When it comes to brand experiences, you’re not just up against your competitors. You’re being judged against the best in the business. And these days, customers expect brand engagements to be relevant, timely and personalized – as standard.
So, unless you’re doing what the customer experience winners do, you’re always going to be in second place.
It’s well understood that martech holds the key. These automation tools are the only way you can use your customer data to provide outstanding customer experiences at the scale you need.
The problem is, integrating and optimizing complex martech systems is often beyond the capabilities of a brand’s in-house teams. That means simply investing in these technologies doesn’t create the value that was promised. This is why many brands look for expert guidance in the form of external martech services partners.
The partner advantage
With the right partner onboarded at the right time, brands can get more value quickly from their marketing investment. They can make sure platforms are deployed, integrated, and optimized to deliver against business objectives. This begs the crucial question: when is the right time to engage a martech service partner?
We recently surveyed business decision-makers across the U.S. and the U.K. about their relationships with martech service partners. You can see the results for yourself here.
The study showed that over 60% of businesses brought in a service partner either at the implementation stage (36%) or shortly after realizing they needed help (27%). This latter figure rises to 34% for smaller businesses – a likely reflection of budget constraints driving attempts to embed technology without outside support.
But what do the brands who best deliver on their promises do? It turns out the optimum time for calling in reinforcements may well be much earlier. Here’s why.
Pick your partner before your platform
The first point is an obvious one. Onboarding your service partner while exploring potential technology platforms will help you figure out which platform to pick.
Almost a quarter (24%) of businesses stated they had taken this option – and there’s compelling logic to it.
At the technology selection stage, a partner can be your consultant, analyzing your business goals, determining the use cases needed to achieve those goals and suggesting the most appropriate platform (or platforms). If you already have a solution in mind, a partner can function as a valuable resource to validate your choice and help you through key steps, such as operational readiness assessments and internal data reviews, before budgets are committed.
But there are other valuable reasons. Engaging a partner before implementation speeds up the process of realizing value from your martech because most SaaS tech vendors require an upfront payment. Our research shows it typically takes brands between four and six months to select a service partner. So, if you’re waiting till you’ve bought your platform to bring on a partner, you’ll waste around half a year of platform fees on a system that’s not working how you need it to.
It’s never too late to partner
So, there’s a strong case for going early in picking a martech service partner. But there’s really no wrong time to begin such a relationship. In fact, of the brands that took part in our research, 13% looked for a partner once the technology was fully implemented.
Post-implementation, partners can deliver enormous value in reviewing tech stack performance, identifying improvement opportunities and plugging gaps in how the technology is being used. Their consultative approach is often called upon at this stage by brands looking to:
Build out new use cases as the technology is scaled throughout the business.
Manage the technology on an ongoing basis to stay aligned with business needs.
The when impacts the what
Working with a martech service partner yields significant benefits whenever you decide to start. But the point at which you engage a partner may well influence the type of partner you want to work with, as well as the skills and experience you’re looking for.
For more information, download the research. Click here.