Being a leading brand means understanding your customers in ways that others don’t, so that you can engage with them in ways that others can’t. Companies like Uber, Spotify and Airbnb have built empires on the back of the technology they use to understand and engage their customers. They’re constantly looking for ways to optimise the customer experience through additional touchpoints, new applications, better analytics, and greater personalisation.
In digital marketing, change is the only constant. Each year we see changes in how consumers interact with media, how platforms connect brands with customers, and how brands use data to automate and optimise those relationships. In our oversaturated, highly fragmented media environment, you need to be able to adapt to these changes and adopt new technologies as they emerge to remain competitive. This requires a MarTech stack that’s constantly evolving, leadership that’s committed to driving innovation, and a team that’s regularly acquiring the new expertise and skills they need to deliver a cutting-edge, data-driven marketing program.
To ensure you’re keeping pace with advances in MarTech, you need to consider the following:
Platforms are increasingly becoming the backbone of marketing strategies. If your MarTech stack (your CRM, marketing automation tools, ad serving tools, analytics platform etc.) isn’t kept up to date, you’re failing to maximise the return on the investments you’ve made in your technology. Companies will often sink a huge amount of money into the upfront build of an email platform or an analytics platform, and (when the initial enthusiasm wears off) fail to make use of the functionality it’s set up to deliver, or even lose functionality due to staff turnover and the loss of IP. Keeping your MarTech stack up to date requires a range of specialised skillsets and extensive coordination between teams:
- Marketing – the operational team responsible for running marketing campaigns need to be familiar with the latest platforms, features, best practices & targeting techniques to refresh overarching marketing strategy and corresponding business requirements.
- Business analysts – business analysts are required to translate business requirements for technical stakeholders.
- IT – your IT team needs to be constantly assessing new software and ensuring existing software is up to date, as well as reviewing and designing system architecture to support new platforms and processes.
- Business intelligence – data scientists, engineers and analysts are required to build new and maintain existing integrations between your MarTech stack and your data warehouse.
- Leadership – maintaining a scalable, cutting-edge MarTech stack requires ongoing investment, and therefore buy-in from senior leadership, who also need to ensure the approach aligns with shifting organisational goals.
Given the variety and specificity of the skills required to maintain a modern MarTech stack, there will inevitably be expertise or resourcing gaps to be filled by external suppliers. IVE’s proprietary P.A.C.E service provides a range of supporting functions to ensure our clients are getting the most out of their platforms by reviewing system architecture, optimising processes and incorporating new platform functionality as it’s released.
The most significant advances in digital marketing over the past couple of years pertain to the use of data for delivering more automated, better targeted campaigns. Advances in analytics software has made it easier to consolidate data from multiple sources while the constant evolution of targeting functionality on platforms like Google, Facebook and SalesForce have created new use cases for first-party data. In short, the case for collecting and analysing more data gets more compelling each year, and if you’re not expanding your analytics program commensurately, you’re missing out on opportunities that your competitors are taking.
To keep your analytics up to date, you’ll need to:
- Build a centralised data warehouse to store data from all your sources.
- Integrate new data sources with your warehouse whenever they come online.
- Look for new trends and relationships using this consolidated view.
- Keep track of new analytics / targeting enhancements from Salesforce, Google etc.
- Scale up your technical infrastructure to support larger data volumes.
- Review your KPIs as business goals evolve and new data points are captured.
These fundamentals become even more critical as AI, machine learning and predictive modelling become standard features of most major companies’ analytics strategy. Consultancies like IVE provide support to companies looking to build an advanced analytics function within their organisation.
The major digital channels are all continuously enhancing their audience targeting and campaign optimisation functionality, largely on the back of advances in their AI and machine learning models. Despite these advances, many brands are struggling to shift the dial on their digital campaigns, simply because they don’t have either the expertise or the capacity to evolve their approach to the channel.
Both marketers and technical experts need to be across how the functionality on the major channels are changing, as these changes will inform both the channel strategy and the data required to enable new campaign functionality. For example, data on users’ website interactions can be used by your email platform to score prospects and trigger email journeys or by Facebook to create audience segments for your ad campaigns. Not all new features will be right for your business, but it’s worth experimenting with as many new features as you have capacity to test. If you don’t have the capacity and expertise you need, it may be worth engaging an external consultant to review your approach.
As your marketing strategy and MarTech stack evolve, so too do the skills required to maintain and operate your platforms. Marketers need to boost their data literacy to effectively deliver increasingly data-driven campaigns, data analysts need a better understanding of machine learning and AI as use cases for advanced analytics emerge, and the IT team needs to understand data warehousing and engineering as the data platform scales.
All of this requires highly specialised training specifically tailored to the needs of the business. This might be a matter of outsourcing all or some component of your MarTech stack to a consultancy while you hire the requisite in-house expertise, or working with a consultancy like IVE to upskill your existing workforce.