Marketing technology solutions have the power to make brilliant customer engagement possible. When used effectively, these advanced tools enable the kinds of relevant, personalized experiences that encourage new users to complete the onboarding process, regular customers to keep coming back, and nudge loyal customers to evangelize on behalf of their favorite companies. And for many brands—from startups to global enterprises—solutions partners are the trusted advisors who help companies select, vet, and bring together the ideal stack of cloud platform technologies to support their unique customer engagement needs.
For brands looking to understand how solutions partners can help brands achieve stronger results, we asked a few of our trusted solutions partners about the role they play in leveraging the right marketing tech to strengthen customer relationships, how they work effectively with clients to help them reach their business goals, and what they see as today’s key challenges for brands.
The Missing Ingredient for Customer Engagement: Solutions Partners
We’ve seen solutions partners help brands with their fiscal-year planning by assisting them to create and iterate on technology roadmaps and determine the budget needed to secure the right platforms. They can also help to align key stakeholders from various departments towards common goals, deliver on both strategy and day-to-day execution, and leverage their in-depth understanding of Braze and other key players in the quickly expanding marketing ecosystem to provide in-depth (and sometimes hands-on) support when it comes to leveraging the right technologies in concert.
But finding the right solutions partner for your brand’s unique needs can be a challenge. To make that process easier, we launched our Braze Alloys Solutions Partners Program in 2019. Not only have we brought together dozens of leading consultancies, agencies, and solutions partners, we’ve also established an exclusive Solutions Partners Certification Program that assesses and validates solutions partners’ expert knowledge and insights related to the Braze platform. With that Braze stamp of approval, brands can be confident that they’re working with confirmed experts in the space, capable of helping them take their customer engagement efforts to the next level.
Given that, we’ve asked three leading Braze Certified Solutions Partners to weigh in on how they approach collaborating with leading brands and the value that brands can see from leveraging solutions partners in connection with their customer engagement strategy.
"Our role is to both design the ideal customer journey, and also to make that journey a reality," explained David Sealey, Director of Strategy and Growth, at CACI, a full-service engineering and marketing solutions partner that has implemented over 150 technology platforms for clients over the last 10 years. "We understand what cloud platforms offer and how to connect them together in a way that delivers the desired experience."
"As a trusted advisor to our clients, we take very seriously our responsibility to identify best-in-class partners and work closely with them to ensure we are providing the right solutions to our clients and our clients’ customers," said Brian T. Cahill, Client Service Lead, Media & Entertainment at Slalom, a full-service engineering and marketing solutions partner focused on strategy, technology, and business transformation, serving over 30 markets across the US, UK, and Canada.
"There are so many technical solutions out there, as well as great teams driving innovative use cases with them and also everyone is learning in this fast-moving space all the time," said Andy Carvell, Cofounder and Partner at Phiture, a marketing solutions partner and mobile growth consultancy working with the teams behind leading apps. "From the early days, we’ve been keen to contribute by sharing what we know and how we approach key growth topics."
Selecting a Solutions Partner: The Right Type for Your Needs
There are three types of Braze Certified Solutions Partners who offer services in the following three areas to help companies elevate their customer engagement:
- Engineering: These solutions partners help brands through the technical aspects of implementing Braze and other platforms and integrating these systems with other solutions in your tech stack.
- Marketing: These solutions partners focus on customer engagement, offering support for both high-level strategy and the day-to-day details of campaign management.
- Full Service Solutions Partners: These solution partners bring together the best of both the technical savvy of engineering solutions partners along with the strategic expertise of marketing solutions partners.
Today's Key Challenges
When thinking about adopting tools and technologies to enable customer engagement, the three Braze Certified Solutions Partners we spoke with shared the following issues as being among the top problems they're currently working with their clients to address:
1. Data latency and poor data quality
Whether it's data that doesn't flow fast enough (or completely), failing to address issues related to data—including data latency—can lead to poor marketing and customer experiences, the kind that can cost businesses sales and profitability, said Sealey.
“Data quality tends to degrade over time and that tendency has been exacerbated by recent privacy regulations (e.g., GDPR and CCPA) targeting consumer data and those who handle it,” explained Rio Longacre, Managing Director, Customer Strategy & MarTech at Slalom. “At the same time, ad oversaturation has degraded consumers’ perception of brands.”
2. Innovating fast enough to keep up with the pace of change and accelerated digital adoption
Due to the accelerated digital adoption spurred by the global COVID-19 pandemic, most organizations are in the process of assessing changing customer expectations and understanding new customer behaviors (and how these might change over time), explained Longacre. "Based on what we are seeing, it is clear some companies are building on their digital investments while others are starting from scratch," he added. "It is not a stretch to say we’ve seen more innovation in the past eight months than we have in the previous five years."
3. Knowing where and how to reach customers
“Omnichannel is really about customer-centricity—giving people the right information at the right time, using whatever channel and format is most convenient,” explained Longacre. “It’s not about ‘going digital,’ so to speak.”
“Study after study has shown people actually want to receive marketing messages from brands, provided these messages offer something of value,” said Longacre. “In this regard, SMS ranks high among commutation channels, with around eight in 10 consumers proffering to receive appointment reminders via text, and more than half stating a preference for SMS over email or voice.”
4. Navigating the complexity of MarTech systems
As more and more platforms join the ecosystem, it's getting harder for brands to ensure one uniform, seamless customer experience.
"Trying to align all the pieces toward a unified outcome when the technology is changing constantly is a big challenge for most brands," said Jake Bennett, Practice Area Lead, Digital Experience Management at Slalom. "We help clients align both the technology and the organization to achieve business outcomes, even amidst this complexity."
5. Overcoming the challenges associated with technical change
Slalom shared that a big area that it helps its clients with is in upskilling their employees with training, open office hours, and co-development, and helping broader organizations adopt a culture of data literacy and a testing mindset.
How Solution Partners Can Help Brands Build a Best-In-Class Marketing Tech Stack to Support Customer Engagement
Braze Certified Solutions Partners help companies design smarter marketing ecosystems that…
1. Solve problems
"Too often, organizations acquire a platform with the expectation it will solve all of their problems," said Erica Kilbride, Solution Principal, Data & Analytics at Slalom. "But we know that is usually not the case. We are in the business of enabling our clients through the implementation and adoption of innovative tools like Braze, but also by providing them with the strategic guidance and ongoing support to unlock the modern engagement strategies these platforms provide." That's why a big part of what Slalom does is to help clients assess what they need in their MarTech stack, how to best use each system, and identify any gaps.
2. Meet the needs of their customers
"There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so we help our clients to navigate the tech space and understand the capabilities they need to drive the use cases that are important to them," said Carvell.
3. Drive business growth
"Whilst we care about managing costs, a marketing ecosystem should enable the business to accelerate customer acquisition and conversion," said SealeyI. "It should also support the brand in engaging and retaining customers."
4. Maximize return on investment
"Our role as an agency is to maximize the return on investment from our clients’ data and technology assets (the marketing ecosystem). This requires both the selection and implementation of good MarTech as well as the optimization of existing technology and integrations," said Sealey.
5. Enable data-driven strategies
"Through effective journey based reporting, marketers can optimise the customer experience to deliver better outcomes for customers and the business," said Sealey.
Solutions partners are here to help, but that assistance can take many forms. These trusted advisors can help brands struggling with a lack of internal engineering resources, in-house technical or strategic expertise, or simply enough bandwidth to reach their essential marketing goals. The key? Knowing what you’re looking to accomplish and finding the right solutions partner to fit your unique needs.