For the last year, one service that I’ve been ramping up and getting a ton of traction on has been corporate workshops. Most of the companies I work with have an established marketing technology (martech) stack but are struggling to realize the return on investment. At two different companies, the contracts were signed, the licenses paid for, and the software simply sat idle.
While businesses and consumer behavior online demand digital transformation, there continue to be four common hurdles to digital transformation:
1. Companies lack clearly defined goals and direction.
2. Companies are struggling to unify cross-channel digital experiences.
3. Companies have legacy mindsets that inhibit transformation.
4. Companies operate on outdated systems that hinder, rather than enable, digital transformation.
Of course, the last issue is why we’ve seen an explosion of innovation and products in the market. In fact, marketing budgets continue to grow. According to eMarketer, “total ad spend in the U.S. will grow 24% between 2018 and 2022, from $220.96 billion to $274.44 billion.” And Forrester predicts marketing technology budgets will increase from 30% of the overall marketing budget in 2018 to 32% in 2022.
The marketing technology industry isn’t helping itself, though. High-pressure sales, published whitepapers and use cases that exploit the best-performing clients are rarely the results that most companies are achieving. In my opinion, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions are selling the best-case scenarios but often don’t equip companies to fully leverage the technology. In fact, churn continues to be a challenge for many marketing technology companies.
According to some experts, the very best SaaS companies keep annual churn at around 7% of total revenues a year. That’s a huge number, and can bury a business that’s risking its marketing budget on what they envision is a technological silver bullet. When you analyze that number, it points to a significant amount of implementation failures that can be disastrous for the companies involved.
You did the research and invested in the mansion. But what the marketing technology company actually delivers is the cement, the wood, the sheetrock, the piping, and the appliances to your empty lot. It’s your job to build the mansion; you just didn’t realize that when you closed the sale.
It’s sad to see companies risk and lose so much on technology. It’s time to stop validating your technology purchase by looking at awards, self-promotion and industry recognition. Your company must take a critical look internally to ensure your success. The wrong people or broken processes will continue to negatively impact your return on technology investment.
How To Mitigate Your Company’s Risk Of Failure
There’s much your business can do to mitigate the risk before your marketing technology expenditure. And, if already spent, there’s a lot that businesses can do to salvage a costly and unsuccessful marketing technology expenditure.
• Employees: Do an audit of your current internal people that will be impacted by the technology implementation. Will people have to perform tasks in multiple systems? Will they be fully trained before implementing? Will you require additional resources?
• Customers: Do an audit of your current customers. How many will be impacted? Have you communicated the changes to them?
• Processes: Do an audit of your current internal processes that will be impacted by the technology implementation or change.
• Objectives: What are the objectives of this technology implementation? How will you measure progress, and how long before you expect to see the overall results? It’s imperative that you track progress and identify where the roadblocks are on success.
• Strategy: Perhaps the largest gap that I see when companies are implementing technology is that they actually don’t have a strategy to fully leverage it to meet their objectives. Because internal stakeholders often have no experience with the platform, the company often doesn’t know how to align their objectives with the solution’s capabilities.
• Execution: Developing a comprehensive execution plan of who is responsible, what they are responsible for and when they are responsible to have the actions complete is absolutely imperative. Fully define where the responsibilities of the vendor end and your company’s responsibility begins.
While it is quite labor-intensive to do these types of audits, by thoroughly analyzing the impact on people and processes, you will be able to uncover most major roadblocks before they occur.
Don’t forget to list who you may be able to bring in to assist if additional expertise is required. These are often strategists or implementation consultants from the vendor — many marketing technology vendors have extensive strategic teams to help assist you in your implementation. And, of course, there are always external consultants who have assisted in complex implementations and can help you prevent a failed marketing technology investment.
Research, plan and invest wisely.