If you’re looking for new marketing technologies to incorporate into your stack, you may have a problem. The technology landscape has exploded, giving marketers thousands of different technologies to choose from. You only need to glance at ChiefMartec’s latest Marketing Technology Landscape, to see this is true. The list, which started at just 150 companies in 2011, has grown exponentially over the past 5 years to encompass 3,500 companies, and there’s no sign of the growth slowing.
This is a great thing, but an obstacle as well. How do you decide which solutions to even evaluate, let alone purchase? It could take months just figuring out where to begin.
Before you embark on this effort, it’s important to have a grasp on your current environment, your objectives for adopting new technologies, and a solid strategy for putting those technologies to work for your business. You probably have myriad technologies already in place. It’s likely you don’t really know what you have, or what capabilities your current solutions could provide, if used to their full potential. There may be overlap, and places where you can cut costs. Or, you may have gaps to fill.
According to a 2015 report by Ascend2, only 9% of companies have a complete, fully utilized marketing technology stack; it’s likely you’re among the 91% that don’t. Here are three steps to getting a handle on what you have, what you need and where to start:
- Take Inventory
Taking a baseline inventory of your current technology state provides visibility and insight into the systems you have in place today and what you may need in the short- to long-term. Some questions to answer include:
- Who should be involved in discussions related to your technology stack? Stakeholders may include members of your technical team, marketing operations, or others who will be using the technology on a daily basis.
- What’s being used today? Create a spreadsheet of the systems already in place and being used. Include details on cost, contractual terms, and subject matter experts.
- What categories do these systems fall into? Identify whether your systems can fall into marketing technology “buckets,” such as CRM, SEO, Analytics and so on.
The end goal of this first exercise is to have all the details about your existing marketing technology landscape in one place, so everyone is starting on the same page.
- Create a Repository
Organize the information collected in the first step to create a repository or database that you can manage. Several cool tools are available to help you do this. Here are two of my favorite:
- CabinetM.com: This company helps marketing teams build, manage and optimize their marketing technology suite with a tool you can use to research and explore existing or new marketing technologies, and create a visual representation of all technologies in your ecosystem. The resulting visual output provides a resource you can share in spreadsheet or graphical formats. Click on a logo, and you’ll get information about how the technology is used, what it costs and more. You can also create logos for proprietary systems and share your stack with the CabinetM community—anonymously—to discover what other companies similar to yours are using.
- LucidChart.com: This tool creates foundational documentation for your stack using Logical Diagramming. It builds a logical relationship diagram of how the technologies you have in your environment actually fit together, specifically, how they integrate with one another. For example, you may have a website, a CRM system and a marketing automation system, along with 20+ additional technologies that integrate with the core system. LucidChart offers a clear visual representation of the relationships between all the tools and technologies.
- Establish governance Once you’ve assessed your technology stack, you can begin to implement a more robust governance process. For example, when an executive staff starts talking about supporting initiatives with technology, you have a point of reference to identify gaps relative to those initiatives and justify acquisition requests. You may also discover overlap; maybe more than one technology is providing the same features or functionality. By identifying redundancy and overlap, you may also uncover opportunities to leverage existing technology for reporting, analytics and integration to achieve more capabilities.
With a solid understanding of your current technology stack and how you existing systems and technologies fit together, and the ability to identify redundancy and potential gaps, narrowing your shortlist for system acquisition is easier. You’ll save time and headaches, and be better able to select the best solutions to complete your stack.
If you’re struggling with how to leverage your current MarTech stack, call on us for help.
Tom Svec, Director of Marketing Technology Services, develops world-class marketing automation solutions such as lead scoring and nurturing, analytical systems and processes, and more for DemandGen clients. With deep experience in marketing analytics, campaign execution, sales and marketing alignment, demand generation and lead management tactics, honed over 15 years of B2B and B2C marketing operations experience, Tom is able to bring the perspectives of both the marketer and the salesperson to the table. Tom is certified as an Eloqua Master and an Eloqua Revenue Lifecycle Master, and is a Marketo Certified Technical Consultant.