Your martech investment is no trifling pocket change, but have you ever asked yourself, “Do I have the martech capabilities I need to maximize my ROI?” 

Better yet: “Is my martech helping me hit my goals, or is it holding me back?” 

We’ve recently assembled a checklist of 12 “must have” functions that make modern omnichannel martech innovative and competitive. The items are sorted into key areas of focus for marketers: reducing costs, saving time, scaling resources, and driving adoption. This checklist is for any marketer who’s looking to ensure their martech is innovative, efficient, and capable of driving revenue and growth even in tough economic times.

A two-page checklist can fit only so many examples, though, and we wanted to dive deeper. Read on for an exploration of the martech capabilities that will maximize your ROI and help you boost revenue and overall customer lifetime value.


Why These 10 Martech Capabilities Matter More Than Ever

We’re living in a shaky economy, and consumers are experiencing near-constant unrest, adapting to whatever the latest shift may be. Today’s disturbance could be anything, such as a hike in the price of eggs, a social website malfunction, or a supply chain issue resulting in yet another “out of stock” notice.

Consumers are better and faster at adapting than ever, and marketers (and their tech) have to be just as adaptable. To engage customers at the awareness stage, through conversion, to first purchase, and all the way to loyal brand advocate, marketers need both data and the ability to apply that data to their marketing efforts. That’s where martech comes in. It’s also why martech needs to be able to do some serious heavy lifting.

1. Understanding Your Customers

Your customers are your business. They have measurable value, both in terms of cost and opportunity. For example, did you know that retailers today spend $29 to acquire one new customer, vs. $9 a decade ago?

A 360° view of your customers enables you to personalize your messages and give your customers tailored experiences, driving loyalty and increasing overall customer lifetime value. 

For you to understand who your customers are, how they think, and where they shop, your martech has to keep it together. By “it” we mean “your data.” Unified customer data is critical to everything you do as a marketer, but it’s especially relevant for getting to know your customers inside and out. For example, if you know they like to shop in the evening and prefer your app over your website, you’ll reduce costs because you know where to spend resources. (Unified data is mentioned repeatedly throughout this blog post because it’s just that important.)

“So what we’re doing with Emarsys is all the data that we get, it’s fully linked into our site so we can see who is who is visiting our site, what they’re browsing, what they’re purchasing, what they’re abandoning. And we can see which emails they’re opening obviously, and which ones that clicking through, which ones they’re not, not interested in. And through that, we can start to build that picture of each individual customer and then tailor our communications to send them things that they want to see, and that [are] relevant to them. I think the key thing for us has always been to really provide a really differentiated experience for our customers. And I think with all the technology that we have now at our disposal in the data that we’re getting and able to use, we want to improve on that even more and make everything more personalized, more relevant. And as we move, I think in the next year or so into more of a loyalty space, membership space, that’s absolutely going to be key for us.”

David Witts Puma
David Witts
Senior Manager CRM, PUMA

Understanding your customers is also directly related to the next capability…

2. Being Relevant to Your Customers

After you gain understanding of your customers, the next thing you need is the ability to act on those insights. 

If you simply push whichever product you want to in your messaging, you’ll likely get some response from your customer base. However, a more strategic approach is to tailor your marketing efforts to the individual’s preferences, based on your understanding of them. Making your marketing more relevant to your customers maximizes your efforts and reduces the costs of acquisition and loyalty. 

A few ways you can be relevant to your customers include:

  • Providing personalized recommendations based on past purchases
  • Optimizing the timing of when you send your message so that it arrives when the customer is most likely to engage with you
  • Sending messages on the channels your customers are most likely to use
  • Making personalized offers that are based on the individual’s average order value, buying frequency, or likelihood to churn (more on this in the next section) 

“I think fundamentally, when I think about how we use data, it’s been core to who we’ve been right from the start. So understanding what patterns and pieces a customer is looking for, it just reinforces our opportunity to be able to satisfy that need and present them in a relevant way what they’re looking for so we can be helpful and we can be there when they need us.”

Quote Replacements Ltd Linh Calhoun 160x160
Linh Calhoun
CMO, Replacements, Ltd.

3. Tailoring Promotions to the Individual Customer

Promotions and discounts represent a cost to the business, and they can be addictive for both marketing teams and customers. Promotions may provide marketers with a quick bump in revenue, but they increase overhead while also training customers to expect and even wait for those offers. When you provide a discount to a customer who’s likely to buy even without the discount, of course the customer is going to take the discount. That means a sunk cost. 

Using offers more strategically can help reduce costs while also increasing customer loyalty. What you need, then, is the ability to understand which customers need a discount and which don’t.

Martech features that enable targeted offers include AI predictions and AI-based segmentation, so that you can reduce the cost of unnecessary discounts while also reducing churn. 

