3 Strategies to Get the Most Out of Your Next MarTech Purchase

Jan 01, 2018

Article ImageAs we head into the new year, the stakes have never been higher for companies in making the right marketing technology (MarTech) purchase decisions. The romance between consumers and devices of all kinds continues to grow, and converting this enhanced digital activity into revenue is a top priority.

Like most significant investment decisions, this one’s complexity matches its importance. The 2017 Marketing Technology Landscape infographic counted more than 5,000 vendor options, and that number will continue to rise in this rapidly evolving field with no shortage of VC interest. Online sellers have the option to choose from countless providers that offer solutions across advertising, content, analytics, engagement, and social – just to name a few.

Although the number of vendor options has seen a meteoric rise in recent years, going from merely 150 in 2011 to more than 5,000 today, 2017 marked the first year where overall company marketing budgets plateaued, following three years of steady increase. Online marketers won’t necessarily feel the squeeze, as digital marketing budgets are expected to slightly increase in 2018, but the ROI glasses on MarTech decisions will get thicker.

Decision makers must find solutions that enable them to excite prospects, optimize the online customer journey, differentiate in the market, convert, and easily scale in order to produce the best results and meet desired organizational goals.

Here are three key strategies to follow while making MarTech purchase decisions in 2018:

Strategy #1: Recite Your A, B, Cs

Always. Be. Converting.

Converting a browser to a buyer involves countless variables, but one thing is certain, today’s consumer has limitless retail options at their fingertips, and zero time for their journey--from merely browsing to checkout completion--to be interrupted by online distractions or potential competitors.

Numbers don’t lie, and data from this past holiday season is speaking loud and clear to online retailers going into 2018. The opportunities are there, it’s your job to convert them to customers.

Cyber Monday 2017, the single largest online shopping day in U.S. history, saw an 11.9% increase in overall online traffic YoY. And Black Friday, the day that notoriously produces YouTube gold showing the joys of brick and mortar shopping, produced $5.03 billion online dollars – a 16.9% increase from the prior year.

As online shopping activity continues to grow, so does the number of digital malware injections on consumer browsers, which is unintentionally downloaded through bad connections, free software bundles, and free, unsecured WiFi networks. As retailers are working tirelessly to optimize the online customer journey, these malware injections are the enemy, rearing their ugly head in the form of pop-ups and unauthorized ads. Today’s online shopper has been conditioned to expect a seamless, contextual, and individualized shopping journey, and is quick to exit an experience that can’t deliver this.

Research shows that outside of peak season, roughly 20% of online shopping journeys are interrupted by malware-driven pop-ups, and additional unauthorized ads. During peak shopping periods, including the holiday season, this percentage jumps to 30% of all online shopping journeys.

While search spending has dominated retail MarTech budgets for years and should not be ignored, retailers should also be focused on eliminating potential distractions for customers to truly maximize conversions. The customer experience has become its own product and it’s pivotal that companies allocate the resources necessary to preserve it. 

Strategy #2: Collect the Right Data

Today’s data challenge for online retailers is not a shortage – far from it. The common problem is that they’re not tapping into the right, useful data. The resources are there to collect a plethora of information, but online retailers often find themselves looking at skewed or irrelevant data points that they’re supposed to use to make important business decisions. The key is to collect true data that accurately depicts a realistic view of user activity.

People are engaging with brands in the online world more than ever, but humans are not the only ones impacting analytics solutions intended to capture their every move.

Bots–both good and bad–are responsible for roughly half of all online traffic. Unfiltered bot traffic can significantly skew ecommerce site analytics, giving retailers a false read on visitor behavior. For example, analytics can tell an online retailer that their site experienced a 20% increase in PPC-based conversions, and a 10% increase in SEO-based traffic. Consequently, the marketing department decides to increase the Q1 PPC budgets by 10%–based on perceived successes–leaving the SEO budget as is.

Now, suppose the analytics team filtered out the site’s bot traffic and discovered that machine-generated bots made false clicks on the retailer’s PPC ads, and in fact, the ads actually generated just 1% human traffic–consequently failing to convert. The SEO conversions received, however, were exclusively human generated, and thus SEO proved to be a far more successful marketing channel.

Presented with un-skewed data, the same marketing department that increased the PPC budget would likely have allocated resources to SEO efforts instead, but was working with false data to drive key marketing decisions.

As you consider new tools and platforms to solve your current challenges, big data is big, but the right data is impactful–and that’s what must be collected and analyzed. 

Strategy #3: Optimize for Mobile

The present-day shopper has rapidly evolved into an expert on consuming digital content, largely due to increased mobile activity. The mobile device presents the key to truly knowing your customer. Smartphones are intimate pieces of property–taken everywhere and viewed constantly (often when and where they shouldn’t be!). But they can be very telling about true user behaviors and preferences. Innovative marketers are using mobile data to complete the picture of their consumers.

Going back to Cyber Monday 2017, 47.4% of total traffic was attributed to mobile devices, bringing in $2 billion of revenue. With roughly half of all online traffic coming from mobile, but generating less than a third of the day’s total online revenue, there is still plenty of work to be done for retailers in optimizing the mobile experience and increasing conversion rates.

Retailers are spending big money on mobile applications, and understandably so, but optimizing the mobile browser experience should be a top priority. Retailers are far more proficient at personalizing the desktop browser experience than mobile. On desktop, product recommendations evolve through browsing history, which is also remembered so that users can backtrack and find the item they liked yesterday, but didn’t buy. Free shipping and additional discounts incentivize cart abandoners to return and complete the checkout process.

So, as you venture to adopt new technologies to advance in this mobile-first society, remember what has worked so well over desktop, and implement those strategies to the channel today’s consumer prefers – mobile.

The importance of making sound MarTech purchase decisions is at an all-time high for retail leaders. Consumer preferences will forever drive investment decisions, and as online activity continues to displace brick and mortar shopping, digital spends present greater opportunity in effectively targeting the modern consumer. In 2018, remember these key strategies while making MarTech purchase decisions in order to maximize ROI, and increase the conversion rate from browser to buyer.

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