is your marketing tech stack keeping you up at night? you aren't alone...

As a marketing leader, you live and breathe reporting and data. But you don't have the right tools in place to prove success and ROI? Do you cobble Excel charts together from various sources using Band-Aids, tape, and maybe even a ball of string? Has your marketing technology stack (or lack thereof) been on your mind? Maybe it's even keeping you up at night!

You aren't the only one.

It can be daunting, expensive, labor intensive, and even distracting, but setting up technology is one of the most important things you can do to ensure marketing success. Now, I can't claim to have built the perfect shiny example of this. I'm not a martech expert. But I have stepped into several roles where technology was absent or broken. I added and optimized a variety of tools with the help of internal and external resources, and it made a huge difference. As you start to think through this, ask yourself...

1) What tools do I have in place today? Are they the right tools?
2) Does my setup give me comprehensive dashboards and reports to easily evaluate end-to-end performance...daily...from ad metrics to revenue?
3) Can I pull a handful of summary reports to tell a data-driven story to (insert names of managers, executives, or investors)?
4) Are my existing tools set up correctly, integrated and talking to each other?

5) Do my colleagues (i.e. Analytics, IT) use tools that I can plug into or extend?  
6) Are my solutions accessible and easy for cross-functional colleagues to use, as needed? 
7) Are we using our existing software to its full capability? 

If you answered “yeah, no” or “ummm, not sure” to the questions above, map out what's missing and your ideal end state. Here are a few ways to tackle this challenge from there:

OPTION A: Research tools on your own.
An Internet search yields articles like this one from SnapApp, which outlines the market today. I was gobsmacked to learn that there are over 5,000 martech companies (!) according to a report by expert Scott Brinker. A 2015 stat from Consultancy: 51% of marketers use 21 or more digital marketing solutions! Beyond "Googling" and contacting vendors, ask former colleagues or contemporaries about the tools they use. Or - there's a conference coming up...

OPTION B: Identify internal resources. 
Do you have operations- and tech- savvy employees or colleagues who can help you identify new solutions, fix or optimize the ones you have? Can Sales Operations or Marketing Operations put this on their roadmap next quarter? Is there an internal Project Manager who could lead the charge for research, optimization, and even implementation? More importantly, as you add tools do you have time and the team members to pull the levers on the backend?

OPTION C: Hire a martech geek(s).
Recruit technology-savvy marketers. The lines of marketing, marketing operations, and sales operations are blurring these days. It's super smart to find talent that's passionate about all three. Scott Brinker talks about this too. Some people call this kind of talent Full Stack Marketers , per this article from Econsultancy

OPTION D: Call your Account Manager. 
Is your company paying thousands of dollars for a single software license? You probably have an Account Manager. It's their charter to help you succeed. A good one knows which tools integrate with theirs, which ones don't, and which ones will in the future. They can even connect you with their tech and product teams to get more info. That could influence your purchasing decisions. If your Account Manager wants to up-sell you more than they want to help you...ask for a different Account Manager! Nobody has time for that malarkey.  

If A, B, C and D above still seem totally wacky...

OPTION E: Hire an agency or consultant. 
You'll need to invest time to help an external party understand your business, but it'll be time well spent. They can select winning solutions from the vast landscape of martech tools. Heck, you may even be able to use an agency’s software, tools, and people before you invest in your own. Or, ask your Account Manager if they can refer you to agencies or consultants who work with their tools. My awesome contact at HubSpot did this for me. Fostering these relationships is a win-win-win for the software company, the agency, and for you. 

In summary...

Still daunting? Take it step by step. It's worth it. I can’t tell you how many big, well-known companies don’t invest the time or money to set up a solid tech stack. It's usually an afterthought. Companies chase the golden ring of revenue first.  Ideally, companies would implement solutions in the very beginning for the short- and long-term. Or they'd invest the time and resources to do a full-court press when they discover they've moved from startup land to the big kid's table. That's my Pollyanna vision, anyway.

Instead, when performance pressure is on, execs ask hard questions. Teams panic and scramble to put technology in place to fix all that's broken. Often it's too late. Companies are left with dirty, disparate data, cumbersome reporting, and insurmountable technology and implementation challenges. This cripples innovation. Don't make this same mistake! Invest the time and resources to help your company set up a comprehensive marketing technology stack. Trust me, future generations of marketers will thank you for it!  

Here are some additional resources that I find helpful:

MarTech Advisor 
Kapost: 30 martech experts to follow
Marketing Technology Council Research Report 
MarketingProfs : Search for martech or similar keywords to access a wide variety of articles on the subject.
MarTechExec : A discussion board for anyone who is evaluating enhancements or new solutions


Does this sound familiar? Have you "been there, done that"? Add your insightful comments below and help the newbies among us! 



Thumbnail photo credit: Samuel Zeller on Unsplash