The complex nature of today’s buyer journey, with more touch points across multiple channels and devices, offers exciting opportunities for marketers, but it can also make delivering a fantastic customer experience more challenging. Siloed data and fragmented marketing efforts often conspire to create a disjointed, unfulfilling experience.
Digital marketing technology is constantly evolving to keep pace with the ever-changing marketplace, and many clients I’ve been meeting with have been evaluating their current technologies and related marketing strategy with an eye toward making tweaks to their programs to gain an edge on the competition and provide a more seamless, rewarding customer experience.
Regardless of company size, “more advanced” customers are deploying sophisticated digital marketing programs, incorporating data from multiple channels and devices to drive extremely relevant conversations. It’s always fascinating to learn how they have established rules and guidelines internally to drive these awesome experiences, and recently I’ve seen many of them implementing “tech charts.”
What’s a Tech Chart?
Let’s start with the basics: A tech chart is a visual representation of all of a company’s digital marketing technologies in use (or are scheduled/planned to be used) to communicate with customers and prospects and incorporates many of the same diagrams and techniques that our friends in IT have been using for years.
A typical tech chart includes cylinders for data stores, input and output arrows, and software blocks. To begin, put your primary digital marketing platform (usually the one that sends email, performs automated workflows, pushes mobile notifications, etc.) in the middle. Then, surround it with other data stores, including items such as:
- An inventory system
- Ecommerce tool
- Order management system
- Social listening platform
- Data warehouse
Use arrows to summarize what kind of information is flowing (and the type of integration) from your other systems into your digital marketing platform, and vice versa. If you’re in a position where you haven’t completed certain data integrations, consider using the chart to note what would be possible if you did have them.
Next, note the primary outflows from each of your systems. This is usually in the form of email, SMS, mobile push notifications or direct mail. If you’ve built a program or encapsulated campaign, like an ROI calculator or size finder, for example, then you’ll want to add these to your charts.
Simplifying Technical Discussions
As I noted earlier, marketing is becoming more complex, and as a result, more technology-centric. While many marketers started with a single email solution to communicate with our customers and prospects – and that system existed as an isolated technology – in order to become a more sophisticated marketing team, you must incorporate and integrate a number of technologies to deliver the relevant communications your customers expect.
To accomplish this level of integration, you usually need to work with other stakeholders — namely the IT department, a vendor’s services team or an outside agency. With a tech chart, you can easily provide a visual representation of your existing solutions and capabilities, as well as the capabilities you need to deliver a more comprehensive marketing approach. The tech chart will get everyone on the same page, often eliminating misunderstandings and simplifying technical discussions.
Highlighting the Possibilities
Just by putting a tech chart together, your marketing team will get nods of appreciation and approval from your IT colleagues. Not only will it allow you to be on the same page with them about current and upcoming technology projects, but it will also let the entire marketing department see at a glance what’s installed, what you plan to work on and how you’re using all your data to deliver effective campaigns.
Also, consider using the tech chart with marketing management – highlighting not only what you have today, but also what could be possible if you received the resources necessary to deliver a key integration. For other internal teams – think support teams or call centers – you can highlight how you’ve built an island of digital capability that isn’t in sync with the rest of the company data. Or, if you’re shopping for new capabilities, the tech chart will give you a visual to provide potential vendors, helping them see clearly where they might fit into your marketing ecosystem and what integrations are vital to success.
Planning for the Future
If you already have a tech chart, congratulations! Your marketing team is ahead of the game – you have a document that provides a visual way to communicate the systems within your organization. Be sure to keep it up to date and use it regularly to share and communicate how you’re using technology to execute programs and plan for the future.
For instance, if you’re beginning to plan for 2016, incorporate your tech chart to identify plans for the new year and flesh out key requirements. Consider using new colors on next year’s chart to represent any new integrations and/or technology so team members, management and other departments can easily see and understand your plans.
So, don’t delay building your own tech chart much longer – it can help make those marketing visions of bigger success you’ve been having a reality!
1) Ebook: “Ultimate Guide to Assessing Your Digital Marketing Program”
2) Blog: “6 Ways to Collect the Data You Need to Enhance Your Marketing”
3) Tip Sheet: “10 Tips for Becoming an Agile Marketing Team”