Martin Coady, Executive Director, Marketing Technology, VMLY&R
I love talking to my clients about marketing automation, but more often than not, an exciting conversation that starts with the hope of optimization and transformation ends with some variation of “but we can’t.” That barrier could be in funding the technology, or it might be in not being able to justify the resources even if you have the technology. I’ve dubbed this the Myth of All or Nothing— but it’s possible to overcome it.
We see two forms of this myth in our client cases: First, companies that use a range of software to manage and optimize individual functions like email, social, etc., have a difficult time combining these efforts— so the consumer journey remains siloed.
On the other side are companies that have invested in more advanced marketing automation software in hopes of further optimizing content and experiences across channels.
However, these companies haven’t been able to start or make progress beyond original use cases. In this situation, everything becomes stuck in analysis paralysis or budget and resourcing purgatory because they’re trying to do everything they couldn’t before in hopes of justifying the investment.
The first step is to acknowledge the overall consumer journey you want to address, because the pressure to do this likely drove this initiative in the first place. But a plan to show support of the consumer's journey is not the same as improving a step in that journey that adds value.
A way to break out of these myth scenarios is to focus on smaller, more manageable moments. Through existing or new technology, focus on proving how it is adding value. As much as we hope our insights and assumptions about consumers are true, they won’t always be right. By focusing on the quality of the underlying customer insights and content, we can avoid automating a “garbage in, garbage out” process. An iterative approach addresses all of this by letting us validate as we go rather than spending extra time and money on something that ultimately turns out to not be as impactful as we had assumed. These small wins will add up to the big change without the pressure to do it all at once.
How To Bust This Myth In Your Organization
1. Focus on consumers first: Always start with moments that matter for your consumers.
2. Start with what’s available: Take a “win with what you have” approach in terms of technology, team and process, because your initial goal is just finding a way to validate that you can improve that one moment in the journey.
3. Be iterative: Apply this iterative approach to building the ROI for these efforts. You’ll have positive proof of improvement, and a process to support ongoing improvement when you do request funding for integration among software solutions, new software or new resources.
4. Engage your partners: It takes a village — and you don’t have to do this alone. You likely already have existing relationships with external partners who have the expertise to help you with some aspect of this. This technology has become so complicated it’s not feasible to do it on your own, so the ability to strategically partner to achieve your goals is becoming a competitive advantage
5. Create a test-and-learn culture: Lastly, going through this process is building a test-and-learn culture that can then be applied to improving any automation activities that support the operations surrounding marketing and external customer engagement. Let these efforts drive change throughout your organization.