Marketing Technology: The Right Foundation Helps Businesses Align with Customer Expectations

Technology has been a game-changer for marketers, as innovations in communication have created many new ways to connect with customers and made it necessary to adapt strategy, messaging, and offers to keep up.

“The shift to all things digital has created empowered customers with new and higher expectations,” said Bernard Chung, senior director of global solution marketing at SAP. “They are changing the rules of engagement.”

And these new rules of engagement require that companies have a solid marketing technology foundation to fuel seamless and effective customer interactions.

Thursday’s webinar, “Is There a Gap in your Marketing Foundation Technology?” which was hosted by Loyalty360 and presented by SAP and Raab Consulting focused on strategies for establishing a solid marketing technology foundation to optimize communications with customers.

The presentation explained how customers are spending more and more time online: 79% of customers spend half of their shopping time online, 70-90% of the typical buyer’s journey is completed by the time a customer engages a vendor or a sales person, and 56% of consumers leverage at least two or more channels in a typical buying process, sometimes using multiple channels simultaneously.

And with 73% of marketers saying that customer centricity is critical to success, it is clear that it is necessary to keep up with customer technology and optimize marketing technology.

“Marketers have to deal with customers who have a new set of expectations around customer-centricity,” David Raab, Principal at Raab Associates, explained during the webinar. “The challenge they face is that they don’t have technology in place to handle that.”

Raab explained that marketers need this technology – including new applications, more data, automated systems, new tech platforms – integrated into their businesses to meet customer expectations. But, though marketers may realize they need this technology, oftentimes they have not addressed it with a company strategy.

On top of that, Raab said that technology is just plain hard. There are thousands of technology vendors to choose from, and one bad choice can have serious consequences across the company. Moreover, buying technology is a challenge, with the task of assessing vendors, functions, usability, and predicting integration. And marketers, who are not technicians by trade, do not get much guidance in this regard, even from IT.

Raab posed a poll question to the webinar audience: “How much help do you get from IT in buying marketing tech?” 29% of respondents said marketing is on its own, 57% said marketing gets some help from IT, 7% said IT does most of the work with guidance from marketing, and 7% said IT makes the decisions and tells marketing after the fact.

“Marketers are really taking the major burden.  And they face additional obstacles because they aren’t familiar with the technology,” Raab said.

According to Raab, this results in random acts of purchasing, based on whatever looks good at the moment, often based on cost and ease of use.

Instead, marketers need to pin down technology requirements that come from a clearly defined strategy. The strategy begins with a business strategy that informs a marketing strategy, which in turn informs the marketing technology strategy, which then allows the marketer to figure out the technology architecture and components.

Raab explained that marketing technology architecture options are basically 3 options: independent systems, an integrated suite, or platform plus apps. Any can work; it just is dependent on the situation and the strategy.

In order to properly assess marketing technology needs, Raab said that marketers need to consider things like company size and sophistication, number of marketing channels, types of marketing programs, existing systems, corporate culture, and resources.

To facilitate this assessment process, SAP has developed a Marketing Foundations Analysis tool.  During the webinar, Chung walked attendees through the platform, which presents marketers with simple questions about their company, marketing programs, current operational systems, and current processes.

The tool then generates a detailed analysis that will help guide marketing technology decisions moving forward. The Marketing Foundations Analysis tool also lets marketers see where they are in comparison to others, and identifies areas that should be a priority. 

As explained by Chung, The Marketing Foundations Analysis tool provides marketers with a sort of roadmap for understanding the gaps in their marketing technology, so the right decisions can be made to lay the foundation for success. 

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