Tidy Up Your Marketing Tech Stack
- Martech stack audit. Audit to discover savings and streamline operations.
- Martech focus. Determine needs before adding new technologies.
- Simplify martech. Align technology with marketing goals for efficiency.
Regardless of where our financial years fall, this time of year could be Q4, Q3 or even Q2; there is something about the turn of the calendar year that has industry commentators making predictions and those of us doing the work thinking about priorities, budgets and our focus for the coming year and making our New Year’s marketing resolutions.
Let’s take a look at our martech stack resolutions.
I propose a resolution akin to tackling that cluttered cupboard under the stairs we’ve vowed to organize during holiday downtime. Now is the perfect time to scrutinize our martech stack and evaluate its role in bolstering our digital operations.
The Martech Stack: It’s Messy and Complicated
I used the analogy of the messy cupboard because like that cupboard, when you open the door of marketing technology, 8,000 things fall out, and the challenge is to sift through all the items to figure out what’s good, what’s broken, what to keep, what to chuck away and what you need.
I used the number “8,000” as that’s generally quoted from the research headed by Scott Brinker over at Chief Martech as to the size of the marketing technology market. In fact, I think, when we refer to marketing technology, you are contractually obliged to state this number.
Joking aside, it is a growing, dizzying array of solutions in an increasingly complex matrix of categories and sub-categories.
So, where do you start?
Related Article: Martech Stack Underutilization Is a Big Problem
Time to Take Stock of Your Martech Stack
Clearly, it’s a good idea to audit what you have, an idea that neatly works with my messy cupboard analogy. However, the analogy falls down a bit when I suggest this: that first, before we open our martech cupboard and take stock of what we have, we need to figure out what we need.
It’s not terribly exciting, far more fun to be chasing the latest AI-powered, category-leading doohickey, but it’s going to really help when you are sifting through the mess, channelling our inner Marie Kondo repeating the mantra: “Keep only those things that speak to the heart and discard items that no longer spark joy.” We need to know what those things are.
Related Article: A Definitive Checklist to Reduce Marketing Technology Sprawl
What Speaks to the Heart?
We might translate that to what is helping you get to the heart of modern marketing, which we all know is no longer the smoke-shrouded world of occasional creative brilliance, but the data.
We could definitely dive down a measurement rabbit hole here. We seem to have developed a bad habit in marketing of confusing data for insight, measuring and reporting on things because we can, in an obsession to cleanse ourselves of the oft-quoted Wanamaker…. repeat after me…. “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”….. But, the metrics we cherish often baffle anyone outside marketing.
That’s possibly an article for another day. Let’s get back to diving under the stairs to our messy martech. In defining the requirements for our marketing technology stack, consider what insights we really need and the data we need to drive those insights.
There are two requirements: insight to help us make good marketing decisions and reporting that will communicate our performance to the C-suite against our objectives, goals, or OKRs.
Relate Article: Marketing Technology: Has WCM Been Commodified?
What Sparks Joy?
Maybe data sparks your joy, but I’ve decided to go with the experiences we create for our prospects, buyers and customers as being the joy sparkers. Supported by the right technology data and content, sparking joy could be our differentiation, cutting through our competitor’s noise.
Specifically, and finally, after roughly two decades of talking about it, I believe if we were to summarize this requirement, it’s how do we deliver personalized marketing and ecommerce experiences across all of the channels our customers choose to engage with us on, from the website, email, web chat and social media and messaging apps?
This falls into two halves: the front bit that the customer touches, so having the ability to deliver personalized, omnichannel messaging, and the backend, the digital operations engine room that is the customer data and well-structured and managed content that creates this experience.
This is a bigger list of requirements that requires an outside-in perspective. Map the experience, the customer touchpoints and what data and content you’d need at each stage.
Related Article: Why the Mixed Signals on Martech Spending for CMOs?
Need a Bigger Cupboard?
So, at this point, and I have wildly summarized the complex business of requirements gathering, we’ve created an aspirational list of requirements for what we’d ideally like our martech stack to deliver.
One could assume that after this process, of ignoring the current martech cupboard and only thinking about what we need, this list would be bigger than what we have today.
Experience and chatting with my buddy at Rockstar CMO, former Forrester Research Director Jeff Clark, who has a ton of expertise in collaborating with many large enterprises, suggest that auditing your resources can yield surprising savings.
By evaluating the available functionality against real-world requirements, you can find overlapping features between platforms, duplicate tools and even tools that someone, who maybe has left, fell in love with, that nobody uses today. We have a tendency to over-buy, either in the big platforms or in the little point solutions that can be expensed and sneak in under the marketing operations or IT radar.
Yes, there will be gaps and the opportunity to get something new and shiny in 2024 and to prune and fund those new toys. And, now you’ve done the requirements work, who would argue with you making the business case?
Testing Not Trending
We, the marketing technology magpies, love the new shiny things, and depending on your organization’s relationship with risk, we should be testing new ideas and technology and have this in our 2024 martech plan.
But it’s a delicate balance of avoiding the trends, those fly-by-night buzzwords and pan flashes in favor of true innovation that will differentiate our marketing operations from our competitors; it’s also about people; we are creating a platform to test and develop new skills in engaging the customer.
The key to this is a trending marketing keyword that has been tested: “composability.”
The ability to plug and play different marketing technologies and experiments into our marketing machine, maintaining the flow of data and content without cracking open a monolithic solution or breaking a “frankenstack” (a marketing technology monster that is loosely stitched together with fragile integrations).
Clarity and Clutter
I’ve backed myself into an analogy about messy cupboards and a slightly dated reference to Marie Kondo, which I have to tell you was a surprise when I started writing this, but as she says:
“Life truly begins only after you have put your house in order.”
Could this be next year’s martech stack resolution?
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