Marketing Tech: One Size Does Not Fit All

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As customer expectations evolve, marketers need to deal with burgeoning amounts of data. At the same time, those marketers need to create more content to satisfy customer demand and distribute that content across an ever-increasing number of channels. All the while, reducing manual processes and delivering a personalised experience.

But for customers to get high quality, personalised experiences, systems and processes can’t exist in isolation - marketers need to join the dots. If you listen to some of the larger technology vendors, they would suggest that this simply can’t be achieved without an integrated platform to handle every aspect of your marketing. As marketing leaders are learning however, such solutions are not always suitable, are often inflexible, can be comparatively expensive (especially if underutilised) and can prove hard to move away from.

In this paper, we’ll give you pointers for auditing your current systems, for determining your own marketing technology needs, then give you recommendations for planning and deploying a customised marketing stack.

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What’s Going On?!

In the last decade, as new channels and customer requirements have emerged, marketers have worked tirelessly to service them. They have dutifully learned how to reach customers and drive revenue through each new platform, they have created content, identified opportunities and adapted their strategies. At the same time, thousands of products and suppliers have sprung up, offering a dizzying array of services and capabilities to ideally solve these problems. Or so they claim. Unsurprisingly, this has left marketers spinning a lot of plates and picking up the slack where systems don’t have the required functionality or aren’t integrated.

Now that joined-up, multi-channel marketing is business-as-usual, marketers need to take stock of their operation and implement highly automated, fully integrated solutions fit for their own, individual needs. A recent survey we conducted showed that 64% of marketers said that their organisation’s systems are fragmented, with nearly half (45.8%) saying that their operations are too complex to be manageable.

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater

While there are plenty of technology vendors out there offering all-in-one solutions to solve this dilemma for marketers, they are comparatively expensive and come with big challenges of their own. After all, replacing every element of your marketing operation was never going to be a simple task. And what do you do if some of your all-in-one solution turns out to not actually fit your business model or solve your challenges? There is another way. By carefully auditing current technology, working to understand your actual needs and selecting best-in-class suppliers with a demonstrated focus on integrating with other providers, you can create a truly scalable, lean, marketing machine which is engineered for your business and delivers the consistent, high quality experiences your customers demand.

64% of marketers said that their organisation's systems are fragmented
45.8% said their operations are too complex to be manageable

Customer Experience Map

Before you can understand if your marketing machine needs improvement, you need to understand where customers are coming into contact with your brand, how often, and how good their experiences are. With so many channels in existence, that’s no mean feat.

Journeys & Touchpoints

Using any and all available data, including web analytics, purchase data, attribution data, customer surveys and research, start to construct a map of what leads customers to your brand and the journeys they take after that. With this information, you can then create a corresponding map of the operational systems that serve your customers.

The Link Between Internal Processes & Customer Experience

Even if your experience map is clear and you have operational systems to interact with new and existing customers at every touchpoint, these can’t exist in isolation. Integration is key! A disjointed approach in your business will have a direct impact on customer experience. This integration needs to work across teams (marketing, sales, customer service, IT, and more, all play a part) as well as systems. For example:

If new customer data is not integrated with your CRM, your social media team could be firing out paid adverts promoting a new customer discount to existing customers.

If your email marketing team do not communicate or have access to the social media retargeting list, they could be sending the same person the same message, on the same day, leading to a sense of bombardment.

If a customer starts a process online, then calls a contact centre who are able to pick up exactly where the customer left off.

If profile data (such as age, gender and height) collected in-store is used to personalise product suggestions in email and other channels.

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Integration is key!

Operational Gaps

By reviewing your customer experience map and understanding your customer journeys, you can identify any missing links and understand where your operation may not be aligned with customer requirements. You can also identify silos in your organisation and begin to discover where investment of time, resources and budget can streamline customer experiences and reduce marketing workload.

Build Technical Understanding

Modern marketing is based on technology - as such, marketers need to have a good understanding, not just of the digital channels through which they interact with their customers, but also the operational systems they use and the links between them. For today’s marketers, the “leave it to IT” approach is no longer good enough, as systems need to be designed and operated in context. The more you and your team can build your understanding of APIs, databases, front end technology, such as HTML and CSS, (and more) the better your planning, specifying, buying and operating will be.

Prioritise Integration

The business case for integrated marketing speaks for itself, yet marketers often deploy systems first, ask questions later. This can have major impacts on budgets and operations, regularly requiring unplanned capital investment to integrate. Or worse, it can end up consuming valuable time and resource as the marketing team constantly pick up the slack by uploading, downloading, formatting data, creating reports and more.

Team Alignment

When specifying systems and creating the ultimate marketing stack, it’s all too easy to forget about the users! Review how your teams currently interact with each other and make sure that new tools will work for everyone involved. Better still, design your stack to optimise and complement team communications. This can help simplify review and approval processes, drive compliance and speed up customer interactions. Ensure your team is making full use of your technology by delivering training when deploying systems and throughout their lifecycle.

Secondly, think how your marketing stack integrates with the wider organisation. Are you providing useful input/output methods for other stakeholders such as Customer Service and IT? Doing so can help reduce data silos and administrative requirements on your team and the wider business.

The ever-elusive Single Customer View

Single Customer View is not a new concept, yet for many organisations, it’s more of an ideal than an objective. In order to maximise ROI and provide good customer experiences, it’s essential that your systems communicate and that data gathered by one channel is not ignored by another.

