The martech landscape is bloated. There are well over 3,000 tools, and many of them look great and sound awesome. The problem is, they aren’t all delivering bottom-line benefits.
In fact, fewer than half of marketers produce positive ROI from their technology investments, according to a 2014 CMO Council report. Clearly there’s a problem.
As marketers, we have to be smarter about how we choose and evaluate new technology so it doesn’t end up adding unnecessary complexity to our job, and worse, wasting precious budgets and resources.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, ask yourself these five questions the next time you’re in the market for new technology.
1. Does it address long-term needs?
Technology is evolving fast. So fast in fact that mobile phones that came out just a few years ago are now collectors items worth thousands. Fortunately, most martech enjoys greater longevity, but it’s still important to figure out whether the features they offer address passing fads or are likely to gain a permanent foothold in the marketing landscape. Ask yourself if the technology is really going to support your long-term business goals.
Where social engagement tools are concerned, purchase decisions are often an educated guess based on a combination of reviewing similar historical data and researching what industry experts and analysts have to say. Take Snapchat, for instance.
Snapchat was originally launched in 2012 as “a space to be funny, honest or whatever else you might feel like at the moment.” At the time, images were beginning to eclipse text as a superior method of brand engagement on social media. Marketers soon realized that the moderately successful image-based content they were sharing on Facebook was perfect for a platform designed around photo-sharing. It wasn’t long before marketers were devising lists of best practices, and analysts were encouraging brands to get in on the gold rush. Now that the Snapchat boasts over 100 million active users, organizations that got in on the ground floor are seeing a great return on their investment.
Social engagement is a key part of today’s marketing strategies and marketers are under pressure to find new ways to use social features as fast as developers create them. Martech vendors are happy to equip teams with add-on or standalone tools to help them stay agile, but it’s important to consider if the latest social outreach trends they address are here to stay or just a passing fancy.
2. How does it improve the customer experience?
The customer experience is more important than ever, and marketers are turning to new tech to deliver superior omnichannel experiences. Martech that promises to improve the customer experience may pique your interest, but it’s important to find out how the vendor defines CX and which part of the journey its tech impacts. Does it offer tools and features that address large swaths of the customer lifecycle or does the product mainly focus on lead nurturing or early awareness? Wide-reaching and narrowly-focused martech have their own value, but it’s important to understand if what you’re buying addresses your organization’s unique customer experience pain points.
Today’s customers expect personalization, consistency, and convenience. In fact, according to Infosys, 86% of consumers say personalization factors into their purchasing decisions and that relevant messaging is more meaningful than template-driven messages that treat every customer the same. Infosys researchers also note that 90% of retailers believe consistency across engagement points has a positive effect on customer loyalty.
Omnichannel is the new marketing standard, and marketers must be thinking about how new technology can support and enhance their omnichannel strategy, whether that means delivering personalization across online and offline channels, offering convenient ways to connect, or using external sources of data to better understand your audience and their needs. marketers must make sure new technology supports their current omnichannel strategies and is agile enough to grow as strategies evolve.
3. Does it integrate?
The best martech purchase in the world won’t mean a thing if it doesn’t blend and work well with your existing technology. Scott Vaughan, CMO of marketing software firm Integrate, recommends marketers create a pre-purchase “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.”
Integration continues to be a pain point for organizations that are eager to adopt new technology. Indeed, a recent Ascend2 survey noted that only 9% of marketers have all the tools they need and use them to their fullest potential. That's a lot of wasted technology!
When evaluating new technology, make sure you know exactly how it integrates into your existing tech stack, as well as the resources it will take to set up the integration.
4. What about the implementation and data migration process?
Buying a house is fun, repainting and moving in all your furniture? Not so much. It’s easy to get excited about all the opportunities a new martech rollout can offer the team but don’t forget about the deployment details. Will customer-facing touchpoints need to be offline at any point? Is IT staff available to assist with any technical issues? How and when will you train employees on the new system? It’s also important to make sure all your current customer data is set up for a smooth migration smoothly to reduce the loss potential.
5. How will you measure success?
Every vendor promises their product delivers unprecedented benefits that will send sales through the roof. However, the C-Suite wants to see empirical evidence that proves the martech purchase they backed is a good value.
- Make sure you’re tracking the right KPIs and metrics to help measure current success and inform future martech investments. You can’t decide where to go next if you don’t know where you’ve been.
- Identify your goals and objectives in advance of the purchase, not after. The former determines what tech you need to meet your goals, the latter defines what goals you need to meet to justify your investment.
- Stay away from vanity metrics to determine the effectiveness of your new purchase. Page view, subscriber, and unique visitor numbers are often meaningless and don’t paint an accurate picture that helps you make informed decisions in the short and long term.
- Don’t bite off too much, too soon. Limit the scope of how the new technology is initially applied so teams have time to get familiar with new workflows, metrics, and analytics. It’s much easier to make adjustments during a pilot roll-out than scale back a full-blown implementation.
- Devise a corrective action plan. Despite the best planning, sometimes things go sideways so put together a blueprint for what to do if your new strategy takes you too far afield from your goals.
Choosing new marketing technology can be nerve-wracking but knowing what to ask during the research process is half the battle. There are plenty more angles to consider of course, but these five questions should get you headed in the right direction.