Ligaments are the connective tissue that connects two bones, or holds together a joint. When a ligament tears or is diminished, those two bones will become disconnected, leading to a breakdown in function.
If an athlete suffers a tear of his or her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in their knee, they won’t be able to walk, much less run or jump. That leads to overcompensation by other parts of the body - for instance, putting more weight on your left leg if you hurt your right ACL - which in turn leads to suboptimal function or wear and tear elsewhere. Before you know it, your entire body is working overtime and breaking down. All because of an injury to just one tiny ligament.
Which brings us to marketing middleware and why it’s more critical than ever for today's increasingly technical marketers.
What Is Marketing Middleware anyways?
There is literally more marketing technology than ever before. Each year, Scott Brinker puts out a Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic, identifying the top marketing tech vendors across 43 different sub-categories (ranging from mobile marketing to resource management), and each year this supergraphic literally becomes more crowded.
And all this tech doesn’t exist just for the sake of marketing technology. Many (but admittedly, not all) are useful technologies that help marketers navigate the increasingly complex demands of their jobs. A VP of Marketing overseeing a demand-gen team will need CRM, marketing automation, email marketing, social media, content management, marketing operations and analytics software. At the very least!
Making matters more complicated, the days of “one software suite to rule them all” - think Microsoft Office in the 1990’s - has diminished. You might be able to find a vendor who does most of what you need, but certainly won’t do all of it well. Or any of it, even. Generalists are making way for specialists, the vendors who excel in only one very specific area but are absolute world-beaters in that necessary niche. Heterogeneous, diverse - and growing-larger-by-the-day! - marketing technology stacks, from a variety of different vendors are very much in vogue.
And that’s where marketing middleware comes in.
All of this marketing technology, to say nothing of software from other departments (like sales and finance) that could also impact marketing, doesn’t function as well when they work in their own silos. When each tech vendor carves off a little corner of your overall marketing team to reside in, your team becomes more fragmented. What you need is for all these disparate pieces to start integrating, collaborating and working in concert with each other. Marketing middleware - software that connects other software and systems together, just like the ligaments in your body - can solve that issue, helping marketers to market better.
Essentially, what marketing middleware does is serve as the glue that connects all your individual applications, allowing them to work together. After all, your email marketing software should be connected to your marketing automation software, which should be connected to your CRM, which should be connected to your financial software, and on and on down the road. In order to market better, sell better, service your customers better, these technologies must be connected.
The irony of marketing middleware is that it's another piece of software that you have to buy to connect all your other software and truly get the most out of them. Think of it as an add-on, an ancillary piece to other critical components like marketing automation and CRM. Sure, your business can probably survive just using CRM...but can it thrive without connecting that CRM to other key systems? Not likely.
The key benefit to using marketing middleware systems is to connect disparate systems together, but there are several other massive benefits to having marketing middleware serve as the center of your marketing technology stack. Other reasons why marketing middleware has become more crucial than ever include:
- Ensuring consistent and updated data across systems - Marketers can market better by taking into consideration sales data housed within their company’s CRM. Ensuring that the data within your CRM is consistent across other key systems will help marketers run the most segmented and targeted campaigns, for better effectiveness
- The blurring of lines and improved alignment between marketing and other teams - Companies are becoming increasingly “hybridized” - there is a greater connection between sales, marketing, customer success and finance than ever before. Since there are elements from each team that feed into overall company success, it’s critical to blur those lines and remove those departments from the siloes they’ve been working in
- Reduced reliance on a single tech vendor - Many companies hesitate to work with a multitude of vendors because it’s simply easier to just have one “suite” taking care of all your needs. However, this can also remove your leverage and force you to be cornered by a single vendor. Marketing middleware gives you the option to shop around with different vendors and not feel hamstrung by the challenges of connecting disparate technologies
Marketers need more technology than ever, but with great technology comes great responsibility, and the challenges of integrating all that great technology. Don’t be deterred by these obstacles; finding the right marketing middleware vendor to solve your data integration needs can save technical marketers lots of time and stress. And help them to do their jobs - market - better.