Since the beginning of 2020, we’ve experienced a rapid shift to digital transformation in everything from marketing to IT to hosting. Many marketing teams approach martech (marketing technology) decisions with an ad-hoc approach, which not only adds to the complexity of your martech environments, but burdens your team with technical debt – in other words, technology that doesn’t meet your needs.
How Do You Evaluate Marketing Technology Strategy?
After covering the ways you can determine your marketing needs and shortlist potential marketing technology and tools to fit them in, we can begin evaluating and comparing each option to ensure it meets the criteria you established earlier.
A Gardner report in 2018 estimated that, on average, companies use 50 different types of marketing tools. Some companies use over 100. Evaluating your martech strategy will help you ensure that any new marketing tools you decide to purchase and implement will align with your overarching goals and objectives.
Here is a list of criteria you can use to compare and contrast the tools you are considering purchasing:
- Value added:
- How much value would the tool add to your content operations, and/or to your business, on the whole?
- Features and functionality:
- Do the features and capabilities offered by the tool apply to use cases that are similar to your needs?
- Would it be easy (or possible) to add new capabilities, as needed?
- Implementation and integration:
- How easy will the tool be to implement?
- How much customization might be needed to get it to fit your existing tech infrastructure and particular use case?
- Will API integrations be required? If so, can they be managed in-house or do they need to be configured by the vendor?
- How much does the system cost, and what’s included in that cost?
- What would the add-on/incremental costs be if you need customization or want to scale your access up or down (e.g. add more storage space, increase the number of registered users, etc.)?
- How difficult will it be to transfer data from your current technology solution into the new system?
- Is the transfer of data something the vendor would help with during onboarding?
- Is the transfer of data included in the cost of purchase or is it an option that might cost extra?
- Customer references:
- Can the vendor’s sales team provide you with positive reviews and ratings from their customers – particularly those who might be using the tech in an industry with a use case similar to yours?
- Are software upgrades frequent and easy to manage?
- Does the vendor have a product development roadmap that shows their long-term vision for how their tech will scale?
- How the product development growth aligns with your prospective business needs?
Other Criteria to Take Into Consideration Before Making the Final Decision:
These criteria are less essential to the decision-making process; but they can serve as valuable points of distinction once you’ve narrowed down your consideration set to a few likely candidates:
- Cybersecurity and data privacy: Who will have access to your data? How easy is it to manage access? How will your proprietary data and customer data be secured? What happens to that data if you decide to stop using the tool?
- Geographical (and/or virtual) storage locations: Knowing where the data will be saved is important for marketers in the public sector or those that operate in highly regulated industries like healthcare or finance.
- The vendor’s track record and industry reputation: Has the vendor had prior data breaches or lawsuits? While they may be old issues that are long-resolved, it can be helpful to know how the company resolved them, so you have an idea of the steps they might take should you have other technical or customer service issues.
- Product demos and free trial periods: Are they available? To make the most of trial periods, learn as much as you can about the tool through tutorials before signing up for the trial. Don’t waste trial time trying to learn the tool only to run out of time to test it.
- Training and education: What is the onboarding process like? Does the vendor offer detailed tutorials and training sessions to help you get up to speed and answer your questions? Are they pre-recorded for online/on-demand access or conducted through personal, one-on-one sessions with a service rep? How long do you have access to their assistance?
The Do’s and Don’ts of Martech Tool Selection
A successful martech strategy should be holistic and well-aligned with your overall marketing strategy.
Here is a multimillion-dollar piece of advice from Daniela, our digital transformation strategist:
“Look at the forest instead of just at a piece of green grass.”
Don’t jump quickly into purchasing a new solution to address your current needs. Taking a more thoughtful, measured, approach will help ensure your tools will deliver long-term value, too.
To help you on your corporate martech strategy journey, we put together a list of Do’s and Don’ts:
- Think about martech holistically:
How does marketing fit in with the overall picture of your business?
Thinking about the big picture first (the forest), then the specific aspects (the single blade of grass) will give you more flexibility to scale up (or down) as needed.
- Approach tech as an evolutionary process:
You don’t need to implement solutions for every possible tech need immediately. Consider your current, 5-year, and 10-year plans, then find the logical progression that best fits your team’s greatest needs, priorities, and available resources.
- Don’t look for specific technologies to satisfy all your projected, long-range needs: Technology evolves at a breakneck pace – you never know how our industry might shift over the course of the next several years and how that might affect your tech requirements. Remember, 10 years ago, there was no Snapchat, Oculus, Instagram, Pinterest, Slack, Square – platforms that today’s content marketers cannot do without, and that even the most future-thinking strategists may not have accounted for a decade ago.
- Resist the urge to use new tech as a quick fix for current problems:
Ask yourself if the reason you’re considering a new tool is to address a persistent problem, a temporary one, or an outright anomaly. If it is temporary or an exception, implementing new tech may be unnecessary, or even counterproductive. If it is persistent, look for its root cause. If it’s not due to a marketing issue or a technology shortcoming, switching tools is more likely to act as a band-aid than a cure.
- Don’t fall for tech hype:
Do your homework and don’t make emotional decisions based on seeing lots of rave reviews and product promotions.
- Don’t rely on the recommendations of one person or one department:
There are many reasons a single voice might tout one product over others, and not all of them are based on first-hand experience or careful, strategic analysis of your needs. Even if a recommendation comes from a reliable source with the best of intentions, it’s a good idea to gather additional opinions and see if they will support – or refute – the endorsement.
Doing a comprehensive assessment of your martech needs and capabilities can not only help you maximize your marketing budget but create a roadmap for your organizational needs. Feel free to take a step back to our previous blog post as a guide for forming a marketing strategy and evaluating options to best suit your team’s needs. To learn more about our full-service agency offerings or to request a free digital marketing assessment, please reach out to us.