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Your Martech Investments Should Reflect Your Customer Journey

By Kirsten Newbold-Knipp | October 30, 2017 | 1 Comment

Do you have a Martech Stack and Roadmap?  You probably do – and it’s likely grown up through a mix of inherited tools, opportunistic purchases and well-planned investments, resulting in something that sort of works, but which you often wish you could toss out and start over.  Since none of us have that luxury, we all need to think about our martech stacks like houses that get additions and renovations over time.

Last week I gave a keynote using the house and martech analogy that got a lot more email and tweet follow up questions than usual – which is always an exciting development – indicating that just maybe something I shared struck a nerve and might help a brand make some positive change.  Rather than try to respond to everyone – I figured I’d blog a few lines to illuminate a few tidbits during the talk and answer many of those questions.

Why Pace Layers in a Martech Stack Look A Lot Like a House

To give us some framing, I introduced Gartner’s Pace Layering Framework. It’s an organizational construct to identify the role a technology plays and how you might think about its investment level, security and governance, etc.

Pace Layering Marketing Technology

  • The ‘foundational’ layer is called Systems of Record. We all throw that word around in casual conversation – but in the context of technology it has specific meaning. Systems of record are used for core processes that change infrequently — on the order of every 10+ years. Sort of like your home’s foundation or plumbing.
  • Layer 2 in the framework represents systems of differentiation which are applications for processes or ideas that drive competitive advantage — these systems tend to change on the order of every three to five years.
  • Finally, at the very top, the icing on the cake or the ‘throw pillows of your home’ are systems of innovation which enable new ideas, unique processes and emerging strategies — these often change in months to just a few years. In a marketing context, this could include investment in a new technology for an emerging social network that is not yet proven.

I shared what technologies we see most brands investing in at each layer which you can read about in Marketing Technology Survey 2016: How Marketers Use Technology to Run, Grow and Transform Their Organizations (subscription required).

How Pivotal Moments in a Customer Journey Impact Your Martech Stack

But the point here is not just what your neighbor has in the martech stack – rather – what you might want to think about leveraging given what your customers need from you.  Gartner’s Buy-Own-Advocate framework shows how a person might move from anonymous prospect through to customer and eventually to an advocate who loves and defends your brand.

I shared some details about my own customer journey buying paint for our new home and how there were a lot of pivotal points along the journey (highlighted with the blue splats) where my experience was just OK or where a brand might have done a better job serving me both in the short and long term.

Customer Journey Pivotal Moments Paint

My paint selection journey involved a lot of digital research, some serious paint chip and sampling efforts – even painting cardboard to place all around the house for lighting tests. Then our painter bought the paint and now we are ready to maintain it – with a bunch of cans of undated / unlabeled paint in our shed. In what amounted to a pretty serial, complex selection process, I suggested that a brand might enhance the buy journey by:

  • Using better targeting to proactively engage me?
  • Offering better selection tools (there are some, but they are pretty limited)?
  • Making it easier or faster to get paint chips?
  • Simplifying the sample process – allowing me to pre-order and pick up or have it delivered?

In the initial ‘ownership’ stages? Why not:

  • Get our info during sampling and ask if it’s for a specific project?
  • Maybe allow us to name the project and save our paint colors for future maintenance and ease of use?
  • Perhaps we could even connect our contractor & painter details so that there is a record of what was bought for us?

Imagine even further through our lifecycle that:

  • We get a little thank you and some touch up paint 6 months to a year down the road?
  • There’s a reminder around the time that our paint remnants are likely to go bad making it easy and timely to get more.

How likely do you think we’d be to select the brand … and eventually LOVE and defend the brand that makes these types of things possible?

Why Your Martech Stack Should Reflect Your Customer Journey

As you think about what investments you plan to make on technology in 2017 and 2018, there are a number of ‘table stakes’ or foundational items you might need in general.  But when it comes to systems of differentiation and innovation, one way to contemplate and prioritize your investments is to map them against the pivotal moments in your brands’ customer journey to determine what gaps they may fill.  Often we invest in things that can make one small, marginal improvement at only one stage.  But if you identify that there are three or four places in the journey that a single investment can impact – that could bump that particular tool up the list.

Customer Journey and Martech Examples

This diagram is not intended to be an exhaustive list of technologies that apply at every step in the journey. But those you see in bold often play an outsized role at that step.  Consider using the Buy-Own-Advocate journey to map your own tools and your ‘wish list’ to aid in your prioritization.

And perhaps most importantly – remember that building a martech stack is a lot like building a house – it’s a journey that is almost never done!

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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