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At the end of April, we spent a great three days at the Gartner Marketing Symposium attending sessions put on by Gartner analysts and vendors, discussing the latest trends and practices marketers should be embracing. The overall message: it is a great time to be in marketing! With the increasing amounts of data and new technologies, we can do things now that we could never do before, and that’s pretty amazing. Here are a few key takeaways:

1. Marketing executives are spending money on technology.

With the massive amounts of data available today, marketers can gain valuable insights into their customers so it’s no surprise Martech continues to account for the largest part of marketers’ budgets. The amount marketers are spending on technology has gone up by seven percent in a single year from 2017 to 2018. For the first time ever, in the years that Gartner has been benchmarking data, the investments companies are making in technology are outpacing the investments they are making in people. As companies double down on new technologies and new tools, that trend is expected to continue into 2019.

Image Credit: Rethinking Customer Relationships. Brent Anderson, Distinguished VP, Advisory, Gartner.

2. Customer analytics and experience are top priorities.

As part of Gartner’s benchmarking data, they asked companies, “What capabilities do you consider most vital in supporting the delivery of your company’s marketing strategy over the next 18 months?” They received the following answers as the top three marketing investment priorities:

  • Marketing and customer data analytics — 40 percent
  • Marketing technology acquisition and use — 34 percent
  • Customer experience — 30 percent

It’s no surprise that with the increase in Martech spend, analytics and technology acquisition are top priorities for marketers. And all of that technology boils down to one thing: customers. Marketers need more data to understand what their customers are truly doing. But to do that, they need access to that data in order to track behavioral analytics, which requires an investment in technology. Once they have those insights, marketers can create new, better experiences that will delight their customers and ensure their loyalty for years to come.

3. One technology platform will not solve all of your problems.

There is an overwhelming amount of marketing technology platforms in the marketplace today — 6,829, to be exact. Surely, that number rises every year (if not every day!). According to the session presented by IBM, Forrester found that the average large enterprise is using a combination of 91 different marketing technology applications and tools. Small- to mid-size organizations are using fewer — between 25 and 50 — which is still a lot to manage, given that on average, these smaller companies will also have fewer marketing professionals. The challenge? Most of these applications are not integrated. Data is siloed in each system, and it’s difficult to flow that data back and forth.

Image Credit: Chief Martec

What’s the answer? According to Gartner, there isn’t one tool or technology that will solve all of your problems. Most company’s Martech and technology ecosystems consist of engagement systems, insights systems and operations systems that house customer data. You can’t simply purchase one off-the-shelf application or customer data platform (CDP) and expect that tool to unify customer data across your organization. What you should be doing is using a “hub and spoke” approach, or a combination of tools that can be integrated to meet your specific needs.

4. Companies must have alignment between departments and a defined strategy for successful technology implementation.

If you’re tackling a customer data project within your organization, there must be alignment between departments to be successful. In almost every session that I attended, the Gartner analyst spoke of how critical it is for collaboration across departments in the organization. You must put together a team with representation from IT, operations, customer service, sales and marketing — every department that houses key customer data. To ensure collaboration amongst departments, dedicate a leader to champion your project across the organization. Then define a strategy, roadmap and use cases for the data. Without a strategy, you’re likely to end up with a costly technology implementation that you never use. According to Gartner, 52 percent of organizations that spend money on CDPs, or even data lakes, never use them effectively.

5. Sometimes you need outside help.

A marketing technology implementation can be a big and daunting undertaking. It may be hard to even know where to start. Between forming your team, defining your strategy, outlining your use cases and selecting a technology, there is a lot to be considered. In most cases, a little help from business and technology experts will go a long way. According to Gartner, companies are looking to agencies and consulting firms to help implement technology projects and break down data silos.

Image Credit: Benchmark Your Multichannel Marketing Technology Stack to Thrive in 2020 and Beyond. Colin Ried, Sr Director Analyst, Gartner.

For your implementation to be successful, and to not fall into Gartner’s 52 percent of failed projects, seek out help from a partner with marketing and technology expertise.

We know of a good one.

6. Hire Zirous.

Okay, this wasn’t a topic at the conference. However, it did confirm that what Zirous is doing is so important. Our long-running technology experience coupled with our growing martech experience means we bring a deep understanding of the use cases and business outcomes that are important to both the CIO and the CMO. If your organization is struggling with or just starting on your digital transformation journey, get in touch! We’d love to help!

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