Jeremy is the VP of Digital Media at Vovia. He loves all things digital and has an insatiable appetite to learn new things. He spends his free time riding his bicycle in the mountains and backroads of Alberta.

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The Next-Generation of Enterprise Marketing Technology from MarTech 2019

I recently had the good fortune of attending the MarTech 2019 conference in San Jose, California. Martech is short for Marketing Technologies. The annual MarTech Conference is a 3 day gathering where marketing technology industry professionals attend workshops and speaking sessions that are aimed at discussing the latest trends and technologies being used in the Martech world. I picked up some interesting learnings from the conference that I wanted to share.

The use of marketing technologies has been growing at breakneck speeds over the past number of years. This is largely been driven by the widespread adoption of SaaS (software as a service) providers creating a plethora of tools that allow companies to bolt-on highly advanced and specialized technologies into their own technology stacks with relative ease. This can be done at a minimal investment compared to years ago when these tools and functionality would need to either be created in-house or hosted on complex internal backend systems.

One of the planners of MarTech, Scott Brinker, has been tracking the rapid growth of marketing technology on his site since 2011. Every year, he compiles a Martech Landscape that outlines all of the available marketing technology tools that him and his team can find. What started as a list of 150 tools in 2011 has now grown to over 7000 tool choices in 2019, according to the Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic.

As Brinker states, the over 7000 tools noted in the 2019 landscape is likely just a drop in the bucket of all of the one-off plugins, extensions and tools available in the world. The point is that the availability of platforms and tools used in Marketing Technology is big and keeps getting bigger.

If I had to summarize what I saw and learned from talking with presenters and fellow attendees at this year’s conference, it’s that 2019 is the year of CDP’s, privacy concerns, and Martech stack consolidation. So what does that all mean, you ask?

Customer Data Platforms (CDP’s)

Customer Data Platforms were very much the flavour of the day at this years’ MarTech conference. As defined by the Customer Data Platform Institute:

A Customer Data Platform is packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems”

To put that in plain English, a CDP gathers unique user information from different sources or databases and compiles it into a unified database which other systems can access and perform actions against.

As an example, a company may have a Marketing Automation Platform, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and a POS (Point of Sale) that don’t fully talk to each other. All of the platforms contain different pieces of information about users that when viewed on their own only paint a partial picture of where a customer is at in their purchase journey. When this information about a user is brought together into one unified database, it makes it possible to identify opportunities to customize your marketing to reach them at the right time with the right message or offer. The CDP acts as the unifier of this data and provides other tools like DMP’s (Data Management Platforms) with access to this information to execute customized marketing campaigns against.

There is nothing new about CDP’s. In fact, large enterprise companies have been creating their own CDP’s or systems that have the functionality of a CDP for years. But the difference today is that through the growth and affordability of SaaS with its cloud storage, API connectors, and machine learning, it is now possible to link multiple platforms together with relative ease and without a lot of specialized technical knowledge compared with developing something from scratch.

Others factors in the growth of CDP’s are the increasing expectations of customers that companies tailor products and services to them and the ever- increasing sophistication of marketers in the digital world. Privacy compliance and potential restrictions to the use of 3rd party data have also made it a priority for companies to look for ways to leverage the 1st party data they already have.

Of course, the “affordability of SaaS” and “ease” of set up are relative terms. CDP’s are still a significant investment, often costing in excess of $60,000 – $100,000 to get up and running with an annual operating cost of roughly the same. This is of course in addition to the cost of the other tools you will use to action the information identified by the CDP. This is one of the reasons that a common trend being seen today is that other platforms like DMP’s and Marketing Automation Platforms are starting to include CMP functionality in their tool. This makes it possible to have an “all-in-one” tool that is capable of performing data unification, enrichment, and in many cases, campaign execution. The danger here is that you are putting all of your eggs in one basket so to speak by relying on one tool to do everything for you. This can potentially make changing it in the future or integrating with a future platform difficult or even impossible. This also means that many platforms are starting to call themselves a CDP when in fact they are not. A true CDP uses persistent data so that it can be analyzed and added to over time. Some solutions that include CDP functionality don’t use persistent data which, depending on what you are looking for may or may not matter. Just some food for thought!