Working with Emarsys, Bulk increased retention by 70%

What we’ve done with Emarsys and using their […] AI segments which allows you to target customers based on if they’re likely to respond to email, if they’re likely to go onto the website in the next 30 days, if they’re likely to churn, or if they’re likely to actually buy in the next 30 days anyway. We were able to split out that replenishment program. For customers who were unlikely to buy without something extra, we were able to give them an extra voucher, which worked amazingly well. And for customers who weren’t likely to engage with our emails, we were able to put either an SMS in that program or a CRM ad through Facebook. It really took our replenishment program to the next level and made it much more sophisticated, and we were able to put in extra costs to us, as in a voucher or an SMS send, but only to customers who really needed it. We’ve been running that now for about three months and seeing an absolute phenomenal uplift, more than I expected to see.”

amy smith of bulk powders
Amy Smith
Head of Customer Marketing, Bulk

4. Being Agile and Reacting Quickly to Market Changes

Are you able to react swiftly when your customers change their behavior? Are you adapting in a matter of days… or does a marketing shift take weeks?

Constant disruptions in the marketplace mean that marketers have to be nimble and change right alongside their customers. If your customers flock to a different social media platform, if they tighten their budgets, or if they change their lifestyle, you need to be able to speak to them and their needs as they are right now, not as they used to be. And disruptions don’t just affect your customers, but you as well — when supply chain hiccups occur, your campaigns and communications have to be able to turn on a dime.

Martech features that enable agility include (but are not limited to):

  • Unified customer data: A clear look at consolidated data helps you spot trends as they’re happening, especially if you have dashboards that show you up-to-date customer information. You want the ability to accurately measure activity, engagement, spending, and more. If your customer data is siloed, new trends in customer behavior can easily slip under your radar.
  • Low dependence on technical assistance: If a marketing team needs to spin up a quick omnichannel campaign, create a new customer segment, or add a new channel, they should be able to do that themselves, without IT tickets or an outside expert or professional services. An intuitive user interface also means greater agility for marketers.
  • Pre-built tactics: Why reinvent the wheel? A marketer’s greatest ally is a template. Emarsys offers 60+ pre-built industry tactics to help quickly launch new automation flows.

“Going back to the technology, it’s about reacting to the data every day. Today we know what the people want, but in the future, if you don’t have that data to react immediately, you basically as a business may die. And we saw it in the pandemic. We had the data, and it taught us a lot about what we need to react, but it’s very important. And I know this is a cliche today, how do they say, ‘data-driven companies,’ It’s true. It’s true.”

Gustavo Gutierrez
Information Technology Operations Manager, Innovasport

5. Automating Your Customer Journeys

It’s impossible for a marketer to sit down and create a marketing journey that’s personalized for each individual customer, one at a time. For marketers to create tailored customer journeys throughout the customer lifecycle, automation is a must-have. Automation frees up marketers to spend their time on more creative and strategic pursuits while simultaneously increasing the scalability of their efforts. 

Martech features that enable automation include: 

  • AI and predictive intelligence: It’s all about getting the timing right! A martech system using AI to understand customer behaviors and make accurate predictions can trigger the right automation at the right time to increase conversion rates and boost loyalty.
  • Omnichannel automation: The ability to mix and match with channels when building automations ensures you have the greatest flexibility to reach your customers on the right channel with the right message, at scale. 
  • Analytics: You also need the reports to track the success of your automations. With dedicated reports specifically dedicated to lifecycle marketing, you can find out what’s working and what isn’t, increasing your efficiency and revenue. 

6. Implementing Channel-Agnostic Personalization (AKA Going Omnichannel)

Omnichannel. It sure sounds fancy, but is it really worth the effort? To that we answer a resounding YES! 

An omnichannel strategy makes all the difference when it comes to reaching your customers where they are with the right message at the right time. Email, web, social, CRM, direct mail, and in-store — your channels need to work together for your customers to enjoy a seamless, consistent, and positive experience with your brand.

The costs of a siloed approach to channels come in the form of missed opportunities and poor or confusing brand experiences that increase customer churn.

Martech features that empower an omnichannel experience include unified customer data, predictive intelligence, and AI-based segmentation, just to name a few.

According to Isabella Zhou, Head of Growth for Love, Bonito, “Emarsys has enabled us to create automated personalized customer journeys across email, onsite, and paid channels. Their automation capability has powered our rigorous A/B testing, achieving 15% revenue uplift in those journeys.” (Get the full Love, Bonito success story.) 

7. Connecting In-Store and Online Experiences for Customers 

One key piece of the omnichannel experience puzzle has, in the past, left marketers floundering: how to connect in-store and online experiences. 

The pandemic has demonstrated that customers are capable of flip-flopping their habits from in-store to digital and back again on an as-need basis. What’s more, customers expect their experiences to be seamless. Loyalty points that can be redeemed only online or only in store? Friction. A digital ad for a product already purchased in store? Friction. 

