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Rule 2: Give Your Marketing Team Final Say Over Their Tools

Welcome back to MarTech2020: 5 Rules for Managing Your Technology and Strategy series! So far, we’ve taken a look at today’s marketing technology stack and the average MarTech used by companies annually. In this blog we’ll be taking a look at “Rule 2: Give the Marketing Team Final Say Over Their Tools”.

Think of the MarTech stack as an extension of the marketing team. The team can only operate efficiently if its stack is built to be efficient in the first place. We asked how many MarTech tools our respondents used each month, and the answers closely mirror the number of tools in their technology stacks (Figure 5). This shows disciplined investment in only the tools the marketing team really needs.

Efficient marketers are not wasting time and money to chase the latest technology; they’re building tech stacks to do exactly what they need to do in the way they need to do it. They recognize that there’s just not room for technologies they aren’t regularly using.

You can’t build that kind of marketing machine if another department is selecting the parts. When asked which departments are responsible for procurement and oversight of marketing technology, the most common responses were the marketing department and marketing operations teams (Figure 6).

The IT department (which sometimes controls a company’s entire technology investment) comes in as only the third most influential party and has a say in only 35% of the MarTech decisions. Keep in mind that this chart asked respondents to select all the departments that play a role, so IT only has a say in 35% of cases, which doesn’t mean its say outweighs the marketing department in any of those.

While it’s important to exercise discipline in building your tech stack, it’s equally important to know how to manage the tools you put into it. Marketers are not only building their own tech stacks but managing them as well. Taking on this responsibility is essential to your success as a marketing leader in 2020, providing yet another reason to keep your tech stack at a manageable size.

Check back next week for Rule 3, “Take Advantage of Technologies That Support More Than One Channel” or click here to read the full report now. And, if you’re ready to see how we can help you strategize your MarTech stack, contact us today.

Rule 1: Keep Your Tech Stack Clean

Welcome back to MarTech 2020: 5 Rules for Managing Your Technology and Strategy. In part one of our series, we saw that the average marketing technology stack may actually be smaller than we might think. In fact, 90% of the marketers we surveyed use fewer than 10 MarTech tools, while most use fewer than five (Figure 1), and two-thirds of our respondents spend less than $100,000 a year on marketing tech (Figure 2).

Comparing annual spending on MarTech with annual marketing budgets (Figure 3), we see that on average, companies spend more on the marketing than the technologies supporting it.

Marketing is still a mostly strategic department. In-house marketing staffs run small, with 80% of companies reporting their in-house marketing departments are no more than 10 people. For two-thirds of respondents, the marketing department is fewer than six people (Figure 4).

Marketing staffs run lean because, for many companies, partners handle a lot of the work. The inhouse team sets strategy and may handle email, social media and a few other channels that closely align with its core mission. But in many cases, a large portion of outbound communication — both digital and print — is handled by specialized agencies, printers or omnichannel marketing companies.

This means that marketers can streamline their MarTech stacks to a few important strategic hubs like marketing clouds and marketing automation systems, freeing up time for the in-house team to focus on how you’re going to reach your brand goals.

Every tool in your tech stack costs money, but it also costs time to install, customize, adjust and learn. The time investment is often a bigger cost factor than the dollar investment. Acquire the tools you need for the channels you use while focusing on building a tech stack that is both efficient and effective.

Check back next week for Rule 2, “Give the Marketing Team Final Say Over their Tools” or click here to read the full report now. And, if you’re ready to see how we can help you strategize your MarTech stack, contact us today.

A Brief Introduction

Marketing technology has done nothing but expand for the past decade. Now in 2020, Chief MarTech’s annual Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic lists more than 7,000 tools across 24 different categories. That is a staggering number of options that has as much potential to overwhelm the people using it as empower them. 

When is enough, enough? Where is the line between building a tech stack that enables your team to do great marketing and throwing a bunch of shiny things on top of each other until they just get in the way of clear strategy and effective multichannel marketing?

