In today's digital age, technology and marketing go hand in hand.
Companies have access to a range of information, and it would be remiss to not make the most of this data in order to hone their message.
Marketing technology has become an integral part of the marketing toolkit in recent years, as brands recognise how important it is to invest in the right platforms as part of their customer service efforts.
But there is no point spending a significant amount of money on collecting data if you cannot implement strategies based on the findings.
Companies understand the need for data integration if they are to be successful in today's digital environment, but don't forget the right training is also required for this to become a reality.
New research by Squiz underlines how there is definitely room for improvement when it comes to how marketing technology is being approached. The study found that only 11 per cent of marketers feel they are getting the desired returns from their marketing technology investments.
While the vast majority are aware of the methods are their disposal - including CMS, CRM and email bulk sending systems - the vast majority still have to work out a plan to help them to achieve the right results.
The lack of tech integration is also hurting the customer experience - 43 per cent of marketers said it is the largest issue preventing them from achieving customer centricity.
"Marketers think their tools are only being used in the most basic ways. They under utilise these massive investments they have made and part of that is because they're not integrated," said Joe Stanhope, vice president at Signal.
Part of the problem is the actual process that marketers are using when buying technology. Only a third are taking strategic decisions, while 52 per cent make investments as and when they are needed.
This ad hoc approach prevents long-term plans being put in place, and ensures that marketers never have enough time to properly assess their options. Considering one in five make technological investments as infrequently as possible, it is clear a shift in attitude is required. In short, businesses need to put the customer first.
Getting priorities right
There are positive signs about the future, however, as a study by the Direct Marketing Association and Winterberry Group has found that marketers are prioritising technology. While 57 per cent plan to evaluate current marketing technologies, 54 per cent will look at new options and 55 per cent are going to focus on staff training.
By taking a proactive approach to the issue of technology, companies can future proof themselves and make sure that everyone is on the same page in terms of delivering first class customer service.
But what are the other roadblocks? Over a third of organisations blamed interdepartmental alignment for their lack of customer centricity, while poor data sets are a problem for 35 per cent.
If businesses want to use innovative approaches related to marketing technology, they have to eliminate the existence of silos, as doing so will allow them to have defined goals and objectives that everyone is working towards.
An essential part of this process is choosing the right marketing software to suit your needs, as harnessing this technology could be the difference between being successful and letting potential customers slip through the net. Whether it's for curation, analysis or audience targeting, there is software that can help.
There are over 100 content marketing tools alone, while only ten percent of firms interviewed by the Altimeter Group have full integration across their existing toolset. But how can marketers make sure they get the right software package? Read through the points below to ensure you're making the right decision.
Thorough research will always have a massive role to play. Make sure you take the time to carry out an in-depth study of the options available in the sector. You want to find as many solutions as possible, as this long list can then act as your starting point for finding the solution that best suits your needs. Record all of the options in a spreadsheet so they can be easily referenced and compared.
Narrow the parameters (part one)
Once you have your long list in place, record details of the various features the options offer. Based on this, create smaller sub-groups detailing how likely they are to be a good match for your company. After you have identified the software packages that are unlikely to work, these can be removed from the list.
Narrow the parameters (part two)
Advocacy is an excellent indicator of software's capabilities. Reviews and testimonials will give you a flavour for what really seems to work. Most of the time you'll be able to find a few reviews by organisations that had almost the same needs as you, and so this should give you a good idea of just how suitable a solution it is. By the end of this stage you want to have between three and six options.
There's a reason that free trials are offered, and so it would be very foolish to overlook the opportunity to test out these services. After all, the only way to truly know if the software meets your needs is to gain experience using it. Check out its functionality, look for drawbacks and see if there are unexpected features that will make a big difference to your service. If you're still not sure, why not ask for an extension to the trial period?
Speak to the vendors
Before making your final choice, have a chat with the vendors to see what their future plans are. There is no point signing up for a service if it turns out there are plans to shift the company's focus away from your requirements. If the vendor does not seem capable of moving with the times and staying ahead of industry competitors, it's impossible to be sure they will be the best choice a few months down the line. And don't be afraid to involve other people from your business in the decision-making process!