Ask the right people the right questions about marketing technology and you’ll be rewarded with a clear path to maximize your existing investments. For example, before investing in a new A/B testing tool, ask a marketing analytics power user if the current solution is strategic to the business and if it’s being used to its fullest extent to identify gaps in use of current solutions. If the system is strategic to the company yet underutilized, train more analysts and use the analytics package more instead of investing in a new tool.
In Gartner’s 2016 Marketing Organizational Design and Strategy Survey, more than one-quarter of marketers responding said technical skill was their primary weakness when it came to managing key marketing programs and campaigns. The first step to get the most from your existing marketing technology investments is take stock of the tools in your portfolio and how people use them.
Inventory your marketing technology portfolio
Figure out what tools you have and how people use them. Create a centralized, transparent and accessible catalog of deployed marketing technologies. Then identify and survey the primary users of each tool. These “power users” are closest to the solutions and have the best sense for how much (or little) they are employed. Ask focused questions such as:
- What marketing and business objectives does the application support?
- What percentage of your week do you spend using the application?
- How reliant is the application on manual labor to complete tasks related to your initiatives?
- To what degree is the application being used to its fullest potential to support marketing and business objectives?
- Do you see the application as strategic, tactical or something that can be retired?
- What resources or additional integrations are required to make better use of the application?
Use the feedback from power users to prioritize specific pieces of the stack to target and actions to take that will enhance capabilities.
Identify areas of consolidation and establish governance for new investments
Marketers often maintain multiple solutions in one category, with digital marketing analytics and multitouch attribution averaging more than two systems per marketer, according to the Gartner 2016 Marketing Technology Survey. Identify consolidation opportunities to reduce redundancy. Add rigor to your evaluation and selection process to make smart future investments. Look for and address shelfware — functionality that’s already paid for but not used. This could be as simple as paying for 12 user licenses when only five are needed.
Pursue training and continuous education
Because technical skill was cited as a weakness by marketers in the Marketing Technology Survey, train and educate them about specific marketing technologies. Focus the training on how to apply the capabilities from the technology to solve business problems. Also consider tailoring the training and education by type of user: strategic, tactical, generalist and executive.
“The effective application of marketing technology should be viewed as a strategic differentiator and growth driver,” said Mr. Yeager.