What emerges from the research is that there are several different paths that CMOs are considering to navigate them towards success. Of which, the two most common are integration (36%), and innovation (34%) – making up two thirds of marketing leaders.
It got me thinking. Why is it so hard to deliver the vision, when it’s so clear and well articulated by CMOs?
I’m drawing on conversations with leading marketers, the data from our recent research which directly asks CMOs about their marketing technology strategy and the conversations we’re having with our prospects right now. Taken together, there are some clear recurring themes around the challenges of today.
Pushing to innovate at every turn
CMOs today are driven by the need to innovate. Not only are they at the forefront of customer touchpoints, owning the experience and driving revenue; our B2B CMOs are expected to deliver a fully-functioning customer experience to their B2C counterparts.
The challenge here is that those B2C counterparts are years ahead of the game – they’ve been digital for decades and have the systems, processes and data capability that B2B can only dream of. The CMO’s boss doesn’t care about that though, they just want to change – and fast.
Market forces at play – accelerating the ‘now’
In addition, they’re being forced to innovate due to market demands and market forces. GDPR, data privacy and laws are changing (what feels like) rapidly forcing innovation in the market. This too is driving the need for better structural changes in relation to data, which is causing a whole rethink of customer (and prospect) data, along with the journeys those individuals take – on owned properties, during the marketing lifecycle, and out in the ether. Right now, it really is adapt or die.
These market forces are creating a wind of change. Enter the customer data platform and the saviour of marketing for customer experience and ad-focused B2B industries. Now, the challenge is the thinking that goes behind the orchestration plans to deliver the performance expected from the investment in these state-of-the-art platforms.
Innovation is coupled with integration
The drive to innovate to protect future customer engagement and get better technology is both admirable and sensible. Yet, that innovation creates another challenge: integration. There are legacy systems and processes that require rethinking.
Not only is there the technical integration and set-up which requires a deep understanding of the technologies, the legacy architecture and the intended outcomes; this new technology architecture needs to have a strong strategy design. Without it, you have a great technology set-up but the inability to execute effectively.
The different faces of integration
In our conversations with senior marketers, there are also two other grappling challenges on the subject of integration. The first is around consolidation after acquisition where you’ve inherited an alternative platform (e.g. Pardot vs Marketo) from a recent acquisition. (You’ve also inherited a bundle of other marketing integration issues as well, but we’re focusing on technology here).
The second is the ‘it doesn’t integrate’ because ‘we built our own CRM’. Only yesterday did I hear these words and shook my head in sorrow. That vision for innovation and a customer-centric future is hampered because they built their own CRM – which simply won’t integrate natively with anything. Who does that?!
The final ‘where next’?
What we’re overwhelmingly seeing is the race to drive innovation by bringing in new technology – after all, there’s a platform for everything. Marketing teams are then hampered by integration and typically get stuck.
What we’re not seeing are comprehensive marketing technology strategies that consider how various technologies deliver their part of the customer journey – and how the technologies work together, both from a data flow, experience flow and insight perspective against the overarching marketing strategy. Technology is used in siloes, yet it’s better when it works ‘together’. You end up with 1+1=3.
Quite simply, there’s a lot of technology without strategy – and certainly not a comprehensive strategy across all platforms that works harmoniously to bring it all together for seamless orchestration and faster time to value. Take a look at this short article about this: ‘Strategy before technology. Always.’
Right now, I’m watching and waiting for the blowback from heavy technology investment and the lack of delivery. How does your marketing technology strategy stack up?