Building a marketing platform that doesn’t compromise the customer experience

Marketing platforms are growing in abundance, and for good reason. Every marketing team needs technology to do their job effectively.

Frankly, that’s always been true. Even when the biggest technical job was figuring out how to execute a mail merge, technology has always played a role in getting the right message to the right prospect at the right time so salespeople can engage in productive conversations with those prospects. What’s changed is the degree to which marketers now rely on technology like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Marketo, HubSpot, and others like them.

But what’s driving the adoption of this technology? From a business standpoint, you’re likely implementing it to efficiently scale your engagement opportunities and sales leads. But who’s looking at it from the customer standpoint? In other words, are your efforts to generate more leads and clicks with more technology compromising the customer experience? And how do you measure that?

Ultimately, as the old rules of marketing are upended by the digital revolution, it’s important for every Chief Marketing Officer to also wear the hat of “chief experience officer.” That means they must ensure their marketing platform is enabling more personalized customer experiences that build brand affinity over time – not just clicks and low quality leads in the short term.

But in order to keep the customer experience front and center, there are a few key questions every CMO should consider when implementing more marketing technology.

  1. Do I have the right people in place to manage the technology?

Let’s say your marketing department is in dire need of upgrading its automation tools to scale your email, social, and content marketing efforts. Let’s also say you’ve done your research and know which tools make sense for your business. Great, but the first question CMOs should ask is who’s going to manage this technology? Pulling together this stack of interlocking technology requires staff with both domain and technical expertise. It’s going to take resources to understand all the moving pieces, maximize the usefulness of your stack, and generate more meaningful touch points with customers and prospects.

It may seem simple, but you’d be surprised how many marketing leaders skip this step when they’re laser focused on the technology’s unfailingly compelling sales pitch: spend less dollars marketing wastefully and use your dollars more intelligently. In theory, buying more technology to market intelligently is a great idea. But as marketing leaders, it’s our job to not only ensure the technology is used to its fullest potential, but more importantly, make sure it’s not jeopardizing customer experiences with our brand.

  1. What is my team aiming to achieve with our marketing technology?

So you have the right people in place to manage your marketing stack, but is your team constantly keeping the customer experience top of mind when using the technology or are they more focused on driving clicks? In other words, is the content they’re sharing on Twitter simply clickbait or is it actually providing value after the visitor clicks through to your blog? Do the number of emails they send to prospects feel like spam or are they providing high-quality content every time? Take a step back to ensure your team always thinks through how the customer will perceive your brand. Secret shop your own marketing campaigns – what do you think of the experience?

Because at the end of day, driving brand affinity, and not just clicks, should be your top priority if you want to deliver quality leads. Affinity is driven by a combination of marketing activity and brand perception. If your prospects have no perception of you – good or bad – it’s going take several meaningful touch points from the marketing, product, and sales teams for a prospect to try your product. But that takes time. One click through to your content isn’t a meaningful experience to justify sending a prospect five to 10 emails per week. In fact, research from HubSpot shows 78 percent of people will unsubscribe from a mailing list if a company sends too many emails.

That’s how negative perceptions of your brand begin. And if a prospect experiences a number of poor experiences with your brand, there’s no amount of money you can spend on Google ads or social media to convince them to buy your product.

  1. How do we measure our marketing stack’s impact on the customer experience?

The biggest challenge is actually measuring how your marketing automation tools are impacting the experiences customers and prospects have with your brand. Before the dot-com era, we could measure brand perception through opportunities like the Secret Shopper. Simply instruct mystery shoppers to make certain purchases in your store and get a report on their experiences. But what’s the digital version of the Secret Shopper?

Some candidates include using tools like Hootsuite and Spredfast to listen to your customers on social media and measure the sentiment around your brand. Other opportunities include conducting a consideration survey to understand how many prospects consider your brand when purchasing your class of products. If you focus on those that didn’t consider you and examine why, you can understand if it was due to a bad experience with your brand. You could also do simple things like measure your email unsubscribe rate and examine how it changes over time as you send more or less emails.

But ultimately, if your volume of leads and clicks increase, but the number of quality opportunities remain stagnant, that should raise a red flag. You’ve not only wasted your money, but you’ve likely created enough negative experiences with customers and prospects to turn them off from your brand.

Even new systems need a timeless touch

There’s no doubt the role of the CMO is evolving; we’re tasked with overseeing more technology than ever before, but the fundamental practices of good marketing haven’t changed. It’s important to remember that the customer experience should always come first.

We’ve all seen firsthand that MarTech like email automation, programmatic advertising, and social media tools can enable more efficiency in any marketing department. But without the right people and skills in place to manage the technology and put the customer first, MarTech can be a destroyer of experiences. Because at the end of the day, no marketing technology system, no matter how good it may be at crunching data, can duplicate the instincts of an innovative marketer.