Tips for Adding GenAI to Your Martech Stack
Over the years marketers have come to rely on many different types of technology to perform a wide range of tasks, from collecting customer data to communicating with customers, from creating and distributing content to identifying and nurturing leads, tracking campaign success, and much more.
Now, with the introduction of generative artificial intelligence technologies like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, IBM’s WatsonX, and Salesforce’s Einstein GPT, the use of technology is exploding even more rapidly in the marketing realm, having a ripple effect.
Martech stacks, by their very nature, grow, evolve, and change over time as new technologies emerge and older technologies become obsolete or are replaced. These impacts have accelerated with the introduction of a wide range of genAI tools and applications.
It’s a rapidly changing environment for marketers, but most are embracing the new opportunities genAI brings and eagerly seeking ways to integrate the technology into their existing martech stacks.
A recent survey by Canva found that marketing and creative leaders are very optimistic about the potential this new technology holds. In fact, 97 percent of the 4,000 people surveyed said they are comfortable with the rise of genAI, and 75 percent said it is already an essential part of their creative toolkits. Additionally, 80 percent believe these tools can help reduce the time required for repetitive tasks so they can focus on more creative aspects of their jobs; 69 percent said the tools are enhancing their teams’ creativity. They’re also realizing time savings, with 65 percent saying they’re saving two to three hours per week and 36 percent saying they are saving four to five hours per week.
Only 17 percent said that genAI is limiting team creativity; the most common objection, cited by 48 percent of participants, was that the tools prevented the development of original ideas.
A more looming challenge, though, is the sheer size of the genAI landscape. The AI ecosystem is fragmented and complex, and marketers are feeling the pinch, as the following survey results demonstrate:
• 69 percent feel there are already too many genAI tools;
• 65 percent are overwhelmed by the learning curve;
• 54 percent feel pressured to use genAI and keep pace with change; and
• 47 percent say they don’t know how to get the most value out of this technology.
Still, most are using these tools to a large degree to transform the content creation process—83 percent have used genAI to create written content, 82 percent to create unique images, and 82 percent to edit images and videos.
“GenAI holds immense power to upgrade your marketing campaigns, as it can help write captivating content, optimize ad campaigns, and do much more,” says Alex Horsman, head of marketing at Ammo.com, an online gun ammunition retailer. “But the key with genAI is integrating it into existing tech and blending it in without major disruptions. Instead of viewing genAI as a competitor, view it as a collaborator that is not out to replace your existing tools but to work alongside them.”
Here we take a look at some important steps and considerations for marketers as they consider how to integrate genAI into their existing martech stacks.
TAKING STOCK OF THE STACK
An important first step is cataloging or creating an inventory of the technology that is already in place. This might sound easier than it is. Technology has a way of proliferating over time, and not all technology is sanctioned by the IT department. The practice of shadow IT has grown significantly with the rise of cloud-based services and the consumerization of IT, where users have become comfortable downloading and using apps and services from the cloud to assist them in their work.
As Steven Bailey, commercial excellence leader of Ernst & Young Americas, notes, a first step for organizations thinking about integrating genAI into their martech stack is to “get newfound clarity in the marketing stack they have, which may often be a series of point solutions across different owners that suffer from a lack of integration or reliable data and content sources.”
Identifying what currently exists, how it’s used, who owns it, and which redundancies might exist can be an important starting point, requiring discussions between various stakeholders and alignment with organizational objectives and priorities.
Justyna Dzikowska, head of marketing at Brand24, provider of an AI-powered social listening tool, says she “had to learn that integrating genAI into an existing marketing technology stack requires a strategic approach that complements and enhances current tools rather than replacing them.”
Once there is a clear understanding of the technology that currently exists and how it’s being used, gaps as well as new applications can be determined.
“Be clear on what capabilities your organization needs for incorporating genAI, whether it’s improving customer segmentation, automating content creation, enhancing personalization, or optimizing ad targeting,” Bailey advises.
Importantly, don’t start with the tool or the tech; start with the desired functionality.
Doing this, Dzikowska says, ensures that genAI solutions will work synergistically with existing tools.
Jon Morgan, CEO and editor in chief of business consulting firm Venture Smarter, recommends looking for genAI tools that integrate seamlessly with the existing tech stack. “Many genAI platforms offer [application programming interfaces] or other integration options that allow you to connect them seamlessly with your existing marketing tools,” he says. “This makes it easy to flow data and insights between systems and avoid data silos.”
Part of this process also involves anticipating potential needs and applications, says Jonathan Moran, head of martech solutions marketing at SAS. “While we wait for martech vendors to fully develop genAI capabilities within their solutions that go beyond content assistance, we can start thinking about how to integrate the capabilities of genAI from a process (customer engagement), technical (how it’s done without a full rip and replace), and cultural (how it impacts marketing teams and talent) perspective,” he says.
The integration of genAI, Moran points out, will fundamentally change how marketers work and collaborate. “Gone are the days of slow, manual marketing workflows that may rely on single-threaded copywriters, editors, and designers.” With genAI, he adds, marketing workflows will become more streamlined, and “as we move into 2024 and beyond, generative AI will expand its reach to ultimately suggest complete marketing strategies and associated journeys for customers.”
