30-second summary:

  • For the past twenty years, the potential of marketing technology has captured the attention of marketers. Instead, it has continuously under-delivered and complicated an already competitive environment.
  • Peter Prodromou, President and Founder of Boathouse, provides four ways for marketers to transform their approach to marketing technology.
  • With millions of dollars sunk into technology investments and turf wars between CMOs and CTOs, Prodromou offers practical advice ranging from technology implementation to regular content audits.

Peter Prodmorou HeadshotAround 20 years ago, marketers started to become increasingly enamored with the promise of marketing automation and technology solutions to drive sales and growth. From its earliest stages, these solutions promised to revolutionize the way organizations could formulate and manage campaigns, track relationships, and drive new business acquisitions. In a profession constantly seeking to illustrate tangible and measurable value creation, this promise was greeted as a panacea.

Twenty years later, the bloom is off the rose. And if it is not, it ought to be. While virtually every organization has invested in some form of marketing technology, most do not come close to optimizing the promise. The same excuses prevail. First, is the human element. Most organizations do not properly onboard users about how to leverage the technology. Second, many of these users, often incentivized through customer acquisition, do not see what advantage they get by moving off spreadsheets and emails. Why add another complicated layer to an already challenging task?

Meanwhile, CMOs, who are looking for an easy dashboard to illustrate progress, must deal with the under-utilization of the technology by dissatisfied staffers. Moreover, they are stuck in a turf war with CTOs who are tasked with acquisition and implementation. So, rather than being a solution, technology has become another complicating factor in an increasingly competitive environment. And yet, rather than facing the issue and challenging the status quo, executives elect to double down.

Four ways to transform your approach to marketing technology

The question is, what should they be doing instead? Here are four thoughts we believe can have a transformative effect:

1. Change behavior

Transforming your approach to marketing technology step 1: Change BehaviourWe recommend immediately polling mission-critical users to find out where the holes are in usage and what is creating the disconnect. Using a third party and ensuring anonymity will lead to honest disclosure. Some are sufficiently alienated that they will forsake anonymity and give you a piece of their mind.

Believe me, we have seen it first-hand. Based on this you can formulate tangible retraining and incentive programs to drive behavioral change.

2. Change the channels

Transforming your approach to marketing technology step 2: Change the channelsTechnology solutions tend to be “set and forget.” Rather than evaluating channel performance ongoing, as you might in a traditional implementation, you are trained to rely on the technology to perform. The problem? This is not smart technology.

It is a programmed sledgehammer of frequency, designed to systematically bombard key targets with content and respond to inquiries. It is a good bet your team is not implementing it that way and, as such, you will need to use a channel audit to implement changes.

3. Change the content

Transforming your approach to marketing technology step 3: Change the contentWho among us has not periodically received a piece of marketing content that looks laughably old and dated? This is technology being trusted to outweigh intelligence in anticipating a client’s need. Eventually, the content stuffs the channel, and the “set and forget” mentality slips in again.

That is because the technologists have trained users to believe that the solution IS the technology and frequency, rather than the content. It is critical to refresh campaigns in a world where trends and best practices evolve weekly.

4. Back to the future

Transforming your approach to marketing technology step 4: Back to the futureLastly, contemplate a blast from the past – like letting the marketing, creative, and communications professionals help formulate a strategy and approach that might resonate with prospects. Set aside technology as the over-weighted means of solution.

Instead, apply a dollop of what drove marketing for most of the 20th century: Common sense, human understanding of behaviors, and compelling content. Couple it with the technology and set the dials to the right levels.

Driving marketing technology change that sticks

Now comes the largest challenge. An honest assessment of who and how to make the change. With millions of dollars sunk into these systems and internecine struggles between marketing and technology, most organizations are likely to look the other way. This allows the preservation of the status quo. Braver organizations will either face up to the need for change themselves or bring in a third party to assess, strategize, formulate, and implement change. This level of change management requires organizations that understand the manner of technology usage, content, channels, and behavior.

The right approach is a two to three-month audit and assessment of behavior, channel, content, and outcome. The output should be an actionable plan that can bridge differences, considering every stakeholder’s consideration, and ease of implementation.

Marketing technology: A look ahead

It is time for marketers to reassess and reinvest in the art of marketing and apply a more intellectual approach to using technology (which may sound ironic but give it a minute). Those that do, will have achieved the requisite balance between science, art, and human behavior. Which, in turn, will deliver the actual promise these technology solutions have been making for decades.

Peter Prodromou is the President of Boathouse, a full-service marketing and strategy agency. Before joining Boathouse, Peter was CEO and president of Boston Digital, a global digital marketer and developer of interactive experience. Before that, he was CEO and president of Racepoint Global, an international marketing services company. He created Racepoint by merging two companies – Racepoint Group (a PR and PA consultancy) and Digital Influence Group (a media marketing and creative services company) – to create a content-driven marketing strategy and services leader. He is an experienced international business executive, having augmented Racepoint’s US presence with growth and presence in China and the UK, and the formation of a strategic partner network that included market research and analytics.

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