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September 13th 2023

Investing in the right martech at the wrong time

By Chris Scott | Chief Digital Officer

In today's fast-paced digital landscape, investments in marketing technology (martech), are crucial for organisations striving to stay ahead of the competition.

When investing in martech, timing is everything. If you invest in the right martech but at the wrong time, the benefits may not be fully realised. Or worse, your investment could be wasted and may not provide the expected return.

Therefore, it is essential to have a connected strategy that evaluates your existing systems, identifies weaknesses, and utilises the right martech applications. Investing in the right martech at the right time can be a game-changer for your business.

In this article I look at the considerations you need to be aware of when investing in new technology infrastructure, including:

  • How and where you should identify weaknesses in your existing martech stack
  • How to pick the right applications to support your business and marketing objectives
  • How you can satisfy your business’ demand for return on investment (ROI) 

Be open-minded and critical of your current stack

I’d suggest that identifying weaknesses in your deployed martech is the first step towards making informed decisions. Why? Well, this avoids basing your decisions on the subjective opinions within your organisation. Yes, your team will give you valuable insights into how frustrating ‘x’ application feature is, but that doesn’t tell you how effective the suite of tools, in isolation and collectively, are in achieving your operational and activity KPIs.

To identify the weaknesses, I’d recommend conducting a comprehensive review of your current systems, analysing their performance vs your business goals, and identifying areas where improvements are needed. This will also give you the basis for a solid gap analysis, therefore allowing you to identify where additional investments are needed. Also look at how your martech is either a facilitator or barrier to hitting those KPIs. Be highly critical of your technology stack and look past the external factors which are often the scapegoat when reporting missed targets.

That review can take many forms, but I’d always put in place a formalised review process that looks at how reliable connectivity is with other martech, and how you are able to attribute marketing successes back to insights or automation found within solutions. You could look at questions such as:

  • Did you lose customers due to them having a poor experience?
  • If a poor experience is proven, can it be attributed to a lack of connected martech strategy?
  • Do you have poor visibility of user engagement on your digital marketing platforms as your analytics software is providing zero actionable or predictive insights?

There’s loads of questions to ask, and your stack is most likely unique – every client I work with has different connectivity, ownership and indeed challenges – but by closely examining the tools and platforms you are currently using, you can gain valuable insights into their strengths and weaknesses. And use this information to inform your decision-making process about where new applications would accelerate your marketing’s performance.

Eeny, meeny, minymoe…

So, once you’ve identified gaps and barriers in your current martech set-up, you’re then looking to find which solutions would work. And that’s not easy.

Navigating the selection of the right martech applications can be a daunting task as there are over 11,000 solutions known to be within the landscape. But where to start…?

It’s a bit clichéd but you need to understand your business’ needs and goals. Consider what functionalities are essential for your business and evaluate whether the martech applications you are considering align with these requirements. If you don’t do this then it’s easy to become a rabbit in the headlights – you’re won over by the supplier that has the most polished, connected marketing strategy, versus looking at the solutions that will be best suited for your unique set of requirements.

Remember how important scalability is in your investment choices. Invest in applications that can adapt and grow with your organisation, avoiding the need to revisit the same process in the short-medium term. I’d recommend not focusing on the ‘now’ but what you need from your stack in 24-36 months, as that’s reasonable in supporting your medium-term objectives and considers a period of adoption, rollout and further evolution in the technology space.

The top three reasons to invest in martech in 2023 are:

  • Better features. Organisations are comfortable with much of their stack but they want it to evolve quicker
  • Better/easier integration. Marketers and LOB professionals want applications to ‘just work’ and to integrate with tools that are tried and trusted
  • Reduce expense. Marketing budgets continue to be pinched, while the need to generate a quality sales pipeline remains constant.

I’ve made those choices. Sign up and off we go….

I completely get how exciting it can be to think that you’ve found the golden nugget of tech, that ticks all the boxes, which provides ROI that will be the envy of the organisation and builds you a sales pipeline in six months. However, choosing the right implementation partner is another critical component of evolving and investing in martech. A reliable, experienced and trusted implementation partner will deliver a smoother transition and adoption tohelp you to unlock the full potential of your martech investments. That sounds obvious but where do you start?!

In my experience martech organisations regularly have a tiering of their technology enablement partners – Gold, Silver, Bronze etc. That could be a great starting point, but then look up G2 reviews. That gives you evidence of how successful applications have been – look out for individuals who are really objective in their feedback. My tip would be to engage with those individuals on LinkedIn, both to corroborate their review, find out what the long-term successes have been, and to understand who they used as part of the successful implementation.

Then once you’ve made your choice on solution, and partner, collaborate with them to create a strategic roadmap that aligns with your business objectives and ensures optimal utilisation of the chosen martech applications. But don’t try to use all of the features if they impact productivity (or worse) for your business.

Ok, now I’m finally ready to go

I’d suggest that you critically analyse the skills in your team, especially before implementing new martech solutions. Investing in the right tools is only part of the equation – having a skilled and knowledgeable team is as important to successful usage.

Look at what training you’re going to need from your enablement partner by undertaking a skills gap analysis within your team. If you’re hiring, make sure you bring in people with the right skills and experience from day one, as I can really vouch for how peer-to-peer training can accelerate adoption and bring success to your organisation. Feed that into the individual’s training plan and get your team invested in the tech from day one.

I believe this will ensure that your martech investments are being utilised effectively and that you are extracting the most value from your stack. And your team members and customers will benefit from it!

72% of leaders believe that merging teams and responsibilities around the customer experience will increase operational efficiencies.
(Zendesk CX Trends Report 2023)

I think it’s working well but I’m not sure if it’s been worthwhile?

It’s really tricky, particularly in a world of constant change. As you’re asking them to come on the journey with you, ask your teams for feedback, which is obvious but often overlooked in my experience. Also make sure that you’re being operationally effective by reviewing performance regularly.

Justifying investments needs to be done through understanding the ROI of your martech choices. But each business operates differently. I’ve recently heard clients say that they need to provide evidence of ROI within 2 years, whereas others have stated that having stringent ROI metrics will detract from the effectiveness of their performance marketing activities.

However, I would recommend setting clear goals and metrics to measure the performance of your martech applications. It’s a sensible step to have a clear picture of the performance of your investments, and reviewing these metrics regularly will help you identify areas for improvement and further optimise your martech stack. It’s not about being obsessive, it’s about making considered choices and being proud of the transformation you’ve implemented

You should be looking at the lifetime value of your customers, their conversion rates and customer satisfaction metrics, among others, to gauge the effectiveness of your martech investments. Has there been a clear trend? Or are you missing a critical component, such as intelligent data visualisation to better inform you? Sounds like you might need more martech…!

74% of agents say that having access to more tools and data will give them more opportunities to personalise interactions.
(Zendesk CX Trends Report 2023)

In summary

All organisations need to be investing in technology, most of which is currently driven or influenced by AI. But as I’ve discussed, investing in the right martech at the wrong time can result in wasted resources, misaligned focus and missed opportunities.

I believe it’s critical for your organisation to conduct a comprehensive review of your existing systems, identify weaknesses, and select the right martech applications that align with your goals and objectives, both now and as you seize growth opportunities in the medium term.

Then, make sure you choose the right implementation partner for the long term. They might become that crucial external lens that you need in your technology planning cycle.

Bring your team along by analysing their skills and grow your individual team members by investing in their education.

So, follow the process, then invest wisely and time your martech investments for maximum impact.


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