Digital Marketing Trends for Tech: Putting Customers at the Forefront
by Jill Steinhour
posted on 02-01-2018
Tech has always been a top performer in the race of digital marketing, but tech companies need to be careful not to trip over their own feet — as tech companies are held to a higher standard when it comes to their use of digital technologies. Further complicating matters, tech companies are often business-to-business (B2B) oriented, and building an experience-business framework is less natural for B2B companies than for consumer-centric businesses.
The reality is that tech companies are often spending so much time and effort on innovation and disruption for their products that they don’t take the time to devote equal energy toward their digital marketing efforts. According to Adobe’s 2017 Digital Marketing Study, tech companies still hold the belief that if you build it they will come — which is no longer the case.
Digital runs deep, but slow in tech
Tech companies already breathe digital. They understand the underlying technologies — after all, these are the companies that create those technologies. Ironically, tech companies are somewhat less likely than other industries to prioritize the use of these technologies in their own businesses.
Nick Christy, senior vice president of enterprise technology for R2i, says, “Other industry leaders talk about the importance of customer experience and connected data, but it’s a major challenge in the B2B arena.” In fact, the 2017 Digital Marketing Study reveals that 48 percent of tech companies consider themselves to be only “focused” in their digital marketing — defined in the study as having some level of integration, automation, and technical skills, but not organization-wide.
This is a more serious problem than it may seem because the race for digital maturity is a marathon, not a sprint. Further complicating matters, there is no actual finish line in this race. Companies today have already made strides that were undreamed of a decade ago. It follows that the future will hold opportunities and challenges unimagined today. Small shortcomings now or gaps today can lead to significant and perhaps fatal disadvantages in the future.
Holistic customer views can accelerate tech’s pace
The good news is that the digital marketing study also highlighted specific areas of opportunity that tech companies can use to get back on track. One of the most crucial areas of opportunity for tech companies is developing a holistic view of their customers. This is becoming gospel among B2C companies and the same is true for B2B companies. They desperately want a holistic view of the customer, but it can be much more complex in the tech space with varying go-to market models, complex channel relationships with partners and resellers, significant offline interaction at trade shows, or with field teams.
Furthermore, B2B transactions often account for a large portion of tech companies’ business — and B2B companies often rely on their sales forces to gather customer insights and build relationships. This is a great place to start, but that one-dimensional view of their customers is not enough in today’s market. Companies need to combine offline insights gleaned by their field teams, with their customers’ online digital footprints in order to develop these complete customer views.
Tech companies need to gather and combine data and insights from across the organization — including information from analytics and CRM sources. According to the digital marketing study, 48 percent of tech organizations currently use CRM data to augment their marketing efforts — making CRM data integration a common and important place to start building holistic customer views.
Data integration can give digital marketing a kick start
Whether a company is already using CRM data or not, that system holds critical information. Nick explains, “Your CRM holds customer intelligence that is pivotal to carrying out your digital strategy, including the ability to do predictive marketing and attribution modeling.” By leveraging that data, companies can add vital pieces to the holistic customer profiles they need in order to automate digital marketing through artificial intelligence.
The more data companies can integrate, the better their analytics will be. Better analytics, in turn, improve the performance of predictive marketing applications, leading to better outcomes. This becomes a virtuous cycle that will lead a company to success over the long time.
Tech can implement digital marketing improvements
Ultimately, tech companies have all the technology they need for success, they just need to recognize that their customers — often other businesses — can be profiled and anticipated in much the same way consumers can be. By making the effort, tech companies can pull ahead of the pack and make a better showing. Nick says, “ Digital transformation is something that is constantly happening. It never does stop.” The push for improvement in digital marketing can never stop either.
Read more industry-specific digital-marketing insights by checking out the complete Adobe Digital Marketing Study.