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Holistic Marketing Technology Assessments: Make the Pain Go Away for Good

Dan Hixson, Technical Solutions Engineer

You wake up with a sharp pain in your lower back that’s been bothering you now for about a week. You call your doctor and try to get them to prescribe a muscle relaxant over the phone. But your doctor wisely recommends you come in for a complete examination. That pain you’re feeling might be resulting from somewhere else, perhaps your hips or your knees. It could even be neurological in nature. The doctor wants to collaborate with you so you can both see the bigger picture.

This is the same type of approach R2i recommends when it comes to marketing technology. If your content marketing system (CMS) is a pain point, for example, it’s important to conduct a broad technology assessment to see if one of the systems integrating with your CMS is causing that pain. Perhaps the problem originates with your analytics solution. If you can’t determine which content is best performing, you can’t know whether or not the CMS is really the problem.

Patience Pays Off in the Long Run 
Taking the technology assessment approach does require patience. When something hurts, you want the pain to go away quickly. But the bandage approach may only fix the issue for a short time. If problems exist in other systems, the pain will keep coming back and is likely to get worse. You need to drill down into the root cause to devise a solution that will work well over the long run.

Performing a technology assessment before selecting and deploying a particular solution might also lead to discoveries for improvements you can apply to your other marketing technology components such as analytics, personalization, paid media, data management, email campaigns, digital asset management, and resource management. It’s sort of like your doctor discovering your hamstring is causing your back pain. And after your hamstring heals, you can then run faster and jump higher.

Assessments Establish Criteria Tied to Business Goals
One of our clients recently wanted to migrate to a new CMS system and requested us to evaluate which platform they should deploy. They also asked us to conduct a bake-off of the market leaders based on a set of pre-determined criteria. After examining the list, we told our client we thought they might have other issues within their marketing technology stack to understand first.

The client then invited us to conduct an assessment of all their marketing technology systems. In the end, we still recommended the bake-off, but with an improved set of criteria. The assessment—which included interviews with key stakeholders and a review of the IT infrastructure as well as system integrations and data flows—gave us a better idea of the current pain points end-users were experiencing. The assessment also identified what the end-users hoped to be able to do within the system in the future.

As a result, the client was able to make a better decision on which CMS to deploy because the criteria were more closely tied to the business needs and directly impacted business outcomes. With a better understanding of the business and system goals, the client could also more accurately forecast and lower their total cost of ownership. 

“Nobody Ever Got Fired for Hiring IBM” Is No Longer True
If you’re about to select and deploy a new marketing technology solution, it’s important to realize there’s no “magic bullet” solution where you can just pick the market leader and guarantee success. You must assess how your marketing technology components all work together. 

The assessment may also uncover whether you are only scratching the surface of the functionality you already own. Perhaps you have more tools than you realize, or the tools you are using are not leveraged to their full extent. This is particularly important during the current COVID-19 pandemic, where marketing teams must do more with fewer resources and a reduced budget while going against stiffer competition. 

As an example, perhaps you have a website with product images that the marketing team tags manually. You may have a digital asset management solution with intelligent services that can do most of the tagging automatically without human intervention. You can then reassign marketing resources to other tasks.

Linking New Technology to KPIs
Because assessments help you build a solid list of criteria to consider for a new solution, you can also narrow down the list of vendors to consider, which is key given the number of companies in the space. Many are worth talking to, but many more are not. The assessment helps generate the criteria that tell you who to talk to and why based on your specific business needs.

Another benefit of conducting a technology assessment is that it helps you identify causal relationships between your technology solutions and key performance indicators (KPIs). This means you can show how your project impacts business outcomes to the executives who approve the budget. You get beyond “how cool the technology looks” by tying the solution to specific KPIs that lead to revenue generation and/or cost reductions.

Consider for instance implementing a solution for a very common use case—cart abandonment. If emails to visitors who abandoned their carts convert to purchases at a rate of 1 percent, you can base the increased revenue projection on the average abandoned cart size. That KPI will justify the budget.

55 Minutes on the Problem, 5 Minutes on the Solution
So the next time your marketing team faces a technology challenge, look beyond the narrow view of the specific issue and think more broadly. The problem may not be contained to the solution you are observing; it could be resulting from elsewhere in your marketing technology stack.

That’s because no solution operates in isolation. Any time you think one solution is broken, it needs to be evaluated against all the solutions in the system. By assessing all solutions holistically as an integrated system to evaluate the performance of any one part, you position yourself to better achieve your marketing goals. With this approach, you will also be more likely to secure budgets for future improvements.

A partner like R2i can help you in taking on this challenge. By working with us to conduct an assessment and layering our expertise over what we uncover, you can identify the problem and know where to start—instead of staying up at night not knowing what the problem is. 

Identification and definition are half the battle. As Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” 

That’s what you get from an R2i marketing technology assessment!

If your business could use help in assessing your marketing technology systems, contact us today at  www.r2integrated.com/contact.

About the author: Dan Hixson

Dan Hixson leads R2integrated's Technology Solutions Engineering Practice. Hixson comes to R2i from Zeta Global, where he led the data-powered marketing technology company’s business solutions practice. He brings more than 10 years of experience developing actionable strategies for digital transformation to R2i as the agency deepens its investment in technology.

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