and thus improve the company’s overall bottom line. Or to say it cheerfully in marketing jargon: It is all about creating the best possible customer experience.

MarTech enables you to chart ever changing consumer needs, sentiments and behavior. Collecting these creates enormous amounts of data. Marketing and “Big Data” are now inextricably linked. The patterns in the data are a marketer’s key to optimize any customer experience. Digital marketing tools have become essential in doing the analysis as well as the optimization.

How to check the power of your marketing stack – a case study

An accurate and fast method to improve your company’s customer experience is to chart all the marketing tools in your company as a whole, check how they support the processes and determine step by step which improvements are possible. The key question here is: What are the most vital data to be shared?

Often the improvements can be found in exchanging data between various tools, but sometimes it is much more basic. The sheer power this exercise proved itself with one of my clients. In this company, the Dutch branch of a large European conglomerate, the local marketing team was responsible for branding, off-line communication channels and online lead generation.

This is what happened. The international head office provided budget, content and the marketing tools to generate leads via the country websites. The most important tools were a CMS, an analytics & customer profiling tool, channel analysis and, last but not least, great content consisting of photos, video and well written copy.

Think global – act local gone wrong

The head office closed a group wide contract with a supplier of a digital marketing hub, which offered almost endless possibilities. The supplier supported the local implementation for the – in this case Dutch – branch.

The responsible manager at the headquarters chose a platform that provided a complete range of digital marketing solutions. She arranged that the large European countries – Italy, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and Germany – were supplied the full range of solutions. The cost of this enterprise platform was negligible compared to the marketing budget of these countries. Smaller markets with a much more limited budget, such as the Netherlands, were invited to choose those solutions that fitted within their financial means.
Based on their objectives and budget the Dutch team selected those tools that promised a contribution to the conversion to leads, and omitted others, such as a comprehensive analytics tool. The cost of the analytics solution within the contract of the enterprise platform supplier amounted to around € 50,000. That amount was quite considerable within the Dutch budget.

Disappointing results at first

A few months after the deployment of the new enterprise platform, the commercial results were particularly disappointing.  We executed a quick scan for this Dutch branch that gave insight into how their set of digital tools worked together in the lead generation process.
It turned out that due to the absence of the analytics module, the management lacked insight to steer actions effectively. As a result, the team was not sufficiently capable of making personalized and well-timed communication statements. The conversion of the leads lagged behind expectations.

The guerilla stack

The solution came from inside the local Dutch team. Frustrated by the platform and driven by ambition, the local director allowed his team to go rogue and use their own tool secretly. They decided to use the free version of Google Analytics. That offered the solution. This tool was able to shed light on all of the ‘blind spots’. And perhaps even better than the analytics module from the enterprise solution. We just had to integrate it to the overall dashboard tool with plug and play connectors. Et voilà, the result: the number of leads increased by a three-digit percentage. The example shows that no single supplier is capable of delivering everything that each individual marketer will ever need in this world. The difference between disappointing results and success was accomplished by adding just one single tool. To build your own marketing stack and add individual components does have its advantages.

Think best-in-class marketing technology

In the past six years, the number of digital marketing apps available has grown explosively by 3500%.

MarTech Landscape grows

Source: chiefmartec.com

Several turnkey (enterprise platform) solutions and there is an almost endless array of niche applications that fulfill different functions and needs. In addition, the so-called integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) platforms are currently emerging. They allow a company to make connections between its various digital marketing tools.

With an iPaaS any marketing team can build the very best marketing tool stack. By ‘stacking’ you can realize a more effective, less expensive and better marketing operation than with a total solution.

Next time: a lot of individual tools but no jungle

In the next post we will look at how to prevent individual MarTech tools from turning into a non-accessible and uncontrollable jungle.
If you do not want to wait to read it, or if you want to start ‘stacking’ today, please send me a message.