The 4 Pillars of a Marketing Technology Strategy

As we’re heading through the era of smart phones and into the era of wearables and the Internet of Things, the tricky part is figuring out which of those technologies belong in your marketing budget, and which are just the latest shiny thing distracting your attention?

For a long time now, marketing and technology have been on a collision course, and we’re well past the point of impact.

That’s why you keep hearing the term “MarTech,” and it’s only getting bigger as a buzz word.

The thing is, just because MarTech is a buzz word doesn’t mean every potential marketing technology is worth the time and investment.

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As we’re heading through the era of smart phones and into the era of wearables and the Internet of Things, the tricky part is figuring out which of those technologies belong in your marketing budget, and which are just the latest shiny thing distracting your attention?

That’s why you need to have a deliberate marketing and technology strategy to guide your investments and keep your wandering eye for technology focused on the part of the horizon you’re aiming for.

What Does a Marketing Technology Strategy Look Like?

On last year’s Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, I had the chance to moderate several panels about this, including the keynote with UMarketing founder George Wiedemann and the closing panel discussion on how marketers are coming to terms with enhanced tech responsibilities.

Four elements emerged from those panels that are really the pillars of a solid MarTech strategy.

Marketing Tech Pillar 1

It is guided by your larger marketing strategy as it relates to your business strategy.

The marketing technology you invest in should not be guided by the newest shiny object or by the tools a few of your employees pick up to meet an immediate need.

The strategy should follow the goals your business plan has set for your marketing, and the overarching integrated marketing plan you’ve put in place to reach those goals.

This lets you build a marketing technology “stack” that works together and is all pulling in the same direction.

For example, your social media offers should be collecting conversions and routing them into your marketing automation or CRM system the same way any other marketing program works. They should be accountable to similar types of metrics, and you should be able to evaluate the technology and its benefits in metrics that align with each other and can be easily compared.

Marketing Tech Pillar 2

The strategy should look three, five or even 10 years down the road at where you want your marketing tech capabilities to be, how you expect to be using it, and the opportunities that are emerging.

If your technology is good enough for your needs today, but is building to a dead end in the future, then fixing that should be part of the plan.

But then how can you try new things if you’re only focused on what fits into the plan you already have?

One great idea from the closing panel was to set aside a “Skunkworks” budget specifically ear marked for trying out new technologies and figuring out if they do belong in your strategy in the future. That way you can try new things without skewing your strategy just to reach them.

5 Pillars of the Mobile Marketing Industry

All emerging industries reach a point where their ecosystem’s members find common and fundamental concepts that help them organize their thoughts and actions in order to ensure the long-term growth and success of their businesses. For mobile marketing, those fundamentals have emerged and can be boiled down to five verbs: promote, measure, educate, guide and protect.

All emerging industries reach a point where their ecosystem’s members find common and fundamental concepts that help them organize their thoughts and actions in order to ensure the long-term growth and success of their businesses. For mobile marketing, those fundamentals have emerged and can be boiled down to five verbs: promote, measure, educate, guide and protect.

In September, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) refined its messaging along these five pillars to improve its ability to efficiently communicate with the market and to forge forward with its mission to help foster a growing and sustainable mobile marketing industry. The following list highlights the measurable objectives of each of these pillars:

  • Promote. Promote mobile marketing best practices, standards, thought-leadership and industry leaders (e.g., brands, agencies, media companies, application providers, etc.) to foster innovation and industry development.
  • Educate. Provide structured, evidence-based curriculum to educate brands, agencies and consumers about the full scale and scope of mobile marketing practices to highlight their advantages and benefits and to ensure that all players can develop a common understanding of each other’s goals and motivations so that they may efficiently and effectively co-create value between them for their mutual benefit.
  • Measure. As we enter into the “digital age,” where all engagements, moods, preferences, interests and intentions can be digitally imprinted, the key to successful mutual value creation between marketers and consumers will be achieved through the teasing out of insights and knowledge from the vast amounts of data that’s being managed by consumers and marketers alike. In today’s digital world, consumers have as much information as marketers; both need to measure their activities (e.g., total spend in industry, effectiveness of one medium versus another to accomplish one’s goals) to ensure they’re optimizing their time, energy and money.
  • Guide. We all need guidance. By continuing to amass thought-leadership, best practices and self-regulatory codes of conduct, mobile marketers can continue to foster and grow the industry.
  • Protect. Protect consumers and your businesses. All mobile marketers need to pay special attention to the needs of each constituent in the marketplace, and ensure an even playing field for all to help maximize public and industry confidence in mobile marketing, lower barriers to entry and minimize noneconomic costs of doing business.

More than words
These five pillars aren’t just shibboleths. They’re designed to provide the mobile marketing industry with actionable concepts that are key for maintaining growth.

Here’s a real-world example: A recent MMA survey of U.S. advertisers and ad agencies shows strong confidence in mobile marketing’s reach and effectiveness — so much so that they plan to increase their spending 124 percent to more than $5.4 billion by the end of 2011. This projected increase reflects advertiser and agency plans to shift their budgets out of media such as print and outdoor and into the mobile channel.

The “measure” pillar plays a key role by providing the confidence that in turn enables this kind of growth. It’s easier for brands and agencies to justify those dramatic increases and strategy shifts when they have access to independent, primary analytics showing consumer interest in and adoption of mobile services.

But measurement is possible only when everyone is using the same baselines and definitions. The MMA recently worked with the Interactive Advertising Bureau to define what constitutes a mobile ad impression.

Another example of measurement is via independent research. An April 2010 survey conducted by the MMA and one of its official research partners, Luth Research, found that nearly one in four U.S. adult consumers uses mobile location services. Nearly half of those who noticed any ads while using location-based services took at least some action, indicating that consumers respond well to ads through location-based services. That’s the kind of actionable intelligence that brands and agencies need to make the most of the mobile opportunity.

The “promote” pillar plays an equally important role in helping drive industry growth. Case studies, for example, explain how and why certain campaigns are highly successful. This information gives brands and agencies the actionable insights necessary to develop and execute their own strategies, and it complements “measure” by providing additional confidence that the mobile channel will put their marketing budget to highly effective use.

Effectiveness depends partly on the actions of the industry as a whole. That’s where the “educate” pillar comes in. The MMA’s certification program is designed to educate marketing professionals about how to use the mobile channel effectively and appropriately.

That process starts with protecting the consumer experience and the efficiency of the market’s systems so that all players can grow their businesses in a sustainable fashion. Industry-standard guidelines such as the MMA’s “U.S. Consumer Best Practices” and “Code of Conduct for Mobile Marketing” are part of the “guide” pillar, which enables the self-regulation that helps grow the mobile opportunity.

The MMA’s role as guide includes providing a framework so that the mobile industry can create these kinds of documents, which ensure that brands, agencies, developers, carriers and other ecosystem members are all on the same page — and moving forward.

Promote, measure, educate, guide and protect. Five verbs that provide focus and momentum to the ongoing development of a burgeoning industry. Everyone can contribute, you just have to find the area that excites you the most, jump in and get engaged.