Opportunities And Gaps In MarTech

Last week I was asked what the biggest opportunities and gaps are in the MarTech stack. It’s an interesting question when one considers all the technology that’s available in the market. While I could opine on features and functions that I’d like to see, what really bugs me is the fact that so much of the overarching promise of marketing technology remains unfulfilled.

Effectiveness-Focused MarTech 

Efficiency has been the primary focus on MarTech since its beginning. If you look at early marketing automation, heck even much of what you see today, the focus is on getting rid of the manual efforts of marketing professionals. It feels sometimes like the tech is focused on helping marketers “make it up on volume”. Yes, automated testing will discover the best content to be delivered in a campaign, but the best relative to what? What grows revenue? More often “better” means some top-of-funnel activity.

That’s good for a start but the promise of marketing technology is delivering marketing activity that more directly connects to the business results. That’s the thing we were all sold way back at the beginning of this thing. Tim Peter and I talked recently about how martech is essential to personalization. Marketing technology was supposed to make marketers more relevant to the business. More focused on business results. More connected to the things that CEOs care about. It feels like the struggle is still very real.

Data Integration

Connecting marketing data to the things that happen downstream — sales, fulfillment, support — is another one of the promises of the marketing technology revolution. Most tech today is fairly open. APIs are abundant. 

In addition, there are ecosystems such as Salesforce and Hubspot that allow you to easily connect marketing and sales data. The great irony in all this is that it’s easier today for a small business to have a highly integrated marketing stack than it is for a large enterprise.

Much of the promise of integrated suites is undelivered. I’ve heard marketing execs talk about how they are unable to deploy some feature in their marketing stack because it requires some wiring that has to be performed by their IT team. The vendor calls it “configuration” but to marketing pros it’s still IT.

Interconnectedness 

Data integration is a start, but having systems talk to one another only serves a purpose if it drives a process. You can’t make outcomes better if your business processes don’t support actions driven by the data that is being presented. 

The intersection of marketing and sales is a prime example. Long an area of contention — sales teams don’t move quickly enough on the leads presented by marketing and marketing teams don’t give quality leads worth progressing — nothing gets better despite data integration unless the processes are tightly integrated.

Process integration doesn’t happen because tools are wired together. Process integration happens when humans work together to design processes that support shared goals and shared methods. Only then can data and tech help make the business outcomes better.

These three challenges aren’t new. They may be the unattainable holy grails of business. That said, they are worth chasing. Vendors focused on outcomes and data supporting optimized processes are the things that will drive business growth even if we’re never able to achieve the perfection that we seek.

To learn how to improve conversions by putting your data to work with automation — connect with me.

Is your personalization for your visitors… or for you?

Let’s view personalization through your visitor’s eyes

Anyone who has kept up with me on just about any social media platforms knows I’m all about music, and my guilty pleasure – always – would be investing in a new guitar. Or, y’know, guitars. More is better. And if I were to visit a music store that collected data on visitors, they’d know I like a certain make of guitar (I do) and that, for example, I bought two last year and have only bought one so far this year. Maybe, the bright salesperson thinks, “this guy needs need another axe.” 

Poor personalization, which we see all the time, might recommend a guitar exactly like the ones I’ve already bought. Or just knowing I like “guitars” and recommending one that isn’t the right price point, lacks the right features, or doesn’t fit my needs. Or even worse, knows that there’s a warehouse full of unsold Gibsons and suggests a Gibson because that’s what “we need to sell.”

True, effective personalization on the other hand recommends a guitar maybe one level up from what I bought last time or that people just like me also own. It needs to take into account me. The real me. It knows my interests, my behaviors, my goals, my spending habits, and much, much more. But it understands me, not as a target or as a prospect. But as a human being. 

High-quality personalization requires two types of data

What differentiates good personalization is an understanding of your visitor and what their preferences are. These preferences can be explicit or implicit.

  1. Explicit: Explicit data reflects what individuals have told you about themselves. Maybe you bought syndicated research or you have first-party information that human beings gave you. Explicit data often doesn’t feel like merchandising because you’re simply reflecting the best product for their particular needs based on what they’ve told you.
  2. Implicit: Implicit data on the other hand comes from looking at your customers’ patterns of behavior and performing pattern matching, suggesting content and products based on their activity or the activities of others like them. This is how behavior based personalization works

Study your visitor’s behavior

In behavior based personalization, the behavior that’s being exhibited on the site leads us to believe the customer is trying to achieve a certain goal. Once we understand the goal, we can test to see if we’re right (I say “we” because content recommendation is what I do with SoloSegment.) We say, “Hey, here’s some recommended content that seems to match what you want. Does this help you progress your journey?” (Clearly, we’re not explicitly stating that out loud, but that’s essentially what the models are looking to understand). Even better, the model gets a little smarter every time, learns from customer behaviors, delivers another iteration – or iterations, in practice – and makes the experience better for the customer. You’d expect a good salesperson to do this naturally, right? So why not expect the same of your website… your 24/7/365 salesperson?

