I can’t say that I’m surprised by some of the numbers I’ve seen recently describing the MarTech space:
- 7,040 solutions (Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic)
- Accounts for 29% of marketing budgets (Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2018-19)
- Average enterprise uses 91 different marketing technologies (Netskope’s Worldwide Cloud Report)
Not only has the size of the marketing technology landscape skyrocketed dramatically over the years, but the deployment and use of MarTech in the enterprise has also increased.
With this explosive growth comes the increased complexity of managing multiple systems across multiple teams, including Marketing, Sales, IT, Customer Service, and others. There is plenty of good advice on how to ensure that all key stakeholders are involved in the overall process of managing technology investments, but this is often easier said than done.
Its importance can’t be overstated, however, because the exponential value in MarTech, sales tech, customer service tech, and any other type of tech comes from the ability to integrate them with the other existing platforms in different areas of the business. And, as important as the technical integrations and data are, the process, strategy, and reporting integrations between functional areas are even more important.
Undertaking this journey requires massive change management and a clear “North Star” vision of what the unified customer experience should be across the entire organization.
If this transformation is already underway in your company, that’s great. If it isn’t, how can Marketing start driving cross-functional alignment and help ensure a sound return on its technology investment?
The answer is to form a MarTech Council.
You can get a round table if you want, but be sure to invite Sales…
The value of a MarTech Council comes from breaking down silos between technologies and functional areas. It is comprised of key stakeholders from the different areas within Marketing and any other team that touches the technology.
For a very small Marketing team, this might be one person from lead acquisition and one from field marketing. A large team might include people from social, SEM/SEO, content creation, email marketing, event marketing, and reporting.
And since Marketing and Sales are inextricably entwined — not to mention that sales tech, such as AI chat platforms and sales cadence tools, is on the rise — Sales should also be given a seat at the table.
Individual representatives from Marketing Ops and Sales Ops, who are responsible for actually using and managing the technology on a day-to-day basis, would be the custodians of the system information and outputs from the council.
But it is so hard to get things through committees…
The point of a MarTech Council is not to determine budgets, make the ultimate decisions for the selection of different technologies, or even individually assess each piece of technology. (For guidance on how to assess each piece of technology and the MarTech stack as a whole, take a look at this blog post.)
Rather, it is the working group responsible for aligning different technologies — and capabilities of existing and future technologies — across each functional area (both within Marketing and outside of it). Its primary objective is to ensure that system purposes, capabilities, and integrations are understood and used effectively.
While each area is ultimately responsible for getting the most use out of each tool, maximum ROI can only be fully realized by looking at the downstream impact of the work in that system. For example, achieving maximum ROI from Marketing Automation tools is only possible after opportunities are won in the CRM system.
A MarTech Council can also identify gaps where additional tools are needed or where current tools are falling short.
A simple example illustrates this point. I worked with a company that owned several technologies with a similar feature set. Three different platforms in their marketing stack provided marketing attribution features, and each platform was owned by a different team. On the surface, it appeared that there were redundancies in the platforms. And, more importantly, there were different reports and measurements coming from each tool, leading to confusion between teams.
On closer examination, and after evaluating the integrations between the systems, the data flows between the systems were modified and one set of attribution reporting was standardized for all three groups so each team could measure its impact in the same report. Each system ended up still being used for its unique features and strengths.
This same group identified a data quality problem that crossed platforms and areas. Although the responsibility for identifying the right technology to address that problem was subsequently given to the Marketing Ops team, the full scope of that gap would not have been identified without this cross-functional team.
You’ve got to start somewhere
The capabilities of marketing technology today mean that the sky is the limit for driving truly exceptional customer experiences. But to fully realize that vision requires organizational alignment from the top down across the entire company.
In the meantime, Marketing groups don’t have to wait. Forming a MarTech Council is the first step towards breaking down the disconnects between technologies and functional areas so you can make the most of your technology investments.
Ryan Johnson develops and implements marketing automation strategies for DemandGen clients. As a DemandGen Consultant, he has helped clients across a wide range of industries to streamline and optimize their marketing and sales processes to drive measurable success and ROI.