How to choose martech tools that your team will love
Marketing technology can be hugely beneficial to your organization, but only if these tools empower the people using them. Columnist Alison Lohse explains what to look for.
Marketers have a love/hate relationship with martech. On the one hand, marketing technology allows us to automate, optimize and measure our programs like never before. We can do so much more with so much less. We can identify and reach our target audiences at incredible levels of precision; understand what they’re doing, where, when, how and why; influence their behavior by combining the powers of art and science; and prove the results and value of our efforts.
But all of this magic comes at a price. With great power comes great responsibility. We are responsible for the integrity of our brands. Marketing technology makes the process of communicating with your audience more frequent and more impersonal, capabilities that must be used wisely. We are responsible for often vast budgets that can be spent, for better or worse, with the click of a button. And perhaps most stressfully for many marketers, martech makes us responsible for our own decisions.
Because of marketing technology, we can no longer hide. Marketing no longer gets a pass. If we recommend a course of action and it fails, the data is now there to prove it. This is empowering, but also incredibly anxiety-inducing. We marketers will tell you that we are absolutely thrilled to finally be able to measure the impact of our efforts, but inside, we’re nervously chewing our nails. What if it doesn’t work? What if the results are dismal? Will I get passed over for that promotion? Will I get fired?
The experience of using many martech tools compounds this stress. Marketing technology solutions frequently set users up to fail. I don’t believe that this is due to nefarious intent on the vendors’ end; it is simply a result of engineers building products for engineers — or, in my field (attribution), data scientists building products for data scientists. The problem is, few marketers are also engineers or data scientists. As a result, a media planner or marketing ops person sits down in front of an analytics tool that is supposed to be a magic bullet and instead faces an incomprehensible interface. Expectations are through the roof, but the reality is way down in the weeds.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Marketing technology solutions need not, and should not, cause more concern than they’re worth. The trick is to choose the tools — and these days, you have plenty of options — that give your people the information they need in a way that is meaningful to your users and your organization. These tools share three main characteristics.
1. They’re built for the whole team
One great user interface is nice. If an attribution tool is built for a media planner to use instead of a data scientist, for instance, you’re already ahead of the game. But the best tools take each level of the organization into account. Media planners need a clean interface that allows them to get in and out of the tool with a solid understanding of their programs’ performance in less than five minutes. Data scientists and business analysts need to be able to go deeper and liberate the raw data to slice and dice as they see fit. Ad Operations needs a solution that integrates easily with the rest of the stack. And CMOs need clear, easily digested reports that show what’s happening, what we should do about it, and how the tool is adding value.
When the needs of each of these stakeholders are met, every team member is better equipped to deliver value. The tool sets them up for success instead of failure. It also provides a variety of perspectives that mitigates black/white thinking and reduces pressure on any single person.
2. They channel Goldilocks
Martech tools shouldn’t make you choose between so much data that it’s overwhelming and so little that it’s barely useful. (This sounds obvious, but it’s astonishing how few tools find the middle ground.) Your technology should give you options. The primary interface for your day-to-day users should hit the “Goldilocks” effect of a just-right balance of granular detail and big-picture insight, while secondary users should have the ability to dig deep or scan from a 30,000-foot view.
This ties closely to supporting the whole team. As mentioned above, your data science team may need the full data download, and they should be able to access it easily. But media planners, in an attribution context, for example, need to understand cause and effect, correlations and resulting optimization opportunities without getting buried in the minutiae that drives that information. CMOs, of course, just want the high level. Your tool should be able to support all of these use cases.
3. They put people first
Martech solutions should empower marketers, not automate them out of a job. No technology solution can replace a person who knows what she’s doing (or even someone who doesn’t.) Tools should be built for real users with defined objectives. If technology can’t help you reach your goals, no matter how cool or powerful it may seem, it will end up as shelfware or become a serious suck to your team’s resources and morale. Your martech should explicitly support your people, not the other way around.
Almost every martech purchase begins enthusiastically, but few go on to become part of language staple within the organization. Choose tools that your people will love by ensuring that your martech solutions help marketers shine brighter. When your tech inspires your team, your results will be inspired, too.