This piece by our Technical Director, David Boddington, originally appeared in The Drum.
We’re fortunate to live in a time when technology is evolving so rapidly. It feels like each year, we take a leap forward and see businesses leveraging new platforms or tech, addressing new or existing channels with different tools and utilising new approaches to deriving insight from this. While understanding people is still marketers’ first priority, being able to navigate the complicated technological landscape is growing in importance.
However, this fast-paced progression has led to issues for many. When a business decides to use a new technology, the easiest solution is often to shoehorn this in alongside the old.
This can result in legacy systems overlaid with new functionality or patched up to keep pace with requirements; platforms implemented to serve a singular specific need; experimental tech brought in for the sake of innovation. In short, a bit of a mess.
In some cases, these changes are driven by new ways of communicating to consumers, such as push (over-the-air / instant messaging for example) or one-to-one (such as chatbots or Facebook Messenger). It could be the support of a new content channels, particularly within social media, via platforms such as Sprinklr, Spredfast or Hootsuite. Or it may often be a means to try and consolidate existing data or infrastructure – particularly when trying to manage data and drive analysis and insight.
It’s often a confusing picture and a challenge for businesses who want to streamline their technology for marketing purposes. At Movement we’ve seen this kind of scenario many times when consulting for clients – here are a few steps we advise they take to make the process easier.
Start with the strategy: Many businesses make the mistake of thinking ‘what can we do with our tech’? But before getting caught up in tech itself, you need to define a long/medium/short term strategy – a clear approach that is right for the objectives and the brand. This will then in turn define what technology is right, and how to use it.
Audience understanding: Building on this, there’s also the need to step back from tech and understand your business and audience. Then you can appreciate what you have, how you can leverage it, and whether you need anything new. If you do need to implement something new, you’re then better positioned to not do so in isolation to your existing platforms.
Talk to the right teams: To understand the technology that you have in place, both from an inward and outward facing perspective, gather a picture from multi-disciplinary teams. This includes not only your own IT, marketing and operations departments, but also external teams from product/platform owners. You need to understand what the tech exists, how it’s used (and by who) and what it needs to deliver.
Ask the right questions: These are a few – what purpose does each system or platform serve for your business and for your customers? How is it implemented and to what is it also integrated or have dependencies on? What gaps are there – is there anything missing that the business should need? Are the platforms in use ‘connected’ in any way (even if manually) to avoid a siloed approach and risking an inconsistent consumer experience?
Be prepared to be flexible: We don’t always know what’s around the corner – new platforms or channels may become relevant that we don’t yet even know about. It may not be possible to fully integrate all platforms or tools, but you can make sure that it’s done as cohesively as possible. You also need to think long-term and be prepared to be flexible.
How it works in practice
For one major global FMCG brand, we examined what platforms and tech they use for on pack promotions and mechanics. While we looked at the broader infrastructure, the focus was on a specific business objective. We looked at existing tech, potential consumer mechanics (QR, SMS, image recognition and more) and, working with the brand’s IT and digital teams, identified how they could fill a gap and integrate image recognition tech into their existing website and promotional (digital) platforms.
For a global leisure and tourism business, we undertook a broader piece of work, but focussed on mobile messaging. We aimed to define a consistent approach to mobile messaging that met their business objectives – which included consumer KPIs as well as internal operational targets – then understanding if their existing (and planned) infrastructure could support this. The analysis spanned the business’s central stack, consumer tech, digital platforms (website, mobile app) and also in-property technology (including TVs and the reception software).
For any business looking to understand its tech set up and how it can work more effectively, these are the aims that I’d recommend having in mind when looking at your set up:
- Technology and channels should align to the behaviour of your target audience
- The experience of using your systems and platforms should be as frictionless as possible for consumers and internal teams alike
- Consider both the internal, as well as the external impact and objectives of technology
- Activations need to be designed consistently to ensure ongoing insight, learning and benchmarking
- You should always capture the right consumer data – and act within regulatory requirements when doing do (e.g. GDPR).