As sophisticated as many of the retail-focused marketing technologies are today, they can’t replace sound marketing strategy, consistent execution and brand value. Technology should help the marketer execute on pre-determined plans and strategies. In a technology market where there are literally hundreds of choices, how does the marketer select the best solution, particularly when it promises so many bells and whistles?
Here are some things to consider before starting your selection process, as well as a few tips for getting the most out of your marketing solution:
1) Decide if the solution will be foundational to your marketing efforts.
Will the solution sit at the center of your marketing ecosystem, or is it peripheral? This is a challenging question for retail brands and often depends upon company history and what’s driving the most success. In the last five to 10 years, ecommerce has gone from being a peripheral channel to becoming foundational to retail success, driving 50 to 70 percent of retail sales, whether directly or through influence. How you answer this question will obviously impact your technology search.
2) Outline your objectives for the team running the procurement process.
Many organizations utilize a formal RFI or RFP process when searching for a new solution. The questions you ask either directly or during RFP should provide answers tied to your objectives. What are the immediate business needs this will solve? What are your future goals this should solve? How long will it take to truly get up and running? How will this technology impact your teams? What internal resources are required to manage this solution in an optimal way? What’s the intended ROI?
3) Revisit your overall business goals.
When you’re buying a replacement technology (assuming you’re unhappy with the present solution), it’s best to revisit your overall objectives. Instead of just making a list of reasons you dislike the installed solution, reevaluate your goals so you don’t get overly focused on a few points of present dissatisfaction. Ask yourselves the same questions, then add on questions concerning what you’ve learned using your present solution. Include your present solution in the RFP or procurement process. You might learn some things about the platform that you didn’t know.
4) Incorporate a wider cross-section of opinions.
Given the suggestions mentioned previously, senior level managers would do well to allow their staff — the actual users — to be part of the research and vetting of technology solutions and then support them in the final decision. If the solution will impact multiple teams, be sure they are represented in the process. In the end, the more the users buy in, the more likely you’ll get the most value from the solution. Be sure the evaluation leaves no room for indecision. You don’t want it to come down to a coin toss.
5) Budget the necessary resources.
When you’re adding a solution to your marketing mix, make sure you have enough staff or the right staff in place to manage it. Even the easiest of technology solutions requires time, training and practice to get the most out of the tool. Give your team the time they’ll need to get up and running.
6) Make sure ongoing training is a top priority too.
Often, those that use the solution aren’t as proficient as they could be and assume the tool is the problem. Make sure you allot regular training to help keep your team up to speed on updates and enhancements to the solution. Managers should know what the training entails and then schedule it as part of the user’s regular responsibilities.
At a time when there are numerous digital marketing solutions, connectedness is important. The activity and behavioral data generated by marketing solutions can be leveraged in multiple marketing channels. Marketers should understand their own limitations and those of the vendor before making final decisions.
Get more marketing tips:
1) Ebook: “Ultimate Guide to Assessing Your Digital Marketing Program”
2) Blog: “The Email Experience Audit: Why You Need One”
3) White Paper: “The New CMO Guide: A Handbook for Marketing Leaders”