Almost every professional has the right tools for his/her trade and Digital Marketers are no exception to it.
A lot of times, we are asked by clients or even other colleagues: what is the best tool for this or for that digital marketing functionality?
This is a natural, intuitive and rather simple question, but the answer is anything but straightforward. Kindly allow me to elaborate:
–If you were to ask what is the best tool for word processing, everyone could name 3 or 4 tools maximum and he/she might even actually end up recommending just only one of them that he/she has good personal experience from using that tool..
–But… with digital marketing, this is a lot more complex… in April’s (April 23-25, 2018) MarTech Conference in San Jose, there were more than 6,829 Digital Marketing solutions (from 6,242 unique companies)- and that is 27% more than the year before…
Less than 5% of these software developing companies are big established public companies- most of these digital marketing development companies are either privately owned or VC- funded Start-ups; actually it seems to be almost the same number of privately and VC- funded companies.
What does this really mean for your business?
#1. Business Risk can be huge.
You have no way to know that the private company or the Start-up whose product/ service/ software solution you bought or budgeted for (in case of SaaS or IaaS or any otehr kind of service-provisioned cloud solution), they will be there in a few months or years to support that solution. I.e. who will be there to support your investment?
Don’t underestimate the size of such an investment- it is the money paid for the product or service, for the training of your employees and also for the time your employees have spent learning it, customizing it and possibly fine- tuning it too.
Be careful- all that does not imply that if you were to buy from a well-known established company, they will decide to keep that product and/ or its support 4-5 years from now – for example.
#2. Can you receive Proper Support?
I have always found it irritating when you invest millions in a software solution (even a digital one) and you are based in the ‘GMT-zone’ (e.g. Europe and Africa) but support -however excellent it might be, it is only available during business hours in California or in New Delhi.
Do you really want to depend on that during the setup and/or execution of a critical marketing campaign?
Maybe to you as a business practitioner or even a Marketer this might not make sense now, but if you had that experience, you will know how things can get even out of control.
And -please- take our word for it: nothing beat the possibility of on-site technical support for any of your software solutions. A technical Support Call- Centre/ HelpDesk cannot always solve everything for you as the time required for your business not to be interrupted.
Tip: Don’t assume that a new product or service (even from a well known established company) comes from Day One with a well designed Customer Support mechanism or trained Support Personnel.
#3. You did say that You Love ‘innovative’ – right?
As a sort of rule- of – thumb, most of the unique and innovative solutions come from the small privately- owned or VC- funded companies.
Can you afford not to take the risks mentioned above?
#4. Hard to choose.
I assume that this is obvious. Do you think that someone can evaluate/ test/ compare all these 5,381+ solutions?
From whom can you get advice as to what to choose for a particular Digital Marketing functional area?
And as time goes by, each of these developing solution-categories represents a bouquet of opportunities for developing new diversified solutions and for building new brands/ new companies who will survive.
Is there Digital Marketing Darwinism?
So hard to tell… Let’s look at some numbers of digital marketing offerings over the last couple of years:
2011 – about 150 solutions
2012 – about 350 solutions
2014 – about 1000 solutions
2015 – about 2000 solutions
2016 – about 3500 solutions
2017 – about 5381 solutions
2018 – about 6829 solutions
So, nobody can foresee who will survive… at the moment, the number of solution seems to be more of less be increasing, but at least at a possibly declining pace every year.
Sure acquisitions were made and companies went out of business. But according to Scott Brinker, the Editor of the editor of the Chiefmartec.com Blog: “from 2017 to 2018, only 4.5% of the solutions from the previous year “churned” — were acquired or exited the market in some less graceful fashion. Another 2.7% changed their name or pivoted to a different category”.
Maybe we need to wait for several couple of years will be could see which ones are the dominant 1000 or so surviving solutions. At the moment, the market does not seem to be consolidating by any means.
Who are the dominant martech categories? Sales Automation, Enablement & Intelligence with 490 solutions.
So, “Salestech” is really “on fire”! ….But, Live Chats & Bots is about to blossom too!
Beware of the Digital Marketing Expert
I understand the need for an automated solution and I am for it. But you see that there are a few thousands out there. At this point in time, there is no comparison of all these tools because this is not a task for a single human and could be a rather expensive exercise for a team of experts to perform such a comparison.
So, please beware of the Digital Marketing Expert (even if he/she works for a well known company) who recommends you any solution- do you ho9nestly believe that he/she has been able to review everything in the digital solutions landscape so he/she can recommend the right solution for you?
Get a tool but just do it the old classic way:
- Get your Business Analysts to write down /capture your business processes & relevant requirements
- Create an RFP and send it to the companies who come closer to your needs
- Setup an interdisciplinary team to evaluate the RFPs
- Choose 3 – 5 finalists
- Provide them with real sample data to populate their application and ask them to demonstrate their solutions
- The rest is weighting the pluses and minuses of every solution.
Don’t expect any solution to meet more than 80% of your requirements and not all processes need to be automated.
Instead of a few nice words, we would like to invite to you have a look at the image bellow please. (it can also be downloaded from: https://chiefmartec.com/2018/04/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2018/ )
We trust that you do understand by now that replacing any old or ‘slow’ marketing processes, procedures, products, and service offerings with new, agile, ‘smarter’ digital processes, procedures, products, and service offerings, is a real challenge.
As Darwin said: “survival is ultimately dependent on the ability to change and evolve.”
And also keep in mind please, that the consumers are starting to develop a ‘thicker skin’ as a response to all these automated marketing messages bombarding them.
Thank you Good Luck,
About the Author:
Spiros Tsaltas –a PR Practitioner & former University Professor, is a PRrincipal at HireLoyalty (www.HireLoyalty.com) , the only Loyalty PR company in West Africa that Consults (How-To) , Measures (Test-To) and Trains (Learn-To) in anything relating to Customer Loyalty and PR.
As a NED (Non-Executive Director), Spiros is also associated with HIREghana and he is in the Board of a few Ghanaian SMEs.