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30-second summary:

  • One of the biggest changes in marketing over the past 15-years is the abundance of data available. This shifted the focus from marketing creative to campaign attribution and performance.
  • Implementation of a CDP, a marketing analytics hub, and a marketing resource and planning tool (Percolate) transformed OUP’s marketing program.
  • Colleen emphasizes that marketing and technology teams need to approach the implementation of a tech stack together, taking a unified approach.
  • Based on her experience at OUP, Scollans developed a 12-step process for implementing marketing technology which she uses with her consulting clients.
  • It is essential for technology vendors to work closely with an organization during the first couple of months of implementation. They also need to be up front with their clients about the type of support they can realistically provide.
  • The CDP, which merges CRM data with DMP data from platforms like Salesforce is one of the more interesting trends in martech. Merging data from these two sources can help realize the promise of a delivering true, 360 degree view of the customer.

Colleen Scollans began her career at Oxford University Press (OUP) in the sales department before going on to head up OUP’s US-based marketing department, where she managed a team of nearly three hundred marketers.

She recently moved on from OUP to found her own consulting business which focuses on helping companies assess marketing technology (martech) solutions and select the right tools for their needs.

ClickZ caught up with Scollans to learn more about OUP’s approach to martech and get her thoughts on the challenges, trends, and predictions that marketing teams and martech vendors face in an ever-changing environment.

Ms. Scollans started her career in financial services marketing as a product marketing manager then moved on to a financial education company where she ran their conference marketing line. From there, she went on to work in publishing at John Wiley & Sons for many years.

“When I came to Oxford, I started in the sales department,” says Scollans. “I’m a big believer that marketing is really about that sweet spot between sales and products. When you’ve got that, you tend to be more customer focused.”

The age of marketing transformation

Scollans noted that one of the biggest changes in marketing over the past fifteen years is the abundance of data available. This shifted the focus from marketing creative to campaign attribution and performance.

“Marketing is being held accountable for its activity,” explains Scollans. “It’s focused on ROI, which is a big change.”

Scollans indicated that another big change is with the explosion of marketing technology solutions. “If you think of the evolution of marketing and go back to the 1960’s, marketing was all about creativity. Then we began to move into direct mail and measurement, which didn’t leave as much time for creativity.”

Marketing technology has automated many tasks such as analytics and tracking, resulting in a new creative renaissance in marketing.

Martech tools critical for OUP’s success

According to Scollans, the technology that transformed OUP’s marketing program—in terms of improved customer experience and marketing innovation—was the implementation of a customer data platform (CDP), a marketing analytics hub, and a marketing resource and planning tool called Percolate. Each of these technologies serve unique and critical roles, as follows:

  • Customer Data Platform: This technology provided OUP with a 360-degree view of their customers and pulled in various marketing analytics data. It enabled OUP to move from intuitive decision making to more evidence-based decision making by providing information that helped the marketing team refine and understand their activities.
  • Marketing resource management/automation: As referenced above, OUP used Percolate, a marketing orchestration hub that helps align sales and marketing teams. Marketing hubs like Percolate enable companies to coordinate marketing workflows and manage content.
  • Social media marketing platform: Tools such as Hootsuite help organizations schedule, monitor, curate, and amplify content across multiple social media platforms. Scollans emphasized that platforms like Hootsuite can help marketing teams harness social media while saving time on repetitive and rote tasks that take time away from creativity.

Advice for brands on building a tech stack

When considering how to build a tech stack, Scollans recommends brands assess their individual needs since there is no one-size-fits-all tool or technology.

“Your technology investment depends on what your goals are, explains Scollans. “I’ve built a proprietary capability model in my consulting practice that takes the confusing and overlapping space of marketing technology and atomizes it down to capabilities.”

Example of broad martech capabilities—source: Colleen Scollans

Once the basic capabilities that an organization needs are identified, more granularity (e.g., social media management, monitoring, audience engagement) can be added over time. The solution begins to look like an org chart or “tree with branches” as follows:

Example of martech capabilities tree—source: Colleen Scollans

“If a brand wants to innovate,” says Scollans, “and they want a marketing tech stack that works with their organization, it needs to be something that’s custom.”

