If you’ve ever been part of a MarTech software implementation that went sideways, or that didn’t see the results your vendor promised, you’re not alone.
In fact, when it comes to taking extra time up front and putting solid processes in place to help ensure a successful MarTech project, roughly half of organizations are behind the curve. (Who can find the time, am I right?)
So, I’m intrigued when I hear about a piece of software that’s been sitting on the shelf at an organization, or one that had such a low adoption rate that it’s being eliminated. I want to understand where things went wrong, so I can help other marketing teams avoid a similar fate.
I decided to look more closely into some of these dust collectors, and observed that most tools ended up on my clients’ retirement list due to one or more of the following factors:
- Ownership: The owner of the tool left the organization or moved on, or there was split ownership in the first place, which weakened adoption and impact.
- User Demand: There was no clear user community. The MarTech tool filled a niche requirement and stayed in that silo instead of gaining broader adoption.
- User Acceptance: When users and admins complained in droves, I most often found that the business wasn’t involved with the software selection process.
- Impact: The technology did not positively impact revenue (or the marketing team couldn’t show that it did), resulting in poor adoption. This usually happened when no one took the time to do a proof of concept (POC) or establish clear business goals and expected results (ROI) metrics.
- Integration: Unanticipated integration challenges required unbudgeted custom development. Usually, either the technology was a poor fit for an organization’s business requirements, or it wasn’t properly mapped upfront. This is also where a proper technology assessment and POC come in handy.
During our popular MarTech Assessment engagement, we always consider Impact, Usage, Adoption, and Integration when evaluating our clients’ current systems and future objectives.
Interestingly enough, all of the scenarios I encountered above fall within these four criteria, which can make or break a successful MarTech acquisition, implementation, and rollout.
How to save your MarTech investment (at least temporarily)
So, what happens when you buy first and ask questions later? Is there any chance for salvation?
The answer is it’s definitely possible, but at a cost (either in spending, resources, or time — and often all three). And that’s assuming you can secure the buy-in and resources necessary to retrofit your new technology tool to your business goals and objectives
If you happen to find yourself in a similar predicament, below are a few ways organizations have creatively solved for some of these issues:
- Custom workarounds. A client’s IT organization negotiated a fantastic licensing agreement for a CRM — without Sales and Marketing business owners’ buy-in. Since then, custom workarounds, even entire systems, have been sought out to provide the functional requirements the business needs.
- External datastores. When organizational roadblocks to integrating data from one system to another arose, a client opted for an external database with a BI tool to provide a solution for operational reporting. New budgets were allocated and solutions crafted in order to overcome the challenges of the “official” corporate tools.
- Contracted resources. Sometimes, when tools prove too cumbersome to gain widespread adoption, a solution is to add services of specialized teams to accomplish the same tasks. A common example is repetitive routines that take so much time to accomplish that there are less costly resources outside a corporation to perform these labor-intensive and very commonplace (needing to be done a lot!) tasks.
- Manual updates. One client must manually update a spreadsheet when certain launches requiring language translation take place. The department gathers, and each person tackles a section. During this time, there is no focus on strategy and one hundred percent attention placed on manual updates that could be automated by the right MarTech tool.
Unfortunately, while these temporary fixes can hold things together for awhile, they often lead to more challenges, including poor ROI, additional workarounds for technology upgrades, a loss of focus on strategic business priorities, and, ultimately, shelfware.
Most organizations I know can’t afford to spend time or resources on any of these. And, the more time you spend trying to fix issues after the fact, the less time you can spend on strategic priorities.
So, don’t buy first, PLAN first. Then evaluate, measure, optimize, and repeat.
DemandGen’s MarTech Stack Assessment offers a proven way to ensure you’re getting the most value out of your current systems and identify exactly what you need to meet your future business goals and objectives. Let us know how we can help.
As a Client Engagement Manager, Linnea Alvord helps DemandGen clients meet their strategic objectives through the use of marketing technology and services. Linnea’s passion for client success has been honed over 20+ years in technology consulting and marketing. She believes that marketing and sales alignment is possible and wants to help all of her clients become marketing superheroes.