Is your martech stack keeping pace with changing customer behavior?
It's hard to keep up with quickly evolving consumer behaviors. Columnist Kevin Bobowski believes marketers will need to adapt their martech stacks and deliver a better experience to meet rising expectations.
In my previous article, I discussed the importance of delivering a great customer experience — and using Customer Lifetime Value — as a concrete, quantitative metric to understand how well your business is doing at delivering a great customer experience.
Delivering a great customer experience requires marketers to do two important things. First, marketers must organize the company around the customer to deliver a better experience. And secondly, the marketing department must capture the data to get closer to their customers. Data is the key ingredient to delivering a great customer experience.
Sprinting and still behind
So, to deliver a great customer experience, how are companies — and marketing departments specifically — keeping pace with changing consumer trends and behaviors? Unfortunately, many are not. And it’s understandable, given the rapid pace of change.
- Ad blocking is on the rise: 41.1 percent of US millennials will use ad blockers this year. That figure is 27.5 percent for the broader US population.
- There are now 56.6 million cord-cutters who will never see traditional paid advertising.
- Today, 57 percent of website traffic is from mobile and tablets, according to research from BrightEdge, my employer. Understanding that the consumer experience is different across mobile and desktop, Google is planning a mobile-first index.
- Local search is rising: 1.5x increase in comparable searches with “near me.”
Changes in consumer behaviors and the corresponding disruption are constant and always present. Marketers must build agility because the next big disruption is always on the horizon — see virtual reality and voice search.
As consumer preferences move away from brands and base their decisions on product capabilities and immediate needs (called “micro-moments”), it’s more important than ever for marketers to adapt to the changing needs of their market and consumer expectations.
Good data and smart content help marketers understand their customers. This understanding of customers builds the agility that is quickly becoming a core differentiator for marketing departments.
Is your martech stack keeping pace with consumers?
While there’s plenty of discussion about what’s in the martech stack, very little time is spent talking about how martech stacks needs to evolve to a post-mobile world. Marketers need to simultaneously build their martech stack and constantly evolve it to meet ever-changing consumer behavior.
For marketers, they must build their “forever” house and perform renovations at the same time. It’s a challenge. Building a martech stack is hard. Building and evolving a martech stack at the same time is even more difficult.
Let’s walk through a simple, straightforward three-point list to make sure your marketing tech stack stays current and modern — and ahead of changing consumer preferences.
1. Build your foundation with personas
This seems to be an unlikely starting point for modernizing your martech stack. Yet a complete and accurate understanding of your customers will help you assess the value of the data you have today — and the data you need from your marketing technology stack.
Companies everywhere have rediscovered the importance of personas. Hallmark, Cisco and Chicago pizza restaurant Lou Malnati (disclosure: clients) have all developed personas and identified the specific micro-moments for each one.
This mapping guides an understanding of consumer behavior which, in turn, drives messaging, content creation and marketing campaigns. When done properly, marketers have a better understanding of their customers’ needs and can pinpoint new opportunities and micro-moments.
2. Combining the power of customer data and market data
Martech stacks possess the customer data that every company needs to stay closer to their customers — all mission-critical, important and the foundation for success. Yet, understanding market and consumer trends is often the missing data piece in many martech stacks.
This data — e.g., organic search, panel data — allows marketers to continually learn about their market, their customers and respond to opportunities and challenges. It helps marketers understand how their marketing performs and stacks up to their competition. It will tell you what you want to hear and what you don’t want to hear — that you might be losing share of voice to a competitor.
Using market data helps reach new segments of buyers because you know what they want and can identify specific moments where you can be helpful. This market data is different from all the other data in your martech tech. It’s your early warning indicator of market trends, threats and opportunities that lie ahead.
For instance, smart companies are using a combination of customer and market data to drive the navigational design of their website. Often, site navigation reflects the company’s org chart — a very inside-out viewpoint. Instead, the website structure and site navigation should be organized around the needs of the customers. By using this data as the ultimate source of truth, marketers have the insights to organize the website and the business around their customers.
3. Smart content
Smart content represents the perfect convergence of customer data and market data. “Central stack” technologies that turn out smart content can help marketers cut down on the time they spend redistributing content.
Data and analytics should be central to the development of your martech stack — from initial development to activation. However, the key to success of your stack is not solely dependent upon the volume of data. It’s vital that the insights you mine from data allow your content to be:
- targeted: targets exactly what customers want and need when they need it
- optimized: to make writers more effective and streamline marketing communication
- integrated and activated: across the entire marketing stack for maximum impact
- adaptive: dynamic, relevant and always there
- performance-based: Delights and engages readers so it converts.
Taken together, the role of data and its importance in the martech stack — persona data and customer data as performance accelerators — allow marketers to do great things.