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How Long Is Too Long to See Value in Marketing Tech?

Mark Enochs
Mark Enochs , Digital Content Manager , Emarsys

There is a reason why marketers get nervous when choosing a new tech solution. Sure, they’re worried about implementation and integration, and they want it to be over as fast and as painlessly as possible. But with most marketing clouds out there, it’s not painless and it’s rarely fast.

Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, and IBM are the biggest players out there, and though marketers often feel herded toward these chosen few — as if they are the only sources of innovation — they often don’t question the “value” part, as if it’s the cost of doing business to go with one of the big cloud names.

What you don’t hear people talking about is just how difficult implementing these clouds can be, especially when you’re not only integrating all your disparate touchpoints but you’re buying an entirely new suite of features and capabilities. The more features you have available, the longer it will take your team to learn them all, and, hence, the longer your time to value will be.

Time-to-Value Averages

Let’s say you’re looking at buying a platform with basic functionality. In theory, it could take a few weeks to turn it on, but if there is any work your developers have to do, those weeks will quickly become months. In those cases, a handful of features could take three to six months just to get running. Add in advanced features beyond a basic package, and you could spend a year or two integrating the platform with all of your data points before you can truly begin launching automations.

Here’s a typical timeline to value for plain marketing tech:

  • Planning to acquire tech = 1-2 months
  • Implementing and configuring new tech = 1-3 months
  • Training, data entry, automation, analytics, content publishing, etc. = 3-6 months

Each piece of tech has a time to value. How long will it be from the moment you purchase the new tech until you’re able to use it to connect with customers, make some sales, and see growth results?When you add it all up, the best-case scenario with basic features has a time to value of 5 to 11 months. If you go beyond basics, time to value can take up to two or three years.

While the best brands see around 36% revenue growth and 31% profit growth (as shown below), the average is 27% and 25%, respectively, which is still hefty growth that any brand would want to achieve.

Revenue and profit

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Types of Time to Value

Time to basic value is the bare minimum of time it takes for tech to bring in new revenue or profit, and as mentioned above, the absolutely fastest TTV could occur within 5 months of planning. However, many brands buy more than the basic package, and each additional set of features adds months to the TTV.

Here are a few other kinds of TTV to think about:

  • Time to Basic Value: How long it takes to see any kind of value from the newly implemented tech. Even though it may still be awhile until you see more results on a bigger scale, this TTV stage is important to keep things moving forward smoothly.
  • Immediate Time to Value: This is the fastest TTV possible and like Time to Basic Value, it sends a critical message to everyone involved, that the tech is already delivering results. As technology continues to evolve, we will see more platforms who can offer immediate activation of the tech post-implementation.
  • Time to Exceeded Value: This is just as important as the Immediate Time to Value, because when you exceed the expectations of integrating software, you make an incredible impression on your team and the C-suite, which translates into more efficient workflows and future rollouts.
  • Long Time to Value: “Long” here is relative. Depending on the technology, a long TTV could be six months or two to three years. The salient thing to remember here is that most marketing platforms have a Long Time to Value. You’ll want tech with a much shorter TTV.

The Risks of Lengthy TTVs

If you take too long to get your innovative new product up and running, you miss out on revenue growth, but it depends on how you look at it. A Sopheon study found that 79% of new products do not launch on time. That means over three-fourths of companies are late to market with innovations, which leaves a lot of room for improvement.

According to an IBMSystem study, 25% of technology initiatives completely fail. 20-25% also fail to show any ROI. The same study also shows that as much as half of all tech projects have to be significantly modified after they’re implemented, which only increases your TTV.

A McKinsey survey also shows that 71% of major tech projects go over budget before TTV is reached, and the greater that amount is, the harder it is to ever reach TTV.

The quicker you get your TTV completed, the more sales, revenue, and profit you’ll see, and what’s perhaps most important is that you can beat your competitors (or at least three-fourths of them) if you streamline your post-implementation process. If you take too long, your competitors can get their foot in the door and win your customers away from you.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the entire success of a company (especially SMBs) may ride on how fast the tech works. If your TTV is too lengthy, how likely is it that the client will renew their contract? Every single day counts because it could be the difference between weeks and years or between revenue growth and lost opportunities.

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Best Ways to Cut Down on TTV

While there are many things about tech integration that you have no control over, there are other areas in the post-implementation period where you can reduce your TTV.

Identify What You Want Your Platform to Do

What’s the main objective you want your marketing technology to achieve? You have to start at the top and work your way down through the best strategies to achieve that objective. Within each strategy, there will be proven tactics. For overall revenue growth, you’ll want a strategy like increasing Average Order Value (AOV) or increasing Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

Unfortunately, many marketing organizations become hyper-focused on the features and tactics first. It’s only after they’ve been running campaigns for months that they discover the tactics-first method didn’t deliver what they expected. While they may have hit a kind of time to value (in that the tech has enabled them to run campaigns), it’s simply not enough value to have made the whole endeavor worthwhile.

Define the Timeline

A critical part of any plan is the timeline. Implementation can usually be completed in three months on average, but beyond that, you may not know how to measure the length of TTV or what the phases will even be.

That’s why it’s important to at least come up with some milestone markers. What does the process look like a month after implementation? Two months? Three or four? If you’re still trying to determine TTV after five months, then something’s probably wrong. Marketing software and platforms really shouldn’t have to take that long, not with so many technological advancements at our fingertips.

Training

Onboarding is another area where the smoother and more complete the training is, the shorter the tech’s time to value will be. A reputable platform company should have loads of content and tutorials to share with your e-commerce marketing team, and the best ones provide service teams that are a phone call or an email away. Here’s where your ability to educate the team makes a huge impact on proving the new tech was worth the investment.

Embedded Knowledge and Use Cases

At some point, all the promises that have been made about a piece of tech have to be proven true or false. Slide decks and talk aren’t the determining factors. One thing that many CMOs and Marketing Directors see as proof are use cases. They want to know how the tech worked for those brands who invested ahead of them, and today’s newest platforms should include industry-specific case studies already built into the platform, which makes it possible to choose the best strategies quickly and activate campaigns in days, not weeks.

Final Thoughts

Time to value is something that has applied to many businesses for years, especially companies who make specific products, whether that’s mittens or vehicles. In marketing, TTV is less transparent, which is a confusing problem when you have to upgrade or move to a different platform yesterday. However, by taking a long view of acquiring tech, starting with the objectives you want to achieve, and then matching that up with the most suitable tech available, you will start to gauge time in a whole new and more useful way as it relates to tech.

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About the Author


Mark Enochs is Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Emarsys, where he specializes in content on machine learning, the Emarsys marketing platform, and digital technology subjects for end users and decision makers.

Connect with Mark: LinkedIn

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