Choosing the best marketing technology platform for your business from among the sheer number of available options can be overwhelming. As of 2019, there were more than 7,040 different marketing technology solutions in the marketplace.
Given that the average marketing team only uses around 5-20 individual marketing applications, it can be a challenge for marketers to sift through thousands of options to find the handful of technologies they need and will use.
Marketers today know that having the right set of marketing tools is the only way to deliver personalized experiences across the entire customer journey. However, every company is different — much like every customer. Marketing platforms aren’t one-size-fits-all, and it’s important to choose one that fits the needs of your company and customers alike.
That’s why you’ll need to identify your audience’s needs, consult the stakeholders who will use the platform, and experiment with options to make the sometimes-stressful process of choosing new marketing technology much easier.
Identify customer needs
The most important thing to consider when choosing marketing technology is people, and the most important people to consider are your customers. What do you want your marketing platform to really do for your customers? What channels do they use, and what type of content will they most likely to engage with?
Different marketing technologies are built to manage, automate, and deliver various kinds of strategic messaging content. Some work best with email, and others are made for social media, while others are perfect for real-time engagement. There are even marketing automation platforms that feature tools specific to either B2C or B2B industries.
To understand which marketing technology platform will help you build the best journeys across your entire customer lifecycle, you should start by identifying one core customer group and their journey. To do this:
Set a goal for your customer journey. Do you want people to make new accounts, schedule appointments, request more information, etc.?
Define your audience. Are they a prospect or customer, what lifecycle stage are they in, and what are their needs?
Do a data inventory. Check on the data you have, document the data you need, and map out the data you want.
This information should help you craft content and choose messaging channels. To ensure that you deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time, take into account audience tolerance and reach for each channel type. Identifying the channel and content types preferred by your audience can guide you to the marketing technology solution that will best fit their needs.
The other most important people to consider when choosing a marketing platform are the people who will actually use the technology — from your marketing team to your sales team, and of course, IT!
Once you’ve narrowed down the selection of marketing technologies to include only the right platforms for your audience, you’ll need to communicate these selections to relevant internal stakeholders. These stakeholders can then weigh the options against the capabilities they need in a marketing platform.
For example, it may be important to certain stakeholders to have a marketing platform with powerful artificial intelligence (AI) that provides detailed analytics and reporting. Others may be more interested in tools that allow them to cultivate dynamic, two-way engagement with customers, while others may be more concerned about customer security and data privacy.
Understanding stakeholder perspectives is key to understanding your company’s marketing needs.
Fifty percent of marketers share goals and metrics with commerce teams, 52% with sales teams, and 53% with service teams. Your marketing platform needs to be able to foster collaboration between these units. To be an innovative leader, the technology you choose should give your organization a single, shared view of your customer, and connect customer lifecycle touchpoints across the business. The ability to consolidate data insights is necessary for understanding individual customers.
As you continue your search, keep a shared list of pros and cons for each option, available to the internal stakeholders who will use the new marketing technology. Once you’ve thoroughly consulted everyone it will be easier to pinpoint which technology options you can seriously consider.
Take time to understand
After considering the needs of your audience and stakeholders, there should be a smaller selection of marketing technology platforms to choose from. At this point, it’s essential to take time to understand the current needs of your company and your customers — and how those needs may change in the future — as you make the final decision.
Marketing technology is a significant investment for any company, and making the best choice now can help you avoid unwanted expenses (and the hassle of switching platforms) later. It’s also important to consider how your marketing technology will integrate with the technology used by other departments at your company, like service, sales, or commerce. You’ll need a powerful platform that seamlessly integrates and gives all departments a 360-degree view of customers.
Be sure to have all stakeholders watch demos and take virtual tours of the marketing platform options you’re considering. Take advantage of free trials, if they’re available. If you’re highly interested in a particular technology, start a conversation with the provider’s marketing and sales representatives. They’ll help you explore their solutions in detail.
Remember, technology is about helping people. Therefore, marketing technology is about helping the people impacted by marketing activities — customers and marketers, as well as other parts of the business. If you keep these people in mind as you search for a new marketing technology solution, you’ll make the best choice for your organization.
To learn more about Salesforce for Marketing, check out our marketing trails on Trailhead.