How do you integrate offline and online marketing to engage customers in the real world when much of the tech stack is focused only on digital marketing?

Those are the questions we wanted to answer in our MarTech 2020 survey (click here to see the full results). In the responses, we found a real marketing landscape that makes a lot more sense than the out-of-control MarTech super graphics we’ve all seen.

It turns out that most marketers value focus and efficiency in their technology stacks. Rather than building leaning towers of digital interdependency, the marketers who responded to this survey are opting for efficient, focused marketing tech stacks that enable them to market better not just online, but offline as well.

Today’s Marketing Tech Stack

Despite an explosion of new technologies, we found that marketing tech stacks remain small and focused. Marketers are avoiding too many technical investments and are more likely to use stacks that are lean:

1. Most marketers use fewer than five pieces of technology in their tech stacks, and 90% keep it under 10 total tools.

2. Marketers use tools that support multiple channels more than tools that are used for a single channel.

3. The marketing team controls these tools, not the IT department, with 68% of marketing departments responsible for MarTech procurement and oversight.

4. Marketers use the tools in their tech stacks monthly, and very few tools go unused.

5. Most companies use MarTech to support both digital and offline marketing.

The key to an effective marketing technology strategy is keeping your tech stack small, but robust enough to engage customers and prospects both online and offline. Efficient, nimble tech stacks allow marketers to focus on their customers and seamlessly engage them wherever they may be.

Based on this data, we’ve identified five rules that we’ll highlight over the next 6 weeks that marketers can follow to build technology systems that empower marketing departments to operate at peak efficiency, leaving more time for creativity.

Check back next week for more information on Rule 1, “Keep Your Tech Stack Lean” (or click here if you can’t wait). Or if you’re ready to see how we can help you strategize your MarTech stack, contact us today.

How to Know What’s Best for Your Business

Not much about the martech and marcomtech world is black and white. One area that can be especially gray? Facing the decision to purchase an off-the-shelf software solution or to invest in a custom-built system.

Gaining clarity begins with a careful evaluation of processes and workflows to identify major pain points the software needs to address. With a customized solution, software developers will collaborate with you to develop components tailored to any unique aspects of your business. Upfront costs are typically higher than out-of-the-box software (OTBS). In the long term, however, the advantages of a custom build can justify that higher price tag.

It’s also important to recognize when SaaS will do the job. Custom-built software solutions can certainly give you greater agility and business-specific capabilities, but sometimes OTBS makes more sense in terms of less involved implementation and lower initial costs. Keep in mind that you’ll still need to do comprehensive research and evaluation to select the OTBS solution that will best fit your needs.

The points below can serve as a guide to helping you navigate this gray area.

A Fully Custom System May Be Best When…

  1. You’re growing and have evolving needs.
    A growing organization or department will need a solution that’s scalable. Scalability refers to the capability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work, or its potential to grow to accommodate that growth. While OTBS can offer some level of adaptability via vendor updates and add-ons, a custom design in many cases can be more scalable to your specific changing needs. Developers can build in adaptability so that the software will be relevant and useful even as numbers of users and APIs grow and workflows evolve.
  2. You need seamless integration with existing systems.
    It’s true that many OTBS solutions support integration with commonly used platforms and applications (e.g., Salesforce, HubSpot, Adobe Creative Cloud). However, if you need a solution that will integrate with a more niche program – and this could be a database, an internal application, single sign-on functionality – it will most likely put you in the custom build category.
  3. Data transfer and compatibility is a concern.
    With the colossal increase in data from different sources, as well as structure (or lack there-of), any move to a packaged solution should be carefully thought out. Organizations must know beforehand the potential difficulty of moving their data to the new system, and outlining processes for aligning the two.
  4. Custom development is necessary to solve your most pressing problems.
    You’ve determined that for a martech solution to truly enable your team to work faster, smarter and provide measurable ROI, a custom solution is the only way to go. The gaps are just too wide between your problems and standard features of out-of-the-box software.
  5. OTBS solutions include too many features you wouldn’t use.
    Too many non-valuable features mean you’re only using a small portion of what you’re paying for, which is not the way to prove ROI. While the price point of some packaged solutions may be low enough to negate issues of feature frivolity, it is not always the case and should be calculated before making any final software purchase decisions.

