Superpower your stack

Winning with marketing technology, by Perry Hewitt

Digital product strategy consultant at Bloomberg Philanthropies and Marketing Society New York board member, Perry Hewitt, on the ways organisations have not only used technology to drive revenue and reach, but as a catalyst to re-organize their culture to be more agile

CMOs, a quick question: what’s the state of your marketing stack?

For many CMOs, this kind of query used to be answered with a few summary comments, and then swiftly referred over to a marketing technologist for all the gory details. But today, CMOs recognize that marketing technology is a dominant driver of success or failure. To win in the marketplace, leaders must develop a strategy, a shared understanding and approach for driving, evaluating, and refining their martech stack. And on top of it all, the CMO must foster an internal culture that develops competencies and best practices.

Marketing technology is a broad umbrella: Chiefmartec Scott Brinker’s latest supergraphic captures 7,040 solutions in a range of categories. Many of these technologies are tickets to play in 2019; for example, there’s not a B2B or B2C business out there without an email solution or basic web analytics. The trick is identifying the technologies and combinations that are tickets to win in your competitive market.

As CMO, you set the stage for success by setting goals that will define the right areas of investment in your martech stack. Emphasis on attracting new B2B customers might preference SEO and lead generation and nurturing, while B2C might require emphasis on robust website content management and social media. But one thing is certain: in an increasingly technology-driven world, it’s vital to get martech right.

A few principles I’ve seen drive success:

Get the data right

First, it’s critical for your marketing organization to understand where you are with data. What data do the different technologies you’re working with aggregate or create? How do you access that data, and share it among applications?

This emphasis on data necessarily includes exploring emerging capabilities in prospect data collection. For example, B2C marketing has long benefited from intent data, tracking online behavioral activity to better identify customers and determine what the consumer is seeking to do. Now, intent data is making inroads as a winning marketing technology in B2B, providing marketers greater visibility into the estimated 68% of the buying cycle that occurs anonymously, according to Forrester. Take Duo Security, a Cisco business unit that enables two-factor authentication and application access. Duo uses intent data to identify new targets who are evaluating its solutions. As a result, Duo’s busy BDRs know how to prioritize their account list and calibrate their outreach to the prospect’s stage in the buying journey.

Enable your analytics engine

To make the most of your data, build an analytics organization that operates as a core part of your marketing organization. Owning rather than outsourcing a team with the right analytical capabilities will provide foresight and rather than hindsight. Home goods company Wayfair has done just that by building a robust analytics organization within marketing. Their analysts housed within the marketing organization build the models themselves; Wayfair’s expectations for analysts include numeracy if not technical fluency, as well as flexibility and curiosity.


Alongside these requirements, Wayfair has built a culture that empowers marketing analysts to experiment and change course. The result? Wayfair achieved remarkable market share wins in 2018, including adding more than $2 billion to its sales base compared to a $1.3 billion increase in the prior year -- and is poised for more growth internationally. Wayfair's user engagement metrics also continue to rise, suggesting the company is building a defensible market niche.

Create sustainable content systems

More content, more martech problems. Sometimes it seems we are drowning in content, and associated systems for creating, managing, and surfacing that content across channels is ever more complex.

Common challenges include:

Content consistency:
Is everything at the right standard of quality? Of brand consistency?

Content and asset management:
Even if we have the right content, do we know where it is? Can people access the right version?

Content implementation:
Is it served in the right way? This includes tactical considerations like format as well as accessibility and compliance considerations like GDPR.

Martech can help your organization manage content and use it to drive awareness and reach. One winning approach: Marriott employs martech to manage a large volume of content for its new merged loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy.

Fueled by a robust set of content management, Bonvoy is reaching over 1M views a month, and driving awareness and usage of the new program.


Don’t just “set it and forget it”

The martech landscape is constantly shifting with emerging technologies, industry consolidation, and privacy regulation. These conditions require a mindset of designing for change. Often organizations become fixated on making perfect technology decisions, a “great is the enemy of good” approach that can result in organizational paralysis.

Instead, successful martech organizations optimize for a current stack, while simultaneously keeping an eye out for transformative new additions.

What can active stewardship of your marketing stack provide? Knowing and communicating your stack provides a single source of truth for the products you have in your arsenal. And this knowledge can translate into an increase in customer lifetime value due to improved stack performance, productivity improvements from centralized oversight of technology, and mitigation of compliance and security risk. Most importantly, knowing what’s in your stack helps you decide where and how to change course as new technologies from storage to AI enter the market.

The role of culture

We’ve all heard the expression “culture eats strategy for breakfast” -- that same culture can polish off your martech through poor implementation and adoption. As a CMO, you can create a culture for martech success by keeping martech growth closely aligned with your strategic goals. Other tactics to drive a winning martech culture: partnering with IT on major initiatives and guardrails, building ongoing training and credentialing into your performance management process, and encouraging experimentation and awareness of new solutions. And with all fast-moving technology initiatives, overcommunication is a requirement!

And CMOs have another important reason to drive and own successful martech culture: some CMO roles are disappearing as martech roles ascend. McDonald’s recently announced the departure of its global CMO. Rather than replace the position, it has created an SVP, global and an SVP, marketing technology -- bringing the latter closer to the C-Suite.

CMOs must play to win in today’s competitive marketplace. As martech becomes an increasingly vital part of the portfolio, CMOs must embrace technology alongside other forms of leadership to continue to drive the business forward.

This article was taken from issue 2 of Marketing Society members-only publication EMPOWER. Find out more here and see past articles here (please note some articles are open to the public and some are for members only.)