In a world where there have never been more marketing technologies available (around 10K in 2022 according to Scott Brinker) the differentiator (and edge) between the technologies is not only customer experience that a tool may deliver, nor operator experience or buying experience but the actual integrator experience. To understand this more clearly, let’s dissect the different “experiences”.
An introduction to customer, operator, buyer and integrator experience
Customer experience - Customer experience is the experience an end-customer has. Let’s say company A buys a piece of (marketing) technology. In this context the customer experience is the experience generated by brand A for its customers through that piece of technology.
Operator experience - The operator of a marketing technology is the person in the company A using the marketing technology. The operator experience describes how easy it is for that person to operate the tool after it has been implemented. Better operator experiences mean that the tool will be used more often. In the case of, let’s say an analytics platform, this increases your chances that you’ll get value from the data collected. It could be expressed in the speed you’re able to visualise data or how easy it is to turn a hypothesis into a query. In short - it’s how comfortable operators feel when using the tool. On the other side of the same coin - operator friction kills the tool’s potential value for your business.
Integrator experience - The integrator of a marketing technology is the person in the company A (or oftentimes external company or provider) responsible for implementing, integrating and maintaining the technology in company A’s environment(s). While customer experience and operator experience being obvious factors, what is the role of integrator experience in all of this?
Buyer experience - Usually this would be a procurement team together with marketing, business or data teams. In short - this refers to how easy or complex it is to buy technologies and the people who actually buy them. A simple example of the complexity is the classical catch-22 when buying a CDP as these platforms take care of identity resolution while their contract terms are often based on a set number of resolved identities. Elements like these create a lot of frustration and thus friction with buyers.
Customer experience and business growth
There’s piles of research proving the relationship between a focus on customer experience and business growth. And in this modern world customer experience comes in many forms. When we talk about customer experience most of us immediately jump into personalisation. However, a good customer experience can also simply mean consistency. As customers expect consistency, it means technology needs to be connected. Interactions, requests and engagements from customers with brands can no longer be stuck in their respective siloes. A consistent experience can’t be built on fragmented customer data. Whether you think of personalisation or consistency as the foundation of customer experience, and thus business growth, they both rely on one thing - integration.
The four experiences in a composed stack context
If you’re familiar with the marketing technology landscape you’re probably familiar with the concept of composed stack. The composed stack approach is a philosophy where, instead of buying a single technology suite from a single vendor (also known as a monolith approach) that covers all areas or requirements or building something yourself, a company assembles the best technology for each of the individual areas or requirements. More on that topic can be found on our blog posts “An introduction to building your own MarTech stack“ and “MarTech stacks and where to start”.
In our example of company A the company might be looking for a customer data platform, A/B testing tool and an analytics platform. In a monolithic approach company A would look for a single vendor that ticks all of the boxes. In a composed stack approach company A might be looking at 3 different solutions and combine them instead of buying the monolithic suite.
This evolution makes sense. With a marketing technology landscape that is so big, there must be a tool that is better at delivering a customer experience than the monolithics component can. While on the other hand there should be a tool that can not only do that, but also has an excellent operator experience.
If that is the case, then why do so many companies struggle to build a composed stack? To understand this, we need to dig deeper into byer and integrator experience.
Even though there might be a solution that is better in delivering customer experiences to end customers and takes the operator experience to the next levels, if the integration is not following, the data remains siloed and the consistency cannot be achieved - what’s the point? Moreover, the buying process is often complex due to the different pricing models and unknown elements (such as actual MTUS) that need to be provided as the basis for a contract.
Tackling buyer and integrator experience
Does this mean that, even though there might be better solutions out there to drive better customer experience and better operator experiences we need to choose for monolithic suites? Should we sacrifice customer and operator experience for the sake of “seamless” integrator experiences which are typically a monolith strongpoint?
We believe not.
At Human37 we see three main things:
The emergence of composed stack ecosystems from a vendor side. This means that RFP’s from buyers typically request a selection of capabilities in a composed stack approach (vs suite) and ask vendors to align on pricing. A simplified pricing is usually the result which reduces buyer friction. We could say that at that point buyer experience becomes as sub-part of the inte
On the vendor side there’s no such thing as a product that does not want to integrate. If we’re looking at how marketing technologies are evolving almost all of them are building APIs or plug-and-play integrations to keep the data flowing. To ensure data doesn’t get stuck, to ensure consistency. To play as part of a team. This means vendors are playing an active role in optimising the integrator experience by reducing friction.
On the agency side we’re seeing an entirely new breed of agencies like Human37. Agencies focussing not only on being experts in a handful of tools, but agencies specialised to help navigate companies the seemingly endless choice of marketing technologies and build the stack that maximises their customer experience, operator experience and helps them with the integrator experience. Agencies that have optimising operator experience and integrator experience as their scope. It’s part of something that the same Scott Brinker calls the Martech Law and where the role of agencies is to accelerate the change within organisation at a rate that is faster than what they are naturally capable of.
To conclude we remain convinced that a marketing technology stack should always be aimed at delivering the best customer experience. While operator experience is an absolute key driver, integrator and buying experiences should not be a blocker.
If you need help with regards to this topic, feel free to reach out.