Mining for Marketing Insights: Martech Tools Aren't Your Only Option

Justin Thompson, Director of Marketing Lifecycle, Coyote Logistics

Justin Thompson, Director of Marketing Lifecycle, Coyote Logistics

I’ve attended enough marketing meet-ups and conferences to know that most marketers will at some point admit their technology stack is a bit of a mess. They might regale you with wide-eyed hope that while they’re getting by with tool X, tool Y is in the budget for next year and it will make all their efforts real, concrete, and give them that elusive return on investment (ROI). And they live happily ever after.

However, for most, this fairy tale is not real. I’ve yet to meet a marketer who has found the holy grail of a fully integrated and all-powerful marketing tech stack. But don’t worry. In response to the person above, the rest of us nod and smile, reticent to share our mutual experiences with failed budget approvals, implementations, and a mess of manual data manipulation.

The reality is that marketing will always be complex, regardless of what tools or platforms exist. While there are slick and avant-garde tools that I’m eager to demo, my career has taught me that there’s no such thing as a silver bullet for us marketers. The reason for that is: marketing is always evolving, because people are always evolving, and as much as marketing is a science, there is a requisite art, humanity and empathy in the practice that will forever be hard to quantify in the recipe of a successful marketing campaign, program, strategy, team, or organization.

But the good news is: that means marketers have to do what they do best – focus on what they’ve got and make the most of it.

I posit this to any marketing team: outside of your own tools and systems, where else might there be goldmines of marketing insights or data that can improve your ability to identify, target and tailor an experience that gets you in front of people at the right place and time.

At Coyote, we may have a lean marketing team with a finite number of tools and platforms, but we serve a critical part of a larger revenue team. By aligning closely with sales and other business units, as well as prospects and current customers, we have been able to better understand how marketing plays a part in a much more integrated way from end-to-end. We’ve been successful by finding partners across the organization that help us uncover hidden data sets and insights that can be leveraged by marketing, without having to invest in new tools or platforms. Again, it’s about making the most of what you’ve got – squeezing every ounce of value from your available resources.

And let’s talk about data. While the art of marketing, as I mentioned before, may be more ephemeral, data is truly becoming crucial to understand and monitor intent, engagement, consumption, participation, satisfaction, adoption, and continued purchasing. While bringing that data together feels like a Sisyphean task for every marketer (and data architect), you likely have a myriad of information across several systems and simply need someone dedicated to being the bridge between marketing and all the other teams and their systems of record.

As Coyote’s Director of Marketing Lifecycle, I don’t spend my day lusting over new marketing tools. Instead, I conduct discovery across the organization and connect with colleagues to understand what they’re working on, what data they have and what data they’d like to have. Sometimes I don’t need a new tool, I just need to be aware that data exists already and I can provide the most value by tapping into it and relaying back to my team.

On the topic of teams, I own our project management system and processes, so I also have a unique perspective on how the tech stack impacts collaboration. To put it simply, I’m here to tell you that technology is behaved upon. It’s only as good as what you put in it and how you use it. If you and your team are disorganized, your technology will be a mirror back to you.

I’ve met many young marketers who get stuck on the idealized version of a martech stack that becomes the metaphorical magic wand that essentially does their job for them. And that’s why sometimes marketing gets a bad rap. Other business units might think you spend money on tools that have no clear connection to the bottom-line, much less a ROI.

What’s more: the holistic brand experience is becoming more critical in decision making than the commodities a business sells. And martech tools today are largely still tactic-driven solutions, leaving that larger picture of brand experience untouched. Delivering an experience requires strategic thinking and collaboration – two things tools cannot execute on a marketer’s behalf.   

This is why I feel it’s critical that marketers take a broader approach in becoming embedded subject matter experts (SMEs) across their organizations to act as consultants, collating and curating broader data sets for their own purposes. In some ways, marketers need to become experts in other tech stacks within the organization to best understand the quantitative and qualitative nature of how prospective buyers and customers think, feel, engage, and react, to your brand, its services and solutions, its people, and its technology.

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