Avoiding the Dip of Doom by Riding the Sawtooth of Success

Avoiding the Dip of Doom by Riding the Sawtooth of Success

Intriguing title? Obviously, nobody wants to be in a Dip of Doom – but you probably don’t like the idea of riding a sawtooth saw either. It does sound painful! But read on and you’ll discover that this isn’t one of those situations where neither outcome is appealing; you’ll want to ride the sawtooth, trust me.

“Data is now widely seen as an asset for better customer experiences and commercial value.”

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the choices businesses face when it comes to choosing, implementing, and running marketing technology (martech). Working at a data, analytics, and technology agency, I get to speak to many businesses about the challenges they face and the choices they need to make. Everyone seems to be on a journey to be more data-centric and technology enabled. Data is now widely seen as an asset – one that should create better customer experiences and, therefore, commercial value. Martech is a critical enabler in delivering those customer experiences and the automation required to make personalisation and next best actions possible and affordable.

However, if this was easy many more organisations would have cracked it. The reason more haven’t is because of the number of decisions to be made and the challenges in implementation to overcome. I often hear the following from clients:

  • “I don’t know what to buy, there is so much choice.”
  • “I’m tempted to buy the whole thing from one company so that it definitely works together.”
  • “It’s expensive and I’ll need to justify the return on investment.”
  • “We already have some tech – but we don’t use it, or only use a small part of its capabilities.”
  • “I’m not sure our data is of the right quality to just plug it in.”
  • “I’m nervous it can take years to get data and martech fully operational and our IT department is already busy with BAU and the backlog of projects.”
  • “My teams have never used tools like this before, so who is going to operate and get the value from it?”

I’m sure at least one of these resonates.

So, what is the Dip of Doom?

It’s the feeling senior managers experience when they get months or years into expensive data and martech programmes, when the costs become increasingly clear to the business but the benefits have yet to materialise. Sometimes it can feel like the benefits may never come, hence the feeling of being doomed. If you think that is exaggerated, ask around and you’ll discover that the world is littered with software and hardware that isn’t yet working as intended, but is being paid on monthly license agreements with one- to multi-year contract terms. The costs are real, as are the frustrations from the IT department, through marketing to the boardroom. The promise of automation, personalisation, and sales is still there and may be realised one day – but the dip is a real issue right now.

And what is the Sawtooth of Success?

The sawtooth is an alternative approach with a focus on proven continuous improvement and return on investment, where the end result is a data and tech platform that delivers improvements in customer experience and aims to avoid significant individual investment asks. It follows the below process:

  • Clarify the customer use cases you want to deliver which will give you a competitive advantage.
  • Understand the data and technology clusters required to deliver each use case – too often, companies try to get all their data into a usable condition rather than prioritising the data that can make a difference to specific use cases.
  • Prioritise the use cases and associated investments based on return on investment and speed and ease of implementation – think about being able to deliver some quick wins to show the Board what’s possible to open up greater engagement and funding.
  • Document the overall AS IS and TO BE states and split the journey into phases, ensuring that while you are going after individual projects, they build as part of the overall programme.
  • In parallel, look to maximise the value from your existing data and technology to show the existing positive impacts and art of the possible to build confidence in the value of a data-driven approach.

This approach asks for smaller investments, implemented faster to make improvements, to deliver value, to build confidence and to enable you to request more investment next time – it creates a line on the graph which rises and falls like a sawtooth saw. Hence the Sawtooth of Success.

For example, one of our clients was experiencing low engagement rates for emails and had an ESP with limited personalisation capabilities. The right answer was to change ESP but before we helped them do that we improved the quality and quantity of their data and more accurately segmented their audiences. The improvements in engagement and response showed them the benefits of personalisation, allowing them to create a more accurate and compelling business case for the new ESP. With it in place performance has seen a second lift while delivering greater automation and lowering costs.   

Martech companies reading this probably don’t agree and may claim the doom is exaggerated. While I’m a huge fan of martech, I also know the problems caused when it’s bought in large quantities without having an achievable plan including, amongst other things, improving data quality, technology implementation and the organisational change required to operate it to realise the value.

If you want to hear more or share your own experiences feel free to DM me.

Will Lowe | Chief Data Officer | ENGINE Transformation