Marketing in the digital era
As martech (marketing technology) adoption grows, Dr Paul Hopkinson, associate head of Edinburgh Business School for Heriot-Watt University Dubai and academic lead for Heriot-Watt Online, explores the opportunities and challenges it presents
Technology has transformed every industry as we know it, and marketing has not remained unaffected either. Enter martech, the blending of marketing and technology. Martech encompasses all the software and tech tools used by marketers to plan, execute and measure marketing campaigns. They are a means to improve reach and engagement with the target audience. CRM systems, customer tracking tools, auto responders, chatbots, content marketing tools, marketing and salesforce automation systems and data and analytics tools are some of the common examples with which we are all familiar. WhatsApp, one of the most popular martech tools, facilitates up to one billion messages between people and businesses every month. As more areas of marketing turn digital, the penetration of disruptive technologies increases. A study by International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that spending on AI-based martech is projected to reach $52.2bn by 2021, attaining a CAGR of 46.2 per cent from 2016 to 2021.
Against this backdrop, here are some of the opportunities as well as common challenges in the use of martech.
There is no denying that martech presents a wealth of opportunity. It can boost productivity by automating time-consuming tasks that marketers regularly undertake, such as content creation and delivery, campaign scheduling and execution. It can also automate routine service interactions and cater to increasing consumer demands for immediacy and flexibility in the service provision space. Proper usage of martech tools can generate and identify sales-qualified leads and enable better alignment of sales efforts and content delivery to meet marketing goals. It can ensure data consistency if all parts of the martech stack are connected via one central platform. Most importantly, martech can increase conversions.
A study by Forrester Consulting found that B2B marketers using martech experience a 10 per cent increase in their sales pipeline contribution.
With the increasing amount of data at our fingertips, however, one of the most pressing challenges that marketers face is the ability to derive value from this data. In another study carried out by Forrester Consulting, it was found that poor data results in 20 per cent of the total marketing spend being wasted. To leverage data optimally, marketers must have a robust data acquisition strategy in place. Other solutions include having a complete customer and marketing dataset; recognising data sources; and using data relevant to the analysis being performed.
The second challenge is cutting through the clutter. With the tremendous growth in martech, it is easy for marketers to get lost in complexity. To overcome this, they must strive to remain culturally relevant to consumers, and deliver the best-in-class customer experiences and content. Finally, like all other technologies, martech is only as good as what marketers can do with it. While familiarity with analytical tools is important, marketers need creativity and strategic thinking skills in order to derive insights from data and create an impact.
Despite growing awareness around the benefits of martech, marketers tend to shy away from fully embracing it. The reasons are many – relating to the clarity of use cases, perceived levels of risk and ease of use. Marketers also need to be able to navigate through the hype, distinguishing between current and potential applications and those where the potential is not yet proven or fully realised. Programmes such as Heriot-Watt University Dubai’s soon to be launched Masters’ in Digital Leadership and Business Analytics and Consulting are designed to help develop the digital skills that will help participants extract the most out of martech and differentiate the value from the hype. With courses in Business Analytics, Big Data and Digital Marketing Analytics, these programmes will reveal the potential of disruptive technology and how to derive value from data.
With the increasing amount of data at our fingertips, however, one of the most pressing challenges that marketers face is the ability to derive value from this data