In 2017, there were almost 5000 marketing tech vendors in the marketplace, compared to a paltry 150 in 2011. With more marketing software available than ever before, you’ve never had more choices to make. While this number may initially be overwhelming, it’s a blessing in disguise. Your opportunities to achieve marketing tech stack success are constantly expanding.
While the sheer volume of marketing technology available is steadily increasing, the expectation of your investment in technology should remain the same: support the processes you manage on a daily basis to maximize productivity.
Follow these five best practices to build a unique marketing tech stack that serves your business and your teams:
1. Assess What You Have Before Bringing in New Technology
The easiest way to end up with an excess of expensive software is to skip the first crucial step of building your marketing tech stack: assessing your current technology. CMOs often hear of a new piece of software and think they need it to be successful because it’s the latest technology on the market, but this is not always the case.
Before you go marketing tech crazy, assess what you already have. What processes are already running smoothly? What processes could be improved? Where do you and your team spend most of your time? Is there a software that could cut that time down? Ask yourself these questions to identify what you really need and what you already have.
Take a look at each piece of technology in your marketing tech stack. Be sure you can clearly map out exactly how you use it, what benefits it brings to your team, and how those technologies work together. If you struggle to define this, it may be time for the boot. If a piece of technology you already have is serving a valuable purpose, don’t go looking for more software that will ultimately accomplish the same thing.
2. Define Your Goals
Just as you wouldn’t go on a technology shopping spree for your home without establishing what it is you need first, you shouldn’t shop for your business without first defining your goals.
Before you purchase a means of transportation, you need to know where you’re going. So before diving head first into a new platform, identify what you are trying to achieve with it. Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Streamline your email campaigns? Create new target lists?
Whatever your business goals may be, make sure they’re measurable, quantifiable, and precise. With your goals clearly in mind, you will make the right decision when it comes to purchasing new technology–and evaluate the success of that technology once it’s in use.
3. Budget Strategically, Not Randomly
Most CMOs have no problem budgeting for the initial purchase of technology. What is often neglected is the cost of long-term design and execution. In order to get the most out of your marketing tech stack, you must invest in professional services and training that ensure employees are using the technology, and using it correctly. Only then can the value of your investment be truly realized.
Plan out your budget at the beginning of the year (ideally, well before the beginning of the year), but plan ahead. Count on an unexpected need for a technology spend later in the year, and allocate a portion of your budget to be spent as needs arise.
4. Analytics Are a Must
As mentioned earlier, the ability to measure the performance of each component of your marketing tech stack is crucial, so an analytics feature should be a top priority when searching for new software. Not only will an advanced analytics feature help you measure success and give you the insights you need to continue to improve performance, but it will allow you to prove the ROI of your marketing purchases and justify future technology spends.
5. Look for Software That Integrates With Your Current Technology
Too many businesses have a collection of marketing technology composed of pieces that operate completely independently of each other. This lack of integration fails to measure overall performance and will leave with you with an inaccurate picture or your success. You cannot expect to have a well-rounded understanding of your data when it is captured in isolation.
Whether it’s marketing content, sales data, or company information, having information split across multiple systems can kill productivity. For employees to be able to access the information they need as efficiently as possible, integration with your current platforms is a must. When employees can find all everything in one central location, they save time and become more productive.
Final Note: Be Realistic About Your Team’s Ability to Implement New Technology
The fact that a new, quality piece of technology is available does not automatically mean it’s correct for your team. Another way to end up with unused, expensive software is to purchase tools that no one on your team has the knowledge to operate, or the time to learn and train others on.
Before you make the decision to purchase, ask yourself, do I realistically possess the knowledge required to operate this software? Do I have time to learn best practices or the resources to hire someone for training? If your answer to these questions is no, that particular investment may not be right for your business.
According to a study conducted by Radius, the average number of tools in a marketing platform is 17. Your tech stack may be far more or far less. It may begin small and expand over time, or it may shrink as you realize what is necessary and what is only clutter and begin to streamline your technology.
The point is, no two marketing tech stacks will look exactly the same. Keep it simple, make a distinction between what is absolutely necessary and what is just nice to have, and always work within your means.