It’s no secret that marketing and advertising technologies are colliding.
Sparked by recent M&A activity and an abundance of new technology providers entering the Australian market, marketers now face the difficult task of analysing an ever-increasing landscape of technology providers to find the perfect partner (almost like The Bachelor).
Not only does the chosen partner/s need to deliver a solution to reach the many, but it will need to integrate multiple data sets, both old and new, seamlessly to provide a segment of one.
So the question is, should marketers choose monogamy, seeking a singular technology platform for all marketing and advertising requirements? Or partner with multiple, choosing individual best in class technologies, and work tirelessly to integrate the data sets.
From personal experience, I believe that each vertical, brand and business will require a unique approach to their mar-tech and ad-tech providers. Before making this critical decision, it’s important to start from a place of discovery and individual business requirements to evaluate the short and long-term value of technology vendors.
Leading the pack
Brands like Clarins in the UK have rigorously audited both their marketing and ad technology to unite customer data under a single customer viewpoint. Shoppers are incentivised to handover purchase data after they’ve purchased a product in store, along with reward card schemes collating existing customer data. The more you share about your purchase history, the bigger the reward.
Within the UK specifically, online shopping compared to offline is at an all-time high. The number of transactions happening online is around 13% – this means 87% of potential client data is uncaptured, a missed opportunity that aligning to an omnichannel approach can rectify.
Locally in Australia, data legislation continues to be a hot topic. Successful brands are those that align their technology to find innovative ways to collect their customer data and are well-versed in the relevant government legislation.
With the abundance of technology providers out there take the time to truly understand the value they bring and be transparent in order to arm them with the right information. Better and more transparent relationships, built on solid foundations of communication and trust, will only help grow the industry and result in better outcomes for your business.
Start with a clear data narrative based on your business objectives
Big data, data storage, DMPs, DSPs, predictive analytics, machine learning, data visualisation; the list goes on. Cut back on a number of platforms needed initially and challenge yourself to think how you want your data to provide meaningful stories. Data narratives are a clear way of understanding your current data; mix these with your business objectives to set a clear roadmap for other data points to form your brand communication.
In chasing the latest dashboards, integrated feeds and tech integration, it’s easy to overcomplicate the process and forget the fundamentals of basic communication and storytelling. What use are 1,000 rows of data in a dashboard if it doesn’t back up your recommendations to key decision makers? Or why bother having machine learning and AI for your business if your CRM doesn’t give an accurate representation of your existing customer base? Often a simple selection of an excel graph can tell the best story.
Sometimes simple is best and it’s better to focus on using your existing data first so you can make the best decision regarding your business and brand approach.
Have a digital economy mindset for your technology base
If 60% of your transactions are delivered from mobile devices and you, alongside the majority of marketers (myself included), expect this trend to continue into 2020, how do you align the future position of your new technology to support this? Ascertaining the provider’s product roadmap and how it intends to drive innovation for your business in the long-term will be critical to finding the right technology partner. You should be transparent with your brand’s vision and product plans to ensure your vendors can fully support you.
Some things to consider are the impacts of the National Broadband Network in rural areas, the possibility of a cashless society, and digital disruptors entering the market. How will your brand and vendor mutually align to future-proof your business?
The importance of setting measurable, accountable outcomes for your technology
Technology metrics need to be clear for both your internal stakeholders and your agency partners to shape the conversation and alignment of business objectives with technology capabilities. Simply put, a technology KPI doesn’t matter unless it impacts your revenue base. Technology, both marketing and advertising can be versatile and it’s important that your providers know their role to play in the bigger picture of your organisation. If your technology vendor cannot answer how they’re structured for the future of your business and how they can support you, it’s an immediate red flag.
Before committing to your partner/s, make sure you consider the below:
- What is the expected upside to my existing business KPI’s (ROI, ROAS, increase in new prospects, etc.)? It’s vital to set clear objectives. Ensure the vendor can clearly explain the impact you can expect from the investment of money and resources into the new technology, and when. Equally, be clear on what you can provide the vendor in terms of implementation resource.
- Can the technology scale with my business? How can the vendor add value outside of the day to day relationship? The ability of the vendor to truly integrate with your brand and marketing objectives will depend on your resources and willingness to become true partners.
- Who gets custody of the data in case of a divorce? Sometimes relationships fail and we seek an alternate direction. Both brand and vendor must be clear on who owns the data and what access is granted in the event that the relationship ends. Without clear expectations from the outset, your business risks being locked in to a vendor relationship to keep existing data sets. This should be legally documented post the evaluation stage and prior to signing.
- Don’t commit too early – Don’t make decisions based solely on visual representations. Technology vendors often wow us with credential presentations showcasing work with competitors or similar clients in other markets. These are good signs they have the expertise, but how does this work for you? Asking to take a ‘test drive’ of your vendor’s technology prior to engagement is a no-brainer, enabling key decision makers and the team who will ultimately use the technology to understand its strengths and weaknesses.
- Will the partner support you post sale? There were 10 people involved in the pitch process and you signed up to what was on offer, but over time, resourcing decline and the original objectives are not being met. Be clear with your new and existing providers as to what resources are required to ensure both parties have clear expectations.
- How are updates and upgrades managed? Cloud-based updates suit both marketing and advertising technology, however, some are still manual which can cause downtime for your technology. It’s important you understand the potential impacts to your business and the frequency of these updates.
Finally, all of the above should be complemented with smart commercial discussions regarding upfront and ongoing costs for the use of the technology and fees to integrate with other providers, if applicable.