OBJECTIVE-DRIVEN, AGILITY-FORWARD: RETHINKING YOUR MARKETING TECH STACK
Published on December 29, 2020
In many ways, the digital marketing ecosystem continues to suffer from the burden of abundance and choice.
After all, how could this possibly come as a surprise when the industry saw a total of 8,000 MarTech solutions in this year alone, growing by approximately 14 percent from the year before with 1 in 5 being new entrants to the space. That said, this growth is not unfounded: with the rise of fragment regulatory regimes, global brands have needed to adopt a vast array of tools that can offer far more compliant activities, spanning audience targeting, identity management, data storage, and data sharing. With that in mind, growth has noticeably outpaced the effects of consolidation and redundancy, leading to a perpetually bloated ecosystem of tools.
In fact, Gartner has reported for the past two years marketers only continue to use 58 percent of their MarTech stack’s full range of capabilities. Amid ongoing budgetary constraints, marketers aren’t exactly optimistic about the coming year with 60 percent anticipating “moderate to severe” cuts to their MarTech budgets. The impact of this is naturally two-fold: low levels of utilisation and the absence of a sound investment strategy both effectively put MarTech’s credibility on the line.
Let’s take a step back: where did it all go wrong and how can we fix it?
Opaque and impulsive
From DAMs to CDPs, the plethora of MarTech acronyms that marketers need to acquaint themselves with throughout the course of their careers is but reflective of a growing array of infrastructures and tools. With new investments taking place each year as the latest and greatest innovation enters the market, the issue is a fundamental absence of visibility and inadequate management of when these investments took place and for what purpose. Think about a software you invested in two years ago? Is it still around? How often do you use it? What KPIs is it helping you to meet?
Without a centralised overview of the returns reaped from these investments, it can be tricky to justify an informed overhaul. The result? A bloated tech stack, often without interoperability in terms of functionality. This results in a fragmented MarTech system that requires significant human intervention, by way of the time and labour spent in integration and insights consolidation.
To make smarter MarTech investments is to not only consider the cost-savings but also the savings in terms of productivity and efficiency. Rather than over-investing in a supposed “suite” of products from a single MarTech vendor, consider whether you actually need all the bells and whistles. Scrutinising bundles with a more critical eye can help to significantly mitigate crossovers in capabilities across your tech stack. Instead, the best approach may very well be to take on a “best-of-breed” approach that recognises the strengths of different solutions, focusing on each tool separately in order to determine the best value and fit for your organisation.
Objectives first, purchase later
No longer motivated by impulse buys, marketing practitioners would do well to reconsider the driving goals and objectives motivating each investment. For one, keep your end audience — the consumer — in mind. Are you trying to streamline the customer journey or reduce costs? Are you targeting repeat customers or branching out to new audience segments? By clearly outlining brand objectives and how key tech infrastructures can best support them, marketers can be better positioned to piece together a MarTech stack that is strategically curated, efficient, as well as free from redundancies.
Simultaneously, within an increasingly privacy-centric digital landscape, regulatory compliance equally needs to be a priority objective. Investing in technologies that are able to ensure greater standards of data compliance — in terms of collection, management, analysis, and sharing capabilities.
An agility-driven approach
Amid uncertain times, punctuated by slashed budgets and changing ways of working, seeking comfort in long-termism isn’t always realistic. With technologies rapidly evolving, taking on a more agile mindset when it comes to expectations of what MarTech solutions can deliver is required. Ongoing evaluation and iteration for improvement, rather than setting overly future-looking targets can allow for adaptive decision making.
That being said, agility is also a matter of mindset. Gartner points to the fact that 29 percent of marketers believe that a lack of training and upskilling efforts are both an impediment to the effectiveness of their martech tools. This is especially relevant during this time, as the ongoing pandemic has revealed critical gaps in digital proficiency — and marketers are no exception. Leaders would do well to give their teams the needed time to master technologies as well as leveraging resources offered by vendors such as workshops and webinars, that can better boost their understanding and confidence when engaging with new solutions. With an emphasis on upskilling, teams can hope to see increased productivity which is essential for agile teams.
While the past year has certainly resulted in the delayed adoption of new tools as a result of cost-saving measures, their importance will continue to persist into the new year. Though 2021 seems poised to be a year of promise, if there’s anything we’ve learned from the past year, it’s that we need to be prepared for the unexpected. One thing’s for sure, though: tech investments are here to stay, but present investment strategies require an overhaul. With optimisation as a core challenge that marketers will need to consistently be mindful of, it’s now time to fully leverage the best of what new and existing technologies have to offer.