Human intelligenct in marketing

MarredTech? Not a new concept, but one of marketings dominant narratives

‘MarTech’ is, in some ways, a misleading portmanteau.

It hints at an effortless unification of two disciplines – Marketing and Technology.

In fact, experience shows us that such integration is never simple.

‘Marketing’ and ‘Technology’ were, of course, two very different worlds. Other than at the office Christmas party or in the car park during Fire Alarm tests, they rarely interacted – and would see no reason to do so. For both parties, the integration of their processes, objectives and, above all, mindset, seemed unlikely. But the world changed and these two organisational opposites are now required to work together in harmony.

MarTech is not a new concept. Driven by the rise of the internet and the transformation in the way people communicate, today, it is one of the dominant narratives in the industry. If anyone is in need of visual proof, a quick glance at Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape should set you straight.

The concept has established itself to such a degree that, when surveyed as part of the MarTech 2019 study, 96% of marketers said that marketing technology was necessary for achieving their future goals, and 91% were planning to increase automated customer interactions by using it. *

Who knows what the budget cuts of 2019, and now Covid-19, have done to CMO’s plans and intentions, but these figures certainly suggest that the recent marketing budgets were being pulled in a definite direction.

In 2017, investment in marketing technology accounted for 22% of total marketing expenses. In 2018, that figure had increased to 29%, making it the single largest area of investment, surpassing labour costs. ** Today, whilst budgets have evened out, it’s still
a case of less ‘Mar’ and more ‘Tech’.

Whilst it is essential for modern marketers (especially CRM teams) to have a sophisticated marketing and data platform powering their communications, the opposing tensions between marketing objectives and technological reality can create a series of ‘gaps’ in its various marketing functions. For example:

  • Gaps in data source and usage
  • Gaps in customer records and profiles
  • Gaps in integration and alignment of activity
  • Gaps in organisational understanding
Data and it's effect on CRM

In developing CRM programmes for the future, the key challenges for CMOs were outlined in the MarTech 2019 study:

  • Actionable data: The data is there, but what is needed is the ability to integrate and act on it. Many systems have not delegated responsibility for the quality of the data
  • Right competence: Businesses either lack analysts or MarTech specialists in SEO / SEM, marketing automation, content and similar
  • Customer ownership: After a year with GDPR, companies remain cautious and CMOs still see compliance as a challenge
  • Internal clarity: CMOs need support from many departments and commitment from management – realities where cross-functional virtual teams work together seem to be more successful

Without adequate resource, relevant expertise and sufficient budget, the underlying investment in marketing technology risks being wasted.

This complaint, much like MarTech itself, is not a new concept. Our inboxes and LinkedIn feeds are bombarded with white papers and articles (much like this one), reiterating the dangers of poorly implemented or understood marketing technologies.

And yet, it is a recurrent blind spot that a great many organisations just can’t seem to pull into focus.

It is here that agencies have a role and a responsibility to help clients improve their utilisation of marketing technology and help them surface the many advantages that it can bring. Alongside the day-to-day operational needs of CRM, Flourish seeks to tackle a wider set of challenges. It’s our role to help clients plug gaps with specific resource and expertise, which deliver effective CRM programmes whilst helping create a bridge between departments. We look to build increasing cooperation and understanding, aligning processes, objectives and KPIs as we go, and integrate marketing activity towards the creation of a genuine and consolidated customer view.

When the MarTech Alliance made its latest set of trend predictions recently, a quote from Marketing Operations expert, Sara McNamara, summed it up perfectly.

“With more expensive toys comes more focus on talent to administer them… I anticipate the demand for marketing technologists to grow exponentially as these purchases take place.”

No one can deny the essential vitality of marketing technology. It is, as a concept, enabling, galvanizing and transformative. Yet without human resource, its implementation, utilization and optimisation is inevitably marred and, in all likelihood, destined to fail.

With marketing budgets under continual pressure and CMOs under constant scrutiny, how many will have the foresight to match their investment in technology with an investment in the expertise necessary to make the whole thing work as it should?

*MarTech 2019. **Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2018-19