Marketers have a love/hate relationship with martech. On the one hand, marketing technology allows us to automate, optimize and measure our programs like never before. We can do so much more with so much less. We can identify and reach our target audiences at incredible levels of precision; understand what they’re doing, where, when, how and why; influence their behavior by combining the powers of art and science; and prove the results and value of our efforts.
But all of this magic comes at a price. With great power comes great responsibility. We are responsible for the integrity of our brands. Marketing technology makes the process of communicating with your audience more frequent and more impersonal, capabilities that must be used wisely. We are responsible for often vast budgets that can be spent, for better or worse, with the click of a button. And perhaps most stressfully for many marketers, martech makes us responsible for our own decisions.
Because of marketing technology, we can no longer hide. Marketing no longer gets a pass. If we recommend a course of action and it fails, the data is now there to prove it. This is empowering, but also incredibly anxiety-inducing. We marketers will tell you that we are absolutely thrilled to finally be able to measure the impact of our efforts, but inside, we’re nervously chewing our nails. What if it doesn’t work? What if the results are dismal? Will I get passed over for that promotion? Will I get fired?
The experience of using many martech tools compounds this stress. Marketing technology solutions frequently set users up to fail. I don’t believe that this is due to nefarious intent on the vendors’ end; it is simply a result of engineers building products for engineers — or, in my field (attribution), data scientists building products for data scientists. The problem is, few marketers are also engineers or data scientists. As a result, a media planner or marketing ops person sits down in front of an analytics tool that is supposed to be a magic bullet and instead faces an incomprehensible interface. Expectations are through the roof, but the reality is way down in the weeds.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Marketing technology solutions need not, and should not, cause more concern than they’re worth. The trick is to choose the tools — and these days, you have plenty of options — that give your people the information they need in a way that is meaningful to your users and your organization. These tools share three main characteristics.
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