Marketers – You have too many choices

I have a little secret for everyone in the world of marketing: You have too many choices.

There are way too many technology platforms in existence today. Too many ‘tools’ and too many products.  You have too many choices when it comes to getting your work done. Let’s take a quick second to glance at Scott Brinker’s MarTech 5000 landscape:

Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2018)

I’m sorry, but that’s just too many choices; especially when put in the hands of people that don’t really understand the long-term implications of multiple technology platforms.

Sure, there may be a formal selection process (in my experience, there’s not…or at least it isn’t followed) and  rarely is there a strategic vision when it comes to MarTech. There’s a bunch of tactical ‘needs’ for why a particular type of platform is needed/wanted and even a hand-wave toward ‘strategy’ but rarely is there an in-depth review of how a new platform will make things better for the marketing team and the organization as a whole and (ahem…most importantly) help reach the strategic objective of the organization.

Too many choices can be a real problem.  Need an ‘optimization’ platform for A/B testing (or other optimization issues)?  I’m sure you can find 30 or 40 vendors out there selling some version of a platform that will do what you need it to do.  Do you take the time to run a thorough selection process or do you find the first one that fits your ‘right now’ need and your budget and push ‘buy’?  Based on my experience, people do the latter and pick the first one they find that does what they need to do.  They find a solution to the problem they have today with very little to no thought put into how that platform will integrate into their broader organization’s ecosystem and/or whether the solution will solve their problem tomorrow.

Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I love the possibilities that these choices offer an organization, but only if proper governance is used when selecting and implementing these choices.  Based on my conversations with clients and marketing /  IT professionals over the last few years, there’s very little of this happening.

Over the last 3 years about half the projects I been asked to be a part of are projects to help simplify the  ecosystem within an organization.  I’ve seen companies with over 100 platforms being used within the marketing team with very few of those systems able to talk to each other — and the lives of the marketing team had become a living hell because they had too many systems, too little control of their data and too little insight into what they are able to do, how to do things and who to go to for help.

What’s the solution?

There’s not an ‘easy’ answer.

It will take hard work, focus and a real drive toward reducing the complexity within your marketing organization.  Think of it as putting your team on a diet – a MarTech diet.  When you ‘need’ (by the way – its rarely a ‘need’ and usually a ‘want’ in these cases) some new function that you just can’t live without – check your existing platforms before going out to buy some new tool. If you are absolutely sure you don’t have the functionality in your existing platforms, take a look at what you’re trying to do and think about if its an absolute need and not just a ‘want’.  More importantly, think about the long term vision / strategy of the organization – how does ‘MarTech Platform X’ get you there?  If you can’t easily answer the question, it might be best to try to find a way to do what you need to do with your existing ecosystem.


Digital Maturity or Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation or Digital MaturityEveryone’s working on digital transformation projects.  Much like ‘big data’ or ‘machine learning’, digital transformation is a phrase that you hear every day across just about every organization. The problem with digital transformation is that its not the end goal….you don’t set a goal of ‘being transformed’ especially when you’re looking at the digital space.  Rather, you set goals around engagement, conversion and revenue that are better / higher than what you have today.  You shouldn’t be focused on ‘transforming’ your business but on maturing your business into one that can operate in the digital model for the long run. This requires much more than digital transformation; it requires digital maturity.

MIT Sloan Management Review defines digital maturity in the following way:

Digital maturity is the process of your company learning how to respond appropriately to the emerging digital competitive environment.

Part of any good digital transformation initiative should include aspects that help an organization and its people internalize knowledge about the digital landscape, but most times it stops short of converting information about the digital world into knowledge (and ultimately into wisdom).  According to the DIKW Pyramid, there are three steps required to turn data into wisdom: data -> information -> knowledge -> wisdom.   Digital Transformation often stops short of creating ‘digital wisdom’ which is what’s necessary for digital maturity to occur. Without wisdom, you’re organization hasn’t quite reached the level of digital maturity needed.

With digital maturity, rather than chase new digital projects an organization just is digital.  This doesn’t necessarily mean the organization will have all the answers to all things digital, but it does mean that the people within the organization will have the skills and the tools to find those answers quickly and act upon the digital needs of the organization rather than just talk about the digital needs.

