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How to Rescue Marketers from Content Sprawl

November 5, 2023

For too long, marketers have been lost in a maze of data caused by marketing content sprawl and disconnected MarTech stacks. Those days are coming to an end, though, because of technology, AI, and human ingenuity.

Why the Marketer’s Job Is Harder but Exciting

The marketer’s job has become enormously difficult and yet exciting at the same time. It's exciting because the marketers are extending their influence like never before -- responsible for not only brand awareness but also consumer growth. But it's harder because consumers navigate an increasingly complex web of touch points aka channels ranging from Google Search to the corporate website to Instagram, TikTok – across multiple regions and several languages. The marketer needs to have content readily available that resonates across the entire journey.

TikTok. Snapchat. YouTube. X, formerly Twitter. Google Business Profiles. Instagram. None of these apps existed, and today they represent just a fraction of the number of digital touchpoints consumers use on their journey to purchase. TikTok didn’t even exist until a few years ago, and today the app has more than a billion users worldwide and acts as one of the biggest influencer platforms and a key to driving sales.

Brands are increasingly pressured to create marketing assets that align with consumers across the journey from social apps to their websites, influencer sites, Google Search, and many others. It’s getting enormously hard. One video asset that works perfectly well for the website and YouTube needs to be reformatted for multiple platforms, and the asset needs to be translated and tailored for multiple regions and languages. Businesses often struggle to find the right software platforms to manage their relationship with myriad consumers. And with no single source, brands are investing in multiple content and marketing platforms. This is leading to ever increasing content budget and even more demand of engaging assets across various platforms and regions.

It is also getting increasingly difficult to find assets in ever expanding digital warehouse of content repositories. These repositories are mostly used as dumping ground of created and forgotten assets. This incapability of the marketers to find what they need in tangled web of assets across the entire business, on time, often translates to missed opportunities to connect with audiences, employees, and other businesses.

Insights versus Data

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Digital marketing was supposed to revolutionize decision-making, and data was supposed to power that revolution. Marketers expected data to help them understand the performance of campaigns, know the consumer, and know what content they are engaged with.

But intent is getting harder and harder to decipher even as marketers collect way more data than ever. They sit on top of mountains of first-party data, extracting insights to create and deliver meaningful content to increase connection with their audiences is a not a reality.

Specialized systems such as consumer data platforms provide marketers with an abundance of data, but they also come with their own set of challenges. Data quality issues, privacy regulations, technology access and abundance, and data integration can make it difficult to leverage data effectively for marketing decision-making.

As a result, digital marketing is becoming more challenging. Marketers are often overwhelmed by the amount of data they have, and they may not have the skills or resources to analyze it effectively. This can lead to wasteful spending and ineffective campaigns without the benefit of getting any customer insight, too.

Disconnected Stacks Hinder Digital Transformation Efforts

So, while most marketers are producing more and more content, it is often unmanaged, unorganized, and disconnected — leading to inconsistent, frustrating customer experiences and wasteful communications. This, in turn, causes the creation of duplicate content, longer sales cycles, the inhibition of digital transformation efforts, and poor overall customer or buyer experiences.

IDX services more than 1,600 clients’ systems and has seen our share of digital waste. We recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey 250 marketing and IT leaders at companies with 500-plus employees. The results were quite revealing, namely that marketing technology stacks have spiraled out of control. In fact, an average of six technologies comprise a respondent’s MarTech stack. Having too many MarTech platforms to manage results in inefficiency and waste. For instance, 83 percent of business leaders admitted their Martech/Advertising technology platforms don’t work very well together, while 47 percent admitted that poorly used Martech/Adtech platforms waste time, budget, effort, and resources.

Out-of-control MarTech stacks represent a serious problem. After all, businesses will spend $27 billion on MarTech in 2024, per Statista. The consequences of inefficient spending, of course, go beyond financial waste, with yearly digital waste being equivalent to the global CO2 emissions from the aviation industry, according to OVO Energy.

How to Tame Your Out-of-Control MarTech Stack

Yes, your MarTech stack is sprawling, complex, and difficult to manage. But before you throw the whole thing out and start over, consider this: your MarTech stack can be an asset, if you know how to use it.

Here are two key recommendations for maximizing the value of your MarTech stack:

  1. Create a consistent taxonomy. A taxonomy is a system for organizing and classifying information. In the context of marketing, a taxonomy can help you to organize your content, data, and other assets in a way that makes them easy to find, use, and share. To create a taxonomy, start by identifying the different types of content and data that you have. Then, group these items into categories and subcategories based on their similarities and differences. Once you have a taxonomy in place, you can use it to tag your assets with metadata that makes them easy to search and filter.

  2. Establish governance processes. Governance processes are the rules and procedures that you use to manage your MarTech stack. These processes should help you to ensure that your MarTech stack is used efficiently and effectively, and that it is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.

The AI Factor

AI continues to play an incredibly valuable role taming out-of-control content. Let’s look at the creation and management of a taxonomy as an example. AI can be used to identify and classify content and data automatically, based on pre-defined rules or machine learning algorithms. This can save time and effort and help to ensure that your taxonomy is complete and accurate. Here are some ways AI can help a marketer:

  • Use algorithms to identify and classify content and data. For example, you can train a machine learning algorithm to identify different types of product categories and subcategories. Once the algorithm is trained, you can use it to automatically classify all of your product data.

  • Use AI models to tag content with metadata. You can use a model to extract keywords and phrases from your content and use them as metadata tags. This can make your content more searchable and easier to organize.

By using AI, marketers can create and manage a consistent taxonomy more efficiently and effectively.

Bottom Line

A smarter application of technology is an essential solution to taming unmanaged content explosion. But there’s one more crucial element to consider: human beings need to stay in the loop to manage technology, train AI to do its job, and help AI get smarter. A good place to start is by understanding the lay of your own land. How many systems do you have? Are they working? Are they working well together? How are you using insights to create a more cohesive cycle to create content, activate and understand audience response? Essentially, are your brands’ people, process, and technology working well together?

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