Whether the pandemic brought a slew of new opportunities, or magnified the challenges created by existing digital transformation plans, organizations have had to be more on the ball than ever to keep up with the pace of change. Populations may have been locked down; employees furloughed, but the drive for best-in-class customer experience has never stopped.
It’s easy to say the customer demands more, but what does that mean?
‘More’ means more accurate information, updated in real time, accessible on the platform of the customer’s choosing. It means a customer journey that evolves seamlessly, delivering the right information at the right time, again, regardless of platform.
Getting this right is a complex task, and even then, it is increasingly just table stakes. On top of accuracy and availability come all the layers that drive brand consideration and loyalty – empathy, personalization, creativity and more. Marketers have their work cut out.
Of course, martech (Marketing Technology) in its various forms is clearly a boon when it comes to enabling a best-of-class customer experience but putting this in place can seem to be a mammoth task. Martech is a hugely fragmented marketplace with a vast array of solutions. How each fits with existing tech stacks, how completely each system or platform can solve a company’s particular challenge, can be a minefield.
In Building Content Systems For A New Era , Peter O’Neill, Industry Analyst and former research director for B2B marketing at Forrester working with B2B Marketing and Research in Action explores how marketers can make the best choices when it comes to reviewing their martech architecture.
“Many companies are realizing that they do need a more holistic content architecture that incorporates text, all the digital media assets plus data about the consumer of the content to ensure personalization and relevance. Historically, companies have maintained different systems and teams. A CMS here a DAM (Digital Asset Management) over there and a PIM (Product Information Management) down there,” O’Neill says. “It’s no longer effective to treat these things in their own siloes."
Does this mean companies need to reject every system and setup they’ve had so far? Not necessarily, but it does mean businesses need to make effective choices in the next generation of technologies. They need to be able to choose systems that won’t just integrate into their existing martech stacks, and tie systems together effectively, but ones that will be able to perform more independently in the future as the older, legacy technologies move towards a more natural obsolescence.
It’s not just the systems that need to talk to each other easily. The various departments – often also siloed – must be able to communicate effectively. This often means finding systems that show the relevant information to the right people but in a uniform and easily digestible format. “How often do you see martech stacks bought from various vendors with different interfaces, taxonomies and it’s very difficult for marketers to communicate with each other if the systems are telling them different information. There really must be a push within all marketing organizations to standardize those efforts,” O’Neill insists.
When the number of vendor and solution choices seems overwhelming, marketers and their teams need information at their fingertips that is concise, accurate and speaks to their own specific needs. O’Neill revealed during his presentation that he was about to release a report on Brand Content Management , or BCM.
“The survey defines how you automate a business or marketing process,” O’Neill explains. “We don’t talk about categories of technology. We have a business-led approach. Then we ask the respondents to identify the major drivers and inhibitors to investment. We get feedback about a vendor for that topic, asking what they think about their product, their strategy and vision, if they’re innovative and even ask them if they’d recommend the vendor to a peer.”
The survey then goes to the vendors themselves to find out more about their go-to-market strategy, paying particular attention to the investment the vendors are making in customer success.
“Across the DAM and PIM surveys, around 25% are looking for brand new systems and a further 25% are looking for a replacement,” O’Neill reveals. He outlines the ideal process for taking large-scale Martech decisions: “I stress two important factors. One, understanding that the selection should be based on the longest-term strategy. Marketers can’t afford to buy software for one team or process. It must fit together. There must be a team of people planning the Martech stack.
“Two, have a design-thinking approach. It should be collaborative, involving all users, management including procurement and legal – and the vendors themselves. Cut your list down as quickly as possible on rough product suitability to two or three vendors. Then run a more detailed test scenario with each of those vendors. Bring the staff together and test for friction in the relationship,” he concludes.
O’Neill acknowledges that there will be no single solution that is a perfect fit for any business. The idea is to find a solution that covers most of the most important bases. Any gaps can be filled with low-code alternatives, vendor workarounds or internal fixes. But again, a lack of rigidity is to be welcomed – the perfect solution today will inevitably not suit the business of tomorrow. “Making systems flexible is definitely possible and those will be the successful software solutions of the future,” O’Neill predicts.
Hear Peter O’Neill’s full assessment of the future of content systems and how you can make better Martech choices, watch his presentation at censhare’s ecosphere days digital 2021, exclusively here .
Established independent industry analyst Peter O’Neill discusses how recent events have challenged existing strategies, and how he sees the market pivoting for futureLearn More