Marketing technology is being boosted by COVID but your CEO is nervous

marketing technology
Image credit | Black Salmon/

Marketing technology, as you might expect, has received a proverbial kick up the pandemic over the past year as consumers were forced to buy online.

On the face of it, this is good news for investment in marketing technology, but a new survey by StrategyBox pours a little cold water on the top-line results. Almost three-quarters of C-Level executives report an increase in spend on marketing technology but over half (56%) of CEOs are ‘tentative’ about their marketing team’s ability to deliver results.

Whether this is because a COVID world is such new territory that a new rule book is being written as events unfold or whether CEOs are underwhelmed by their market departments generally is not clear. Perhaps it is a mixture of the two and, given some of the attempts at marketing 5G, we too are underwhelmed.

Another sobering finding from the StrategyBox study is that C-Level executives are unsure whether their marketing departments know how they are performing. Yet, surely Marketing 101 says that measuring your efforts is the only effective method of improving marketing results.

Juniper Research mentions marketing technology in its 2021 tech and telecoms report, especially the rise of the chatbot.

This report is bullish, saying “The growth in the use of chatbots in the retail environment will have numerous benefits. This will lead to improved experiences through streamlined customer service offerings and tailored promotions.”

Chatbots are, at best, a double-edged sword. A crucial part of the move to marketing technology, they can be an effective tool in upselling and cross-selling. But only if you get it right and the machine learning and programming is rich enough.

It is still extremely rare to encounter a good chatbot experience. How many times have you asked a question of one and been given a list of possible answers, none of which are relevant? For us, the answer is close to 100%.

Chatbots right now are still irritating, automated versions of the FAQ section of a website. Until the machine learning improves dramatically, this part of the move to marketing technology will worsen, not improve, the customer experience. Part of an immediate fix should be to integrate it better so that if a customer says ‘no’ to the question ‘did this help’ (see close to 100% above), then a human being should be the next, swiftly summoned interaction.

It is encouraging that marketing technology is seeing extra investment. It is not encouraging that, as usual, it seems that the investment is simply in the technology, not the customer experience.

No wonder CEOs are doubtful about their marketing department’s ability to deliver marketing technology success.

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