Tips to Focus on Customer in the Crowded Martech Landscape What customers crave across brands and industry is a seamless experience

By Sarah Tarraf

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As many industry experts can attest, the marketing technology (martech) landscape is an exceedingly crowded one. In fact, according to Scott Brinker's 2019 MarTech 5000 graphic, there are currently over 7,000 technology solutions for marketing professionals to harness technology to analyse data, conduct customer follow-up, measure ROI, and justify marketing spend.

While competition in the market is intrinsically a good thing to spark innovation, unfortunately, with a multitude of platforms comes fragmentation and information silos. So, the question becomes, what is the best way for organizations to optimize the land of plenty when a growing amount of their customer analytics data is being sourced from disparate platforms.

The Landscape Today

While the martech landscape is incredibly complex, Brinker's graphic illustrates only a fraction of all consumer touch points and their associated customer information. As the specific tools to complete a variety of tasks and processes grows exponentially, so do the drawbacks. When organizations are using a multitude of different platforms to implement something, it becomes difficult to integrate information and develop a streamlined approach to drive towards the same end. As a result, it becomes harder to develop a cohesive view of the customer.

Leapfrogging Informational Silos

The challenge marketers face is bringing everything together to cultivate a streamlined experience for consumers and the employees interacting with them. It is important to understand that often companies have a fragmented view of who the customer is, especially if there are different owners for each piece of the customer journey who not only operate in different informational silos, but also on different physical silos inside an organization. Even if a company is able to boil it down to a few tools that are streamlined and working together harmoniously, it becomes easy to view one's role as a steward of the tool rather than a change agent in the organization.

When platforms talk with one another, there still must be a human and emotional element ensuring the data drives strategic, customer-focused actions back up through the enterprise. Tools should be a means, not an end. Even if the tools are organically working to cross disseminate information, having free-flowing and transparent communication between each person who owns a piece of the journey is paramount.

Customers: I'll Tell You What They Really, Really Want

What customers crave across brands and industry is a seamless experience. As tools are streamlined and optimized, companies can create experiences with few hiccups. Even if on the back-end omnichannel experiences are supported by multiple tools, it is important to make the customer feel like all touch points and their experiences are driven by one unified brand. This hinges on taking the individual customer-level information that lives and breathes in both marketing and customer experience spheres of influence and translating it upward to broader strategy.

Where to Begin?

While it is true that streamlining tools will help uncomplicate the customer experience, the answer when it comes to priorities in developing a truly customer-centric approach is twofold.

Companies need to streamline the customer view and work across informational silos to do this. However, even if this is accomplished, another big challenge organizations face, which this fragmented view of tools and technologies can mask is that even when there is a solid view of the customer from the data, companies need to take action in service of that. They require a solid approach to spurring and managing the organizational change that must occur as a result of those single actions.

Think about your marketing stack of tools. Why did you get these tools in the first place? Was it to accomplish one singular goal? Or was it to add a piece to an entire ecosystem designed to create intentional experiences for your customers that are in line with your brand? If so, that is a step beyond the data and information the tools alone can provide. Companies must take a step back and focus on the intention behind the tools. It is important to consider the change agent component of the user just as much as the technology that facilitates it.

Looking Forward

Many companies are adopting the mindset of "measure less talk more", meaning that while there are so many things that can be measured and tracked, it can get to a point where it becomes automated and the human viewpoint is lost. Barring a consolidation or contraction of the martech landscape, leaders must think and talk about this "human element" more. Successful brands will take it to heart when selecting their marketing stack and in turn, using the data provided to facilitate actionable change well beyond what any tool can provide.

Sarah Tarraf

Director (customer experience), Gongos, Inc

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