In the last year, 83 percent of marketers replaced or upgraded a part of their marketing technology (martech) stack. What’s more, the projected spend on data and analytics tools by marketers is expected to reach $6.3 billion this year—and that is just for those two types of martech tools. Suffice it to say, you have likely made a significant investment in your martech stack, but the question remains, are you getting the ROI you should? Only 24 percent of marketers believe their martech stacks are effective in enabling their overall business strategy. When it comes to building a better martech stack, there are three P’s you should pay close attention to: Purpose, Processes, and Priorities. In today’s blog we’ll explore each of the P’s in detail and equip you with steps you can take now to better align your martech with your marketing strategy and company goals.
P1 = PURPOSE
The Purpose of Martech
The primary purpose of all marketing technology is to automate tasks and streamline workflows, while simultaneously providing data-based feedback on the success of marketing’s efforts. Ideally, your martech stack should empower your team to escape the tedium of manual steps and enjoy a level of efficiency and effectiveness that ensures your department achieves company goals. It should save your brain trust from being bogged down by the mundane and give them more time for weightier matters, like honing marketing strategies, developing more targeted campaigns, enabling sales, and generating revenue.
Defining Marketing’s Purpose
Before you even think about researching the latest tools or being seduced by a story of amazing campaign results achieved by a peer who used the martech tool-of-the-moment, find a quiet space and list the objectives of your current marketing strategy. For example, if one of your goals is to increase campaign personalization, your strategy will involve enriching your data. If another goal is to expand your campaign reach, your strategy will require the addition of more channels, such as SMS/MMS, messaging apps, etc. As you define the special purposes marketing seeks to fulfill, keep your objectives short and actionable so that it’s easy for everyone on your team to see and understand. Consider using a table, like this one:
|Marketing Goal||Marketing Strategy||Current Martech Used||Martech Gaps/Needs|
|Enable Sales||Automate Drip Campaigns||Oracle EloquaSureshot Journey Orchestration||MMSDirect MailChat|
|Increase Campaign Personalization||Data Enrichment||In-House Lists2nd-Party Data||Third-Party Data Sources|
Revisiting the goals and strategies you committed to at the beginning of the year is an exercise that is critical to your success in building a better martech stack. It is your lighthouse that keeps you focused on what it is you want to do and how you plan to get there without crashing the ship. Otherwise, it is embarrassingly easy to find yourself thrown off course, blinded by the bells, whistles and amazing features of a tool you didn’t even know you needed—and discover (post big investment) you actually don’t need at all.
Inventory & Review
The average company has more than 22 martech tools in their stack. Whether you are below average or above, you need to draw up a list of every last single martech tool, system and platform you currently own. Next, gather your team together for a review of all tools. Depending on how many tools you have, this could take one meeting or many, but spend the time necessary because the answers you uncover will have a major impact on the makeup of your future martech stack. A few questions to consider when reviewing each tool are:
- Who uses this tool?
- How often is it used?
- Are we getting the ROI from it we hoped? Why or why not?
- Is it user-friendly or does it require training?
- How well does it work with other tools?
- Has it been adopted by the team or are their holdouts? If the latter, what’s the hold-up?
- Is this tool essential to our marketing goals?
- Is this tool in alignment with our marketing strategy?
P2 = PROCESSES
People & Processes
The next step on your road to building a better martech stack is to sit down individually with your marketing operations team members and talk to them about their experiences when it comes to the processes involved in executing various marketing endeavors, from maintaining data quality and developing segmented lists, to pulling personalized content for campaigns, managing campaign templates, performing integrations, etc. In addition, you should meet with your creative team to find out what they are currently able to do with the tools available and what they wish they could do.
Martech Process Improvements
Your mission in conducting the aforementioned interviews is to identify any and all opportunities for process improvements. To ensure you ask each marketing team member the right questions, we recommend using a process improvement checklist. There are dozens of great ones online that you can use, but we found this one from Positive WorkLife to be both thorough and easy to augment (as we did) for individual purposes. Kalpataru Biswas, the author of the questions below, recommends that you, “ask these questions to the people directly involved in the process as well as the owner of the process.”
- What impact does (name of) process have on your time and schedule?
- Can we reduce the number of steps in this process?
- Can any step be deleted?
- What steps can be automated?
- Can several steps be combined into one?
- Can multiple tasks be conducted simultaneously?
- Does this process currently improve or impede the customer journey?
Integrate to Elevate Processes
Individually, marketing technology tools, systems and platforms can be magical. Collectively (in stack formation), they are unstoppable—that is when everything works exactly like it’s supposed to. However, even if your department is well-stacked with the latest and greatest martech tools and systems, things don’t always work like they are supposed to, much less, how you wish they would. However, before you toss a perfectly good tool on the funeral pyre, it’s worth taking into consideration that the whole issue may lie not with the tool itself, but with its integration into the stack. Sometimes fine-tuning the way tools talk to one another and share information is the shortest path from good to great.
The Integration Process
The world of integrations has come a long way from the super-complex air-traffic control nightmare it was a mere 10 years ago. Nowadays you don’t even need to get on IT’s schedule or have a degree in software engineering from MIT to successfully integrate brand-new tools with trusted brand favorites. Instead, you can choose a dedicated orchestration (integration) tool that is pertinent to the goal you are trying to accomplish and do it yourself, thanks to the plug-and-play configurations most orchestration tools include with their integrations. The real beauty of an orchestration tool is that it not only empowers you to integrate one tool with all others in your stack, but it also equips you with dashboard control regarding how your tools receive and share data.
P3 = PRIORITIES
Before we discuss priorities, let’s do a quick review of the seven steps we have shared in your journey to building a better martech stack:
- Review marketing goals and current strategies
- Conduct a thorough inventory of all martech tools
- Review each tool’s performance with regard to helping achieve marketing/business goals
- Identify martech gaps
- Interview everyone on your team about current marketing processes
- Use a checklist to identify areas for process improvements
- Determine whether or not process problems may in fact be integration issues
Assigning Values to Martech Building Blocks
Once you have completed steps one through seven, it’s time to prioritize your plan of attack in building a better stack. This means you will need to assign a value to all of the things you want to do, from purchasing new tools and performing integrations, to automating processes and eliminating dead weight. Assigning business values to your martech stack to-do list can be as simple as using a scale between one and 10 to rank next steps. Naturally, the tools and process improvements that will help you achieve your most important or pressing goals first, should rank the highest in your list of priorities. Ranking things in order is beneficial in that it forces you to really think about what you need to focus on first.
P4 = Professional Evaluation
In the event you feel overwhelmed by either the number of integrations you need to perform or the complexity of the processes you would like to automate, you may need to talk to marketing consultants well-versed in helping companies align their marketing goals with their martech stacks. Companies like Inverta and Sojourn Solutions are well-known for providing technology-agnostic insights, as well as sound guidance on how to choose the right martech for where you are now, where you want to go, and where you expect to be in 10 years.