Any marketing technologist with oversight of their company’s martech stack will tell you:
Keeping up with current trends in marketing technology is an incredibly time-consuming task.
You have probably seen Scott Brinker’s martech landscape supergraphic, which grew by 40 percent in 2017 to a list of over 5,000 different solutions spread across nearly 50 niche categories.
At the same time, marketing budgets have grown to an average of 12 percent of a company’s annual budget in 2017. That means the C-suite understands (perhaps for the first time) the true value in your team’s marketing efforts. And guess what?
They want more.
There is an undeniable thirst for new, innovative technology in martech. That puts marketing technologists like you in the position of not only maintaining and optimizing your current martech stack but also keeping on top of new solutions entering the market on a near-daily basis.
Both tasks should carry equal weight and importance simply because both influence the ultimate success of your team’s campaign strategy. Here is how.
How Re-Examining Your Martech Stack Can Significantly Improve Your Campaigns
Like almost any technology solution, your martech stack needs to stay current to remain competitive. Think of it like a car. Sure, you may be able to keep an old sedan running for years with the right maintenance and care. But when your biggest rival pulls up next to you in a brand new sports car and challenges you to a race, you will inevitably be left in the dust.
Evaluating and continuously updating your martech stack helps your business in a few key ways:
- By ensuring the tools in your current stack actually add value. Every marketing technologist has taken a chance on a new piece of marketing technology (often based on a great sales pitch) only to find that the tool adds little to his or her current marketing strategy. Sometimes that is a reflection of the tool itself, but often poor adoption from your team is the root cause of a tool’s ineffectiveness. Keeping a close eye on reports for each solution in your martech stack ensures you do not have any dead weight and are making the most of your budget.
- By helping you easily demonstrate ROI to key stakeholders. Just because marketing budgets are on the rise does not mean they cannot go down again. As a marketing technologist, you know this better than anyone; in order to keep your current budget (or even better - see an increase), you must be able to clearly and definitively demonstrate the value each tool brings to your martech stack.
- By helping you engage your audience in new, creative ways. As new tools enter the market, the best marketing technologists creatively uncover new, innovative ways to turn customer data into unique, actionable insights. Those insights give your team the ability to stay on top of trends and target your customers in new ways that (hopefully) your competitors have not discovered yet.
Now, that does not mean your business needs to completely overhaul your martech stack every year to remain competitive. Instead, it means that a great stack is continuously evolving.
Of course, figuring out exactly where and how your martech stack needs to evolve is not always easy. So, the ReachForce team put together these eight ways you can re-examine the effectiveness of your technology solutions to ensure your team gets the maximum value from your campaign efforts.
#1. Make Sure You Have the Foundation in Place First
Before experimenting with innovative new solutions, every marketing technologist’s top priority should be building a strong foundation of must-have tools. Luckily for you, the ReachForce team compiled an essential toolkit of solutions every business needs to successfully extract value from your customer data.
Perhaps most important to your martech stack is the right data management platform. As you know, inbound customer data comes from any number of different sources. Without the right platform in place to unify that data in a central location, scrub it clean if any misinformation, and enrich it with complementary insights, the rest of your martech stack risks acting off faulty information.
So, before you dip your toe into the ever-growing martech landscape, spend time evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of the core tools at the foundation of your stack.
Here is one of the most important factors you should be considering in that evaluation:
#2. Avoid the “Frankenstack”
You have probably heard the term “frankenstack” playfully thrown around as a way to describe a disjointed martech stack with a variety of different solutions that do not play well together. Ed King made an apt analogy on the Marketo blog, comparing such solutions to those single-purpose kitchen tools - a garlic press or apple slicer, for example - that most people have in a kitchen drawer and use only on occasion for a very specific task.
These types of tools inevitably cause friction and inefficiency in your martech stack. When a stack requires manual transfer of data from one solution to another rather than speaking to each other through product integration, you open yourself up to a whole world of potential problems.
So, when examining your martech stack, start by finding replacements for the tools in your stack that do not integrate well with your foundational tools. There is a good chance you are not getting the maximum value from them (and that a competitor offers a similar solution with better integration).
