How marketers responded to the pandemic: technology replacements
When marketers take a hard look at their tech stacks, what other considerations are they acting on?
The added pressures of the pandemic had marketers taking a hard look at the value in their technology stacks and weighing the benefits of new features.
“Over the last 18 months, you know during this COVID time, a lot of organizations had their budgets frozen or were asked to reduce costs in marketing,” said Anita Brearton, CEO of tech management platform CabinetM. “So there was a lot of analysis happening around the tech stack.”
With 70 percent of the companies we surveyed having made some kind of marketing technology replacement in the last year, we asked Brearton to share some thoughts about the findings of the MarTech Replacement Survey at our recent MarTech conference.
“They have the opportunity to assess new products, and they find that they get more features for the same or less money then that’s a motivator to move forward,” Brearton said.
Here were some other considerations weighing heavily on organizations.
As organizations, or their marketing operations, continue to grow in scale, they have to look at other options.
“They tap out on what is probably a simpler, smaller platform and need to go to a bigger platform,” said Brearton. “And so we see that a lot.”
It’s less likely that a business will replace a big system that is integrated into so many marketing functions.
“That’s fairly unusual because those big systems cost a lot of money, and they require a lot of skill to operate them,” Brearton said. “So there’s a cost in terms of employee skills when replacing them, particularly in marketing automation. And then those marketing automation platforms are connected to so many other platforms.”
Because of the work involved in the replacement of a larger hub system, like the kind that runs marketing automation, often these replacements are planned a year or more in advance.
Especially when budgets are tight, it’s taxing and potentially risky to replace an “anchor” system that’s foundational to marketing strategies and operations.
This includes marketing automation, email automation systems, CDPs and the CRM, according to Brearton.
“Those are the central part of everybody’s tech stack,” she said.
Having said that, Brearton shared that CabinetM did replace their CRM during this time period. This helped the company streamline some of their automation.
“We were able to combine our marketing automation and CRM and do a lot more,” she said. “So I do think it’s a functionality issue. It’s a scaling issue.”
As a consulting tool for other marketers, this process has led CabinetM to rethink the CRM category, taking into account all players that have entered the scene.
“We’re rationalizing the CRM category on Cabinet M,” said Brearton. “At the moment there are hundreds of platforms in that category. It’s extraordinary, so I have to imagine that the sales people from all those platforms are busy knocking on doors and are finding some takers.”
Workflow and events tools
The popularity of adding workflow and events management tools to many marketing technology stacks reaffirmed what many of us (including MarTech and the evolution of our virtual conferences) have experienced in the last 18 months.
In order for real work to be done virtually, organizations are upgrading their workflow platforms.
“I’m really encouraged to see this focus on workflow because I think it’s been too easy to rely on spreadsheets,” said Brearton. “And when you’re working remotely, that doesn’t give you the picture of the tasks and the flow of the tasks. So, I’m glad to see that people are adopting different workflow tools.”
For organizations that had an e-commerce business model before the pandemic, it would be a big ask for them to replace their core platform, especially when business through that channel was ramping up. But this didn’t mean that marketers weren’t considering ways to boost performance, experience and services for their e-commerce customers.
“I think people are not necessarily replacing their core e-commerce platform,” Brearton said. “But my guess is that they’re adding and swapping out all sorts of things that sit around it to improve their connection with customers, to improve personalization, or to enhanced loyalty and engagement.”
She added, “I think if somebody was answering a black and white question, did you replace your ecommerce system, they would be likely to say no. But if they were asked, did you replace e-commerce tools, you might have gotten a different answer there.”
Data and CDPs
Implementing a CDP is still a big project, especially for smaller organizations. With all the other fires to put out, this might not have been something high on a lot of lists. In many cases, orgs are using other anchor platforms for the time being.
“There’s the classic CDP platform which is storing all of the customer information and cleansing it and appending it and serving as a single source of truth,” said Brearton. “Other companies use one or more of their anchor platforms that serve that purpose. So a marketing automation platform could, for some companies, serve that purpose.”
She added, “We do see adoption of CDPs. We do believe it’s jumped over the chasm from marketing hype to actual adoption, and I think the numbers (for CDP) adoption are higher for bigger companies.”
Snapshot: Customer Data Platforms
Marketers today face increasing pressure to provide a unified experience to customers across many channels. And these avenues are growing each day. That’s why customer data platforms, or CDPs, have become more prevalent than ever. These help marketers identify key data points from customers across a variety of platforms, which can help craft cohesive experiences.
Cisco’s Annual Internet Report found that internet-connected devices are growing at a 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2018 to 2023. COVID-19 has only sped up this marketing transformation. Technologies are evolving at a faster rate to connect with customers in an ever-changing world.
Each of these interactions has something important in common: they’re data-rich. Customers are telling brands a little bit about themselves at every touchpoint, which is invaluable data. What’s more, consumers expect companies to use this information to meet their needs.
Meeting customer expectations, breaking up these segments, and bringing them together can be demanding for marketers. That’s where CDPs come in. By extracting data from all customer touchpoints — web analytics, CRMs, call analytics, email marketing platforms, and more — brands can overcome the challenges posed by multiple data platforms and use the information to improve customer experiences. Learn more here.