While this doesn’t necessarily need to revolve around one system “at the centre”, achieving a single view of the customer should be a guiding principle in the design and deployment of your marketing stack. Data portability and system linkage should be flexible and powerful.

Building Your Modular Marketing Solution

Understand APIs

If you’re not yet “API savvy”, you could think of it like snap-together toy building bricks. They have a universal way of connecting to each other using small bumps and holes. This provides a simple mechanism to allow the pieces to be used in different ways. Similarly, software can be connected through APIs to create new and interesting structures or simply to pass information (such as customer data) to each other.

APIs are essential when it comes to scaling and joining up different applications, but not all APIs are equal: if an application is flexible with a fairly open API, you will be able to integrate it with other applications relatively easily and have access to most forms of data. For example, you could send email open data from your email marketing provider to the system that controls your display advertising, allowing you advertise more heavily to those who open your emails. Conversely, if an application’s API is limited either in the types of calls, the frequency it allows for, or the number of calls linked to cost, this can prove to be an expensive or ineffective means to connect and could require further integration options to be considered.

Audit Existing Technology

There are some key areas that need to be considered before you build your own modular marketing solution, starting with auditing your existing tools. Review each of your existing systems and providers using a range of criteria relevant to your business. This can be revisited regularly to ensure that tools continue to be fit-forpurpose. To get you started, some examples might include:

Pricing & ROI

  • Does the price reflect the ROI achievable for the software?
  • Does the [ongoing] cost sit within budget expectations?

Level of Usage & Scalability

Is there a limit on usage and is the cost affordable should your team/needs grow?

Integration, Ease-of-use & Capability

  • How complete is the API functionality?
  • How friendly is the UI (for your team or for customer-facing systems)?

Stability of the Provider

  • How mature is the provider?
  • How well will the provider cope with the evolution of your business requirements?

Level of Support Available

  • Support levels included in your contracted agreement
  • Real-life support experience & ratings

Quality of Data Insights

Are you able to extract the data you need to inform your other channels?

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The Vendor Landscape

In March 2016,’s Marketing Technology Landscape suggested that there are nearly 4000 suppliers operating in the marketing space. This level of choice can seem overwhelming, but has some significant benefits.

Competition forces vendors to keep price and products sharp. If you’re tied into a marketing cloud service, however, you can’t choose (for example) a different email marketing platform, otherwise you’re paying for both and your integration options are limited. With a bespoke marketing stack, you’re free to select the platform that suits your needs from the hundreds of suppliers operating in Email Marketing alone. Similarly to auditing your existing providers, selecting new vendors should be conducted using a range of criteria relevant to your business, and paying particular attention to the API and integration capabilities of any potential suppliers.


Automation is, in many ways, the backbone of the marketing stack. For example, when a customer abandons a basket, moving information from your commerce platform into your ESP in order to send triggered emails, initiating a retargeting programme, or even moving information to reporting tools in order to understand customer behaviour simply can’t be handled by people at any scale.

Case Study: NSPCC

While many marketers would think the use of an abandoned basket is only a useful tool in the retail space, NSPCC has demonstrated that charities can also use it successfully.


Charities rely on donations to support their cause, so every single donor can make a difference. NSPCC wanted to be able to follow-up with people who do not complete the process to remind them of the importance of their donation, and offer an alternative channel via telephone.


Email automation continues to save the NSPCC team’s time and deliver great engagement across their email program by testing timing, analysing results, monitoring active contacts in the donation process and optimising the message in their email campaigns. Their average recaptured donation value from the abandoned donation emails is a fantastic £38.

Strong automation pays dividends on two fronts. Firstly, by using intelligent automation, such as triggered emails and other event-based messaging, you can reduce day-to-day resource consumption and free up your marketing team to be proactive and creative.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, your customers have better experiences - if you can automatically provide better product recommendations based on real-time interactions, send notification emails faster or deploy content at exactly the right time, your customers will be happier and more engaged.

Business-as-usual: Operating your marketing stack

When you’ve finished creating your core marketing stack, transitioning to BAU comes with a few challenges of its own. Firstly, it’s important that senior stakeholders take ownership of the new stack to protect it within the organisation and ensure continued success. Secondly, make sure new and existing team members are fully engaged - regular training and process reviews are your friend.

Lastly, consider how you will support the ongoing operation of your stack - who will handle new additions scoping, general monitoring, creating new reports, feature requests and more? Don’t forget - the primary benefit of your best-of-breed marketing stack is that it evolves with your business needs. It’s important to be disciplined however - new additions should always be reviewed and tested with the same vigour as when the stack was first created.


Marketing leaders have come to understand that costly marketing-cloud solutions can be inflexible and often don’t deliver on the promised panacea of complete integration. Many are opting for a scalable, modular marketing stack that enables them to pick best-in-class tools for a smoother operation and richer experience.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all model - how you build your integrated marketing solution will vary depending on the volume of data, company size, business objectives and the capability of your existing technologies.

As we’ve discussed, by carefully assessing your own needs, working to break down organisational silos, and investing to integrate systems, it is possible to create an enterprise-grade marketing machine which is better equipped to deal with your organisations needs and offers broad access to premium technology. Importantly, your custom marketing stack can easily be augmented or adapted as necessary, giving you a future-proof solution which doesn’t bind you to any particular vendor

Most importantly, your new, lean, best-of-breed marketing stack will serve your customers better, allowing you to deliver compelling multi-channel experiences at scale and drive marketing ROI.

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