My big takeaway on CDP’s is that provided you have the appropriate sources and volume of customer data, they are quickly becoming a must-have component of a well-planned martech stack. However, like all things related to martech, you need to do a thorough internal needs assessment and build a detailed use case to evaluate potential vendor solutions against so that you can be sure you are getting the functionality your business needs.

Privacy & Consent Management Platforms (CMP’s)

With General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect in 2018 and the looming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) coming into effect in 2020, consent management in the collection of user data is quickly becoming a critical business process. With different countries and groups around the world adopting different rules and regulations on the collection and use of user data, it is quickly becoming difficult to keep track of whether or not you are in compliance. This has led to the birth of a new wave of technology platforms known as Consent Management Platforms or CMP’s. Like a CDP, these platforms integrate with other platforms in your tech stack to audit and document user consent for the collection and use of user data. This includes things like websites, ecommerce sites and email marketing platforms.

Just last week, our partner at IAB Canada announced the release of a report focused on proposed amendments to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)  here in Canada that is aimed at bringing us more in line with the GDPR requirements and potentially even more restrictive rules in some cases.

The internet has no borders and it can be extremely complex for even large companies to keep track of all of the rules around consent management let alone smaller companies that don’t have dedicated resources for things like this.

A CMP can be a great place to start when navigating this complex topic.

Martech Stack Auditing and Consolidation

SaaS platforms can make it quick and easy to signup and integrate Martech tools into your marketing stack. Furthermore, they make it possible for “non-technical” users to do this provided they have sufficient permissions and a credit card for billing!

This has lead to a frequent issue of companies often having subscriptions to multiple tools that do the same or similar things, or subscriptions to tools and platforms that aren’t being used frequently and in some cases multiple subscriptions to the exact same tool by different users or departments.

According to a 2018 study by SaaS management firm Blissfully, the average company of around 100 people now uses a staggering 72-90 SaaS applications with many of these not being centrally managed within organizations. According to Netskope, this number gets even crazier at the enterprise level ballooning to an incredible 1181 SaaS applications per company. Enterprise Marketing departments alone use an average of 121 SaaS applications in their martech stack.

This explosive growth in SaaS tool adoption has lead to many situations where tools being paid for by companies are underutilized or not used at all in some cases. This has highlighted the need for organizations (large and small) to do a better job of auditing, documenting and building use cases for their SaaS tool stacks especially from a financial, legal and IT security perspective.

For every tool you use, it is important that there be a formal intake process that includes documentation of:

  • The business problem the tool addresses
  • Usage threshold (minimum usage rates)
  • A defined group of users that will use the tool
  • A comparative analysis against other tools in the marketplace
  • Legal/security compliance

How do you do this? With a SaaS tool of course! For larger companies, there are a number of providers like AirStack, Zylo and Blissfully that provide tools for doing this. Or, you if you are small enough, you can do it the old fashioned way with a spreadsheet and time. Once you have your tool stack documented, you can go through a review of everything to get rid of underutilized or duplicate subscriptions and quite often you will end up finding useful tools and extensions that can be beneficial to more people within your organization.

Just the Tip of the Iceberg

In all, I attended 16 sessions in 3 days, plus the vendor exhibition at the MarTech 2019 Conference which was a small sampling of the 40 or so sessions that were available to participate in. Deciding which sessions to attend was difficult, but I always try and go to events like this with the goal of attending sessions that will be the most benefit to both Vovia and our clients. Witnessing the growth of martech throughout my career has been an incredible experience and I still think the best things are yet to come as tools and platforms once reserved for only the largest companies become more and more accessible thanks to the power of cloud computing.

As with everything in life, SaaS tools and platforms need to be used in moderation and it is important to make sure you have a complete understanding of your needs before deploying them in your organization. When you take the time to build your martech stack properly, you really can increase efficiency while taking your campaign performance to the next level.

What types of martech is your organization looking at in 2019? Have you completed an audit of the tools you already have? Now may be the time to think about it. Let us know what you are doing with martech in 2019. And if you aren’t sure where to start or what tools to look into, or perhaps need help with a needs assessment, let us know – we’d be happy to jump in there with you!