Rise Above the Marketing Technology Quagmire


Without skilled people and the right processes, marketing technology will waste money rather than gain customers

By Juerg Kronenberg, Partner at Bain & Company Middle East, Nikhil Raj, Expert Partner at Bain & Company Silicon Valley & John Helstrip, Director at Bain & Company, London

Juerg Kronenberg, Partner at Bain & Company Middle East

Marketing technology has suddenly become both more important and more problematic. With the surge of online search and shopping in response to Covid-19-induced lockdowns, many companies are pushing their chief marketing officers (CMOs) to build up their digital customer acquisition while curtailing their spends on technology, media and staff.

The challenge in accomplishing these goals nearly always involves curbing the sprawling marketing technology that CMOs preside over. Marketing software is typically either procured and licensed, or built at a brand, market or divisional level. There is little governance over selection or integration with other systems in the organization. As a result, marketing groups often suffer from duplication of technical functions.

Other parts of the marketing organization may also have significant gaps in the technologies they need, such as making sure their display ads are actually viewable on approved publisher websites, bringing together a single view of a customer or having near-real-time access to marketing performance data tailored to specific roles within the organization. Given the ascendance of digital channels, combined with heightened competition from digital insurgents in most markets, optimizing the choices and use of marketing technology has become critical for reining in costs while increasing customer value during the pandemic.

For several companies in consumer markets, Bain & Company estimates that optimizing their use of marketing technology typically improves the marketing budget’s return on investment (ROI) by up to 27%. A global retailer, for instance, merged in-store purchase data with online browsing and purchase data to better understand consumer behavior. By incorporating this data into the marketing optimization process, the retailer boosted sales significantly.

While CMOs and other marketing executives consider ways to  overcome the profusion of technology and harness it to work more effectively, they can tackle the problem by answering high-gain questions in three key areas; spending less money, increasing returns on advertising spends and leveraging technology and data to create new revenue streams.

Useful answers to these topics involve not just technology, but also a skilled staff deployed in processes that use the technology effectively to create a powerful experience for customers. Technology works best when it has the following characteristics:

  • functionality to deliver a great customer experience
  • integrated with data flowing throughout the system
  • strong governance that meets the process, legal and privacy requirements
  • measurement of advertising performance, including the efficiency of delivering ads; and
  • the ability to anticipate future shifts

Technology remains the foundation of digital transformation to reduce costs, improve ROI and tap new growth opportunities. But to make real strides, technology needs skilled people to steer it and the right processes to make it effective.

About Bain & Company:

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