The need for MarTech transformation has been felt for quite some time now. The current business scenario, deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, has accelerated this need. Let me explain. The pandemic has triggered nation-wide lockdowns and social distancing norms across the globe. Consumers who had been physically reaching out to brands, whether for in-store purchases, travel, hotel stays, etc., are now trying to make all their interactions from the safe and cozy corners of their homes. This is the last thing brands need at the moment because ‘out of sight is out of mind’. As a matter of fact, organizations would now need to proactively define and devise new means of digitally engaging with customers as well as managing their brands. This can only be possible with a state-of-the-art MarTech ecosystem. This highlights the need for accelerated MarTech transformation. The impact of the pandemic on industries such as Travel, Hospitality and Retail is substantial. The fall in production, revenues and customers will require a considerable amount of time to neutralize. For some organizations, that already have sophisticated MarTech ecosystems in place, adapting to the next normal will be a lot easier. Those who are still contemplating, or have not considered the need for transformation, will struggle. With the experience of working in the tech-marketing function with several clients, I believe organizations need to keep a laser focus on four core elements when embarking on their transformation journey:
1. The Strategy
With social distancing and limited face-to-face interactions becoming the next normal, organizations will now have to look for all possible opportunities to engage with the customer digitally. Organizations would have to be available on digital platforms, anticipate customer needs proactively and engage every time a customer starts looking for a product, service or information. Providing personalized, omnichannel customer experience will play a significant role in gaining brand salience and early mindshare. As part of the strategy, organizations will have to now understand the new norms adopted by customers and their digital journey touchpoints. To align with the new norms, organizations will have to adjust their goals, examine technical feasibility, ecosystem flexibility, scalability, transformation success criteria, adoption strategy, and several similar aspects. This stage has always been, and will now become even more, crucial for any successful MarTech transformation journey.
2. Data Unification
Unifying customer data lies at the core of delivering relevant and meaningful customer experiences. The success of a MarTech ecosystem depends on the quality of customer data that is available. With the growing number of online channels used by customers, it is cumbersome to understand individual customer behaviors and preferences in order to engage in a personal manner. Organizations, therefore, need to leverage a unified platform that integrates customer profiles from multiple discrete sources into a centralized location, allowing segmentation for relevant customer interactions across customer journey touchpoints.
3. MarTech Stack
Defining an appropriate MarTech ecosystem is one of the toughest tasks for a marketer, especially because of the overwhelming variants of tools and technologies available today. According to analysts, marketers utilize only 58% of their MarTech stack’s potential,i and this comes at a time when marketing leaders are spending 26% of their marketing budgets on MarTech. An underutilized MarTech stack is the result of a distorted MarTech strategy. While defining your MarTech stack it is necessary to first understand the foundational elements of the ecosystem. The core system includes a CRM, CMS, Marketing Automation, and analytics platform. Additional components (for example, Ad-Tech, Social Media Management, etc.) are introduced into the ecosystem to further strengthen the operational efficiency and relevancy, while ensuring alignment with the overall business goals and objectives [the success of a MarTech system would also depend on the knowledge and skill sets of people working on the platforms].
4. Marketing Analytics
With the plethora of customer information available within the digital space, it has become extremely difficult for organizations to identify individual customer needs and behavior and engage accordingly. A survey of senior marketers conducted by the CMO Council and published in the Harvard Business Review showed that “more than 80% of respondents were dissatisfied with their ability to measure marketing ROI.“ ii The need for Marketing Analytics has never been so relevant. Today leading organizations are willing to spend more on analytics in order to better gauge the effectiveness of their marketing activities as well as improve relationships with existing and new customers. However, organizations need to keep in mind that analytics and marketing attribution models need to be used in tandem to deliver measurable outcomes.
At ITC Infotech, we leverage our MarTech Ecosystem Maturity Assessment framework to define the current state of the ecosystem. The framework covers 30+ attributes (see figure) to gauge the maturity levels of the ecosystem before ascertaining the optimum path to attain the next stage of transformation.
For organizations that want to create a comprehensive tech-based ecosystem/process, allowing superior customer engagement, experience, guaranteed conversions and retention mechanisms, it is advisable to collaborate with specialized entities like ITC Infotech Ltd. and tread effortlessly towards realizing the desired MarTech end-state.
Sr. Project Manager