Implementing new B2B martech: Learnings from CMOs

Jan 30, 2024

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by | Jan 30, 2024 | Strategy, Technology

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According to our Digital Connections research, 2023 saw CMOs pivot their strategies, brought on largely by a response to external economic impacts. 

With the speed of change accelerating and the pressure on teams to deliver results greater than ever, B2B martech truly came into its own and will continue to do so in 2024. 

At our roundtables in London and New York, we gained a front row seat on how leading CMOs of B2B tech brands are strategically implementing martech to support their efforts. Here is what they revealed.

Identifying technology to support marketing

Despite a newfound agility and openness to learn, larger organisations (1,000+ employees) inherently face challenges when implementing new strategies and technologies, according to our research.

The dynamic nature of the marketplace means adaptability is key, but this can sometimes conflict with long-standing organisational habits or cultural resistance. 

Therefore, in order to obtain buy-in and a successful rollout, you first need to identify the right B2B martech.  

Strategy first, tech second 

As a starting point, CMOs are adopting the underlying principle that the business strategy and processes should dictate the technology and not the other way around. In other words, the tech should serve the strategy and not become the strategy itself. 

Numerous CMOs highlighted that tech vendors will often paint an optimistic picture when it comes to the adoption of new solutions and the change management process within an organisation. Therefore, it is crucial to remain focused on your strategy, key deliverables and processes to ensure that the tech meets your organisation’s needs first.  

Metrics can aid the decision-making process as outlined by one CMO. In particular, looking at alternative metrics instead of ROI, such as opportunity cost, may prove to be more beneficial.

 

“When asked about the ROI in the context of introducing new software into the business, we can’t tell you the exact return but instead we can tell you the impact of not introducing the new technology – it’s not always about ROI, it’s about opportunity cost.”

Emma Isichei

CMO, MHR

 

The biggest challenge identified by the group lies in the tension between delivering quickly whilst ensuring quality. Taking time during the selection phase and not jumping into a technology is key for success and a quicker rate of adoption later down the line.

 

Human interaction vs technology adoption: striking the balance 

It is also important to note that identifying and implementing technology should support and not detract from the essence of many businesses: human connection. This can’t be replaced by technology, but technology can provide richer insights to make these interactions more valuable.

For example, with B2B martech, the use of automated chat technology may improve customer experience whilst also creating internal operational efficiencies. But it is crucial to get the balance right between automation and human interaction. 

Successful use of this technology often occurs when the two are blended. Chatbots can be an efficient way to manage initial customer interactions using a standard decision tree, but If the query is more unique or technical, then the user is best routed to a sales or customer service representative.

The same can be said for the use of artificial intelligence (AI). This can be useful for those repetitive and ‘undifferentiated’ tasks, freeing up the workforce to conduct more creative, ‘differentiated’ work. 

 

Optimising technology adoption and implementation

When discussing technology adoption within organisations, the CMOs at our roundtables placed a big emphasis on having a strong communication framework. 

Just like your messaging to customers, clear and consistent internal communication is key. They learnt that simply implementing a new system does not guarantee usage or acceptance. You need a robust rollout plan with engagement initiatives, such as technology champions, and alignment across the business. 

 

“For technology to truly take root, it must not just be another item on the agenda but interwoven into the very fabric of our business objectives and priorities.”

Alicia Skubick

CMO, Trustpilot

 

A company-wide initiative

The CMOs highlighted that if the new technology adoption is a company priority, then it should be reflected in executive KPIs. It shouldn’t be merely talked about, instead it should be embedded in the organisation’s objectives and reviewed frequently.

They also identified that a positive environment for technological change needs to come from within teams as well as from the top down. Some suggestions to achieve this include: 

  • Starting strong: choose a more tech-savvy or open-minded region or team for initial rollouts
  • Taking baby steps: introduce technology in manageable chunks so as to not overwhelm users
  • Choosing your champions: have department representatives, or ‘champions’ that are invested in the technology to improve its reception and adoption at a team level

 

“By identifying and empowering champions from various departments, we harness internal influencers to foster a positive environment for technological integration.”

Emma Isichei

CMO, MHR

 

Alignment between teams, such as sales and marketing, from the inception of technology adoption is vital to eliminate information silos. This can help you to overcome common challenges such as accessibility and knowledge sharing that hinder the effectiveness of tech later down the line. 

 

When to throw in the towel 

Sometimes it is necessary, although difficult, to leave technology behind. The CMOs stated that if it is not gaining traction and the above techniques have failed, then adoption simply cannot be forced. 

 

Key learnings 

As 2024 unfolds, it is clear that CMOs are looking to B2B martech to support their marketing activities.

Identifying the right marketing technology and implementing it effectively is crucial. It needs to not only be aligned to the business strategy, but also support human interactions and customer experience as opposed to hindering them. 

When implementing new technology, communication is paramount when it comes to a successful rollout. This needs to come from the top down but also from within teams through ‘champions’ that are invested in the technology. This cross-departmental communication will then eradicate information silos, increasing accessibility and ultimately, adoption.

Looking at new B2B martech to support your strategy?
Consider an audit to evaluate gaps, needs and next steps.
Looking at new B2B martech to support your strategy?
Consider an audit to evaluate gaps, needs and next steps.

Further reading

7 steps to a powerful content strategy