The Takeaway:

The sky’s the limit as far as functionality and capability when it comes to a custom build, as long as you have the budget and time to devote to the project. Involve analysts to help evaluate your current systems and processes and advise on whether custom is the right choice. Keep in mind that speed to market must take into account research, requirements, development and implementation phases (almost certainly more than a month, more often two months or longer depending on the scope of the project).

On the Other Hand, SaaS Can Work When…

  1. You have a fairly common challenge to solve.
    If you need a solution to address a business challenge that most companies face, there’s likely a SaaS solution available. For example, a mid-size retail business seeking a platform to automate an email marketing program will have no problem finding a host of ready-made solutions.
  2. The need for control and ownership is not a priority.
    For some use cases, owning a custom system does not deliver enough value. The business need that the software will fill may have been identified by the business as short-term, and thus long-term ownership is not warranted.
  3. A custom build wouldn’t give you a competitive edge.
    It won’t help you provide a higher quality service or a lower-cost product. In other words, you can execute key business processes and create deliverables without the need for a system with custom-developed functionality.
  4. An off-the-shelf product comes acceptably close to solving your issues.
    You may have a wish list of custom features that will enable a platform to “do it all.” But consider whether those features truly justify a custom build. These gray areas can be hard to judge, but typically, if an out-of-the-box option solves at least 90% of your process issues, it makes sense to forego a custom build. This philosophy applies only if acceptable workarounds exist for the areas the solution doesn’t address. (This point is basically the inverse of number 4 above.)

The Takeaway:

If you have a fairly broad need, you’re likely to find a robust SaaS solution that offers a wide range of functionality. OTBS also tend to evolve over time as they undergo vendor updates to better serve a wide client base – and the allure of receiving new features can definitely drive satisfaction. But if you have a very specific need in terms of processes or deliverables, keep in mind that OTBS software may fall short of expectations.

Making the decision to go custom or out of the box is just the beginning when it comes to selecting and implementing marketing-driven software. For more than 20 years, clients have turned to Strata Company for both custom development and SaaS solutions that deliver optimal value and improve speed and efficiency of business processes.

How to Ensure Optimal ROI for a Marketing Technology Investment

Online media outlet Martech Advisor recently published Strata Company’s unique perspective on ways to strengthen martech ROI. Martech Advisor provides information on products, vendors and industry developments to help marketing and sales professionals research software solutions.

As the pressures mounts for marketing professionals to demonstrate the value their department adds to the bottom line, tying positive ROI to martech investments essential. The article, written by Strata President Jeff Sammak, discusses how marketing leaders can avoid choosing martech solutions that may have all the “latest and greatest” features – but strike out when it comes to meeting their organization’s true needs, thus undermining ROI.

Whether an organization is interested in an off-the-shelf product or a custom-built platform, Sammak advises a strategic approach to martech selection that includes:

  1. Defining the problem
  2. Assessing both measurable and soft benefits
  3. Carefully analyzing usage potential of all features
  4. Ensuring user buy-in through comprehensive training
  5. Taking a long-term view of technology investments

Read the full article, 5 Ways to Ensure Your Martech Platform Delivers Optimal ROI, for further information.

Strata Company, a marketing, communications and technology firm based in Plymouth Meeting, PA, has collaborated with clients to develop customized technology solutions for more than 20 years. We also provide user-friendly, customizable SaaS solutions that deliver high adoption rates and rapid return on marketing investment, Check out our client success stories, or contact us today to discuss your goals and challenges.