5 Symptoms you’re Under Utilizing your Marketing Platform

Marketing technology has exploded in the last 10 years.  New solutions pop up on a seemingly daily basis and just when you think you’ve mastered one, along comes a new solution, channel or category of tech that you’re forced to master.  If marketing tech was a dandelion, it would resemble my lawn in late June….a sea of yellow!  We’ve all seen the infamous graphic of marketing platform solutions that look like a kindergarten class when crazy on a mosaic project.

The latest iteration of the martech landscape is nothing short of nauseating…to look at.

But as a martech aficionado…I relish the beauty of the chaos because for too long, I…and many others in my age class (cough-40..ish-cough) languished in the world of email, excel and antidepressants.  Today, we have more data, software, workflow, widgets, gadgets, charts, marts and carts than we could master in a lifetime. That’s both a blessing and a curse.  The blessing of course is when we magically make the right technology choices for our companies based on needs, markets and skillsets, we enjoy a level of efficiency that we could not have hoped to achieve in the past.  I personally used a marketing automation tool to run a global marketing initiative that included 3-5 events and another 8-10 unique email campaigns per month against a database of 300,000 plus contacts for over 2 years….with 2 people….because tech we had in place was the right fit for our unique circumstance.

On the “curse” side of the argument, there’s the issue of martech overload.  This is where a company acquires one or many marketing technologies but fails to utilize the software to their fullest extent.  This is most often seen with cloud-based marketing platforms (marketing automation solutions).

There are a number of easily identifiable symptoms that can tell you if you’re underutilizing the software you’ve invested.  Before we dig into those, it’s important to understand the effects.

Firstly, not using something you’ve paid for is just plain silly.  Image buying a house but living in only two rooms while leaving all the other rooms empty….it’s crazy right?  Well that’s pretty much what you’re doing if you buy a comprehensive marketing platform and run a monthly newsletter e-blast out of it.

Second, if you’re not using the tools you’ve invested  in, you may be falling short of campaign goals due to a lack of training or skillsets needed to execute on the plan.  This may fly under the radar for a while…until a VP Sales or CFO comes a knockin….wondering why sales goals and lead gen goals are not being met.  Spolier alert….that usually doesn’t end well for marketing.

Five Symptoms that spell trouble

Email blasting

Hands down this is the single most telling sign that you’re not using your marketing platform(s) to their fullest extent.  When companies have at their disposal marketing platforms like IBM Marketing Cloud and they are producing nothing more than weekly email blasts, then you have a serious issue.  The issue could be lack of time, resources or training.  It’s imperative you quickly figure out which issue(s) it is because you’re not only wasting money, you’re wasting incredibly valuable segment data and nurture program capabilities.  Today’s email marketing (b2b or b2c) should be program-based and utilize behavioral and demographic segment data to drive highly personalized communications over time.  You have to think in terms of long-term engagement with respect to email….especially since email filters are beginning to score engagement by sender domain.

Perpetual Evaluation of New Technology

Is your team constantly shopping for new martech? Are they in a perpetual state of looking for the greener grass?  Spoiler alert….there is no greener grass….just prettier weeds.  Every solution on the market today provides a similar set of functions capable of delivering good results when used properly.  If your mid-level folks keep knocking on the door asking you to look at vendor demos and checking to see if they can swap out this tech for that tech…it’s bad.  Technology evaluations are costly….in time and lost productivity. I’ve told many folks who’ve worked for me that want to swap out a technology to prove why it doesn’t work for them and show me that they’ve at least tried to master it.  Sometimes, a switch is needed…but if this is a never ending exercise….look deeper into a lack of training, skills and resources.

Spreadsheets……just spreadsheets

Are you getting a lot of spreadsheets for reporting purposes?  Are you getting multiple reports that tell the same story?  That’s bad….and it typically means the analytics provided by the marketing platform are not configured or customized for your company.  This is usually a failure of training, implementation and lack of integration of the solution into other core systems.  Marketing platforms should deliver on the promise of providing a complete view – high and low-level – of the marketing funnel including campaign performance.  If it’s not, you need to dig into the back end of the solution to find out why reports are not set up, working or pulling the right data from the right places.

Spreadsheets have a place in the business world…..neatly tucked away behind a door that says “Accounting”

Segmentation

If you can explain the rational of your segmentation strategy to a 4 year old and they get it….that’s bad.  The type of segments needed to drive highly personalized campaigns that illicit long-term engagement require, at a minimum, demographic and behavioral data.  There can be many sub-types of behavioral data including implicit, explicit, purchase, browsing and user experience data.  If you’re blasting away on title, location, age….etc….it’s time to step up your game.  This is normally a function of your marketing system not being properly integrated or lack of training or basic database marketing skill sets on staff.

Your website isn’t tagged

This is simple but surprisingly common.  Most marketing platforms contain a web javascript that, when placed on your site(s) like Google analytics, allow you to detect when individuals visit your site.  Individuals are identified by email address once they click through an email or complete a form from within the same platform.  This valuable implicit behavioral data can then be used to drive automated campaigns timed based on when customers or prospective buyers are engaged with you through your digital channels.  If you don’t have this script on your site, put it on now!

How to cure the disease once it’s diagnosed

As was mentioned throughout, most of the issues described are a result of insufficient training, lack of skill sets, lack of integration, improper setup and configuration or some combination of all.   All to often, vendors are not set up to properly manage your ongoing training, development and integration needs long term.  This is particularly true of cloud (SaaS) marketing vendors.  Their models are most often built on the premise of web-based training and delivery along with knowledge bases and videos. You may have had turnover in your department and your martech guru has left and you’re struggling to either find a replacement or train up another member of your team.  You may have a lack of internal IT support for your systems and struggle anytime there’s a technical issue such as integration, website tagging…etc.

A popular solution that has grown out of the explosion in martech adoption and system complexity is managed services for SaaS marketing solutions.  This is like traditional professional services consulting only it’s delivered remotely to keep costs down.  Basically, you’re hiring people who are highly trained in the systems you use to train, manage and/or execute programs for you in accordance with your company’s marketing goals.   Companies like CLEARGOALS specialize in a particular solution set, in our case, IBM Watson Marketing and all the solutions within, including their flagship Marketing Automation platform, IBM Marketing Cloud.  Our highly trained specialists can deliver a wide array of services for companies who may be struggling for any number of the reasons mentioned within this blog post.  Sometimes having an outside opinion look at your solution and how it’s being used can identify and fix the issues quickly….or you may choose to hire an ongoing resource to make sure you’re getting the most out of the system.  Regardless, services companies are adapting to an ever increasing need driven by an explosion in technology coupled with a lack of highly trained, available employees.

About the blogger

Kevin Miller serves as VP Marketing & Sales for CLEARGOALS and is a 25-year veteran of marketing, marketing technology and marketing services.  A former CMO and long-time marketing consultant, Kevin also co-founded a successful marketing automation technology software company.  Connect with Kevin on Linkedin or contact direct at kevin.miller@cleargoals.com