Now, both of these first two strategies focus on evaluating the solutions currently in your martech stack. Let’s talk about some ways you can ensure future integrations actually add value and help boost campaign performance.
#3. Develop a Technology Roadmap
With so many different solutions on the market (and so many great salespeople telling you their product is “the future of marketing”), it can be really hard to know where you should invest your marketing budget.
That is where a great technology roadmap really helps. When you put a structure to what you want your team to accomplish, the vast martech landscape suddenly narrows to the specific tools you need to reach your goals. That means you spend less time researching solutions and listening to sales pitches, and more time fine-tuning your martech stack to optimize performance.
Even when you know the type of solution you want to buy, it is important to consider exactly how you intend to demonstrate the ROI of that solution before you make the investment of your time and budget.
#4. Know What to Measure (and How) Before You Buy
Remember what was said earlier about the C-suite needing to see ROI from every tool in your martech stack? Well, here is how you can make sure you set yourself up for success. Before investing in a solution, know exactly what you intend to measure from that tool and how to actually measure it.
The “what” portion comes from the proposed value of the tool. For example, key performance indicators (KPIs) for a marketing automation platform might be increases in site traffic or prospect-to-lead conversion rates.
The “how” should ideally exist within the platform. Seek out martech solutions with built-in reporting functionality, but also the ability to integrate with larger scale reporting tools like Tableau.
Reporting is often overlooked by hasty marketing technologists, often at a significant cost. Without the ability to prove ROI, it becomes increasingly difficult to advocate for any one solution in your martech stack. However, even with great reporting, marketing technologists need to have a keen eye for this.
#5. Differentiate Between Ineffective Solutions and Insufficient Training
Simply put, an ineffective solution is one that has been properly tested and vetted by your team, only to find it adds insufficient value to your martech stack.
Many marketing technologists fail to recognize that the real problem often is poor adoption by your team. There is a big difference between a tool that does not work and a tool that your team does not use. Often, the latter comes as a result of poor product training, in which case, the threat of churning to the account manager at your vendor should be enough to get adequate support.
#6. Focus Your Martech Stack on Your Customer’s Experience
At the end of the day, every tool in your martech stack should support the goal of creating the best possible customer experience for your target audience. Customers want more personalization through quality touch points and expect that they should be able to engage with someone from your company quickly (when they are ready, of course).
So, a simple question to ask yourself when examining your martech stack would be:
Does this tool help support the mission of creating a best-in-class customer experience?
If the answer is “no,” chances are that budget spend could be more useful elsewhere.
#7. Do Not Forget Your Friends in Sales
The relationship between sales and marketing is a storied one. With the rise of demand generation marketing, the two historically adversarial teams have found common ground in key strategies like account-based marketing.
So, when determining what tools make the most sense in your martech stack, focus on those that can add value for both sales and marketing alike. The benefit to sales may not be direct; an email marketing platform likely won’t be something your sales team ever peeks behind the curtain to observe, but they certainly benefit from the output of the platform.
Overall, a good martech stack benefits both sales and marketing by focusing on that shared goal of a better customer experience (and increased revenue, of course).
#8. Make Fast Decisions
Finally, do not be afraid to pull the trigger. Most solutions offer free trials or short-term contracts. Be experimental. The more you try, the easier it will be to be innovative and stay on top of current trends.
Be quick in your decision to drop solutions from your martech stack, too. When something is not working within the designated time frame established at the start of the integration, do not waste time hoping things turn around. There are too many tools on the market (and too much at stake) to waste time on tools that do not add immediate value.
Just Do not Forget…
Data quality stands at the center of any successful marketing strategy. The best tool to ensure data quality in your martech stack is ReachForce.
ReachForce helps marketers increase revenue contribution by solving some of their toughest data management problems. We understand the challenges of results-driven marketers and provide solutions to make initiatives like marketing automation, personalization, and predictive marketing better. Whether you have an acute pain to solve today or prefer to grow your capabilities over time, ReachForce can unify, clean, and enrich prospect and customer lifecycle data in your business, and do it at your own pace.