Today’s Marketing Challenge – Technology, Data & Journeys

This week the 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape was released. This marks the fifth year that the evolving marketing technology landscape that has been characterised by Scott Brinker of Chiefmartech. Over the last 5 years this ecosystem of marketing vendors has grown from 150 companies to over 3,500. Not only does this show the low barriers to entry of creating a technology business today but it also illustrates marketers biggest challenge, the ability to use technology, data and customer journeys to grow their businesses.

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As the CMO of a medium sized company whose marketing organisation relies on at least 15 software as a service (SaaS) products to ensure marketing strategy is both developed and executed I continually question whether we have the right technology stack to be able to do our job. My other two areas of paranoia focus on the data that this technology stack is producing, which often tell different and contrasting stories and the customer journey that we are creating. In a world where we should all be taking advantage of automation and machine learning I still want to strive for our prospects and customers to have a personalised experience which is the essence of our brand.

Capability Clusters

Scott’s Marketing Technology Landscape has taken on different formats over the years. The most significant change in 2016 is Scott’s hypothesis that instead of companies coalesing around one dominant platform we are moving into a multi-platform marketing technology world where technology capability clusters are more clearly defined. These are the capability clusters that were outlined.

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I agree with Scott’s hypothesis on capability clusters and this demonstrates that any marketing technology vendors integration strategy is key. Platforms like Salesforce.com, Oracle, Adobe, IBM, WordPress and the whole host of marketing automation and sales enablement vendors will form the backbone of a companies marketing technology stack and the ease, speed and effectiveness of a vendors integration into these environments will quickly become a key success factor in winning in the market.

The question I often ask is when will this industry growth rate slow down and the effects of significant consolidation kick in? Whilst I have no definitive answer to this question one clue of the areas of growth and consolidation lay in the numbers of vendor in each category.

The Top 5 categories (by volume of vendors) that are now clearly over served and liable for consolidation over the coming years are:

  1. Sales Automation, Enablement & Intelligence (220)
  2. Social Media Marketing & Monitoring (186)
  3. Display & Programmatic Advertising (180)
  4. Marketing Automation & Campaign/Lead Management (161)
  5. Content Marketing (160)

Equally the Bottom 5 categories (by volume of vendors) that are relatively free from competition and are potentially set for more market entrants over the coming years are:

  1. Customer Data Platforms (12)
  2. Product Management  (12)
  3. Budgeting & Finance (14)
  4. Account Based Marketing (16)
  5. Print (17)

The Customer Journey

This is not a post on customer journeys as I would need at least another 30 minutes of your time to truly reflect on the development of this area but what I do know is that however Scott continues to categorise the exploding marketing technology landscape in the years to come what will be important is all this technology must help with the evolving area of customer journeys and customer experience.

This is where I believe companies have the best chance of differentiating their brand, product offering and winning in the market. Whether it be taking advantage of programmatic advertising, marketing automation, content marketing, social media or CRM data analytics and segmentation let alone machine learning and AI all these technologies must help us marketers evolve and heavily personalise the customer journeys we are creating.

Some great work I have seen in this area recently has been done by Google and the Boston Consulting Group in their piece The CMO Transformation Agenda.  Those of us that have worked in marketing for any considerable period of time have tried and tested various marketing funnels and customer journeys. Whilst customer journey’s today are less linear than they used to be with multiple touch and attribution points I think Google uses a simple and effective approach with the See, Think, Do and Care framework.

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One thing to remember however is that in this world of marketing technology, data driven strategy and execution and an evolving and ever personalised customer journey the essence of your brand is still key.

Whilst data and technology should inform your brand building approach it should not bury it. Get out there and talk to your customers – sometimes those 10 minute conversations will uncover more useful gems than any analytics dashboard, website experiment or nuture program.

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