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What opportunities and dangers lurk in your company’s marketing technology?
Is your marketing technology stack starting to look like a jumble of wires tumbling from a computer server? Companies large and small are awakening to the challenge of taming the MarTech tangle.
It’s no longer news. marketing technology has exploded over the last five years. See Scott Brinker’s now famous Marketing Technology Landscape graphic (below) naming 6,829 marketing technology solutions. Frankly, there is too much software available to our marketing teams. And it’s very difficult to understand what you need and what you don’t need. For most marketing organizations there is a mix of known and unknown software being used by the team to do their day-to-day work. You may have a handle on the enterprise level software being used in your organization, but what about everything else? The ease and allure of downloading new technology to help with marketing tasks allow interns and directors alike to add new apps to the marketing technology mix. But at what risk? What opportunities and dangers lurk in your company’s marketing technology? And how do you manage it all? What’s a Marketing Operations Manager or CMO to do? It’s enough to get your heart palpitating and palms sweaty. If you are like most, you have duplicate systems and gaps in your marketing technology mix.
Sure, things may be running rather smoothly but are they optimal? It’s up to you to make sure your MarTech has all of the bases covered. But where do you start?
Planning your Marketing Technology Assessment
Just like any other business endeavor, you need a strategy and a plan that is guided by your marketing and business objectives. And with that in place you need to understand exactly where you stand on your path to marketing technology excellence.
Where are there overlaps and what are the gaps? What imminent dangers need to be quelled now? What opportunities do you have to improve your MarTech and how you are using it? Are you unconvinced that this is something you need to focus on? Consider the risks to a haphazardlymanaged marketing technology system:
MarTech that leaves your computer systems vulnerable to hackers and viruses
Duplication of systems
Wasting money on payments for duplicate systems
Ineffective process and communication among people and systems
Poorly trained team members on marketing technology
Silos of information stored on individual hard drives
Gaps in information, data or analysis
Loss of information
If you are feeling the hairs on the back of your neck standing up, that’s good! It’s your marketing technology intuition telling you to flee or fight! (Don’t flee – you got this!)
What benefits can you expect from actively managing and improving your Marketing Technology program?
Secure marketing technology systems
Smooth information flow
Elimination of information silos
More capable marketing team members (And happier too!)
Congruence between business objectives, marketing technologies and marketing goals.
How do you begin Taming your Marketing Technology Tangle?
You start by determining the current state of your marketing technology. This means you need to conduct a marketing technology audit.
A marketing technology audit first lists all of the marketing technology that exists in your organization. This includes official systems that may be installed on servers or delivered through SaaS (Software as a Service) systems and it also includes any individual technology paid or free that is installed or used by individuals within the organization. You can do this as simple as developing a spreadsheet or you can get fancy and include a spiffy marketing stack graphic into your plan. Get inspired by checking out these incredible Marketing Technology Stacks.
Next, you need to assess the technology in relation to the marketing strategy and the objectives of your organization. Are these technologies producing results and helping you to achieve your marketing goals? Are there any technologies missing? Are there any duplications? Which systems may no longer be utilized. Which are running out of date versions or systems that may not be secure? It helps to evaluate these in terms of a marketing technology framework. (We will discuss this in a future article.)
Measuring the effectiveness of your MarTech investment can be tricky. At cebit 2018 in Australia, IAG’s director of media and technology, Dr. Willem Paling discussed the true contribution of marketing to the organization. He said, “The goal of marketing is not just sales, it’s to maximize sales generated by marketing, or incremental sales that wouldn’t have happened without marketing.” When evaluating your MarTech program it’s critical to make sure that you understand how your MarTech is contributing to the overall effectiveness of marketing.
Next, assess the utilization of the systems by the team members. Are team members well versed in the various technologies? Are there any shortfalls that can be addressed by training? Upon completing this evaluation, develop a plan to improve upon deficiencies in marketing technology skills.
Evaluate your Marketing Technology
Now you have the building blocks to assess your MarTech Stack:
A complete inventory of the marketing technology existing in your organization
How the technology fits (or doesn’t) within your marketing and business strategy, plans and goals
your organization’s aptitude for using the technology
And you may be scratching your head saying, “How did we get here?” Don’t worry! When beginning any important journey, one of the most important steps is to determine where you are. The next step will be to evaluate where you are going and to make plans for the future. Begin by managing any threats identified. See where gaps and overlaps exist. Identify training deficiencies. Begin to craft your plan to optimize your marketing technology utilization.
Hire a Pro or DIY?
If you’re like most marketing organizations your resources are stretched. How do you shoehorn in this one more (important) thing to do? What is the best strategy for completing your marketing technology audit? And how often do you need to revisit it?
You have two options for completing your Marketing Technology Audit:
Do it yourself.
Use an outside contractor.
Here’s a list of Pros and Cons for either approach:
Do it yourself:
No funds are required.
Internal resources may be able to identify MarTech Systems currently deployed more quickly.
Uses resources that may otherwise be used for other departmental work
Learning curve in completing
Competition for other projects may cause delays in completing
Internal resources may lack objectivity
Hire a marketing technology professional:
Not a resource drain on the department
Investment is required
When and how often should a marketing technology audit be completed?
If you have never done an audit, plan to complete one as soon as possible! You may be exposing the company to unknown risks.
If you have completed an audit, an annual audit should be sufficient. This should be supplemented with other quarterly activities, such as completing training and upgrading/replacing systems as detailed in your marketing technology plan. This process should be part of your overall marketing program.
The marketing technology explosion has created many wonderful opportunities and presents many challenges. Proper goal setting, technology implementation, training and management will allow you to tame your marketing technology tangle. But once done, an annual audit can keep your goals on track and your technology stack tangle-free. Begin today to tame your marketing technology tangle.