Scollans encourages her clients to evaluate large platforms as well as best in breed vendors that have open API tools which can facilitate integration. She also emphasized that marketing and technology teams need to approach the implementation of a tech stack together, taking a unified approach.

“When I began implementing marketing technology at OUP, a lot of the onus felt to the marketing team,” says Scollans. “There were some advantages to that because we knew what we wanted, but we probably didn’t have enough technological support and that was problematic. We needed to really think about the resourcing needed on the support and integration side.”

Another issue that OUP struggled with was the adoption rate of the new technology within the company.  Scollans speculated that this could’ve gone much more smoothly if they had focused more on change management.

“We underestimated the level of change that marketing technology brings to an organization, and how this impacts strategy. We needed to think differently,” she explained. “Giving our teams the quintessential space to ask a lot of questions and embrace the change was key.”

The 12-step approach to marketing strategy

Based on her experience at OUP, Scollans developed a 12-step process for implementing marketing technology which she uses with her consulting clients.

Steps 1-6 focus on what marketing leaders need to do before they talk to IT. These includes defining an overarching strategy and vision, listing out the needed capabilities, and assessing what talent and skills are required for implementation.

Steps 7-10 focus on project and IT partnership. They expand the capabilities review process to IT and focus on the development of a project team including what requirements are needed to implement the new technology.

The IT Partnership phase also considers tech approvals, implementation, training, and change management to ensure the new solution is thoroughly adopted into the organization’s marketing and sales ecosystem.

Steps 11 & 12 focus on persistence and performance which involves ongoing change management, tweaks and customization, and measuring performance.

“We found that we had to do a lot of iteration of our tools,” explains Scollans. “We had to measure how things were performing, assess if the benefits promised in the business case were being realized and, if not, should we be tweaking a tool or replacing it completely? Once the technology is in place, you’re not done with it.”

OUP focused on buying the marketing tech they needed, versus building something from scratch. “We weren’t a technology company,” Says Scollans, “So we focused on best of breed solutions, but that’s not the only way to do it.’

Advice to martech vendors

If vendors want to appeal to brands who might otherwise build their martech stack internally, Scollans has a few key recommendations.

  • Have a robust onboarding package: It’s essential for technology vendors to work closely with an organization during the first couple of months of implementation.
  • Help with change management: A tool is only helpful it’s it being utilized. Scollans recommends that martech vendors assist their clients with change management, which may require ongoing support. Says Scollans, “I’ve heard some troubling stories where smaller companies had issues with the implementation of a core piece of technology because the vendors aren’t answering their support questions.”
  • Be honest about what support you can provide: Vendors need to be up front with their clients about the type of support they can realistically provide. Vendors who cannot provide comprehensive support should state this clearly so brands understand, before they purchase the tool, that they likely need to have a technologist on their side.

“It’s problematic,” says Scollans. “A lot of brands are unhappy with their tech stack. According to Gartner, tech spend went down this year and I think this is because people aren’t using the tools they have to the their full advantage.”

The future of martech

Scollans has several interesting predictions for the future of martech based on her extensive experience working at OUP and with her direct clients.

  • The rise of the customer data platform (CDP): The CDP, which merges CRM data with DMP data from platforms like Salesforce is one of the more interesting trends in martech. Merging data from these two sources can help realize the promise of a delivering true, 360 degree view of the customer.
  • Tool and capability overlap: Scollans noted that in the long term, martech companies will need to clearly differentiate their offerings to avoid confusing customers with products that have overlapping capabilities. This may require sunsetting certain products and merging others.
  • Companies will begin merging: Scollans noted the recent acquisition of Marketo by Adobe as a trend she feels will shape the future of martech. “We’re starting to see this among best in breed tools like Seismic and Percolate,” says Scollans. “While I really like Percolate, I couldn’t get the information to my sales team. Now, with Seismic, they have this capability.”
  • Open ecosystems: Scollans pointed out that martech ecosystems are becoming more open and easier to integrate.

Says Scollans, “We’re going to see many organizations adding more tools into their tech stack as these tools become easier and easier to integrate. This will put pressure on brands to have more technology resources in house.”

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