Managing the Martech paradox
From The Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today
Making informed decisions about marketing technology requires CMOs to consider all the angles, including a solution’s effect on workflow efficiency and the customer experience.
Since joining Deloitte Consulting LLP almost 20 years ago, Jonathan Copulsky, former Deloitte principal, has worked with leading brands to tackle their most pressing marketing challenges. During that time, he has also served in various leadership positions, including CMO for Deloitte Consulting and managing principal for the customer and marketing strategy practice.
Copulsky, author of “Brand Resilience,” has spent his career studying the intersection of brand, marketing, and technology. This year, he will retire from Deloitte but will continue to serve as a faculty member at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and the Kellogg School of Management, where he currently teaches classes on mastering marketing technologies and marketing innovation. In this Q&A, Copulsky discusses the challenges and opportunities marketers face when selecting and implementing tech solutions and offers suggestions on how to manage them more effectively.
What are some of the issues companies encounter with today’s marketing technologies?
Copulsky: Today’s marketing technology stacks are already complex, and the number of technologies available continues to grow at a dizzying rate. Marketers seek solutions that enable them to better target their audiences, personalize messaging, and manage complex multichannel marketing campaigns. Of course, data and analytics play an integral role in these efforts. But one of the big-picture challenges marketers face in pursuing these objectives is that marketing technology can present something of a paradox. As marketers, we want to make the customer experience more consistent, responsive, and personalized. At the same time, we want our marketing workflow and processes to become more efficient, automated, and scalable. These two goals, while not mutually exclusive, can be at odds: The technologies that drive greater efficiency for the marketer may sometimes diminish the experience for the customer.
Consider interactive voice response technology or email marketing. Those technologies can increase efficiency, but they can also frustrate the customer if the interaction isn’t helpful or relevant. With technology now at the core of marketing, and with organizations focusing more on improving customer experience, it’s important for marketers to consider this efficiency-experience tradeoff when choosing solutions. The big opportunity is with insight-driven, anticipatory technologies such as artificial intelligence, which can help marketers tailor the customer experience by recognizing customers and predicting their needs—and can do so at scale.
With that potential tradeoff in mind, what guiding principles can marketers consider when evaluating technologies?
Copulsky: Overall, the goal is to deploy technologies elegantly, using them to improve marketing effectiveness while creating compelling customer experiences based on deep insights and robust personalization. A technology may improve workflows, but how will it affect the way the customer feels about the brand? Alternatively, the solution may create a more engaging experience for the customer, but how will it change cost structure and efficiency? Companies tend to err on the side of efficiency because it’s easier to build a business case for it. If marketers believe they are forced to compromise efficiency for customer experience or vice versa, the goal is to do it purposefully rather than accidentally.
With so many technologies available, how can marketers determine which are right for their organizations?
Copulsky: It depends on several factors, including organizational talent, complexity, culture, and overall marketing sophistication. It doesn’t make sense for marketers to run before they can walk. A company that doesn’t have a handle on core capabilities such as email marketing, campaign management, and content management probably isn’t going to benefit from advanced analytics. A good database that enables a consolidated view of customers and campaigns is critical; without it, multifactor attribution, for example, isn’t going to be very relevant.
Regardless of how sophisticated it is, a marketing organization can identify a road map that includes its core technologies as well as those it aspires to use. The road map likely will need to be updated frequently as new capabilities become available. Fortunately, many cloud-delivered solutions are available on a subscription basis, so it’s possible to “try and buy.” Marketers can look for opportunities to do proof-of-concept pilots that enable them to test and scale as opposed to making one-time decisions.
How can marketing and IT better collaborate when selecting and implementing solutions?
Copulsky: Clearly there needs to be a partnership with the technology side of the house. CIOs bring industrial-strength capabilities to data architecture and integration. They can also lend discipline to the purchasing and procurement process, helping to determine if vendors are stable, capable, and compliant with security and risk standards. Few marketers have experience doing that, in contrast to most CIOs. We’re also seeing the emergence of the chief marketing technologist as a bridge between marketing and IT. This person is intended to both advocate for marketing to the IT organization and translate IT disciplines and practices for marketers.
In addition, some marketing organizations are adopting Agile management methodologies, taking approaches used in IT and applying them to marketing. By making incremental improvements via smaller sprints, organizations can pursue dramatic change in a more manageable way.
Which technologies offer the most promise for marketers in the coming years?
Copulsky: Location-based marketing is a big one. Done incorrectly, it could be incredibly intrusive, but done well, it could greatly enhance the customer’s experience in a highly automated way. For instance, if a traveler has just landed after a long flight and it’s 10 p.m., he or she could very well be looking for a place to eat a late dinner and might be receptive to a coupon that arrives via text message. Marketing that recognizes someone’s location and is personalized based on the time of day, week, month, or year could represent a huge opportunity. Predictive analytics—the ability to identify what a customer might want next—also holds significant potential for marketers, as does multifactor attribution. Understanding how all of a customer’s interactions with a brand drive changes in behavior will be tremendously useful to marketers.