There’s a good chance that your company has a marketing technology (martech) stack in place, which places you in good company because Walker Sands Communications recently found 48% of companies currently adhere to the “stack” approach. The idea with a marketing stack is, as I wrote last year, “that owning the full tech chain is capable of capturing clients, allowing for profit at every step.”
The problem with that idea is that martech stacks don’t, and realistically can’t, have the best solutions built-in. More often than not, stacks began with point solutions that did one thing really well (like email) and then moved into new areas in a bid to be your “one-stop marketing solution.” This makes most martech stacks cobbled-together systems brought under the same brand name through acquisition and code “stitching” designed to make disparate data silos work together. This can often create confusion and delay for the marketing team, with un-unified technology that requires lengthy integrations and limits overall effectiveness.
The reality is that marketing stacks don’t, and often can’t, work across the entire ecosystem of channels that the modern marketer uses to interact with customers. Marketing stacks frequently fall down when it comes to offline, over the top (OTT) channels such as billboards and sponsored sporting events. These OTT interactions are still vital components of marketing strategy, especially for larger brands, and as such need to be tracked in the same platform as digital channels like email and websites.
Even if marketing stacks really did offer best-of-breed solutions at every layer, they still wouldn’t be able to integrate the full breadth of offline and online channels that you need to keep up with. Oh sure, vendors say they can handle this integration … but the reality is they struggle to integrate everything and serve it up so you can do your job effectively. That’s why what you really need is a data hub.
At its simplest, a data hub can be thought of as a central location to store customer data, such as personally identifiable information (PII) as well as interactions across offline and online channels. This blend between offline and online channels is crucial for the modern marketer that works in both arenas like CPG companies, insurance, travel and entertainment companies, retailers, and hoteliers. If you can track interactions with physical assets as well as digital ones, you can make better decisions about which offers customers react to in which spaces.
Data hubs are also designed to integrate anonymous and known customer data into a single platform, no matter the channel, and use the collected information to build a unified customer view. A fully stocked data hub can allow marketers to intelligently orchestrate campaigns in either the digital and physical worlds, resulting in better campaign performance and more robust customer interactions.
Data hubs are the next evolution of the marketing stack, and something that we expect to grow in prominence over the next few years. The hub concept is important because of its ability to help you intelligently orchestrate campaigns across the digital and physical realms, and because a data hub functions as an information aggregator instead of yet another solution to use in your marketing. Data hubs are purely back-end solutions, allowing for cross-channel insights without limiting you to a particular set of solutions.
This is actually the key difference between a data hub and a marketing stack, and is why we expect the usage of hubs to grow over time. The RedPoint Customer Engagement Hub™ was built with the idea of enabling cross-channel orchestration; the solution is meant to serve as a central point for customer data and allow visibility and interactivity with all online and offline channels to drive better results over the long term. Notice that we are enabling, not “owning” the stack.
Data hubs like RedPoint’s are overall more flexible than stacks, largely because they don’t try to force the inclusion of multiple solutions under one umbrella. We’re more interested in facilitating cross-channel insights and driving the next best action rather than owning the entire marketing stack. Data-driven marketing hubs like RedPoint’s work with point solutions through API back ends, enabling communication while also providing visibility and unification of the data.
As you become more soaked with data in your day-to-day marketing life, this sort of cross-channel orchestration and real-time personalization can drive powerful long-term results. Imagine being able to provide consistent, personal messages —via the same interface— across an email offer, web properties, display ads, and mobile apps, and then tracking all results as part of your decision-making process. In one database that you own. The companies that reach out and grab this future will succeed where others falter, so please don’t fall for the marketing stack hype. Choose the architecture that will remove friction from your life instead.