Using technology to enhance business processes is nothing new. The very first business computer — The Lyons Electronic Office (LEO) was introduced in the UK in 1949 to help a (very busy) tea shop manage their inventory and staff. LEO computed the cost of ingredients and ran payroll for workers.
Now, more than seven decades after LEO helped calculate how much money went into making bread and cakes, digital transformation is a key business growth strategy.
Technology touches every aspect of a business, but it’s become particularly ubiquitous in marketing and sales, with tools that enable brand engagement, data analysis, content creation, and improve customer experience.
Embracing digital transformation also helps businesses mitigate the constraint on their resources. Today’s marketing and sales teams must do more with less, and companies — regardless of size — are turning to technology to get stuff done.
Blissfully, an SaaS tool that literally exists to help you manage all your SaaS tools, released their 2020 SaaS Trends Report this past March. The report revealed that company spend on SaaS products is up 50% year over year.
The traditional tech stack, once the purview of a company’s IT department, is now an SaaS stack, spread across multiple teams within an organization. From a demand generation perspective, that includes tools for content management, lead nurturing, social media optimization, ABM, and more.
So how digital transformation facilitate demand generation? It’s all about the toolkit.
HubSpot defines demand generation as an, “umbrella of marketing programs that get customers excited about your company’s product and services.” These programs aren’t (all) necessarily digital.
A billboard on the side of a highway is still a billboard, but the creative concept, the placement of that billboard, how it’s tracked and optimized, and how those results are reported to your manager can now be streamlined with tools in your martech stack.
The right tools help marketing teams scale their demand generation activities so they can be more effective — and flexible — while consuming less resources. But for digital transformation to be a full-fledged demand gen strategy, your tools need to work together to achieve one key goal — growth.
Chris Shrieber, the CMO of Brandcast, the first code-free web content system for enterprise, had this to say about the importance of leveraging integrated tools for demand generation:
“Creating an integrated system for digital design and content creation is an essential and often overlooked aspect of scaling demand generation. Creative teams must be able to put the building blocks for digital content production in the hands of demand gen teams so they can rapidly test and iterate content variations without fear of going off-brand. Demand gen teams can optimize resources by having easily accessible content and designs from their entire customer journey – websites, landing pages, case studies, sales collateral – so they can efficiently repackage and create new targeted campaigns.”
There is no “average” martech stack, not really. There are just too many platforms, apps, and tools available to pin down one formula that works for every business.
Case in point: Chiefmartec lists nearly 50 illustrations of martech stacks from businesses of all sizes and stripes, which they gathered for their “Stackie” awards.
To enter the Stackie awards, a business must send in a single slide that illustrates the martech tools tools they use to achieve growth.
Sample of Stackie submissions — Source: Chiefmartec
The power of the Stackie slides is in how they visually demonstrate (or attempt to demonstrate) a company’s demand gen strategy. Five lucky winners are then to win a Stackie.
The winning entry for 2019 was Airstream, a US-based manufacturer of travel trailers. Each of the winners had some version of Airstream’s stack, as follows:
Airstream’s winning Stackie slide
Airstream used trees to represent each martech tool in their stack. The size of the tree was directly proportional to how much time they spent interacting with each tool (and, thus, the trees provided an easy visualization showing which tools are used the most).
Having tools in your tech stack does not automatically mean you’re successfully using digital transformation for demand generation.
It’s not enough to have tools.
Your tools must work together. Your tools must be selected with intention. You must actually use your tools, revisit your tools, optimize your tools, and get rid of the tools that aren’t working for you.
While each tool serves a purpose and has a specific use, they should also work together to form a “single source of truth.” Only then can your technology drive business growth by ensuring prospects become customers, then happy customers and, finally, customers who help your company grow through referrals, upselling/cross-selling, and positive word-of-mouth.
Data is the ingredient that drives the success of all these moving parts.
Jason Widup, VP of Marketing at Metadata.io, an autonomous demand gen platform, advises marketers to customize their martech stacks using tools designed for specific tasks, rather than trying to find one all-encompassing platform.
Says Widup, “To truly break out of average, benchmark marketing performance in your industry, you have to break away from the most common, all-in-one tools out there that try to be everything to everybody. To have a competitive advantage in marketing you have to understand where in your funnel ‘uniqueness’ exists, and then you need to figure out the best point solutions, technologies, and processes that will best-serve those uniquenesses.”
One thing is crystal clear when it comes to digital transformation — apps that enhance customer experience are leading the way. That’s because happy customers fuel growth in the form of loyalty, word-of-mouth referrals, and positive perception of a brand.
Adobe found that companies that prioritized and managed CX were 3X more likely to exceed their top business goals in 2019 versus those that didn’t. Likewise, a study by Gartner found that CX drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, but over 70% of CX leaders struggled to with designing projects that increased loyalty.
In their 2020 Digital Transformation Trends Report, Adobe reported that about half of the C-level executives interviewed are planning to increase their CX-related tech spending.
Optimizing the customer experience was listed as the single most exciting opportunity for their organization by C-suite and non-C-suite executives, outranking data-driven marketing, content creation, and video (among other things.)
Technology focused on improving the customer experience was ubiquitous in many of the martech stacks submitted to the 2019 Stackie awards, with tools like Adobe Target (content optimization), Pardot and Eloqua (marketing automation), and Acquia/Drupal (digital experience platform) present in many martech stacks.
Clearly, CX technology is a key ingredient when applying digital transformation for successful demand generation.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating the perfect martech stack or digital transformation strategy. A willingness to adopt new technologies throughout your organization, coupled with an equal willingness to discard what’s not working while embracing what does, can help you generate more leads, close more sales, and achieve growth.
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