B2C Martech Trends and Recommendations for 2021 & 2022
The impact of the global pandemic on the martech landscape has been significant. Marketing leaders are feeling the pressure to deliver key customer-facing improvements in line with a distinct focus on digital channels.
At the same time, they must also balance budgets that have been reduced as brands look to adopt a leaner operational structure in the face of continued uncertainty.
Having watched marketing leaders juggle these two concerns for the first half of 2021, we have prepared a two-part look at the key trends this year, which we believe are likely to persist into 2022.
We’ll also share our own recommendations for how they align a tighter budget with the need for new capabilities and products.
In part one, we’ll cover the emphasis on ROI and the challenge of data management.
Emphasis on ROI
ROI is rightly seen as the primary measuring stick on which to judge tech purchases.
In the context of the last 16 months of uncertainty, marketing budgets are being scrutinised at all levels, with greater emphasis than ever placed on tangible ROI from technology investments.
It isn’t just new purchases that are being examined, either. Organisations are also concerned about the value being delivered by their existing stack.
On a day-to-day operations level, B2C marketers are feeling increased pressure to deliver on zeitgeist trends like personalisation and multichannel journey automation as well as leverage the potential of machine learning to execute “next-best-action” campaigns and recommendations.
In the race to achieve these goals, marketers must be wary of making rash martech purchases. In particular, we would caution against the adoption of point solutions, which may ultimately compound issues around data silos and operational inefficiencies.
A recent Gartner report on martech adoption predicts that by 2025, 80% of organisations that have invested in personalisation will abandon their efforts due to a lack of positive ROI and an inability to master the challenge of customer data management.
Typically it is possible, and preferable, to partner with a technology vendor that can provide a range of capabilities within a single solution. This will be more cost-efficient and, without the need to manage multiple integrations, will almost certainly produce a faster “time-to-value”.
From our experience, especially when replacing incumbent point solutions within organisations, a consolidated approach (both in terms of technology and operations) will result in a higher ROI and greater long-term usage of the solution.
Unnecessary complexity, not uncovered during the research and buying processes, means that you never fully achieve the range of capabilities desired and promised. When these capabilities are around personalisation and automation, this can be frustrating and disappointing.
However, when the inefficiencies or failures concern customer data and consumer privacy, then the impact can be far more serious.
- Make fewer individual martech purchases, focusing instead on reputable solution providers that can deliver multiple capabilities in a single product
- Where possible, consolidate existing capabilities by replacing multiple point solutions with a single vendor to reduce costs and operational complexity
- In addition to taking extra time during the research process to understand both your internal requirements and the options available to you, consider proof of concept programmes*
*POC may not always be feasible, depending on the nature of the purchase
Whilst there are a number of individual aspects to weigh up in terms of data management, each with its own challenges, the reality is that they are all interlinked. And all of them must be viewed in the context of GDPR and consumer privacy obligations.
Legislative requirements have forced marketing leaders into the difficult position of being data custodians, with severe penalties for getting it wrong.
Beyond this, marketing leaders are also struggling to utilise the data they have accumulated (and continue to accumulate). According to Gartner’s recent survey (below), 63% of the 350 digital marketing leaders asked admitted that “leveraging integrated customer data to drive digital marketing execution” was a moderate or significant challenge.
The results of the survey in general make for interesting reading. In general, we believe that many of the challenges referenced can be at least partially (if not indeed entirely) met by implementing solutions for customer identity resolution, and data consolidation and activation.
Cross-Channel Identity Resolution
Modern customer engagement is multichannel, with a majority of mid-level and enterprise brands both selling and marketing across numerous channels.
Communication strategies built on stalwart channels like email and SMS have been supplemented by push notifications, social media messengers as well the next generation of on-site and in-app messaging tools.
Whilst the commercial impact of this is positive, it has created an issue around identifying customers as they move from channel to channel during the buying cycle. An initial product search may begin on mobile, for example, leading the customer to your mobile website.
The actual purchase, however, may be made on a desktop device. And of course, there is potentially any number of steps in between like engagement social media posts, a query submitted to your online support team and so on.
In order to achieve the coveted Single Customer View, which consolidates all of these events in one place, an Identity Resolution solution is required.
In essence, an Identity Resolution tool uses some piece of identifying information (or even multiple pieces) to recognise each individual customer no matter where they interact with your brand and attribute this behaviour to a single profile.
Typically, this information is first-party data, gathered with consent, like an email address or an account log-in. Within the Xtremepush platform, it is also possible to identify unknown users at a device level via our SDKs.
This is important for two common use cases; 1) stitching together the initial pre-purchase or account creation data with the data gathered once the customer is known, and 2) enabling you to engage with unknown website visitors and app users based on their behaviour through push notifications or real-time in-app and on-site messages.
Data consolidation and activation
In pursuit of a Single Customer View, organisations can quickly find themselves with a surplus of largely irrelevant customer data, gathered across the different touchpoints.
Whilst a Single Customer View should absolutely be seen as an essential facet of modern B2C marketing, it is important to root your data gathering strategy in real-life business use cases.
Focusing primarily on the goals you wish to drive forward (e.g. increase avg. order value, customer retention etc) it will help you refine the actual data needed to enhance your understanding of your customers and give you the ability to create relevant campaigns which deliver ROI.
One of the most talked-about technology categories in the past 5 years has been Customer Data Platforms. Whilst they were initially offered as a standalone product, recent mergers and acquisitions activity in the martech space has seen them successfully bundled as part of multichannel marketing platforms.
In addition to the obvious cost efficiencies of consolidating data consolidation and activation solutions, it also reduces the number of moving pieces in the effort to roll out data-driven campaigns.
- When evaluating tech purchases around any aspect of data management and activation, begin with practical use cases rather than overarching capabilities
- When building out data gathering or “customer listening” programmes, be selective in what you ask for, focusing on quality information that can be used to inform and personalise engagement campaigns
- Standalone CDPs may prove an unnecessarily expensive and time-consuming purchase
In next month’s part 2 of our look at B2C martech trends for 2021 and 2022, we’ll be focusing on how brands are approaching personalisation and automation.
Xtremepush is the leading customer engagement, personalisation and data platform. It allows B2C brands to execute relevant campaigns across all digital platforms and channels, and combines CDP capabilities with a unified multichannel marketing stack.