Deloitte released a study recently based on three years of research into digital maturity. In that study, they asked respondents to rate their digital maturity levels from a scale of 1 to 10 with a rating of 1 to 3 being ‘early maturity’, 4 to 6 being ‘developing maturity’ and 7 to 10 being ‘mature’. In the survey, only 25% of respondents rate their organization in the ‘mature’ category.  You can see the outcome of the survey in the image below.

Deloitte's Digital Maturity Survey

A few more interesting stats from that survey:

  • 34% of respondents from organizations at early stages of digital maturity say that their company spends more time talking about digital business than acting on it.
  • Digitally maturing companies are also far more likely than are other organizations—76% of digitally maturing companies versus 32% of businesses at early stages of digital development—to use technology to conduct business in fundamentally different ways
  • Digitally maturing organizations also take a longer view on digital strategy: They are twice as likely as early-stage companies to develop these strategies with time horizons of five years or more.
  • More than 70% of digital maturing businesses are using cross-functional teams to organize work and charging them with implementing digital business priorities. This compares to less than 30% for early-stage organizations

There’s some interesting results there there.  Digitally mature organizations are planning for the ‘long game’ rather than (or maybe in addition to) running around trying to figure out how to get a customer in the door next week. Additionally, these companies with digital maturity are using technology to do things differently than they have done things before.

Digital transformation shouldn’t be the end goal for organizations. You don’t want to just transform into a ‘digital’ company doing things the same way you always have. You want to fundamentally do things differently using technology. That’s what digital maturity is.

This might require new organizational constructs (cross-functional teams, etc), a rethinking of digital platforms (do you really need 50 different martech platforms?) and/or chasing different projects/initiatives.  Reaching digital maturity means going through growing pains, but in the end it should be worth the pain to be able to ‘live digitally’ as an organization.

Don’t just settle for digital transformation for transformation sake. Set the main objective of your digital transformation projects to be digital maturity. Join the Deloitte respondents taking the long view and using technology to change the way you do business.

What is the cost of bad data?

Cost of Bad DataHow much is bad data costing you? It could be very little – or it could be a great deal. In this article I give an example of what the cost of bad data really is.

A few days ago, I received a nice, well designed sales/marketing piece in the mail yesterday. In it, a local window company warned me of the dangers of old windows and the costs associated with them (higher energy costs, etc etc). Note: This was the third such piece I’ve received from this company in about 3 months.

It was a well thought out piece of sales/marketing material. If I had been thinking about new windows, I most likely would be given them a call.

However…my house is less than a year old. So is every other house in the neighborhood of about a thousand homes that are all less than 5 years old. Talking to my neighbors, everyone got a similar sales pitch. I’m not a window salesperson, but I wouldn’t think we are the target market for these types of pitches.

That said, the neighborhood directly beside us is a 20+ year old neighborhood that would be ideal for the pitch. I hope this window company pitched them as well as they pitched me (and I’m assuming they did).

What I suspect happened is this window company bought a ‘targeted’ list from a list broker that promised ‘accurate and up to date’ listings of homeowners in a zip code. Sure, the list is accurate (I am a homeowner) but its not really targeted correctly.

The cost of bad data

I won’t get into the joys of buying lists like this because we all know some mistakes are made. There will always be bad data regardless of what your data management practices are but a good data governance/management process will help eliminate as much bad data as possible.

Of course, in this example we’re talking about a small business. What do they know about data management? Probably nothing…and most likely they don’t need to know too much but they do need to understand how much bad data is costing them.

Let’s look at the costs for this window company.

I went out to one of those list websites and built a demographic to buy lists of homeowners in my zip code. The price was about $3,000 for about 18K addresses. Next, I found a direct mailing cost estimator website that helped me estimate the cost to mail out the material that I had received from the window company. The mailing cost was about $10,000 (which seems high to me…but what do I know about mailings?). This sounds about right considering it would cost about $8500 to send out 18,000 letters with standard postage.

I’m going to assume this company got a deal for their mailings and paid $20,000 for the 3 mailing campaigns that I received a letter. With the price of the list, that brings us to $23K total cost, or about $1.28 per letter sent. That doesn’t seem like a lot of money to spend on sales/marketing until you realize how much of that money was wasted on homes that don’t need the service.

We have roughly 1,000 homes in our neighborhood. A random sampling of the homeowners tells me 90% of them received more than one mailing from this window company. This gives us 900 homes. I’ll assume each home only received 2 mailings, which brings a cost to this window company of about $2,300 ($1.28 x 900 x 2).

