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Helping marketers address the empty software epidemic

Businesses can no longer be a little bit digital. However, many are wrestling with getting up to speed with the very technology that is meant to help them. In no industry is this truer than in marketing.

Morgan McKinley

In business, we all want to feel that we have the power to be successful. But the reality for most B2C roles is that we have moved beyond the human capacity to successfully execute our tasks given their scale in today’s digital era; we need the help of technology. In no industry is this truer than in marketing.

The promise of marketing is true – 1:1 personalised experiences that delight customers at every turn. To deliver this, organisations first need a comprehensive view of their customer, which can only be achieved through technology and the science of data.

An organisation that wants to truly know its customers will understand that each customer is different – and as such want to be treated as individuals. The technology that enables this level of insight exists in the form of artificial intelligence and machine learning, which can not only collate but also make sense of the billions of data attributes that underpin personalised communications across multiple channels and touchpoints, at scale.

And yet, despite having this technology at their fingertips, marketers are still struggling to deliver on personalisation at scale across multiple channels. Why is this?

There’s a common misconception that having access to the right tools automatically results in immediate conversions. On average, marketers use six to 10 different tools designed to help deliver a ‘personalised touch’. The problem is the complexity of this tech stack and the time it takes to orchestrate tactical campaigns has created a widening gap between implementation and adoption of different functionalities, leaving behind a mound of redundant or ‘empty’ software.

Most marketers aren’t technologists and nor should they be expected to be. The Hays Jobs Report highlights a distinct shortage of marketers with both technical and soft skills, “who can use digital tools and pull data together to articulate an engaging narrative to present insights to stakeholders”. But shouldn’t the onus be on the technology working for the marketer and not the other way around?

Empty software has become a hurdle, withholding marketers from reaching the idea optimisation point as they struggle to unpack tech stacks from the outdated toolbox model. As a result, marketers are starting to feel more and more like they’re not being successful. They feel stuck, overwhelmed and under pressure.

So, how do we as an industry change this?

  1. Raise the entry point for users.

    While artificial intelligence and similar technologies are proven solutions for marketers, the martech industry needs to raise the entry point for technology uses to reduce the adoption gap. Emarsys is already championing this with our recent introduction of vertical platforms (e-commerce and retail) that automatically arm marketers with industry-specific best practices, strategies and tactics that have been embedded into the platform.

  2. Improve marketer experience.

    We all know that customer experience is paramount, but what if we give equal attention to the ‘marketer experience’? No one wants to work in a role in which they feel they’re set up to fail. Countering this mindset starts with business leaders having empathy for marketers (and any employees, for that matter) and the challenges they go through on a day-to-day basis.

    And people in the martech industry (myself included) need to put the marketer and their challenges at the centre of everything they do – from the way we sell our products and services (buying more tech alone won’t make marketers more capable), to the way we build and provide them.

The bottom line is that businesses can no longer be a little bit digital. However, many are wrestling with getting up to speed with the very technology that is meant to help them.

Yes, disruptive technologies are redefining the role of the marketer and practitioners will continually need to upskill. But no one should feel that they’re treading water, day after day.

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