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How CMOs can build back better with the right martech solutions

Chief marketers need to ask themselves these five questions before selecting a martech solution, writes Toby Harris

It’s a boom time for chief marketers and the platforms that serve them. But discerning whether you’re investing in the right martech solutions can be a tall order. Toby Harris, chief executive and founder of Quartz Network, lays out a few key guidelines for making the selections best suited for your needs.

Ten years ago, there were about 150 martech solutions on the market. At the time industry leaders thought that was a lot, and the space was booming. Today there are upwards of 8,000, extending across almost every marketing need. Whether chief marketers want to streamline supply chains, attribute sales or improve their employees’ wellbeing, they’re spoiled for choice. But they’re also stuck with a broken buying and selling process that didn’t work when there were 150 potential partners, much less 8,000.

The latest Gartner IT spending report forecasts $4.1tn in IT spend in 2021 – an 8.4% increase from 2020. Budgets and mandates for new technology have expanded far beyond the IT department, and we’re seeing more and more business leaders turn to data-driven solutions to adapt, grow and thrive in uncertainty.

While the martech ecosystem shows no signs of slowing, the saturation of tools and technology has created a maze of inefficiency. Gartner also reported that 77% of B2B buyers said their latest purchase was complex or difficult, often forcing them to abandon deals without finding the right solution for their enterprise needs. In this fast-moving, fast-changing environment, how can chief marketers know they’re making the right choice?

Moving away from a ‘swipe right’ model

The traditional process of buying and selling martech was built for sales funnels. Business leaders used to reach out to providers they met at trade shows and fill out a bunch of forms, half of which never got a response. And providers historically focused more on nurturing qualified leads than creating a straightforward and enjoyable customer experience.

Since the pandemic accelerated the need for digital solutions, executives have been pushed to spend more time researching and vetting solutions. And when buyers do more of their own research – and simply ‘swipe right’ instead of starting a conversation – sellers have fewer opportunities to share their expertise. Gartner found that when buyers compare multiple suppliers‚ they only spend 5% or 6% of their time meeting with actual sales reps.

Ultimately, we’re stuck in a system that places too much focus on moving buyers down the funnel and not enough on quickly getting them the solutions they need. But AI and data-driven technology are well-equipped to solve this kind of problem, creating a better experience for both sides.

For example, the gap between companies looking to solve specific challenges and providers ready to help them may be bridged with AI-powered tools to connect enterprise buyers with the right tech platforms and solutions.

But before you start engaging with martech providers, answering a few key questions can help streamline and maximize your procurement process.

How to navigate the martech maze

Here are the key questions to consider before making a selection:

1. What problem am I trying to solve?

You don’t need to know the exact type of solution you’re looking for, but to avoid getting overwhelmed by your options, drill into the challenge you’re up against. Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to measure? How would solving this challenge impact your overall revenue?

These qualifiers ensure the solution you choose ties back directly to your bottom line. And by keeping your options open, you might end up discovering a tool you didn’t know was on the market.

2. Will this still be a problem two weeks from now?

The pandemic disrupted and accelerated changes in an already dynamic space. One day you could be developing personalized creative for a niche online audience, and the next you’re trying to generate interest for a physical customer experience.

When your challenge today could be entirely different two weeks from now, you need to be ready to quickly surface and onboard new solutions.

3. Where does this solution fit in the bigger picture?

Every new tool is a small piece to a larger puzzle. Chief marketers don’t need to be their business’s most proficient technologists, but they do need to understand how three primary martech buckets fit together to assist their marketing goals:

  • Data: How you manage your organization and relationships with customers

  • Execution: Marketing clouds including Salesforce, Adobe and Google Marketing Clouds; digital initiatives such as ads and social engagement; and in-person experiences

  • Analysis: How things are performing to refine what’s working

4. How does it improve the customer experience?

Today’s chief marketers need to be skilled in three key areas: creativity, technology and business. You need a brand with a compelling, consistent message. You need to understand how these systems can help you reach your audience and create wonderful customer experiences. And you need to know how to pair creativity and technology in a way that impacts your top line.

Successful businesses are built by satisfied customers. Knowing how technology can assist or amplify your brand and creative is the path to creating engaging customer experiences that drive revenue.

5. Where do I start my search?

Looking out on the landscape of 8,000 martech platforms competing for your business can be overwhelming. As we know, the early stages of the procurement process are difficult, time-consuming and take a high level of expertise about an industry that’s constantly changing.

There are a few ways chief marketers can make this process easier on themselves. In-house research can go a long way, if you have the available team resources to devote to it. Guidance and recommendations from peers can help, as can reporting and consulting from the analyst firms.

For lots of organizations, a specialized matchmaker can really fast-track this process as well. That’s why we use the Match.com comparison for ourselves. Sometimes you don’t have the time or energy to meet a bunch of strangers, or swipe right until you find a connection. Leverage the resources and skills of trusted partners instead.

Regaining the power of connection

Effective martech sales and solutions are rooted in the same objective: creating the right connections. The right technology can help businesses form better connections with their customers. And to find the right solution, business leaders need to quickly identify and connect with the right vendors. We’re here to facilitate that discussion and increase the chances of a mutual connection within minutes.

That’s one of many things the pandemic ripped from us – the ability to connect with each other. If we can make it easier to connect with each other, we can have more meaningful conversations, make smarter decisions, uncover new revenue models and build better customer experiences for the future.

Toby Harris is chief executive officer and founder of Quartz Network.

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