“The status quo is not an option. It’s not should we change, it’s how do we change.” — A.G. Sulzberger, Deputy Publisher at The New York Times, May 2017
Three years ago, the big question that marketers faced was how to transition to digital. Facing option-overload for acquiring, engaging, and retaining customers, CMOs—and their teams—struggled to pinpoint how to invest their dollars wisely. “Give it time,” we told ourselves.
Now that some time has passed, a clear pattern is in the early days of unfolding. Marketing isn’t going to get any easier. There are exponentially more channels for reaching customers than have ever existed. Customers are even shorter on time, with attention spans spread thin. Paid, earned, and owned channels have opened their doors to anyone and everyone, resulting in a pattern of fragmentation.
At the rate that technology is advancing, what will the marketing landscape look like three, five, or even ten years from now? It’s impossible to tell.
Three Thoughts on Building Your B2B Marketing Technology Stack
When building a B2B marketing technology stack, it’s important for marketers to keep three guiding principles in mind:
- There are more unknowns than knowns when it comes to the future of marketing
- Modularization of components and specific technology will enable more efficient upgrades over time
- Staying nimble means having a strong foundation, which originates from the customer’s end goals
Here’s how to build a cost-effective marketing technology stack with longevity at its core:
1. Prepare for Unknowns
Throughout 2018, marketing technologists will give considerable attention to their technology stacks and make investments that will carry their organizations into the future.
But what does a tech stack even look like? Even a database may no longer be a database. Blockchain technology is giving rise to new, decentralized information storage mechanisms that are both efficient and cryptographically secure. As data moves quicker and more freely between systems, blockchains have the potential to enable a higher degree of information governance, particularly as new internet privacy and security regulations become important topics of discussion in 2018.
“Blockchain as a technology approach may still have the ability to be transformational, given that it, in theory, enables an efficient, two-sided market with no intermediaries and with instantly verified transactions,” explains Chaitanya Chandrasekar, CEO and co-founder of data platform QuanticMind.
“This is probably why we’re seeing anecdotal examples of the technology being adopted to speed efficiency and cut down on fraud, such as UPS joining the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance (BiTA) to attack the extremely significant issues of cargo theft (estimated to cost $30B annually), fraud, and massive inefficiencies caused by third-party players.”
Blockchain is one example technology that is in its nascent stages. Although new, marketers need to keep it top of mind and get ahead of the understanding curve.
2. Overthink the Basics
What does it mean for a B2B marketing technology stack to have a strong foundation? Imagine that you’re building a pipeline from your company to your customer. This pipeline will include multiple components that include the following:
- A customer relationship management (CRM) system that centralizes information about your customers
- Marketing automation tools that eliminate busywork from customer outreach
- A content marketing platform (CMP) that supports your content operation
- Account based marketing (ABM) software that surfaces high-value accounts
- A web content management system (CMS) to make your content accessible to end-users
- Digital asset management (DAM) software that helps with information and resource tracking
- Work management systems to enable collaboration across company groups
- Marketing planning tools that synthesize otherwise disjointed campaigns
- Social engagement platforms that assist with distribution and audience-building
A strong foundation will enable marketing teams to work effectively with sales, learn about their customers, and deliver personalized campaigns. It will enable integrations with data for more effective communication, learning mechanisms, and targeting.
3. Lead Cross-Functional Collaboration
Marketing is a leadership function that resides at the intersection of sales, engineering, finance, and product. A vehicle for learning and delivering information, technology stacks feed the entire business with valuable insights.
Marketing technology stacks must replicate the flow of human-to-human conversations—to share data points between teams in near-real time to maximize the flow of information.
This level of automation will help transform operational and status quo discussions into strategic planning sessions and idea storms. With integrations, a marketing technology stack becomes a hub that centralizes all business information in a master repository.
The next step? Supplement it with data.
These next two years will be a crucial time for marketers who are navigating some of the toughest operational challenges they’ll encounter. How can leadership teams serve market demands now while also preparing for an uncertain future.
Kapost’s B2B Content Operations and Strategy Benchmark can help. Check it out, share it with your team, and incorporate it into your 2018 planning strategy.