The holidays are bearing down on us again and no matter what a company spends on marketing, an impact must be made, whether it’s revenue growth, retaining customers, or improving customer lifetime value.
Yet marketing remains one area where proving the value that marketing initiatives bring to a company is still a cloudy subject.
We’re all well-acquainted with the marketing tech stack that companies are forced to build to keep pace with competitors.
If you had to right now, could you show which pieces of tech contributed to last year’s Q4 holiday goals? And if you’re implementing new software for this year, can you predict how fast that new tech will help you meet your goals for this year’s holidays?
If you said no, you are neither stupid nor alone.
Time to value (TTV) is a blurry concept at the best of times. However, it’s becoming more critical for marketers to get a handle on the way new technology is evaluated, implemented, and most importantly valuable, and no time is more critical than the year-end holiday shopping season from Black Friday into early January.
What Is Time to Value?
Time to value is similar to ROI and ROMI, except where the latter two measure the financial success of an investment, time to value measures the effectiveness of an investment.
If you’re faster at integrating technology than your competitors, you stand to gain an ongoing competitive edge, whether that’s driving up retention rates or doubling customer engagement during the holidays.
Therefore, the shorter the time to value, the faster you’ll see holiday revenue growth.
Why Time to Value Is Difficult to Figure Out
Marketing departments have to accurately report what the return on any marketing investment is, but there are two barriers that can get in the way.
1: You have to decide how you’re going to measure value over time, specifically which metrics you’re going to focus on.
What kinds of returns are you going to measure value through?
Are you simply comparing dollar amounts and revenue growth over previous year? Or do you want a more complete picture of measuring more intangible kinds of value like go-to-market speed and increased efficiency?
2: Marketers manage an unwieldy patchwork of software and platforms that make it nearly impossible to pinpoint the value each component of the stack brings to an organisation.
How are you going to get all your data out of every touchpoint in a timely fashion? And if you do somehow manage to accomplish that, how are you going to definitively show the value of each component?
Marketers need to change the way we look at a necessary cost like martech and how we’re going to value it as a profit center, especially as Black Friday and Cyber Week kick off the holiday shopping season.
No Rest for the Holiday Marketer
It’s no secret that marketing departments have trouble proving ROI and their overall value to the business.
It’s difficult when you’re buried in multiple campaigns and struggling to get this week’s emails out to customers.
It’s even harder when the time-to-value calculation is a manual process of digging data out of each tech solution, most of which do not make it easy to export and integrate.
Now try doing this during the holidays.
Not only do you have online vs. in-store concerns, but there are an ever-increasing number of channels to cover within each model.
At the very least, 86% of shoppers regularly channel-hop across at least two channels and there’s a lot at stake.
Retailers who deploy omnichannel strategies see 30% higher LTVs, and customers who receive omnichannel marketing messages spend 4% more in-store.
Marketers have to lean on tech, but not every CMO has a broad understanding of the available technology.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the features a point solution has while largely ignoring the immediate value tech can bring to marketers.
Sometimes this leads to blind acquisition which complicates the already teetering tech stack.
One thing is painfully clear, though: successful brands leverage tech to better know their customers and to be more agile in real time.
Time to value not only drives business decisions, but it is more often the difference between your brand during the holidays and all your competitors.
6 TTV Elements to Look For in Marketing Technology
When you’re looking for new tech with the shortest time to value in mind, here are the six most impactful elements to seek out:
• Find tech with relevant features rather than a million features. TTV is always going to be quicker when you’re dealing with a small but powerful set of tools rather than a full-blown suite that you may never completely use.
• Seek out solutions that are focused on hitting your objectives rather than boasting every possible tactic. With everything set up right from top to bottom, campaigns will deliver more quickly and be better aligned to revenue and retention objectives.
• Look for AI-driven automation that will take care of segmentation, best send times, faster analytics, and a host of other manual activities that your marketers should not be spending time on. All of this shortens TTV.
• Hunt for a platform with an insightful dashboard system — and not just in terms of real-time management, but something powered by built-in use cases and industry-specific knowledge so that you’re not loading data for the next three months before you can launch a campaign. Some platforms even allow you to benchmark against similar companies in your industry.
• Choose a provider who can give you a single platform with the tools you need most built-in. This makes your stack easier to manage and is usually cheaper due to vendor consolidation.
• Avoid technology with potentially lengthy onboarding procedures. You may never know what your TTV is if you have to spend the next three, six, or even 12 months learning how to use the tech.
By keeping these factors in mind, you can find the solutions you need and activate campaigns in days rather than the typical three months it takes to build and launch data-driven campaigns.
Fast TTV Holiday Use Cases
One of the most important things you can do during the year-end holidays is combine in-store and online data to both fill out customer profiles and then reach out to them in a more personalised way, and for good reason: 39% of consumers say they’re unlikely or very unlikely to visit a retailer’s store if the online store does not provide physical store inventory information.
Accurate availability messaging is crucial to getting these customers to follow through and make a purchase in-store.
A few other prime areas to think about:
• Look back at historical data to win back seasonal shoppers.
• Launch lookalike campaigns on Facebook and Instagram.
• Have on-site data capture so you can launch successful browse abandon and abandoned cart campaigns.
These strategies and tactics have the most impact when you’re using a marketing platform designed to deliver results within days of implementation being complete, and right now there are very few platforms that come to you with use cases already built into the software, including the big cloud names out there.
When you have a knowledgebase already in your tech, you can quickly determine the best strategies and tactics to apply. Several brands realise this.
• Australian fashion outfitter City Beach uses a barcode in email to recognise online contacts in store.
• The Perfume Shop in the UK collects in-store data with a mobile POS app in their store and in their pop-up stores.
• Norwegian sport gear brand Helly Hansen is piloting a loyalty program with their best customers, looking to fully launch it over the holiday season.
We have more machines at our disposal to hit our objectives and let our teams get back to creating great strategies and content.
Marketing’s contribution to revenue growth is becoming more and more trackable, and we are seeing some intangible ideas, like TTV, coming into play more often.
TTV plays a large part in determining the experience customers have when they browse your site and purchase from you.
Tech stacks evolve, so the next time you have to choose a new package or platform, think about solutions that prioritise speed to market.
The shorter your TTV, the better your site and the CX will be, which means happier customers, a valuable marketing department, and a profitable holiday season.
Emarsys is the largest independent marketing platform company in the world. Our software enables truly personalized, one-to-one interactions between marketers and customers across all channels — building loyalty, enriching the customer journey, and increasing revenue. This enables companies to scale marketing decisions and actions beyond human capabilities. Learn more at emarsys.com.