Again, this is all about understanding your customer’s goal. Personalized content recommendations make suggestions to a visitor about the best content they can check out next. If you have data about the topics customers are interested in, why not help keep them on topic? Why not help them find what they really want? And as the data helps you discern customer intent, move them towards their ultimate objective. Which, I should point out, is what you want anyway. 

What is your visitor’s goal?

“How can we sell these guitars in the warehouse?” I’m sorry to say, is usually not the right question. It’s not about “What are we trying to achieve?” The right question is “What is the customer trying to achieve?”

That understanding, that focus on customer objectives and helping customers progress along their journey is what truly differentiates good personalization from bad. And its utility goes even beyond that; the better you understand your customer, the better you can merchandise whatever it is you sell, whether it’s enterprise technology, financial services, or, y’know, electric guitars. In practice, it doesn’t even matter whether it’s B2C or B2B

What’s your customer’s goal? What data do you have about the customer? And did you use that data in ways that help them reach their goal? That’s not just great personalization. That’s music to my ears. 
Interested in what implicit, behavior based personalization can do to help you drive revenue for your business? Check out SoloSegment’s technology solutions right here.

The Challenge Of B2B Personalization

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve had 147 conversations with B2B marketing leaders. These aren’t sales calls. I’m not pitching anything. They’re conversations about the issues that are top of mind for these professionals. I guide these discussions with questions around areas we’re interested in, but the main goal is to get a sense of the market. It turns out that personalization is a top of mind issue.

Keep Your Content from Disappearing into the Blogroll

Your content marketing is too valuable to waste

How findable is the content on your site? If the answer is that you aren’t sure — you may have a problem. And you aren’t alone. Many marketers spend great lengths of time on content marketing. But a lot of that content goes unread. The main problem is that the people you want to read it can’t find it.

Personalization — It’s Not Just for B2C

This past year, the demand for personalization is at an all-time high.

According to a Lytics white paper, two-thirds of customers want brands to adjust content based on their real-time context. Over 40% are annoyed if you don’t. And another two-thirds of those said they skip making a purchase out of annoyance.

That’s not just a problem for retail.

SearchChat Podcast: Personalization–Meeting Customers in the Moment

Personalization: why do it? No, this isn’t a suggestion that you shouldn’t. It’s just important to think about why you are doing it in the first place. Personalization needs to benefit the customer experience and drive your business.

What Marketers Can Learn From Facebook’s Privacy Mess

In my work at SoloSegment and with individual clients, I spend tons of time working at the intersections of marketing, artificial intelligence, data, and privacy. I suspect the same is true for you too. Of course, that means we all spend lots of time working with — and worrying about — the role played by Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and especially given their recent missteps with regard to data and privacy, Facebook. Which is why Mark Zuckerberg’s recent opinion piece in the Washington Post proved so fascinating. Zuckerberg talked about Facebook’s challenges, and to address these asked for government regulation in a number of areas:

SearchChat Podcast: Own, Don’t Rent your Data

The surveys dropping lately show a staggering trend towards the hottest and most concerning topic out there: data. A recent survey by B2B Marketing and The MX Group identified the differences between top performing and poor performing B2B marketers. CMO identifies data ownership as the top most important subject to marketers. Yet another survey by ClickZ and ChatMeter reveals people’s main concerns to be machine learning, personalization and data privacy.

SearchChat Podcast: Customer Intent is New Again

Alternatively: Chicken Soup for the Customer’s Soul

It’s time to start thinking about the value of intent based marketing differently. The idea itself isn’t new, but now the data is finally there for people to solve their business problems.

What is your customer experience like if you could walk into a diner feeling under the weather, and are immediately offered chicken soup? Online companies don’t have to lose that personal touch. 

Meet Behavior-Based Content Recommendation

The new personalized approach to B2B content recommendation

Understanding customer behavior is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to professionals. The right data that provides you with a glimpse into their intent will allow you to effectively connect potential customers to the content that is going to help them achieve their goal. So where do you find intent data? It exists in the systems you use today. Behavior-based personalization is a strategy to offer intent-based content recommendation. If you know where to look and you have the ability to mobilize that data you can use it to progress journeys, convert more business and win more often.