The beginning of a year is the perfect time to take a good look at what’s working, what’s not, and resolve to make improvements. Fortunately, fine-tuning the key components of your martech stack is a much easier and attainable goal, than say losing 20 pounds. According to a 2018 martech survey, 43 percent of marketers’ stacks feature six to 10 solutions, and 28 percent use more than 10 solutions. However, the same survey found that the number of pieces in the average marketer’s stack is expected to grow. More than two thirds of marketers reported they plan to spend up to 25 percent more on tech than they did last year. To help you make the most of your martech investment and whip the state of your current stack into fighting shape, we’ve outlined five steps you can take now to build a better stack.
1. Take Inventory
Create a master list of all the technology you are currently using in your marketing efforts, from apps and cloud-based options to legacy and bespoke pieces. Your list will likely include SaaS platforms, social media tools, content management systems, analytical tools and others. House the master list somewhere visible in your organization and ask everyone in marketing to review it to make sure nothing is left out. You may even want to ask the resident artists in your department to give the list a thoughtful design to help everyone better visualize the lay of the land.
2. Conduct a Survey
Tech rarely elicits a meh response from people. They either love it or hate it. Your mission is to find out how your team members feel about each solution in your stack. Why? If they hate it, they’ll find a way to work around it. This means your investment in that solution is losing money, and could even become a liability if the workaround creates a security issue. We recommend conducting a general survey of your team. Of course, depending on the political climate in your department you might want to give respondents the gift of anonymity, so that they will feel free to be completely honest. After all, the ultimate goal of your survey is to accurately assess the use, value, potential and delivery on expectations of each item in your stack. Sample questions may include:
- How often do you use this tool?
- What do you like/dislike about this tool?
- Briefly explain how this tool improves your work experience/productivity?
- Is there a feature you wish this tool had?
- Would you recommend this tool to a colleague, or tell them to purchase something else?
3. Talk It Out
Once the results from the survey are in, gather everyone on your team to share the highlights and engage in some serious discussions. Perhaps the most important step in the entire process, an open discussion will equip you with invaluable insights about everyone’s needs, wants, goals and expectations. More importantly, it may uncover some easy fixes that allow you to keep an investment rather than lose it altogether. For example, you may find a team member needs some extra training on a particular platform to achieve goals, or someone else on the team knows a neat trick the tech performs that could help others.
4. Identify Holes and Opportunities
A recent article addressing the future of marketing, noted that the era of marketing automation (MA) 1.0, which focused on managing emails, tracking customer behaviors and opportunities, and scoring leads has been supplanted by MA 2.0. In the age of MA 2.0, the “high-performance” marketers who are crushing their competition are the ones who have taken advantage of their system’s ability to engage customers and nurture leads across all channels. Unfortunately, only 49 percent of marketing teams can be categorized as high-performance, which means over half of all marketing teams are falling behind.
Although the previous example focuses on MA, the same can be said of many other tools in a stack. Most martech solutions offer multiple functions that go underutilized. Some simply need a plug-in tool, like SMS/MMS, push, chat, etc. in order to allow your team to begin realizing the benefits of a new pursuit, like cross-channel marketing. Others may require additional training in order to teach your team to use it, so check with the developer to see what’s available. After you have identified the functions and opportunities your team is underusing, you can formulate a plan to incorporate the ones you believe will have the biggest impact on strategy. In short, you want to align the functionality of the tech in your stack with the marketing strategies and goals you plan to pursue this year.
5. Make It Work
Think of your stack like the people on your team. Each has unique strengths and weaknesses and can accomplish specific goals individually. But, when everyone works together, the strengths become greater, the weaknesses become lesser, and you gain the speed and agility of a diverse brain-trust that results in a measurable competitive advantage. Most marketers have stacks that are loosely connected, but few have taken advantage of the manifold benefits that occur when different tech solutions are smartly connected so they can work as a team instead of in silos. As our last blog noted, there’s a shift happening in the martech world and those who plan to remain contenders must have tools that are better connected. Thus, integration solutions (like our connector platform) are fast-becoming the backbone of the modern martech stack. Integrations enable your tools to talk to each other, share information in more meaningful ways, and work together to accomplish marketing goals.