Marketers can easily feel overwhelmed when faced with the task of assembling a marketing technology stack--the collection of software that a company uses to execute or support marketing activities and programs.
After all, the explosive proliferation of technologies in the marketing space is well documented, as evidenced by the 2017 version of chiefmartec.com editor Scott Brinker’s marketing technology landscape graphic, which contains 5,381 solutions, a 39% increase over 2016.
Several of the education sessions at the MarTech West conference next week in San Jose, Calif., will focus on issues relating to the marketing technology stack. Aprimo will be exhibiting at MarTech – Booth #515 – and participating in an education session. If you’re attending the conference, we’d love to meet you!1
Because of the vital role that technology now plays in virtually all aspects of marketing, it’s important to use a thoughtful approach when acquiring new marketing technologies. Here are three tips that can help you optimize your marketing technology stack.
Treat Your Stack as a System
An optimized marketing technology stack is a system of capabilities composed of multiple components, many of which are interdependent. Like many other applications, most marketing technology tools won’t deliver maximum value unless they are integrated with other systems. For example, your digital asset management solution will provide greater value if it is integrated with your ecommerce platform. So, when you’re evaluating a new marketing technology, you need to ensure that it can be easily integrated with the relevant components of your existing martech stack.
Also, don’t forget to evaluate how your tech stack systems integrate with sales systems. For example, marketers need to fully comprehend how their CMS works with their Sales Automation System so they can optimize how leads derived from the company’s website are delivered to the sales team. They also should understand how their customer success technologies can work with their operations tools so they can create campaigns targeted toward retaining customers.
One effective way to gain a view of your tech stack is to create a diagram. When you go through this process, you must decide how to visually represent your stack, and that requires you to think more strategically about your marketing technology tools. There are many ways to visually represent a marketing technology stack, and if you need some inspiration, this blog post by Scott Brinker contains links to the stack diagrams submitted by the winners of the 2017 and 2016 Stackie Awards.
A tech stack representation can help marketing leaders better visualize how their technologies work together across the organization. For example, it can give them better insight into:
What the designated and actual purposes are for each system
What customer or employee touchpoints they reach
How they are operated
Who the lead is for each
Put Strategy First
The primary functions of marketing technologies are to support marketing functions and enable the strategy execution. Therefore, you need to develop your marketing strategies before you attempt to optimize your marketing technology stack.
Effective tech stack representations visually explain the strategies behind why marketing leaders chose the technologies based on their role in overall company goals and marketing operations. They also offer transparency to enable marketing teams to better rationalize or evaluate their tech stack for future improvements.
Marketers should use a three-step process to create an optimized martech stack:
Develop the marketing strategy
Determine what specific marketing tactics will be used to execute it
Identify what technological capabilities will be required to effectively and efficiently execute the tactics
Test to see if the stack is enabling the intended results
Blend Platforms and Point Solutions
Today, most large enterprises have marketing technology stacks that include both platform software and point solutions. They typically have a core group of platform solutions that often include customer relationship management, marketing automation, content/digital asset management, and marketing resource management. Then, they augment these core platform solutions with specialized point solutions to construct an optimized martech stack. In essence, the core platform solutions function as the “tent poles” for the marketing technology stack.
This approach enables enterprises to reap the benefits of both multi-function platforms and best-of-breed point solutions. Platforms often provide core capabilities at a lower cost that multiple point solutions, and the use of platforms reduces the number of vendor relationships that marketing leaders must manage. The key to making this approach successful is to make sure you choose platform solutions that make it easy to plug in the specialized point solutions.
1Aprimo’s Anjali Yakkundi and Meyer Corporation’s Amber Penland will be making a presentation in the “Solutions Track” of the MarTech conference at 2:30 pm on Tuesday (April 24). If you’re attending the conference, join Anjali and Amber to learn how Meyer leverages critical technologies to successfully manage content at scale. And be sure to visit us at Booth #515