I came across a great report yesterday – the Walker Sands “State of Marketing Technology 2016: Understanding The New Martech Buyer Journey.”
The report comprises survey results from more than 300 marketers involved with marketing technology purchasing decisions. While most of the findings were expected – e.g., 51% of respondents think their companies need to invest in more tech – a few stats got me thinking…
35% of marketers cite difficulty in implementation as a top obstacle to MarTech adoption
Implementation problems was the second most cited issue with tech adoption (the first was understandably budget). And while 35% certainly isn’t insignificant, I feel as if this is a much lower figure than a few years ago. Technology has in recent years become so embedded in our everyday marketing lives that we’re learning how to handle it much better.
However, that isn’t to say we couldn’t all benefit from a few helpful tips regarding smooth martech rollouts. And the best advice I ever gained was this: “Focus on a couple quick wins and expand steadily from there.”
This means selecting a pilot program that'll allow a specific group to experience, test and evaluate a new technology and adjust processes as needed before large-scale deployment.
Unforeseen issues often arise, so selecting a pilot based on a balance of priorities and easy wins is a very good idea. It’ll allow you to gain experience (and skills) with the new system while showing impact to the stakeholders who approved the investment. Nothing’s worse than being denied a renewal just when you’re starting to reap full value form a tech investment.
Also, set goals before your implementation. It doesn’t matter how off they turn out – they’ll help you track progress against which you can later measure post-pilot performance. They’ll also help you identify shortcomings in processes, resources or even the technology itself.
Perhaps most important is that you have a power user(s) in mind before investment. Marketing tech these days is very sophisticated, requiring much customization – to processes, strategies, tactics, and the tech itself. The most successful tech rollouts are attached to key individuals, who learn the ins-and-outs during the pilot and then lead subsequent rollout phases.
Only 11% of marketers consider sales reps very influential while researching MarTech solutions
This statistic astonished me. Understanding sales’ priorities, concerns and processes enables us to gain valuable information used to boost marketing’s impact and value.
Moreover, only 5% learn about new technology from sales reps, and 65% say they're at least halfway to a decision before contacting a sales rep.
As my friend Kyle Gale once put it:
“Think of the customer acquisition funnel as an Olympic relay team; the team may be made up of four Usain Bolts, but it’s not going to matter much if they can’t figure out how to pass the baton (the customer). Marketing may own 60% of the funnel, but you still need sales to finish the race.”
Sales is the lens through which marketing is seen. Sure lead volume and MQL conversion rates are great metrics for marketing’s performance, but if a forecasted number of those leads don’t convert to customers, it’s going to reflect on marketing just as much as sales (possibly even more).
The fact of the matter is that marketing’s value is in many ways resting in the hands of sales. So it makes sense to include sales on tech decisions. Often they have differing perspectives that you wouldn’t think of on your own, which often makes the proposed tech investment even more valuable than initially thought.
44% of marketers begin their search for MarTech “when they recognize a need”
Although this report focuses on marketers’ search for and adoption of marketing technology, it drew my attention to a common, marketing-wide misconception; namely, the notion that B2B tech-buyers recognize needs in a vacuum.
The report does this when it states (like so many reports and articles before it) that recognizing a need is the primary catalyst for individuals to begin searching for new technology.
I find this misleading. “Recognizing a need” is so broad that it means almost nothing. Yet, when it’s simply stated (as in this case), it implies that an individual one day magically discovers a hole in their process, one that needs to be filled. And so that individual does the first rational thing that comes to mind – googles a solution.
This concept has in many ways been the cornerstone of inbound marketing’s importance in recent years. And the typical conclusion is that marketers need to get their website, blog and SEO games right, which they certainly do.
But in doing this – in positing this idea of “needs found in a vacuum” – it causes marketers to neglect half of their content strategy, specifically the part where you look at external distribution to generate demand.
Instead, marketing resources are typically unbalanced toward initiatives that focus on the buyer journey after prospects reach your site. Why would we want to neglect tactics that go out and bring prospects to our websites and blogs?
Good content is what causes tech buyers to recognize needs. Waiting for such needs to be recognized on their own is ridiculous. Good content strategy promotes awareness of needs well beyond blog posts and SEO. If your audience is at your website, they’ve likely already recognized the need. Blogs are definitely useful in creating needs awareness, but even the best blogs have limited reach.
You need to get your content out to where audiences are having the conversations, because they’re not going to magically appear at your website.
Unfortunately, outbound marketing (such as content syndication) is often given only cursory consideration: “Oh, here’s a white paper. Go get me some leads.” But when done right, with thoughtful strategic planning and orchestration, marketers grow their pipeline value significantly.