Technology is a critical component of every CMO’s playbook. Finding and deploying marketing technology that creates business value has quickly become a top priority. The difference between success and failure often comes down to smooth implementation and widespread adoption; many traditional “IT-driven” rollouts are hampered by project delays, cost over-runs and lack of employee embrace, resulting in failed efforts and wasted investment.
The good news is that we marketers have learned a few things about martech success from our IT brethren. Today, we have access to more-scalable cloud/SaaS-based models that make it much easier to implement, measure and control rollouts. The flexibility of these new models facilitates the use of what we at Integrate call the “crawl-walk-run” (CWR) approach to tech adoption.
This approach is based on a plan that allows marketers to repeatedly test new systems in a focused, controlled setting on a limited scale in order to mitigate problems with regard to unexpected hurdles, operational changes, and team culture/mentality shifts — all while gathering data, setting benchmarks and showing impact. Moreover, this approach typically garners support from the board of directors and C-level execs due to its risk-mitigating elements and higher likelihood of mid- to long-term business impact.
Let’s start with important fundamentals of the crawl-walk-run (CWR) formula. The following are real-world learnings I’ve gained while using the CWR approach to help our current customers implement Integrate’s demand marketing software as well as from years of my personal experience deploying technology for sales and marketing teams (some successful and some I wish I could erase!). The CWR fundamentals include:
- Selecting a pilot program that will allow a specific group or division to experience, test and evaluate new systems and processes before company-wide deployment (SaaS/cloud-based technology makes this easy by allowing you to get started without having to rely on time-constrained IT resources)
- Phasing the technology solution rollout, based on the most important priorities or easiest wins, to identify and show impact
- Focusing on quick wins to gain experience, set benchmarks and metrics, and measure results
- Identifying initiative champions — those who will become the “power users” — to advocate and lead future rollout phases (Change is difficult and new processes and ways of thinking require guidance)
With the fundamentals in place, it’s time to put the CWR formula into real-world action. Here I illustrate a few ways marketing organizations are using CWR to roll out Integrate’s marketing software.
- Identify a group, marketing initiative or business division that provides a controlled, focused environment
- Solicit potential “power users” or champions who will master the technology and process, as well as teach and evangelize to others
- Seek quick wins and communicate them to stakeholders, execs and future marketing tech solution users
- Assign a project leader who can work with a small group in order to connect the dots of your CRAWL-phase learnings and map the WALK-phase priorities and objectives
Integrate marketing software customers typically use the CRAWL phase to implement, test and learn from quick (yet highly impactful) enhancements to their marketing processes such as: centralizing media partners, housing and organizing all creative/content/assets in one repository, and connecting media and lead data to marketing and sales systems to increase lead quality and velocity. These are all swift and easy wins with major performance impact that can be seen across a defined group.
- Roll out technology solution to a business division (among enterprise organizations) or corporate-wide (within small-to-medium businesses)
- Build momentum by leveraging data and benchmarks from CRAWL phase to apply to other marketing initiatives or campaigns
- Tackle the priority issues that were mapped in the CRAWL phase; concentrate on the bigger wins in this phase
- Make it part of the everyday process for marketing, sales and the business
During the WALK phase, Integrate marketing software customers often focus on expanding adoption, that is to say consolidating and executing all performance campaigns through the Integrate dashboard. Specifically, customers focus on eliminating manual tasks through media partner and campaign management automation, and leveraging reporting and analytics tools to measure campaign and media partner performance data and quickly act on customer insights. Here, new-tech resources and skills (gained during the CRAWL phase) put to use on an expanded level begin to prove large-scale efficiency increases and return on investment.
- Fully transition to company-wide adoption so that the tech solution is entirely integrated and part of business process and culture
- Tap into the bells and whistles that will make marketing awesome and differentiate your brand and products
- Look for deeper integrations with other systems, partners, customers and opportunities
Integrate customers typically use the RUN phase to unlock real-time program optimization (by campaign, media partner, and creative/asset). Mapping the correlation between media/creative/audience sources and sales opportunities closed enables customers to determine where, when and how much money to invest in their media efforts in order to drive sales pipeline.
Developing a CWR plan and road map allows you to not only overcome the operational and procedural changes, cultural shifts, and other unexpected hurdles typical of new technology rollouts and adoption, but, most importantly, it delivers real business and customer impact.
These are just a few of my experiences and observations. What’s your formula for Marketing Technology success? Share what’s working for you and your organization.