Have you heard of the term martech? It may sound like a starship from the distant future, but it’s not nearly that complicated. Quite simply, martech improves our marketing through the smart application of technology. With martech, we can collect tons of data about how our audiences react to our content and what actions actually drive sales.Martech

Diving into martech

Do you use martech? It’s virtually certain the answer is yes. If you’ve taken any part of your marketing to the digital sphere, then you’re part of the club. This could mean you’re using:

  • Email marketing
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms
  • Services to gauge customer satisfaction
  • Website analytics
  • Search or social media advertising
  • And the list goes on…

In this day and age, digital marketing is imperative — the opportunity is simply too massive to pass up. So, the issue isn’t whether you’re using martech but why and how.

So, why are you using martech?

Nowadays you can do everything from distributing content at scale to managing customer interactions to seeing a heatmap of where people are clicking on your website.

All of this fancy stuff has a purpose: It allows us to spread our marketing widely and see real data on performance. That’s certainly a leg up from the old days, when we didn’t have nearly as many ways to reach consumers and we especially didn’t have the same ability to gather interaction metrics that we enjoy today.

One problem, however, is it’s easy to get so caught up with shiny new martech toys and forget why we use them in the first place. For example, take these perfectly reasonable statements a marketing department might use:

  • “We got 6,400 likes on our Twitter post on Saturday, 3,500 on Sunday, 7,000 on Monday, and 7,350 today. Overall, we’re trending upward — a great sign.”
  • “We have a persistent problem we see often in our customer experience platform, but we’ve developed an efficient process to resolve it. What other procedures can we create?”
  • “Pretty cool — we can send this email promotion to the 100,000 subscribers on our mailing list with just one click.”

Those are all fantastic indications of progress, but they’re also symptomatic of not squeezing as much out of martech as possible. The goal of using martech isn’t necessarily to witness how amazing technology is (or pat ourselves on the back with engagement metrics.) It’s to improve the customer experience. Let’s take a look at how we can improve the above statements:

  • “Overall, those Twitter likes are trending upward, but let’s look at that post where we got only 3,500 likes. Can we identify why it got fewer likes than normal? Maybe our audience isn’t as receptive to the type of content we posted and we should stop publishing similar material. Maybe we posted on the wrong day or at a bad time for our audience’s schedules.”
  • “We know how to handle that customer service problem quickly, and that’s a good thing. But it would be even better if our customers never experienced the problem in the first place. The issue crops up over and over again, so maybe there are issues with our fulfillment/website/product design we can fix to nip the problem in the bud.”
  • “It’s amazing being able to send content to all of our customers in a second. But maybe not all 100,000 people want to see that specific content. Do our open rates or goal conversion rates tell us anything? Could we segment our audience based on demographics, or actions they’ve taken before (what they’ve looked at on our website, which emails they’ve opened before, etc.)?”

Martech tools are never just shiny new toys — they’re trusty allies that will help you drill deep into your audience’s psyche. Once you’ve used martech to gather valuable information, act on that information with an eye toward making your marketing better for your customers.

Tips to succeed with martech

We know why we use martech. Now, here are a few tips to ensure you’re deploying martech the smart way:

1. Use only what you need. At MarTech 2016, McKesson’s Rohit Prabhakar said tech is an enabler, not a solution. Marketers, he added, can get so taken with their technology that they don’t squeeze as much value out of it as possible. In fact, 59% of marketers say they don’t get the most out of the martech they have.

martech graph

One way to avoid this is to employ only the technology you really need. It’s better to milk all the value you can out of a few tools than use dozens of tools that you aren’t using to their full potential.

As Walker Sands notes, Prabhakar recommended that most companies deploy martech in three categories: tools to gather data on customers, delivery mechanisms for content tailored to customers, and A/B testing tools. Your martech stack could look different depending on what your goals are; the most important thing to remember is every tool should add real value to your marketing and customer experience.

2. Drill down and make customer-experience improvements. With a lot of martech, you’ll get data that paints portraits about your marketing performance. Numbers don’t lie, but it’s sometimes easy to overlook what they’re trying to say. Data can allow you to draw many surface-level conclusions — but it’s only when you dig deeper that you’ll be able to find genuinely impactful improvements. Like we mentioned above, perhaps the Twitter post with the fewest likes is giving you the most important data. What other information might you be missing? In the end, customers are effectively telling us what they want — and it’s up to us to listen carefully.

3. Understand what’s really working in your marketing. As you use your martech stack, try to see how the data you collect fits into a larger marketing picture. Instead of siloing data points and taking them as thin slices of an entire portrait, think about how the data reveals your customer’s experience through your marketing pipeline.

For example, instead of looking just at the conversion rates of your product pages, use martech to understand the various inputs that affected those rates. Specifically, look at factors like where your visitors are coming from (social, search, paid ads, etc.) and what content marketing you’ve done to build trust and educate consumers.

When you understand what’s driving your most effective marketing efforts, you can double down on what’s working or tweak what needs fixing. In the end, you’ll craft a machine that drives sales and delights customers.

For more on using martech to create awesome customer experiences, check out our case study How PBteen is Driving Commerce From Blog Content and our webinar How Visual Insights Can Lead to a Holistic Marketing Strategy.