customer data platform

More Marketing Automation Tools Isn’t Always The Answer

If yours is like a lot of companies, it probably has a few marketing automation tools in its martech stack. It’s easy to pile them on with other programs, hoping that if you have enough tools that do certain things, you’ll cover all of your bases. Unfortunately, that’s not typically how it works. 

Chief Marketers reports that the average organization uses around 91 different martech tools. Their primary purpose? Find and do something amazing with the firehose of customer data. The author explains why adding more “solutions” to your stack doesn’t usually deliver on your end goal, saying, “The problem is that adding more point solutions is like trying to run at the speed of light: you’re trying to go faster, but the faster you get, the heavier you are and the harder it is to accelerate.”

Even with all of the marketing automation tools and other point solutions, only 13% of organizations have confidence they are maximizing the full potential of the data they have. But marketing leaders are catching on, realizing that expanding the martech stack wider isn’t nearly as beneficial as integrating the data within the tools to go deeper. 

Related: 7 of The Best Marketing Automation Tools You Should Know

No matter how many marketing tools you have right now, the key that many companies are missing is to connect them so they share data. When you can consolidate data, you get a more comprehensive, integrated view of your customers and markets. Instead of getting a little bit here and a little bit there to manually cobble together a customer profile or marketing segment, for instance, you can use software that pulls all of the relevant data together for you.

If you want data-driven marketing campaigns, you likely don’t need more marketing tools. You simply need to connect what you have to get the full benefit out of your existing martech stack.

To Buy or Not to Buy?

You or your team may be frustrated that your existing martech stack isn’t getting marketing where it wants to be. Maybe another tool will help, right? Before you go down the purchasing route, you need to look at what you already have and if it’s worth keeping. 

Chances are, there are a lot of tools in your stack that aren’t being used, are only being used by a few people, or aren’t providing any real value. You may not think they’re doing any harm, but how much budget is going towards paying for those obsolete or underused tools?

By streamlining your martech stack, keeping only programs within your CRMs, marketing automation, content management, and customer data platforms that provide valuable insights, you’re not only maximizing its value, but you are reducing costs as well. 

Consider this: Gartner recently reported that due to the impacts of COVID-19, nearly 60% of marketing technology leaders say they expect moderate to severe cuts to their martech budgets, and 35% are initiating a process to overhaul their martech stack. Now is the ideal time for leaders to look at what they have, cut the fat, and connect the remaining tools for a more efficient and effective stack.

An interesting finding in Gartner’s Marketing Technology Survey 2020 is that building a martech stack with “best-of-breed” tools is no longer a priority for many organizations. Instead, they are opting for integration. Gartner says, “Those with a preference for integrated suites are significantly more likely to say their martech stack is meeting their organizations’ business objectives (84%) compared to those following a best-of-breed approach (74%).”

2021 is all about integration to do more with what you already have.

How to Get The Best Kind of Integration

So we know data is king, and we understand the value of integrating all of the tools that collect data. Now what? Time to do the work.

Remember that the key to getting the most out of your data is to connect your platforms for a seamless workflow. Forget manual process. The beauty of marketing automation tools is that they forego tedious, time-consuming, and often error-prone manual processes in favor of automated integrations, data collection, data cleansing, data analysis, and data visibility.

You may be wondering how to go about integrating all of the different martech platforms. Good question. It would be great to just wire the platforms together and let the data sharing begin, but that’s not how it works. What companies need is a software application that pulls all of the disparate customer data out there from your stack and creates a singular Customer Data Platform where users can get all kinds of awesome information.

Related: Sureshot’s Customer Data Platform

The Customer Data Platform integrates with the point solutions across your company, as well as external data from partners and third parties. If there is valuable data somewhere in a system, app or tool, the software can connect to it. Once connected to the various sources, it automatically pulls the data together, cleanses it, and standardizes it, filling in any gaps with data shared from another source. From there, it pushes the improved and enhanced data back to each source.

This process doesn’t happen once, or even every once in a while. It is continual. Every time a user adds, modifies or removes data from a source, the software grabs it and runs it through the same process. What remains is a single customer profile that is not only based on clean and complete data, but it is in real-time. 

The Benefits of a Customer Data Platform

Let’s look at all of the types of real-time data your marketing team needs access to. There are marketing automation tools, such as MAPs, your CRMs, your website cookie data, eCommerce data, and online customer forms, social media data, web ads, website and content click rates, etc.  

Some of this data is in a Data Management Platform (DMP). That’s great, but the DMP is just a repository, not a marketing enablement tool. It uses anonymous data that has an expiration date. It doesn’t create a single customer view and doesn’t provide insight into the customer journey.

Then there’s the CRM. It is home to sales data about existing customers. But marketers aren’t marketing solely to existing customers. They need to know about potential markets and prospects, too. 

A Customer Data Platform collects both anonymous and known customer data and stores it over time so marketers can identify trends, lifecycles, and customer journeys. They get the big picture view. Equally important, they have segment-level data as well. With both perspectives, marketers can go as deep or wide as they need to for a particular strategy or campaign. 

This kind of visibility is priceless in marketing. The data is comprehensive, both at macro and micro levels. It is complete, containing first-party, second-party, and third-party data from internal and external sources. The data is clean, with historical and real-time data that comes straight from the source and has been automatically cleansed and standardized so it can be used with confidence right away.

Your data-driven marketing campaigns require this type of data to get a better picture of customers and their behaviors so you can deliver a more consistent message across all channels. Data that can be trusted is accurate, complete, and comprehensive is powerful, giving companies an edge over companies who still struggle to know where their data is or how to fully leverage it.