In the 2019 State of the CMO report, marketers number one investment priority was stated as marketing automation, followed by CRM and then content creation. However, are marketers generating value for money with their CRM and Martech investment?
CMO surveys over the past few years have consistently shown that there has been a continuous increase in spending on technology each year. This increase in spend is across Customer Relationship Management systems like Salesforce, Marketing and Sales Automation systems like HubSpot, plus SEO Search and Analytics systems like SEMRush. However, most interesting, are the top 3 challenges marketers face when adopting and using this marketing technology:
1. Budget and financial restraints
2. Lack of technology skill sets and knowledge in team
3. Poor technology implementation or integration
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Where are marketing teams going wrong with their Marketing technology investment?
No doubt, it is exciting to get bring new technology and capabilities into your business and with the right planning and strategy in place, the right technology can make a huge difference in reaching your business goals. However, sometimes it’s easy to think of new technology as being the ‘solution’ to a business problem, rather than critically defining what actually is the business problem in the first place. CRM and Marketing technologies in the end, are simply tools that you use on your way to solving that problem. This is where disappointment can occur, with business owners feeling like they are not getting ROI on their technology investments.
Bridging the disconnect between expectation and reality of CRM & Martech
Let's take the first issue most marketers face - financial restraint. This is a reality from the largest corporate to small business and is usually the result of overly ambitious plans that stretch resources to thinly. So the message is to do fewer things and do them in a properly funded manner. It is very easy to be distracted by 'new things' and low priority requests from the broader business. Successful implementation of CRM and Marketing technology is going to take more resources than the simple cost of the software, so allow for training, content and agency costs if you want deliver on expectations.
The second challenge is around skill and capabilities. This is a challenge for the whole of business as digital transformation impacts a frightening speed - leaving businesses with deficiencies in the skills to execute with confidence. Closely related to financial restraints, the key is to identify skill shortages quickly and outsource until you feel like you understand the skills you need to hire for and how performance will be managed.
Poor implementation is a reality and a fear for most marketers when starting the CRM and Martech journey - even for those stepping up their commitment. This third challenge is related to the above two challenges and is the likely outcome if the CRM and Martech is poorly funded and not resourced with the correct skills and capabilities. Remember, there will be mistakes and failures along the way, so don't be disheartened - learn from them and your marketing team and business will grow as a result.
What are the category leaders doing well with their CRM and Martech investment?
It’s not surprising that category leaders and innovators who reported a positive ROI from their new CRM and marketing technology stack, had a heavy focus on:
- Targeted, data-driven content
- Customer-led thinking
- Documented content strategies
- Higher investment in content creation and distribution
- Finally, attribution metrics for that content
What has been Collab Agency's CRM and Martech experience?
For us here at Collab Agency, this looked like a commitment to posting 5 x per week on social media and 1 x per week on our blog. We are fortunate to have a team of eloquent staff that are able to write in their areas of expertise, so the content doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulders; it’s a team effort. Every week we schedule our content based on overarching content plans in addition to what is timely and relevant. Sure, it can be hard to get started, however you have to think of yourself as your own customer and hit your deadlines! For us, this meant using the tools in our tech stack such as HubSpot’s social media planning tools and content pillars, SEO research tools such as SEMRush, and Google Analytics on our website and our content. These disciplined efforts have delivered a 4 x increase in website traffic in the first month of a committed, organised content plan.
Why does a commitment to content work towards optimising marketing return on investment for Martech?
As the old saying goes, content is king for customers. Not only does content assist customers in purchasing decisions with a much higher weight than advertising, customers believe that companies who are committed to providing custom content, are also committed in building good relationships with them.
Source: Social Media Today
How can you get the best value from your CRM & Martech investment?
You don’t have to become Buzzfeed overnight, (or ever!) yet taking a few simple steps towards content creation can make a huge difference in your focus and your use of your CRM & Martech stack. Here are a few simple steps that you can take right now:
- Audit your CRM & Martech stack
Maybe you became swept up in a sales pitch or thought that you might need to use a huge MarTech package that you don’t actually need. It’s important to get technology at a level that fits you. That’s one of the things that we love about HubSpot for our customers and ourselves; the packages are tailored to company size, goals and work flow and you can pick a software stack that isn’t ‘biting off more than you can chew’. The best technology for your business is the technology that you will actually use. You can always upgrade, however an overload of tech that is above your needs will end up feeling like white noise to you.
Sometimes it can feel like an impossible task, to figure out what your customer actually cares about, or wants to hear. Luckily this isn’t something you need to figure out on your own. As part of our tech stack, topic and keyword research tools are a key part of our content planning process. On answerthepublic.com, you can enter a product or topic, and see what the most common questions are around that topic. An excellent place to start with content creation is to look at commonly asked questions and write short blogs answering those topics.
- Plan ahead
Not everyone feels like Charles Dickens every day, so there will be days when you just cannot think of fresh content, or catchy headlines. This is why it’s so important to have an organised posting schedule and content matrix. If you know that on Wednesday at 11am, you are posting on Facebook and LinkedIn about topic X, a lot of the up-front thinking required is already done for you and if you can’t come up with fresh content you can always share someone else’s content or pull from a pool of your own past content.
Finally, the State of the CMO 2019 Report highlighted that many businesses are struggling to align their tech stack to their business goals. If you are failing to see the return from your investment in CRM and MarTech, the first step is to take a look at the day-to-day actions that your business is taking towards your goals. Are you really walking your talk? For many in the survey, ‘optimising customer experience’ was cited as a primary business goal and yet, many do not show a commitment to customised, timely content.
For the market leaders, a focus on customised content creation was a key driving factor in their customer experience success and their tech stack helped them along the way. So, if you are looking to get a return on investment on your Martech stack why not start with an audit, researching your customer needs and start the planning process. This way you will be able to take small daily steps towards your larger business goals, with a Martech stack that supports your customer and business needs, not one that weighs you down.