As the Scott Brinker MarTech Landscape so clearly bears out, the number of tools available to marketers continues to set a new high-water mark, with no indication of slowing. In many ways, the situation is indicative of why so many professionals still struggle to reach customers effectively, and maintain positive customer experiences over time.
With an overlapping buffet of purpose-built solutions that carry out virtually any conceivable task – both of critical and superficial nature – it makes it all the more difficult for marketers decide what technology can truly enhance their marketing effect.
In fact, a whole new strategic challenge has come into view: As marketers, have we become blind to negative implications that could arise from adding a new tool to the mix? Are we forming an exaggerated view of the value it purports to deliver?
Marketers need to ask the right questions to understand whether a new technology being proposed will truly improve customer acquisition and retention, or just add to the problem you’re setting out to solve.
Does the new application create a new data silo?
If the answer is yes, then beware. Even if the data it provides is new and empirically useful, if that data cannot be easily shared and consumed by the balance of your marketing technology stack, it may as well be useless.
Even worse, you may be detracting from your team’s ability to produce a desired outcome. Many new tools entering the crowded landscape are either niche players or narrowcast solutions that focus on a very specific challenge.
Each of these new solutions has the potential to layer on a new data silo, which now creates the need to develop a manual or bespoke process to extract that data. That’s time spent that could otherwise be used to deliver results.
It is very common for these point solutions to leverage tracking scripts as a simple means of collecting data from online properties because it’s very simple for the vendor, but if equal emphasis isn’t placed on how to get the data insights back out, via API, then you are setting the stage for future headaches.
At a minimum, any MarTech application worth its salt should provide a robust RESTful and API infrastructure with code samples and SLAs that allow you to fetch whatever insights and data they generate. It is your data and you need to have automated access to it, all the time.
Does it create redundancy in core capabilities?
We recently encountered a situation where a marketing team was using two data query tools, two Business Intelligence (BI) tools, and was about to purchase yet another data ‘filtering’ solution based on a new and extremely fast technology for dataset querying. The discrepancy here was relatively obvious, even if the team didn’t realize it.
Data query is a general capability that cuts across data formats and locations. A brand doesn’t need two or three general purpose tools to do the same thing on different datasets.
Above all, marketing stacks need to be efficient, and big-bucket general capabilities that are redundant simply create user silos which limit a brand’s ability to see and share insights quickly among all members of the team. If a tool has the potential to blind even one team member to insights generated, move along.
Is there untapped value in the capabilities you already have?
Before going very far down the path towards investing in the latest ‘new, shiny object,’ I always ask my team, “Have we achieved the full value of the tools in which we’re already invested?” All too often, teams are guilty of using ‘tool insufficiency’ as an excuse to cover up for poor execution.
MarTech vendors, of course, know this and make it extremely easy to invest in the latest, greatest tool. The barrier to entry is just small enough, and most tools represent measurable merit on the surface. What so often escapes consideration, however, is how difficult it is to achieve sustainable value from technology.
Before signing off on consideration for yet another tool for the MarTech stack, get the team to validate that it has gotten everything it can from the stack in place, and has effectively monetized investments already made. If not, then a deeper understanding and value discussion about how to achieve those dormant benefits is the more productive conversation than adding yet another tool to the menagerie.
With so many point solutions now available for an endless barrage of tasks – email automation, display targeting, retargeting, etc. – it can be difficult for marketers to not be lured by any new technology that promises to improve marketing results.
Take a pause, consider the factors above, and verify that it will truly improve outputs, or just compound the problem.
By Paul Mandeville, chief product officer at QuickPivot