With the ever-expanding marketing technology landscape, it’s very easy for marketers to get overwhelmed when choosing which tools to use. In fact, there are already over 7,000 solutions, according to the 2019 Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic . So if you’re planning to add new tools to your marketing technology stack, you need to use a calculated approach.
You can’t just invest in whichever tool looks impressive or you’ll end up with a host of tools that you don’t really need. So in this post, I’ve decided to put together a few tips to help you optimize your marketing technology stack.
1. Use your strategy as a guiding force.
The main reason why you’re using marketing technologies is to accomplish certain functions that will help you execute your marketing strategies. This means that whatever technology you invest in should be able to serve its purpose within your strategy.
For instance, I could invest in Grammarly Premium because content production is a vital element in the marketing strategies I develop for my clients. I also use Buffer to schedule social media content for publication, since timely content distribution is another vital element in my marketing strategies.
So when you’re optimizing your marketing technology stack, you should start by developing a marketing strategy or analyzing your existing strategy. Then determine which tactics you’ll be using to execute that strategy. This will help you identify what technological capabilities you will need to efficiently and effectively carry out those tactics.
Clearly outline all of the technological capabilities that are necessary for your business and what goals you can accomplish with each. This list will come in handy later while you’re auditing your existing technology stack.
2. Take stock of your current tools.
You can’t improve your marketing technology stack without knowing what you currently have. Understanding what you already have will help you get a better idea of what you need and don’t need. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a bunch of tools with overlapping functionalities, underutilized solutions or tools that are missing vital functions.
In other words, you could be wasting your money on technologies that you don’t really need. This is extremely ineffective and wasteful when you could be investing the extra money in tools that can assist you with other aspects of your business.
So it’s crucial that you conduct a thorough audit of your existing technology stack. Identify all of the technologies your agency has, and find out who is using each tool and how they are using it. What kind of value does the technology have for them? Do they encounter any challenges with the tool? Is there any scope for improvement?
3. Prioritize integrating your systems.
System integration is essential for seamless distribution of data between multiple tools and, therefore, increased efficiency. Yet ensuring a company’s tech stack is properly integrated is one of the five top challenges cited among IT leaders, according to a recent survey from SaaS management platform Torii. In fact, more IT leaders cited integration as a top challenge than those who cited either automation or consolidation. So even in the process of optimizing your marketing technology stack, it is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face.
However, it is a necessity. You can start by putting a higher priority on integrated technology in your vendor strategy. That is, your team should favor vendors that can provide a clear roadmap of how their solutions can connect with the rest of your technology.
You will need to go beyond your marketing technologies to properly integrate your systems. You need to merge all the fragmented data sources into a central location so that all the siloed data sets can finally communicate with each other. Investing in a proper customer data platform can help you in effectively unifying your customer database.
4. Identify gaps, overlaps and challenges.
Based on your assessment of your existing technologies, you can identify gaps and challenges within your stack. This will involve comparing the functionalities you already have against the functionalities you need to fulfill your goals and execute your strategies.
For example, perhaps you already have a tool to detect plagiarism, but you lack other functionalities to assist content production. So you may need technologies that will further help you improve your content through functionalities like vocabulary enhancement suggestions and automatic grammatical error detection.
Similarly, you should also look for overlaps in your technology stack so you don’t overspend on tools that have similar functionalities. You might have a couple of technologies that can do the same thing and deliver the same outcome. For instance, you might not necessarily need Copyscape when you have Grammarly Premium to detect plagiarism issues.
Aside from focusing on technologies to assist your marketing tactics and processes, you should also consider technologies to assist other aspects of your business. This includes budgeting, security, team communication, file collaboration and more. Improving certain nonmarketing processes with the right technologies can indirectly improve actual marketing processes.
5. Put customer experience at the center.
Another important focus when optimizing your marketing technology stack is the impact on customer experience. Your technology investments and integration efforts should ultimately result in a mutually beneficial relationship between your business and your customers. Otherwise, you will end up with a technology stack that limits you rather than empowering you.
Take an approach that focuses on customer interactions across various touch points when you map out your cross-channel requirements. Understand what capabilities and functionalities can enhance the customer experience throughout the buying journey. This will give you a better idea of which technologies will deliver the highest return on marketing investment.
Optimizing your marketing technology stack is no easy feat. It’s not a job that you can complete in a few days, either. It’s a gradual and ongoing process that requires a lot of patience. Use the tips above as guidance so you can take a structured and calculated approach that delivers results.
This article published on Forbes.com.