I work and consult with organizations as they deploy marketing technology (“martech”), and they frequently encounter the same cultural hurdle: marketing pros waiting for a nudge (though I’m not sure who from) before diving in and gaining experience to accelerate their personal and organizational learning curve.
My simple advice: it’s time to take the wheel and drive change.Part of being a marketer today is embracing change and understanding you can’t drive marketing results without leveraging technology to automate your marketing processes.
Here’s a clear indicator of how central technology is to marketing: more than $500 million was invested in marketing automation in 2013, and that figure is projected to grow to $1.9 billion by 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan. When you add web analytics, digital, mobile, social and all other forms of technology that we as marketers use, that’s some $20 billion in martech spend, according to Gartner.
Technology deployment can come with a lot of hurdles that often cause marketers to hesitate: the need to untangle existing processes in order to improve them; internal resistance to change; risk of disrupting existing businesses; and fear of learning new systems.
Almost any marketer can identify multiples of these four common stumbling blocks. Your company and your career will be better served, however, if you focus on practical steps to drive martech forward.
Here are some specific martech success lessons I’ve learned, directly and through observing clients and partners:
Be your company’s martech champion. Assertive, fast-moving advocates define success and ignite marketing-tech rollouts. Focus on the possibilities, not the pitfalls. Volunteer to get your hands dirty. Not only will you learn, but you can share your knowledge to fire up peers while you get to work on the most interesting marketing initiatives. Peer-to-peer knowledge transfer will always trump formalized training — and it’s infectious.
Roll up your sleeves and start testing. A fully baked plan with projected ROI is great; so are bulletproof testing methodologies and fallback plans in the event something goes awry. But all are enemies of agility and progress. Think instead about tests that fail or succeed fast, creating clear insight into future opportunities, and ways you can build momentum. Tests are one of the best learning tools that marketing leaders have at their disposal, so fire away.
Focus on measurable wins, then publicize them. Reportable wins should initially come from low-risk campaigns that require only enough time and energy to measure results and determine if you’ve got something to build on. If they fail, do what all good marketers do: call them tests and move on. The first test that works provides marketing-tech success story No. 1, while giving you and your peers confidence to get more aggressive.
Always know what comes next. Every time you feel you’ve created incremental progress (repeatable test results, another process automated), have the next set of tests waiting in the wings. Have one champion begin refining what is already working but not yet fine-tuned, while another champion moves on to agenda item No. 2. In this process, you’re expanding the body of individuals learning marketing technology.
Demonstrate value every day. The world is filled with naysayers — those who are either against a project from the outset, prefer the old way of doing things, or seem to be just as happy when things fail. Always have success stories, data points and examples ready to educate executives, users and even the naysayers.
If you’re in the midst of a difficult martech deployment, I can relate to your pain. But I can also validate the benefits you’ll realize: strong marketing campaign ROI and reduced cost to run internal systems; better targeting and audience engagement; easier performance tracking, thanks to automating internal processes.
In my estimation, people are often the single biggest factor in driving these outcomes. The key is to get on the bus and grab the wheel, or at least identify those who can drive your projects forward, then stay out in front of the objectors with a steady stream of data, examples and wins.