Conversely, experiences such as seamless loyalty benefits and in-store pickup of an online purchase can drive conversions and boost loyalty.

Once again, a key martech feature that empowers this critical capability is unified customer data. Collecting data on in-store experiences may be more challenging, but it’s far from impossible, especially with the digital receipt trend, wish list functionality, geofencing, and other innovations. 

As Jens Pytlich, Digital Marketing Manager of Salling Group explained, “Salling Group used their offline purchase data to drive online sales by using automated audiences when running omnichannel campaigns. This resulted in 25% revenue growth within five weeks.” (Check out their success story.)

8. Expanding Capabilities through Integration 

Personalization isn’t just for customers — it’s for marketers, too. 

Marketers need the freedom and flexibility to expand their capabilities if and when they need to, especially as new point solutions for specific marketing challenges come online practically every day. That’s why martech needs to be able to play nicely with other software, so omnichannel integrations should be a priority.

If you add a new point solution for a referral program, mobile messaging, first-party data capture, or any other objective, will IT soon have a headache trying to make it work? Your martech should make the integration process easy to accomplish. 

“I think the other great thing about it all is it all just links together. So Emarsys and Mention Me have an integration so we can get all of that data easily into Emarsys. And then Emarsys is like a central hub for all our customer communications. So getting all that data in there and then being able to use it for all of our segmentation is just really, really helpful. So for me, the key thing is that it all fits together. I think the key thing is we, through Emarsys and through Mention Me and through all the tools that we’re working with, we’re able to get real life insight into who of our customer database is interested in buying, what they’re interested in buying. And that means the communications we send to them can be really hyper personalized. We want to talk to the right customer with the right message at the right time through the right channel. And we don’t want to be talking to people who aren’t interested in us at the moment. So what we can do with Emarsys is do that and make our customer communications really, really personalized, really relevant to them. And hopefully it’s stuff that they want to see and they want to enjoy and they want to engage the content that we’re sending them.”

David Witts
Senior Manager CRM, PUMA

9. Being Proactive Instead of Reactive about Customer Churn

It would be lovely if, after you acquire a customer, they’re automatically your customer for life. Sadly, that isn’t how the world works. 

Customer churn is a part of any customer lifecycle. However, you don’t have to sit around waiting for your customers to go silent and then hope you might be able to re-acquire them sometime in the future. 

Your martech should lend you a hand in this area. AI predictions can tell when customers are likely to churn and trigger omnichannel automations to proactively reach out to the customer. With those automated flows, you can present the at-risk customer with product recommendations, special offers, loyalty reward reminders, or other tailored content. Delivering personalized touches at just the right time can mean a big boost in customer retention. 

“We have such a large database of people and a lot of different customers, and they have all different shopping behaviors. So by the time we sent that offer to that customer, to all those customers at that set time, it was basically too late for us, or it was a lot harder for us to win them back. So, if I defected at 90 days, and Kelly defects at 20 days, you know, […] we’re able to actually, I suppose, use the AI to identify which customers, on a more one-to-one level, are going to defect and then trigger the communications before they actually defect and not after the fact when it’s actually a lot harder to win them back.”

Headshot for Lara Donnelly, Customer Lifecycle Manager, City Beach
Lara Donnelly
Customer Lifecycle Manager, City Beach

10. Making Marketers’ Jobs Easier (And More Successful) 

Suppose you have every martech capability under the sun. Great! That should be all there is to it, right? Well, no. 

Your martech still depends on you, the marketer. You and your teammates  are the ones who take all the amazing capabilities and then use them to drive your brand and your business forward. You’re the creative juice behind the tech. That’s why your martech’s usability is just as important as any other capability (if not more so). If you and your teammates are easily frustrated by your martech, if tasks take excessive amounts of time, or if you’re just plain unable to do the things you need to do, it’s almost impossible to maximize your martech’s ROI.

Some martech features to look for to increase adoption of your martech include:

  • An intuitive interface
  • Low dependency on IT for assistance
  • Drag-and-drop building for automations
  • User-friendly dashboards
  • Easy onboarding for new channel activation

“I would say that technology should be there to support us. So obviously, as you mentioned, at the end of the day, you need to feel human at the other end or the consumer end. And I hope that we will have marvelous AI mechanism in the background, but it will not take care of everything. So I would say that it can help us to be better and maybe also [manage] the complexity better, because obviously we could enter a more complex way of messaging, but it should be only supporting us. So at the end of the day, we are human. So [marketers] can also say what you would like to consume as information.”

Edit Dudas Quote
Edit Dudás
Head of CRM, adidas Runtastic

Final Score: Is Your Martech the BEST or a BUST? 

If you’ve gotten through this entire article, please take a moment to pat yourself on the back. That was a lot! 

Next, download this short checklist. It’s the perfect way to start an exploration and open up discussions about your current martech capabilities, and whether you’re able to maximize your ROI.  

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