Why Buying Marketing Technology is Hard

by Sherry Lamoreaux

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Editor’s Note: David Raab has 30 years’ experience as a marketer, consultant, speaker and analyst. He’s the author of “The Marketing Performance Measurement Toolkit,” and the Raab Association’s reports and guides, including the B2B marketing automation vendor selection tool the VEST report. You can keep up with David at his blog, Customer Experience Matrix. Atri Chatterjee is Act-On’s Chief Marketing Officer. They held a three-part Act-On conversation which covered the obstacles to buying technology; common mistakes in buying technology and best practices in buying technology. This blog post is an edited transcript of the first part: obstacles.

Technology has changed marketing so profoundly, and with such potential, that Gartner has said that we can expect the CMO, the chief marketing officer, to outspend the CIO and the IT department by 2017. Marketers are investing in technology so they can meet the buyer where they are, which is usually online or some other form of digital communication. And, in this medium, they can measure the results of the marketing engagement and quantify their efforts.

This, in turn, means that a lot of marketers are making business decisions and buying decisions in technology — something that was previously done by the IT department. Many marketers do not have the background or experience to do this. David, would you agree with that analysis?

Fundamental issues in purchasing technology

DAVID:  Well, certainly I would agree with that analysis. And I’d argue that many IT people don’t have the right training to do procurement. But certainly marketers, although they are very skilled in procuring other things like media, they’re by and large not trained in technology procurement. And technology procurement is hard.

Even if you’re an IT person, you often don’t really understand the marketing technology itself. So, marketers first have the issues that IT people face, which include understanding whether a system will perform the way it’s supposed to perform, will the vendor be in business, will it scale, will it integrate?

So, the marketer has all these same fundamental issues that IT people face. You have additional issues in that you can’t turn to the corporate IT department for help. They have software-as-a-service vendors who make everything sound very simple, but in fact there are integration and more technical issues that the marketers don’t understand. So, you have a whole range of things, capabilities, that marketers have to learn about in order to make the technology decisions.

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Sherry Lamoreaux s the editor of Act-On’s Marketing Action blog. She also writes and edits eBooks, white papers, case studies, and miscellanea. She is an award-winning creative writer. Find her on Google+