That’s $2,300 spent trying to sell windows to homes that don’t need it. That’s 10% of the budget.

So…for this small company trying to sell windows, 10% of their budget was wasted on marketing their services to homes that didn’t need their services. That’s a big number, even for a small company.

Of course, some of you may argue that these costs aren’t all wasted because some of the marketing material might have made it into the hands of friends / family or a homeowner may remember this window company in future years – and you are probably right. But…is the possibility of maybe potentially getting work in the future worth spending 10% of your marketing budget?

To me it is, especially since that 10% could have been redirected to a higher potential marketing opportunity.

The cost of bad data is high regardless of what the number actually shows. If you spend $1 because bad data ‘tricked’ you into doing so, that cost is wasted.

The real question is – what are you doing to understand how good or bad your data is?

The Gap between the CIO and CMO – is it narrowing?

20130213-mind-the-gap-BODYI recently ran across a survey titled “Big Data’s Biggest Role – Aligning the CMO & CIO” that was put together by the CMO Council and SAS. The survey, which contained responses from 237 marketing and 211 IT executives, has some very interesting results.

A few of the highlights from the survey:

  • 85% of respondents believe the relationship between the CMO and the CIO is critical to the execution of customer focused strategies
  • 51% of IT executives and 40% of marketing executives agree that big data is critical to executing customer focused strategies
  • Marketing (52%) and IT (45%) both identify functional silos that make customer data and profile development difficult as the top roadblock to customer focus
  • 61% marketers and 60% of IT executives believe that big data represents equal parts opportunity and obstacle
  • 72% of marketing executives believe that their teams should be the ones responsible for defining platforms and systems for their use but only 34% are moderately satisfied  and 37% are unsatisfied with their current platforms
  • 34% of marketers believed that they “needed a liaison that could understand marketing, IT, finance and other marketing technology resources and strategies, which could function across both IT and marketing.”
  • 62% of IT executives want to be brought into the discussions about platforms and strategies that involve technology
  • 60%  of IT executives said that they was only a limited partnership between IT and marketing when it comes to big data

There is many more interesting responses in the survey. You should check it out.

After reading through the survey results, it is clear that CMO’s and CIO’s are (finally?) starting to see the value in working together. Sure, I’m generalizing here because there are many CIO’s and CMO’s who’ve always worked well together, but in the organizations that I’ve worked with in the past, there’s was a pretty wide gap between the IT group and the Marketing group and rarely did anyone work to close that gap.

Caroline Basyn, the CIO of Bacardi, states in the report:

“My hope is that we can have a relationship and partnership at a business level rather than just on a technology level.”

I love to see that. The CIO should be talking and working on the business level, not the technology level. Sure, technology is the outcome of the relationships and it is what the CIO’s group does, but it shouldn’t be the only focus of the CIO.

Revisiting the Marketing Technology Office

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

My post last week titled A Marketing Technology Office…the next fad? got some interesting feedback via email and my contact form….funny that these same people didn’t leave a comment on the blog for the whole world to see. 🙂

Rather than respond in private to those emails, I’ll respond in public here via a Point/Counterpoint approach with their comments being the “point” and my response being a “counterpoint”.

Point #1:  Marketing should own technology

I received a few comments around the fact that the Marketing team should own and will own all their technology and  the IT group will not and should not have anything to do with this technology.

Counterpoint #1:  Since when did marketing want to be IT Operations?

99.9% of Marketing professionals have no clue how  much work goes into keeping technology running. Its what takes up most of the time for IT Professionals. Its the part of an IT Pro’s job that they get zero respect or recognition for….but its one of the most important.

Additionally, IT professionals have a great deal of knowledge and experience in the technology selection process.  They know what to look for and what to focus on to ensure proper security, integration and stability.

If you, as a marketer, want to grow your own team to 3 times its size and hire IT professionals to manage your technology operations, have at it…but I think its a horrible use of budget. Let the IT pro’s do what they do best.

Point #2: IT Takes too long to do anything…we should just bypass them

This was another main point from these emailers.  Phooey on this point I say. Its an argument that everyone uses when they really have no clue what they are talking about.

CounterPoint #2: IT takes a long time to do something because what they do is complex.

Have you asked IT why it takes so long to do anything?  Have you spent time walking through a technology selection process? Or…have you sat down with IT and saw just how difficult their job really is?  Have you talked to the IT leadership about getting a better process for your team when you make a request?  I’m sure the answer is yes…but if you are still finding that IT is taking ‘too long’, then there’s a bigger issue to be dealt with then just Marketing Technology.

