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How CMOs Can Best Navigate The Marketing-Tech Selection Process

This article is by Dave Husain, CEO and co-founder of digital-marketing firm Leapfrog.


You hear and read it everywhere: Today’s CMOs are increasingly frustrated about the inordinate amount of time they spend on digital-marketing operations and associated technology tools.

Frustration often stems from that fact that for all the time spent getting smarter about marketing technology (certainly a requirement of current and future marketing leaders), CMOs often find themselves managing a host of resources that together don’t quite get at the most pressing marketing-performance issues that will drive business success.

Surveys show that CMOs are clear and consistent when it comes to what they want out of digital solutions and partnerships. They want help with connecting their data. They want analytics that provide targeted and actionable insights. And they want to deliver personalized, relevant content through an optimized mix of channels.

So where is the disconnect? The industry’s intense focus on digital functionality often clouds the selection process and distracts marketers’ focus away from their organization’s most pressing business needs. Unfortunately it’s often not until well into the costly and time-consuming implementation phase that marketers realize that solutions are out of sync.


Here are three things marketers can do to maintain focus and transform conversations with digital marketing partners as they build and manage solutions.


Pick a problem, not a solution.


The biggest mistake marketers can make is overestimating the impact that the latest and greatest digital capabilities will have in transforming their marketing process. It’s tempting to consider functionality first with the assumption that it will seamlessly begin to transform the way businesses run. But in reality this is a solution in search of a problem. To have the greatest impact on your business, marketing strategy should direct marketing technology decisions.

Need to reduce the cost per conversion? Boost conversion rates among Millennials? Optimize an incremental spend against current marketing activities? Get the most out of programmatic budgets? Better manage consumer experience throughout the customer journey—across channels both online and offline?

For any of these, marketers ought to seek out the minimum technology play/investment they can make to achieve the highest return. That path always begins with an organization’s marketing strategy. What problem, if solved, will move my business the most? And then what tool will provide the incremental, actionable steps to help me get there? Challenge claims around functionality by asking for case studies that demonstrate success against similar marketing challenges.


Acknowledge operational realities.

It is impossible for an organization to achieve desired gains from implementing new digital-marketing tools without changing aspects of the way they do business. Most organizations are in the midst of a digital transformation, and the current state of their investments in people, processes, and technology will factor heavily into the success of any tool.

How integrated are your marketing and technology functions? Is your organization aligned on business goals and measuring success? Do you currently collect the right data? If so, who has it? Do you have the right teams in place working in the right way? What potential cultural and political hurdles exist?  The answer to these questions will inform the type of marketing technology partnership that will best serve an organization.


Stop looking for a silver bullet.

Digital transformations are an ongoing process. There is no quick fix. Organizations are typically better served by building a marketing platform stack by solving a series of prioritized marketing problems. Capitalizing on low-hanging fruit will bring immediate value, and let’s face it, that’s the measure of success in today’s world. It will also quickly build momentum among stakeholders and begin to plot a longer-term roadmap to a solution that is 100% built to deliver specific business results.

This approach will also take advantage of evolving technology each step of the way.  Considering the current rate of advances in capabilities, investing in a broad solution with an implementation timeline stretching too far into the future can tie efforts to tools that may no longer be best in class.

In the end, organizations must ground conversations with digital partners in marketing objectives. While it is important for marketers to get smarter about technology, it’s even more important for them to help their organizations and technology partners get smarter about their marketing.




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