We all know the phrase, “too much of a good thing.” And in reality, too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing. This can definitely be the case when it comes to marketing technology.
Though we may start out with the best of intentions — to automate processes, become more efficient, improve measurement and better target and personalize interactions with both customers and prospects — the relentless addition of ever more marketing technologies has become a bit like being over-served on St. Paddy’s Day.
Whether it happened on your watch or is something you’ve inherited coming into a new role or company, it’s yours to tackle. And with approximately 3,500 martech vendors shouting for attention and sales pros wanting better, more qualified opportunities, this challenge won’t solve itself.
Recognizing martech overload
Marketing today has big mandates (go digital, get personal, utilize data, acquire new customers) and challenges (manual-ness, silos, inefficiency, data chaos).
Chances are, you started with marketing automation, CRM (customer relationship management) and a website. Now, you have lots of bells and whistles, but you’re not quite sure how the technologies got there, who is using them, or if there is ROI (return on investment).
We can take a page from our IT siblings who go through this regularly. Martech overload is not a matter of “if” but “when,” and it can happen fast. It’s part of the process when you automate.
Thankfully, there is no need to panic or cut off all technology purchases. By taking a step back and getting a good look at the big picture, we can learn to make smarter integrations, consolidate solutions and re-prioritize based on business needs.
Go back to basics to create a solution
So, how can martech overload be prevented — or fixed, if you’ve already taken things too far?
With so many martech options, the experts have created charts and landscapes to help marketers navigate the explosion of technology that is at our disposal. Likely, these just add to the chaos. You can also call in advisory firms — like Demand Gen, ANNUITAS, LeadMD, Inverta or Digital PI — to help sort through the tech overload and develop a plan based on your business needs and reality.
While these services can be helpful, they are not necessary. You can assess and take inventory of the current technology and architectures.
One of the simplest ways to do this is by using a martech blueprint. This technique involves creating a visual diagram that outlines current technology, systems, processes and data flows. This allows marketers to gain a single view of their technology investments to identify opportunities for consolidation, chokepoints, and even where new tech can fill a big gap as they phase out others.
Sometimes, we need to take a step back and get back to basics, reviewing the technology being used, pain points that exist and overall objectives — and this is what a process like blueprinting allows.
Look for areas of consolidation, integration and improvement — at the same time
Here are a few things you can do to overcome and prevent this “too much martech” scenario:
- Align technology with business priorities. It’s an ideal time to reassess your business’s objectives and priorities. Determine these by talking to key stakeholders within the company, especially sales leadership. It’s critical to ask questions and find out if marketing’s objectives line up with broader company goals. From there, you can assess which technologies are or are not supporting these goals.
- Do an inventory check on existing technology. Before drafting an RFP to select a new technology vendor to fix a problem, be sure to revisit your company’s existing technology stack. With some tweaking, you may be able to achieve what you’re looking for with what you already have. This is also a good way to avoid redundant solutions being purchased or to weed them out.
- Ensure all tools and systems connect. The phrase “if it doesn’t connect, don’t make the bet” rings true here. Your organization might have the best martech implemented, but if it doesn’t integrate with your existing systems, processes and data, what good is it? It is absolutely mission-critical to ensure these elements are connected to have a full view of customers and prospects, rather than siloed data sets. Perhaps a partner could be used to help improve certain connections and consolidate with the same or nearly the same results.
- Make a business case to rip out the tech “stuff” that is “nice to have.” Are there technologies that are adequate but not really positively moving the needle or improving productivity and efficiency? Sometimes, things you think are sacred really aren’t. You certainly don’t know until you make the case to eliminate or consolidate those technologies.
Like a college student enjoying the newfound freedom of campus life, it is simply a matter of time before we marketers will be over-served with martech.
Shake off the hangover, and use this tech chaos as an opportunity to develop a new, clear picture and martech plan that is based on business requirements and direction. It is way more effective than trying for a short-term cure of Gatorade and few aspirins to get rid of the headache.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.