Don’t you just love Rube Goldberg and his crazy inventions? Like the “Self-Operating Napkin” pictured here, they’re a lot of fun…but it turns out, tying together a random assortment of household items with tape and string is not a great way to live your life…and it also turns out, it’s not a great way to run your B2B digital marketing either!
Unfortunately, the majority of B2B marketers are operating exactly this way. Remember the Infographic that Scott Brinker at chiefmartech.com shared a few years ago detailing Cisco’s martech stack…with 39 tools? More recently, Intercom surveyed a handful of growth stage companies and found that they used an average of 17 platforms each.
At the extreme, cloud access provider Netskope reports that marketing departments use a whopping 120 cloud-based tools on average (the most of any department in the enterprise!). That’s up +31% from the already staggering 91 that Netskope reported in 2017, when Mary Meeker highlighted their research in her Internet Trends Report. Of course, that 120 number does include a range of standard productivity tools like Outlook for email and Box for document management, but any way you slice it, a typical marketing team’s toolkit does start to look like the grab bag of items in a Rube Goldberg sketch.
That being said, using a range of tools isn’t inherently bad. Each of these platforms – whether it’s email, social listening, CRM, chat, web ads, PR, content, website optimization, etc, etc – does need to be highly specialized, and members of different marketing sub-teams should be free to pick the tools that in their view are the best fit for their particular needs.
“It’s not enough to just pull in data from different sources to view them on a single screen; the data needs to be stitched together in a meaningful way across accounts, campaigns, content, audiences, geographies, products lines, financial impact, and more.”
The key to making it all work, however, is connecting all of those platforms in a way that makes them easy to understand and manage – and that ain’t easy. It’s not enough to just pull in data from different sources to view them on a single screen; the data needs to be stitched together in a meaningful way across accounts, campaigns, content, audiences, geographies, products lines, financial impact, and more. According to Ascend2 Research, 52% of B2B marketers surveyed listed “Integrating Disparate Systems” as the #1 most challenging barrier to marketing technology success, so it’s pretty clear that the pain is widespread and very real.
What if you wanted to quickly show spend and efficiency data on ALL paid, owned and earned tactics for a particular campaign (ie. email, web traffic, blog engagement, social ads, web ads, social posts, chatbot dialogs, search queries, PR engagements, event registrations, etc, etc, etc)? What if you wanted to share with your sales team how a particular account has been interacting with all of these touchpoints now and over time so they can prioritize and tailor their outreach?
When the Board says “Good news we have another $XX to spend on marketing, what should we spend it on and why?” – are you able to say which marketing tactic or campaign or account segment should get that extra budget? (or more likely in this turbulent economic environment: “We have to cut XX% from the marketing budget, which tactic, campaign or account segment should we cut back on first?”)
These are great questions and most sophisticated marketers are already thinking along these lines. The challenge is that it can take days to pull together and analyze the fragmented sources of data to answer them, so they often go unanswered for long periods of time. Marketers should have the data from all of their various tools at their fingertips to be able to constantly analyze, test and improve over time.
The good news is that this kind of analytical rigor, even in the world of the fragmented Rube Golberg-esque marketing stack, is no longer a fantasy. There are a growing number of technology tools and service providers – like Octane11 and our amazing partners – that are re-integrating the entire marketing stack to make it easy for marketers to achieve this level of insight and control.
Last week we officially announced the launch of Octane11, and I invite you to follow us as we write more about our approach and our favorite tactics, tools, and partners for achieving this vision — and the impact you can have once all the pieces are in place. In the meantime, please drop us a note via chat or in the comments on your own challenges and favorite solutions. We’re all in this together and we’d love to hear from you.