3 key ways to streamline your martech stack and maximize the value of your marketing toolkit
Martech is about finding the right tools to help you reach specific outcomes. Paring down to only the necessary tools will help you control your budget, extract more value from each tool, and see what you've been missing. Streamlining your tech stack starts with three steps.
It’s not always true that more options bring greater success. New advances in technology, data analytics, and marketing automation can often create the illusion that we need the latest and greatest tools and force marketers to believe they must keep adding tools to their repertoire to avoid falling behind the competition — or out of touch with customers.
But more isn’t always better. Companies often don't fully understand the capabilities of their in-house information, ending up with either extraneous marketing software or not enough. Too many or too few tools can be overwhelming, and it can make it more likely that customers won’t engage at all. The result is a marketing tech stack that’s expensive and underutilized.
Finding clarity through culling
Marketing technology is all about utilizing the right tools to meet specific goals — not just acquiring extraneous tools. Start by understanding the purpose of each tool and how it impacts business. Companies often have huge suites of tools, but they may not measure their outcomes or pay attention to what truly makes an impact.
Identifying an efficient set of tools and eliminating those you don’t need has several benefits:
- Controlling your budget: Adjust your tech tool investment to create more balance. Make sure the budget is sized appropriately, and double-check to ensure you’re not paying for enterprise software when you simply need a regular business license. Can you renegotiate your rates or challenge a current vendor based on a competitor’s offering? Free tools can still cost you employee time, sometimes making paid software a better investment if it eliminates time spent.
- Extracting more value: Minimizing waste also means making an effort to maximize the tools you keep. Are you getting the most out of your tools? Are there features your team members underutilize because they lack training or because they didn’t even know a functionality existed? The single most important step will be training your team and monitoring tool use so you don’t pay for tools or features that never get used.
- Seeing what you’ve missed: Make sure you know what new software is on the market, and determine whether there are any updates your team can utilize. Look for data gaps in the tools you’re using and for any software that would fill those gaps.
3 steps for streamlining the marketing tech stack
If you’re already using Adobe and its SiteCatalyst tool, don’t duplicate that service — and cost — with Google Analytics. Both services use web analytics, but organizations often use both tools without considering why. Unless you have a specific reason, like tracking a paid Google AdWords campaign or easily visualizing all your data with Adobe, you should drop one.
Keep these three tips in mind to maximize the value of your marketing toolkit:
1. Hold regular marketing tool reviews
Review your software on a regular basis — annually, at a minimum, but preferably biannually. Look at the payoff over the past year: Have the technologies made platform improvements? Did you find any gaps in what the tools claimed to do versus their actual output?
Check out the cross-contamination and integration abilities. Many tools perform multiple functions, and it’s important to minimize overlap across platforms. This is where reviewing updates can come in handy. Tools that can be integrated or share data with other tools can create a more cohesive system.
Finally, keep the below areas in mind to ensure you’re correctly organizing tools and using the best fit for your needs in each of these categories.
Data acquisition and fetching tools
Used to automate data-gathering processes such as APIs or file transfers. Focus on limiting these to only the few that meet your specific needs.
Data storage methods
These can be as simple as Excel files and as advanced as cloud-based dynamic databases. Understand how much space you really need, where you can eliminate unnecessary data, and what security-level requirements must be met.
Data-blending and cleaning software
Transform or join the data in usable outputs. Not all data can be easily married. Cleaning is usually required to eliminate duplicates or bad data, like dates in a phone number field. Use tools that mold data into a viable format to maximize the tools’ purpose and tackle easy projects like format corrections.
Outputs and visualization tools
Share information generated from that data. This set of tools can generate aesthetically pleasing charts, insights, and stats. Don’t feed an unnecessary addiction — look for tools that require the smallest amount of effort to return the largest amount of visibility. Eliminate other distractions and time sucks.
More expansive, and they often require multilayered technology to work properly. Look for tools you can leverage that cover these areas: qualitative and quantitative data collection, marketplace and first-party feedback, and the ability to separate information into specific business silos.
2. Apply the lens of organizational goals and priorities
It’s difficult to gain valuable information from your marketing tech if you don’t know why you’re using it. Keep a list of the top 10 questions you need to answer in order to measure your marketing impact this year. Map out priorities, questions to answer, and tools to help you accomplish those goals.
Be sure to include the questions you’re unable to answer with your current tools, and brainstorm ideas on filling those gaps. Explore the tools that other internal organizations are already utilizing. It’s difficult to evaluate new software purchases in a silo, without considering extra use cases, and you run the risk of duplicating capabilities. By doing a more comprehensive review, your organization can get more from less.
Focus on the tools that provide market and customer feedback loops in order to better understand the market’s impression of your brand or product. Be strategic in determining which tools provide the most information for the least time and money.
3. Host new tool pitches where appropriate
There are instances when you might not have access to the exact tool you need or can’t afford the best-in-class option. You may even identify gaps that you don’t yet know how to fill.
By exploring newly available tools, you might acquire new insight into your own toolbox. It’s important to regularly review new software options. New technologies can stimulate your team to consider what’s possible and identify a road map to get there.
But it's most important to understand your team’s goals thoroughly first and foremost. Being clear on where you’re going will help you be efficient in getting there. Stay focused on the impact you’re trying to achieve, and resist the temptation of shiny new tools that don’t boost that efficiency. Make sure your time is spent on the tools that count.