The vice president of marketing for a B2B technology company sits in her office. The decor of the space is clean, sparse and tasteful. All she had on her desk was a neat stack of papers, her phone and her computer. However, she couldn’t have felt more crowded.
On her computer monitor, logins, dashboards and control panels for a hundred different marketing technologies crowd the screen. The advertising team was having trouble tracking the data, and the executive committee was keen to know the breakdown of web traffic and lead information for the previous quarter.Data teams want to scrutinize statistics they are not sure if they are correct, while networking teams are equally concerned that the data they just discovered is really Incorrect reporting – this will affect the entire web reporting.
B2B marketing today presents thousands of challenges, each with seemingly one to fifteen technical “solutions.” Anything can easily pile up on your team, and before you know it, your marketing mix is a bunch of mismatched reports, tiresome manual typing and arcane paths that only one person on your team fully understands . But for all the cost, work and headaches, can all this technology really help your brand tell its story more effectively?
It’s not hard to understand how we got here.
Between the ever-increasing pace of competition in the digital space and technological developments that seem to offer new solutions every day, the field of marketing technology has rapidly become crowded over the past 5 years. From 2011 to 2016, the technology provider space has grown from 150 technology options to more than 3,500 (recent measurements even exclude more “generic” technologies such as database software). On the one hand, the resulting competition means more effective fixes for more marketing problems. On the other hand, Conductor’s research found that this means that 31% of marketing executives now report using more than 10 different marketing techniques (another 7% report that they have broken the 20-tech cap).
But if all these technologies enable marketers to do their jobs better, those values may not actually matter. correct?
The same command study found that may not be the case. Some 53% of marketing executives said they were “overwhelmed” by the amount of data their platform provided, while another 67% said they had to go through too many dashboards to find the information they wanted. Even just five years ago, the main challenge for marketers was being able to gather accurate and useful information. Today, our access to information has shifted to the other end of the spectrum, and marketers are immersed in it.
good news? There is definitely a way to reduce your B2B marketing tech stack. But it may require some rigorous evaluation of what your team is doing, followed by a long comb through the data you already have.
narrow your criteria
You must simplify your marketing technology situation through two processes: assessing your data problems and assessing your current technology platform.
Data questions are simply questions your team answers with reference to data. In the past, when good data was scarce, it was difficult to know exactly what that data might be. The result is usually a greedy hoarding of all possible data, “just in case”. Today, however, data science is becoming an increasingly intertwined part of the way marketers in businesses around the world work, and likewise, the practices surrounding our approach to data are becoming more granular. This allows marketers to focus on what they really need, not what they might need.
Assess these questions to understand what your brand’s real data needs are:
What do I have to prove?
Data is used to demonstrate your knowledge of the brand before any research or analysis. Before running any experiments, take the time to lay out exactly what your team must report accurately. Items like conversion tracking and spend attribution are all here.
What do I want to learn?
Marketers are naturally curious, so your answers to these questions are likely to be exhaustive. However, once the list is complete, take a moment to group your answers based on what data can help you test these hypotheses, and you may find several large groups with a few interesting outliers. Where possible, minimizing or adjusting outliers to fit larger groups makes it easier to select technical solutions that help test most, if not all, problems.
Who will finally see this?
Do you report data to executives, or does your entire team have access? Are marketers the only people looking at your data, or are you likely to have non-marketing professionals trying to interpret your marketing data? Considering how your information is presented — or how you might want to avoid it being presented — can help you decide between two equally powerful platforms.
Once you understand what your data needs are, the process of choosing the most effective marketing tech stack becomes a simple matter of categorizing the market, keeping a few priorities in mind:
- ROI. How can platforms help you better understand how you spend and make money? Does the cost of the platform justify this? This should be your main selection criterion in the first place.
- Customize and integrate. Marketing moves quickly, and the result is that sometimes the platform doesn’t always meet your specific needs with every update. To avoid having to constantly jump platforms or resort to a daisy chain of intermediary tools, choose marketing techniques that allow you to tailor the space to your individual needs and easily integrate with other essential tools.
- Easy to use. If you (or your team) don’t enjoy using the platform, it may not be as effective as you would like it to be. Ease of use and presentation should always be considered when selecting.
- Seek a single integrator. Last but not least, some technologies have entered the playing field specifically to help marketers avoid the “too many dashboards” syndrome. If your stack and budget have room, consider adopting one of these reporting platforms to centralize all your materials in one easily accessible location. But keep in mind that these platforms can require a significant upfront time investment to get set up. If your stack is lean enough (less than five tools), this merging may be redundant. Looking for an all-in-one enterprise content publishing solution?Check out the Skyword platform.
Marketing technology is only going to get more complex. The digital world is full of needs that companies want to address, and the result is that your brand has been caught in the middle of too many options, too many or too few of which doesn’t really matter. The only way to stay ahead is to remember your human element: keep your curiosity and needs in mind, and focus on technology that effectively meets those needs.