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Use Your Existing Martech Stack to Innovate and Drive Business Impact

What are the tools in your marketing technology (martech) stack? If you have a customer data platform (CDP) to handle your customer data, you likely expected it to provide all your marketing solutions.

Then you realized you needed to add some additional tools. Optimization tools for advertising. Email marketing tools. Testing tools. Social media management and marketing tools. Collaboration software. Personalization tools. And, of course, analytics tools: website analytics tracking and report creation.

All of those digital marketing tools add up, easily into the six figure range or even higher, depending on the size of your company and the amount of data you need to crunch. Every time you turn around, it seems as if you need to add another tool to your marketing tech stack — even though you initially expected your CDP to do all that work when you spent a fortune on it.

Here’s the good news: You can use your existing marketing tech stack in innovative ways to drive the business impact you’re hoping to see.

What Customer Data Platforms Are (and What They Really Do)

business team learning about customer data platforms

The truth is, your customer data platform isn’t really a solutions-based product on its own. Often, companies purchase a CDP because they were impressed by use cases they saw at high-end conferences. They want the end solution: automation that takes raw data from customers and works with it in innovative ways to provide answers and insights.

In reality, your CDP is a bit of a do-it-yourself project. Its value isn’t instantaneously available out of the box. The value of a customer data platform only manifests itself with a lot of thought and effort. But what if you could get value out of your CDP without all those extra expensive tools?

The value of a customer data platform only manifests itself with a lot of thought and effort.

Let’s look at how CDPs are built to understand just how you can redeem that value without spending another $100,000 on a tool that may or may not provide the solution you need.

Customer data platforms are for the most part built on tag managers, such as Tealium AudienceStream or Adobe Launch. And those tag managers are in turn built on JavaScript. Many of those third-party tools you might want to add to your CDP are also built on JavaScript — we’re thinking of testing platforms like Optimizely.

That means JavaScript is the foundation for almost everything you want to accomplish with your CDP. Because of this, you can build small use cases using just your tag manager and your customer data platform to see whether these additional tools provide the value you need. With just JavaScript and your existing basic marketing tech stack, you can recreate a lot of the functionality you’d get from all those third-party tools.

Five Use Cases to Help You Increase Value with Your CDP

Take a look at a series of five use cases to help you get the value out of your existing customer data platform before you spend a fortune on new tools. These use cases are small, manageable, measurable, and you can use them to prove the value of your tools.

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1. Use Your Existing Tech Stack for A/B Testing

When you think about A/B testing, it’s not surprising if your thoughts immediately turn to third-party tools such as Optimizely or Adobe Target. These tools do exactly what they’re supposed to do: They create A/B groups that you can then use to insert different experiences and test for optimal solutions.

However, you can create the same type of testing using just a tag manager, such as Google Tag Manager or Adobe Launch. Here’s how you accomplish this.

Start by setting a random number between 1 and 100. The group on one side of the number becomes Group A, and the other group becomes Group B. Now you have your split, you can start applying and testing different solutions.

Test out different vendors or different aspects of personalization experiences using the two groups — or any variable for which you want solutions. When you run simple A/B tests using your tag manager, you get the answers you need to understand the impact of changes on your users’ experience.

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2. Use Your Existing Tech Stack to Test Personalization Solutions

Many companies get excited about the possibilities of personalization, and rightfully so. But far too many organizations come to the conclusion that they have to build an enormous infrastructure before they can start to access the value of personalization. At Blast, we had one recent customer who wanted to drive home the value of the ecommerce product the company was building — but to do so, they incorporated something like 14 different services to make their point. That’s an expensive point to make!

Instead, using your existing martech stack tools, you can validate personalization projects before you go through all the stages of deployment. Sometimes you can prove the value of a personalization solution just by using one or two data points, starting with your existing martech rather than building everything from scratch.

