Almost three years ago, Gartner predicted that 2017 would be the year that the CMO’s technology investment would surpass that of the CIO. It’s definitely trending that way, and marketing must become more adept at the business of technology management.
I love all the discussion around MarTech and its exponential growth. However, it is a bit of the Wild West out there and it’s easy to get lost without a guide. I find myself having these discussions more and more every day with clients trying to scope out a roadmap for “What’s next?!” — or in some cases “What do I have and how do I best use it?”
I have three fundamental steps that I recommend to help simplify what can be a pretty daunting process:
- Start with a Strategy
- Assess Your Current Marketing Stack
- Develop an Onboarding and Review Process
Start with a Strategy
“Put strategy first.”
– David Lewis, Choosing the Right MarTech Tools for Your Demand Factory®
I know it seems like common sense to have a business driver predate a technology acquisition. However, human behavior — more specifically, those humans with marketing professions (guilty!) — is prone to “shiny object syndrome.” (HubSpot CMO and Raleigh native Kipp Bodnar wrote a clever piece on Marketers: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things).
At DemandGen, we bucket everything into 7 essential MarTech categories. When working with a client on whether or not they should add a new application/platform/software/technology/technology-based marketing program, I typically walk them through a planning process specific to one of these categories. Over our 10 years in business, we have built up methodologies, use cases, and KPIs for each one.
Below is an example of building out a strategy for bringing on a video platform, which falls under the Content Management Tools category:
Assess Your Current Marketing Stack
In most cases with clients, we find more duplication than gaps. In fact, in one workshop, we discovered that colleagues on separate teams within a marketing organization were preparing to purchase redundant technologies.
The role of Marketing Technologist or Marketing Technology Manager is popping up more and more (I liken it to where Digital Marketing was 10 years ago). We typically recommend “Stack Assessments” to marketing technologists new to the job.
By taking a step back before moving forward, you can:
- Identify where gaps exist and which solutions you can sunset based on lack of use or clear overlap.
- Map your future business goals and objectives to your current stack environment (i.e. what business strategy is this driving, if any?), taking customer lifecycle stages and categories into consideration.
- Measure KPIs/ROI for stack elements to demonstrate value (or lack thereof).
- Determine onboarding recommendations for vetting, evaluating, selecting, and implementing new technologies (more on this in the next section)
Develop an Onboarding and Review Process
I often refer to the marketing technology onboarding process as an “innovation function” because successfully bringing on new technology requires a high degree of creativity. I have alternatively called it “MarTech Onboarding Management (MOM)” because, well, who doesn’t trust Mom? Either way, this should be an owned or shared function within Marketing.
Piloting new tools is a mandate for modern marketers. Doing so in a silo, however, is an imperfect practice. It’s important to communicate the pilot to any organizations that will be impacted, and to provide ongoing status updates and the final outcome. If the piloting period is deemed a success, there are important steps to take before expanding across the organization.
Here is an example of onboarding steps I provided for a client:
- Create a training and rollout plan.
- Assess ongoing utilization and communicate benefits.
- Identify subject matter experts in each technology category (Content Management, SEO & Inbound, CRM, etc.).
- Minimize or eliminate duplication of efforts, or cost, by creating transparency into available technologies via a governance committee and centralized documentation.
- Use this centralized documentation as a starting point for inventory, classification, and logical relationships between technologies (how they are related/integrated with one another).
New marketing leaders have been asking DemandGen to provide guidance primarily because their predecessors did not have a systemic process in place. Start with these three steps and you will be on your way to MarTech success. Or, we can help you get to the next level.
Will Waugh is a consultant for DemandGen focused on helping clients with demand generation, lead management and leveraging marketing technology. He genuinely believes that data can change the world. Follow him on on Twitter. Other articles by Will Waugh: 7 Essential Marketing Technology Categories: How’s Your Stack Looking?