Is Martech Keeping Pace With Business Expectations?

By Meghann York, Global Head of Product Marketing, Marketing Solutions at SAP

The role of the -marketer has never been more complex. The world of consumer marketing continues to evolve at breakneck speed, matched only by the rate at which customer expectations are changing.

Marketers are under enormous pressure to transform their departments from cost centers to revenue centers which drive growth and produce measurable results. Increasingly, this transformation is hampered by technology and time constraints.

Gartner has established that a third (32%) of marketing work has been brought in-house over the past year, a trend expected to continue into the years ahead. On top of this, marketing departments are facing budget cuts — with marketers being asked to do more with less.

We asked marketers what their biggest challenges were going into 2022: priorities, personalization and data silos.

This raises the question, is martech keeping pace with these developments? Where is it falling down?

So many priorities, so little time

The first major obstacle facing marketers is one of prioritization: more than half (57%) of marketers working -wish they had more hours in the day, according to the latest Emarsys report.

The role of marketing is expanding, with marketers now splitting their time between brand, digital, customer experience and customer retention in addition to the traditional marketing workload. There’s too much to be done, with 55% of retail marketers feeling paralyzed by an inability to prioritize workloads across different channels.

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As if this wasn’t enough, marketing’s new role as a revenue center means greater internal demands for a strategic focus on KPIs and ROI, and a tactical focus on measuring, reporting and analyzing key datapoints. Dealing with tactical data already eats up the working day, with 63% of retail marketers singling it out as a ‘significant’ use of their day-to-day hours.

All of this adds up to marketers who are missing the time and freedom to prioritize their most valuable tasks, with 81% stating that they don’t spend enough time on important issues like driving repeat purchases.

Personalization is a must, but it’s not always easy

Beyond the question of priorities, marketers are also struggling to execute the personalization that the modern consumer demands.

We’re living in an age where customer “segments of one” are a real possibility — if only we’re willing to give personalization the time and concern it deserves. – The vast majority (85%) of marketers agree that personalization is vital for generating increased revenue and improving customer experiences.

Despite this consensus on the importance of personalization, however, retail marketers remain hard-pressed for time to put in the groundwork. A huge 91% believe that they need more time to understand their customers.

At the root of the issue here is the undeniable fact that personalization is not easy. It requires investments of time, data and technology. And, as we’ve already mentioned, time is in short supply. Marketers are being stretched too thin to process the most valuable customer data — despite 42% allocating more time to data segmentation than any other task.

Data living…everywhere

We can’t create more hours in the day or halt the rising tide of ever more customer data. But we can invest in technology that bridges business departments and integrates data from several sources to build a more efficient workflow for marketers — making personalization possible again.

The common source of many of the failings above is, as I’ve hinted at, a failure to integrate or centralize data and other marketing assets into a single technology platform. It’s no surprise that being confronted with so many challenges while equipped with so little time, marketers install disparate pieces of marketing technology — repairing leaks instead of replacing the plumbing.

This results in a technology stack which is far from cohesive. – Marketers can attest to this, with research showing that 41% admit to wasting time navigating separate technologies, and 35% wasting time on IT related tasks.

Data and execution silos consequentially undermine one of the core marketing deliverables in retail: customer experience. Without a comprehensive understanding of their customers as individuals, how can marketers be expected to deliver a bespoke experience – let alone manage the myriad of responsibilities that their role is now taking on?

It’s only by unifying the marketing stack (allowing marketers to do more with less) that the customer can return to their rightful place as priority number one — reaping the benefits of high-quality personalization and great experiences.

This raises the question, is martech keeping pace with these developments? Where is it falling down?

Bringing martech up to speed

 Snowed under by processes, surrounded by vast quantities of data and stretched to breaking point by legacy marketing tech — suffice to say, marketers have it hard right now. Until these problems are addressed with a comprehensive solution that empowers them to perform at their best, things will not get any better.

Thankfully, the future of – marketing still looks bright. Almost half (48%) of -marketers will be investing in personalization technologies in the next 12 months, which will begin to consolidate customer data and automate away time-consuming tasks.

This kind of martech consolidation will be key to giving power back to marketers and improving outcomes for their businesses. Marketers need a martech platform which integrates the busywork and frees them up to prioritize what really matters to them, and to the business.

Start your martech engines — it’s time to get back up to speed.

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