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Lessons Learned from nearly a Decade of Designing MarTech Products

January 7, 2019 by Chuck Moore

We at DesignMap have worked with leaders in pushing digital marketing technology forward into the future. Folks like Scott Dorsey and Scott McCorkle, Matt Fleckinstein and Jeff Middlesworth have given us glimpses into where they think digital marketing tools need to go in order to achieve the goals of future-thinking marketers.

In addition, we’ve interviewed hundreds of marketers in research conducted for various clients. Because of that, we have a particular viewpoint into MarTech as we think of pain points marketers have and the solution space put forth to help solve them.

1. Marketers need to experiment rapidly to improve their efforts.

They are constantly attempting to improve where they are and want to utilize every tool available to do so. (As you likely know if you are reading this, there are almost 5000 products in the marketing technology space and it grows every year). As part of that massive landscape, and the way that data has changed the landscape of digital marketing, many tools have been created as point solutions that can be integrated into other tools/data sources.

2. Marketers want to use data in inventive ways without learning SQL.

They often lack budget to involve IT, and many don’t have IT as a part of their core team. In addition, most tools are challenging to use, and connecting external systems together is a recipe for frustration.

Data has been the frontier of the 2000s. Who warehouses data, how data is processed and stored, how quickly it is updated, how disparate sources are connected confidently, and triangulating data points into meaningful insights are all challenges that are being solved from a technology standpoint. How those things happen in front of the eyes of business users putting that information into action is entirely another problem.

Frontiers through the ages… via Drew Breunig

The question that arises for me is how quickly will those attempts to make it easy be relegated to the dust bin when AI does that for you?

3. Marketers want to focus on the things they know they can improve.

Helping marketers fine-tune message and content, and targeting the right segments to optimize their communications are key.

Journey creation tools that form the backbone of Marketing Automation are a solution that begins that path to improvement. Partly this is due to marketers historically having strong intuition to drive decisions about what experiments to run.

AI and Machine Learning offer up an even stronger way to run 1000s of experiments on small audiences and find insights that would be impossible or impractical for humans to do manually.

What I hope, and this extends outside the MarTech world, is that AI opens up opportunities for marketers to focus on areas where they can be creative, to craft more relevant messaging and more inventive use of channels.

4. Pushing the “send” button is still a scary thing.

Ensuring that everything works properly gets increasingly difficult as marketing efforts become more and more sophisticated. And it’s not just batch and blast, but having the confidence that data is structured properly in order to reach the right people at the right time becomes increasingly difficult, especially for the business user. Very few products today offer testing and simulations that will reliably and confidently communicate what audiences see.

Throw in AI and machine learning, and the lack of certainty is magnified. How might we make that more comfortable?

5. Marketers want to have confidence that everything is running as it should be.

Providing the appropriate data to communicate that campaigns are running smoothly and effectively can keep them focused on their jobs. Especially the part of their day spent on optimizing and improving the efforts they have under way.

6. Marketers want to establish a long term relationship with their customers.

Acquiring customers is really hard, so once they have them, they want to keep them engaged on a one-to-one basis over the duration of their lifetime as a customer.

Providing tools that allow for meaningful touchpoints relevant to their industry are critical. And relevance to the product or service being sold is even more critical, especially if there is a subscription component or the cost of change is low.

7. A large marketing organization doesn’t necessarily mean a sophisticated one.

Despite an imagined world of high-budgets at large organizations allowing for any number of ways they can innovate marketing efforts, doing so at scale and with an open mindset for experimentation is hard to pull off.

Not all marketers are ready for sophisticated journey-based marketing scenarios, and even more sophisticated AI driven marketing. There’s opportunity to address this customer base, help them with their current needs — and help them “level up” their marketing sophistication moving forward by creating tools that bridge these moments and create a backdoor to experimentation as a practice.

In conclusion

As in most B2B software experiences, there is a world of improvement that can be made, and there are plenty of nimble challengers stepping up to the plate with novel, powerful ideas. However, core concepts that help to level up the marketer and hold their hand while the market changes into an ever more automated future might offer a competitive advantage over products that require highly technical marketers and leaps of faith that they will make a return on the investment.

The market is widely varied from customer to customer.