Point #3: IT doesn’t understand Marketing, therefore Marketing needs to be in control.

This was the biggest complaint I read in the emails on the subject….and the most inept complaint as well.

Counterpoint #3: Marketing doesn’t understand IT, therefore IT needs to be in control.

How do you like that? Kind of a stupid counterpoint, no?   Each group is different. Each group does different things.  If neither group understand the other, why aren’t both groups sitting down at a table and digging into the real underlying issues?

Final Comment on the subject:

Let me make something clear.The Marketing Technology Office (MTO) is a great idea, if executed correctly.  This type of office will allow the marketing team to focus on technology while allowing the IT team to focus on operating said technology.

The MTO can be thought of as a Project Management Office (PMO). Some companies have wonderful PMO’s, some have horrendous PMO’s.  Most most have average PMO’s that are effective but not really driving any real value.   The same can be said of the MTO’s that pop up over the next few years.

An MTO that steps out in front and leads while working hand-in-hand with IT will be amazing. The MTO that tries to lead without IT will be a waste of money and time.

Image Credit: WhatCounts Travel Email Webinar Logo on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

A Marketing Technology Office…The next fad?

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

John Dodge posted a video over on the Enterprise CIO Forum titled “Enter the chief marketing technology officer” that highlights the importance of the role of ‘marketing technology’…and more importantly the role of the marketing technologist.

In the video John points to recent stories, discussions and ideas floating around the CIO world about how the every increasing role that marketing technology plays within the enterprise.

Now…this is nothing new to anyone that’s read this blog for a while as I’ve been harping on the subject of the intersection of marketing and IT for a few years.  Scott Brinker has been writing about the topic for far longer than I and arguably has helped bring the term “marketing technologist” to be a widely used term.

It appears that people within the organizations are starting to see the importance of having the marketing team own much more of the technology role.   I’m also seeing many ‘consulting’ companies starting to talk about “marketing technologists” as well. For example,  a Forester analyst recently gave a talk whereby an argument was made that marketing departments should begin “selling the idea of a Marketing Technology office to the CIO“.

While I’m happy to see this excitement for a topic I’ve been writing about for years, I’m also a bit leery of that excitement.  I’m leery because there will be many marketing departments out there who will see this as an opportunity to ‘grab power’ rather than approach it with from a logical mindset to ensure that whatever is done is in the best interests of the organization as a whole.

I think back to previous ‘fads’ within the technology world and can see this same thing playing out.  I think about the role of technology in finance and how many finance groups where told to start a ‘finance technology’ office.  I think about the role of technology in HR and thing about the many HR IT groups I’ve run across.  I think about the introduction of e-commerce into many organizations and how sales teams felt empowered to ‘own’ technology and run their e-commerce systems.

In the majority of the above examples, at least in my experience, the ‘newness’ wore off quickly and the finance/HR/sales/etc groups quickly realized how difficult it is to actually “run” technology.   Many quickly sidestepped the technology question and asked for help from the professionals in IT….and of course it was left to the IT Pro’s to come in and clean things up.

Now…some folks out there will say “this time is different”.  Marketing can ‘own’ its own technology. Marketing has been running websites for years.  Well…not really.  Marketing has been putting content on websites for years. IT Professionals have been ‘running websites’.

Also..its never different.  At least without some honest-to-god planning and strategic thought.

You may be thinking I’m a hypocrite since I’ve been talking about Marketing Technology and the role of marketing in the future of technology….and now I’m saying its a fad.   But…I’m not a hypocrite…I’ve never said marketing technologists should run technology in a vacuum.  I’ve always pushed for the merger of Marketing and IT.  I’ve always pushed for a partnership between the two groups.

This partnership has to be a strong one.  The marketing team must drive requirements and they must drive the vision. The IT group must drive the technological integration, security and operations.  Take this approach and the issue of a ‘fad’ is no longer an issue.  Don’t take it and the Marketing Technology Office will quickly be dismantled due to the same problems found in previous “technology offices” found in previous years.

So…yes…the Marketing Technology office is a fad…unless both the IT and Marketing groups can start from scratch with a proper plan and proper teamwork. Then…you’ve got a chance at making the much-needed marketing technology office a long-term part of the organization.

Image Credit: FAD by By boskizzi on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

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