Think about it: it doesn’t make sense to build your final solution first and then go through all the steps of testing and intuiting — yet that’s what far too many companies end up doing. Instead, use your tag manager to test a few things, and customize user experiences in a small way using JavaScript, and test the value of these small changes.

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3. Use Your Existing Martech to Customize Your Messaging

Customized messaging is key to connecting with your customer base. An enormous amount of personalization comes down to messaging — driving the right message to the right user at the right time.

An enormous amount of personalization comes down to messaging — driving the right message to the right user at the right time.

Customization of messaging relies on drawing value out of the data that you collect from your user during every interaction. Your data collection methodology can do far more than helping you understand each customer’s intent and purpose. You can also use that methodology to group your customers into discrete audiences through the use of cookies or local storage. Once you’ve done that, it’s relatively simple to customize your messaging using just JavaScript.

Now, with JavaScript or a front-end developer, you can scrape the customer experience and change the message in tiny but valuable ways. Maybe you want to change the wording on a button, distinguish the message you’re sending to mobile customers, or vary the look or wording surrounding a specific product. When you customize the experience using just JavaScript, you can test the new experience or wording without having to purchase an expensive tool that will only give you the results that are already available to you via your existing tech stack.

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4. Leverage Existing Analytics Tools to Measure the Effects of Your Tests

Many people turn to existing analytics platforms such as Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics to test their personalization efforts or to understand the results of their customized A/B testing. Many analytics tools have reporting functionality built in, which can be highly useful. But remember: all these tools are using JavaScript to actually collect data and build reports from that data.

You can use a tag manager, such as Tealium iQ, to design the personalized experience that you want to test. Within that experience, you can then determine the analytics you need. Maybe you want to know the number of times a user has qualified for a specific user experience, or possibly you need to see the number of times users have interacted for the experience. You probably want to understand the long-term impact of the experience on your bottom line.

The good news is that you can do all this by using your existing martech stack with the addition of some custom dimensions in Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics. You don’t have to purchase additional (expensive!) tools to handle these smaller functionalities.

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5. Pair Your Existing Martech with Free Trials on Various Tools to Find the Right Software

Most of the more expensive marketing tech tools out there offer free trials. Those are great if you have a single-use case that you need to deal with — but all too often, the volume of your data is going to far exceed the allowable free trial volume or timeframe very quickly.

Here’s a solution: Create an A/B test using only JavaScript, then load a small percentage of your users from your A or B group into the tool you’re considering. Now you’re testing two things at once: both the variable that you created the A/B test for and the software itself. This gives you a chance to see whether this new software will bring value to your organization or ultimately not provide the solutions you need.

Keep testing in the forefront of your considerations whenever you’re using your tag manager to drive your marketing solutions. No solution is going to be perfect during its first iteration, but if you test your way into the solution, you’ll be able to measure the impact of each solution to make smart choices.

Whether you’re trying out a new marketing tool or testing a personalization effort, start by targeting a well-defined use case with a small group of users. Depending on the size of your organization, “small” could mean anywhere from 200 to 2,000 users. If you’ve defined that audience well, that small group can help you maximize the impact of your solutions — and you can accomplish this with only the tools you already have available. By testing your way into your solutions, you can determine whether a given new tool is worth your time, effort, and money.

Start Innovating

Do you have questions about how to use your existing marketing tech stack in these innovative ways? Blast can help with your organization’s customer data platform implementation so that you get the most value and the greatest return on investment out of the martech tools you already have.

Jer Tippets
About the Author

Jer Tippets is a Principal Solutions Architect at Blast with more than 15 years of experience in analytics, customer data platforms, and personalization. He works with companies to EVOLVE their data by simplifying and streamlining their analytics programs. Jer has a passion to continuously innovate and help organizations bring their data full circle by making their data both automated and actionable with the goal of building authentic relationships with their customers.

Connect with Jer on LinkedIn. Jer Tippets has written on the Blast Digital Customer Experience and Analytics Blog.

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