Back to basics: why tech won’t protect you anymore…

The most important change for marketers in the past five years has been the explosion in new tools available to us.

Since 2012, the number of martech solutions has increased by a factor of ten. We’ve got tools for tracking, creating, automating — whatever function of the business you care to name. And we (mostly) do our jobs better and faster as a result.

But nothing lasts forever. 2017 is shaping up to be a year of slower growth and greater consolidation. You need to make sure you’re using the right tools, and that they deliver, and that means you’ll no longer be able to rely on shiny new things to impress your boss. And for many of us that isn’t a bad thing. Especially when you consider that the average marketing stack is said to contain 17 applications or more.

Obviously, they each have their uses. But tools are only ever as good as the people who use them. And more often than not, they’ve been brought on board as a quick-fix for deficient marketing strategies. This means that those shiny new tools are often used in isolation — preventing them from reaching their full potential. Or worse — they’re abandoned when the CMO who brought them in gets shown the door.

Thanks to these vagaries, it’s not uncommon to find tools that are a match made in heaven but never get used in sync. So, before you start pulling up the weeds, it might be time to take a look at what you’ve got, establish who knows how to use it all, and work out whether or not any of it can be made to work together.

That may require training, and not a one-off session to brush up on the top-line capabilities. Commit to an ongoing training programme to make sure everyone is focused on getting the most out of each and every platform they rely on.

And make sure the right people are on board with your tech strategy. It helps to centralise your martech planning across the entire marketing team, and it helps even more if the major stakeholders are fully behind it. And in most companies, that means the Sales team.

Beyond that, you need to ask yourself — in your quest to do brilliant work, what are the most important things your tools can do for you? To my mind, three things are more important than anything else here.

Facilitation

This is the service provided by your CRM and CMS software — as well as the likes of Adobe and Microsoft. It also includes automation tools for things like email campaigns and social media marketing — the kind of stuff you need to set and forget.

Perhaps a bit boring and functional, but obviously essential to your efforts. However, if you’ve bought into any that you aren’t actually using, or you’re not getting what you’d hoped to get out of, it might be time to do a little spring cleaning.

Optimisation

Alongside the tools that make doing your job possible are the tools that help you make the work you do better — A/B testing platforms, analytics dashboards, and tracking tools for example. The things that help you understand what kind of impact your work is having in the marketplace. And what you might need to change to increase that impact.

These are often the flashiest and most impressive new solutions available to businesses. But they aren’t always the most useful. You may find that optimisation software lets you eke a extra few percentage points out of a digital campaign, for example. But this ‘optimisation’ may cost more than it’s worth when you consider that a more mature media strategy or better campaign assets could achieve a similar boost in performance — and will likely return more. It might be time to sever your ties with these systems if you can’t prove that they’re actually giving you the return they promised you when they were the new kids on the block.

Collaboration

Making martech work for you now won’t just be about showing how you’re using new tools, or even onboarding people to use them.

It’ll be about providing everyone with a place where they can bring their results to the table, make the best use of them together, and create better, more fully realised campaigns through secure collaboration.

Deadlines are tight, and requirements change all the time. And that means you need all the help you can get to share your ideas, refine them, and bring them to the market.

In this kind of environment, technology that bolsters and encourages collaboration is a must. To do this effectively, your team needs to communicate seamlessly. And that means that your collaboration tools need to be up to scratch. If they aren’t, and you feel the need for a solution that can do everything we described above, check this out.

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