Strategy, Jul 16, 2021

Understanding MarTech in a customer-centric world

Drew Allen

MarTech, the marriage of marketing and technology, has quickly become an essential competency for companies looking to enable customer-centric, personalised marketing. However, much like modern art, many people appreciate the idea of MarTech without fully understanding it. The Martech Landscape continues to evolve as startups and existing companies join the fray - staking claims and carving out niche offerings across a variety of categories. This prompts the question, “How can we make sense of all that MarTech has to offer?”

In this blog post, we’ll provide the answer to this question whilst answering the following questions to provide you with insights to capture value in a MarTech world:

  1. What is MarTech?
  2. Why does MarTech matter?
  3. Where do I start?
  4. How can I implement MarTech effectively?

Read next: Why ‘connectedness’ is vital to achieve personalisation and a single view of the customer

1. What is MarTech?

To understand MarTech, we first need to define the building blocks of the word—marketing and technology.

  • Marketing is the art of growing a business through a competitive understanding of customers and their needs.

  • Technology is the ever-changing collection of tools that empowers us to accomplish our tasks.

Combine these words, and we have a collection of different tools designed to help us better understand our customers and meet their needs.

While some interpret this to simply mean ‘digital advertising’, MarTech encompasses far more. The MarTech ecosystem supports automated functionality, ranging from customer data ingestion and predictive analytics to content creation and content delivery across channels. Accordingly, brands who effectively utilise MarTech can gain a deeper understanding of their customers and deliver personalised experiences at scale.

The bottom line: When implemented properly, MarTech can span entire customer journeys—collecting data, providing insights, and delivering content tailored to specific customers through an orchestrated ecosystem of tools to deliver personalised experiences.

2. Why does MarTech matter?

It’s simple. MarTech matters because it enables personalised experiences that customers demand. The following key findings from a study conducted in 2019 by RedPoint Global and The Harris Poll highlight the importance of enabling personalised marketing:

  • 63% of consumers expect personalised experiences as a part of their standard service.

  • 53% of consumers expect brands to know and anticipate their buying habits, preferences, and needs.

  • 43% of consumers expect to be recognised across all touchpoints.

  • 37% of consumers claimed that personalisation increases their brand loyalty.
Furthermore, 37% of the respondents reported that they would no longer do business with companies failing to provide personalisation—pointing towards frustrating experiences such as receiving offers for recent purchases, receiving offers for irrelevant products, or failing to be recognised as existing customers.

The bottom line: Customers expect personalised, cohesive experiences and brand interactions across channels; MarTech is important because it provides the tools necessary for meeting and exceeding these expectations.

3. Where do I start?

There are multiple places one could begin unravelling the MarTech world, ranging from advanced data analytics and content management to customer journeys and lookalike targeting. The diagram below, Credera’s MarTech reference architecture, depicts how all MarTech components work together to enable one-to-one marketing use cases such as personalised landing pages, emails, and targeted paid media ads:

MarTech-Reference-ArchitectureIn this diagram, data flows from left to right. Consumer data is collected from first- and third-party sources and processed to a centralised storage location with customer consents in mind. Then, using this single view of the customer, decisioning takes place to determine what content to deliver to the customer via the optimal channel. Surrounding this process, tools are used for marketing activation across owned (e.g. website, email, text, mobile app, etc.) and paid (e.g. media, social, search, etc.) channels, whilst measurement and analytics tools provide a feedback loop to inform where future investments should be made.

While this ecosystem may initially seem overwhelming, we recommend beginning your understanding of the MarTech ecosystem with the customer data platform (CDP), the home for storing and unifying customer data in a MarTech solution stack, as the foundation for your MarTech knowledge.

What is a customer data platform (CDP)?

According to the CDP Institute, customer data platform is simply ‘packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.’ CDPs collect and store customer data, unify that data into customer profiles, segment customers into audiences based on similarities for determining next best actions, and then make that data accessible to other marketing systems such as content delivery platforms, data management platforms, or analytics engines.

The following diagram highlights the CDP’s role in a MarTech stack:

CDP-Diagram-TungUsing personal identifiers, CDPs can maintain individual customer profiles, including customer behaviours and preferences over time and across channels. Then, established business rules may invoke artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to determine the next best action for each customer based on their data. As customers receive and interact with personalised content, data is sent back to the CDP that can be used to optimise future touchpoints based on positive and negative customer reactions.

An analogy about why CDPs matter:

Imagine we are designing a greeting card for someone. We can select from a range of colours, materials, quotes, funny jokes, and celebratory phrases. We buy all the content, the tools to organise the content, and even the stamps and envelopes for shipping the card. When it’s time to make the card, however, we realise that we don’t know who the recipient is, what they like or dislike, or whether they are even celebrating a special occasion. The same concept applies in marketing. We can buy all the MarTech tools for creating, organising, and delivering great content, but these investments are wasted unless we can easily access information to know who our customers are and what they want.

Accordingly, the CDP stores and unifies customer information—serving as our foundation for creating personalised, cohesive experiences for customers across channels and devices.

The bottom line: Customer data platforms are essential to understand because they serve as the foundation for creating real-time, personalised, customer experiences across channels at scale.

4. Can I implement MarTech today?

Whilst the value of delivering personalised customer experiences is clear, successful implementation of MarTech tools like CDPs requires the right resources, processes, and organisational alignment. Before investing in an implementation, we recommend assessing your organisation’s readiness for MarTech enablement across people, process, and technology to identify gaps between current state and desired future state—avoiding unforeseen obstacles that could impede successful implementation.

Assessing current capabilities, prioritising gap-closing initiatives, and creating an implementation plan lays a solid foundation for building a MarTech ecosystem to remain competitive in the fast-changing marketing landscape.

In a nutshell

Combining the right people, processes, data, and technology together can be the difference between a good marketing strategy and one that truly becomes a powerful competitive advantage. In our recent whitepaper, 'Are you failing to deliver a single view of the customer?', we explain how ensuring "connectedness" across four business areas will help you achieve SVC and personalised insights. 

Download the whitepaper
Read more:
Whitepaper extract: Why are you failing to deliver a unified and consistent view of your customer?
Podcast: The barriers and opportunities to creating a single view of the customer - Part 1
Podcast: The barriers and opportunities to creating a single view of the customer - Part 2

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