It’s important for marketers to understand that they’re dealing with both uncertainty and ambiguity and to give themselves and their teams permission to try new things, experiment. and, sometimes, regroup.
BABY STEPS AND ITERATIONS
“The best genAI integration into martech is a flexible one,” Moran states further. “Because different genAI providers offer different supporting [large language models] with varying levels of parameters, the best approach is to work with more than one provider, grabbing the best from each provider.”
To do so, he continues, “a flexible connection framework must exist within a martech solution to connect via API to these genAI providers.”
A marketing use case, Moran says, might work best with genAI support from OpenAI, Google, and Amazon—all in combination—vs. just relying on, say, OpenAI.
There are no tried-and-true solutions or one-size-fits-all applications. Each marketing organization will need to explore and experiment, experts agree.
Bailey recommends implementing genAI incrementally and testing rigorously “to allow teams to adapt while minimizing the risk of major disruptions while building capability.” A mindset of continuous improvement, he says, is important.
Horsman agrees. “New technology can be exciting, and it might be tempting to adopt it whole, but instead, start small,” he advises. “At Ammo.com, we first started using genAI on a small scale for content creation and copywriting. We started with one platform and continually integrated more as we continued to gather confidence and experience.”
Venture Smarter’s Morgan encourages marketers to identify specific areas where genAI could add the most value, “like generating personalized marketing copy or automating basic tasks.” This, he says, “allows you to experiment without disrupting your existing workflow and build your comfort level with the technology.”
Horsman also encourages marketers to be innovative, creative, and willing to try new things. “Businesses are different, and marketers should not be afraid to try possible ways to use genAI,” he says.
The capabilities of genAI go beyond social media management and content creation. So, he suggests, “as you slowly adopt it, run experiments and explore other ways you can leverage genAI.” At Ammo.com, he says, “after using it for content creation, we tried it for personalized campaigns, which did not disappoint.”
Marketers can leverage the value and power that today’s technology makes readily available to determine what’s working, what’s not, and where additional potential might exist. Data and analytics can be a critical component of this process.
“Data is the backbone for making marketing decisions,” Horsman says. “Luckily, genAI thrives on data. Use your existing system to collect, analyze, and provide accurate data that genAI can learn from. Also, analyze its performance regularly and its impact on your marketing efforts and identify potential areas that need improvement. Use this information to refine your strategy and optimize genAI’s effectiveness.”
Another critical part of the process is staff training. To learn how to use genAI tools and how to evaluate their effectiveness, marketers need resources to ensure they’re equipped to leverage everything that these tools have to offer.
Such training is key, Dzikowska says. “It’s crucial for marketing teams to understand how to effectively use genAI tools,” she says. “This involves regular training sessions and creating a culture of continuous learning and adaptation. As genAI evolves, so should the skillsets of the marketing team.”
But this isn’t the kind of legacy training characterized by a sage on a stage. Getting up to speed to effectively use genAI for marketing requires collaboration, Morgan says. “Train your team on how to use genAI effectively and encourage them to collaborate with each other to get the most out of it. This will help ensure that you’re using the technology to its full potential and driving real results.”
That collaboration should include thinking about how to work differently and, in many cases, in a more simultaneous than linear manner, Moran suggests.
“Traditional marketing workflows—the work process needed to execute a marketing strategy or campaign—often include brief development, sign-offs, message development, creative design work, approval, and then ultimate execution,” Moran notes. All this is a linear process that has existed for a long time. “With generative AI, multiple design streams can be executed simultaneously. The result is a quicker time to market and a more productive and effective marketer.”
WHAT THE FUTURE MIGHT HOLD
Looking into his crystal ball, Don McGuire, chief marketing officer of Qualcomm, predicts that genAI will allow marketers to spend more time on strategy and less on repetitive day-to-day tasks, identify and reach more specific audiences, and generate entirely new output for highly personalized content via text, images, and videos.
That’s already happening to some degree. McGuire says, noting that genAI will “force an ethnical reckoning in the marketing world, highlighting the need for human management of communications with the public and individual consumers.”
As Qualcomm brought genAI into its own marketing operations, McGuire says they’ve been seeing an increase in productivity, time-to-market, and efficiency. This, he says, allows his team to “spend more time on strategy and creative collaboration and less on time-consuming, repetitive tasks.” It’s not about replacing people, he says, but about “augmenting and enhancing their capabilities.”
So how are marketers integrating genAI into their martech stacks? In varied ways that are likely to evolve over time—quickly and continually.
The bottom line is that this integration is a process, not a single event. There is no final state. GenAI and other technologies are continually evolving, and companies’ needs will as well. Today’s marketing landscape, from a technology and particularly a genAI perspective, is more about what could be than what is. And while there are no definitive answers at this point, many creative minds are exploring the possibilities and potential.
Linda Pophal is a freelance business journalist and content marketer who writes for various business and trade publications. Pophal does content marketing for Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and individuals on a wide range of subjects, from human resource management and employee relations to marketing, technology, healthcare industry trends, and more.