Five Ways to Make Martech Work for You in 2018

For years, marketers have been inundated with calls, emails, and advertising from marketing technology companies whose offerings promise to solve our most vexing problems. Indeed, this year’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic is nicknamed Martech 5000, which reflects how crowded the landscape has become. It contained about 100 companies in 2011.

While the mushrooming of martech (marketing technology) has delivered value in various ways, it’s also created new challenges. As you start to think about next year’s planning in earnest, here are a few recommendations for wrangling martech in 2018 and maximizing ROI.

Audit your martech inventory. Some companies have complex marketing operations consisting of dozens of technologies. Most of us have far fewer tools in our portfolios. But it’s more common than not to have at least a couple of those tools either dormant or severely underused. The first step in creating a martech strategy is inventorying the existing library, identifying gaps or problem areas, and planning accordingly.

Assess martech expertise and resources. Martech is easy to buy, but challenging to deploy successfully. Much of the category is characterized by low-cost subscriptions, so the majority of offerings are easily accessible to small and medium businesses. To plan effectively, senior marketers are well-served to identify internal and external resources available and match resources to tactics. For instance, many weekly newsletter programs require 10 hours per week to execute or the equivalent of a full week per month. Similar resource outlays are necessary for social media, SEO, media buying, and reporting efforts.

Assign a monetary value to every possible martech output. Non-marketing executives and sales managers lose interest quickly when we present metrics involving relevant but understandably abstract (to the non-marketer) data. The best way to explain martech’s contributions and keep everyone working from the same playbook is to link performance to sales and profit metrics. For example, each new newsletter signup is worth $20 to the company, since we know that one out of every 100 signups leads to a sales qualified lead (SQL), and 20% of SQLs convert to a new customer, whose lifetime value is $10,000. The undertaking will require some analysis and creativity to get generally acceptable models in place, but this approach is the only surefire way to cut through the clutter and articulate marketing’s contributions in a quantifiable, unambiguous way.

Make sure to employ Google’s tools to their fullest potential. Google’s suite of mostly free tools includes myriad functionality and can often do a serviceable job compared to standalone, fee-based martech offerings. Since most companies are doing some form of Google advertising, a baseline level of experience is in-house. It’s worth investing in training to help beginners and novices gain expertise in Google Analytics or Search Console. The resulting benefits are twofold: an increased understanding in digital marketing operations helps overall performance and the cost-savings associated with foregoing martech software acquisition that might prove redundant.

Embrace programmatic and data science trends. Both disciplines are transitioning from nice-to-have to must-have tactics in a marketer’s toolbox, regardless of company size or industry category. Vendors are aggressively investing to educate the general marketplace about their benefits, and this means marketers are soon going to be fielding related questions in corporate strategy sessions, such as, What is our company’s programmatic marketing strategy in 2018? Martech plays a vital role in both programmatic and data science strategies, so make sure to be educated on the issues and carve out some budget to commence testing.

As digital continues to increase in importance, martech is emerging as the backbone of marketing operations. Indeed, with tens of billions of dollars spent annually, it’s never been more critical for senior marketers to have shrewd martech strategies in place to succeed in volatile and competitive markets.   

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