Equipping your organisation with the technology to do business at a high level shouldn’t have you waking up in a cold sweat at night. Certainly, there is no shortage of solutions out there. Talking about martech alone, at last count there were 7,000-plus offerings to choose from.
Martech solutions are both a blessing and a curse for marketers. On the one hand, while technology changes quickly, most organisations do not and martech helps to bridge that gap. On the other hand…technology changes quickly. It can be hard to keep up, know what’s new tech is necessary and what’s not, where to spend and where to save. That’s when you know it’s time to take control of the situation. Quite literally, it’s time to take stock.
The first thing you should be doing before bringing on board new tech is finding out what you’ve already got versus what you need in order to achieve your goals. It’s known as the audit phase and it’s the central pillar of the first ‘P’ in our 4Ps of Marketing Technology, the MarTech Alliance’s proprietary martech implementation framework. The 4Ps is designed to help organisations get the most out of technologies that have the potential to deliver market-leading performance in a sector that is innovative but necessarily complex and often hard to get a handle on.
In the first P audit phase, you’re not just thinking about what actual tech you have, you’re exploring what you need from a business outcome perspective. We’re not talking ‘have I got the latest version of Salesforce?’, we’re saying ‘am I segmenting my customer base deeply enough?’. If you don’t focus on your overall goals, it’s all too easy to wind up buying something with all the bells and whistles that ends up contributing the square root of squat to your bottom line.
And that’s just one layer.
You’ll have undoubtedly heard of the ‘martech stack’. It brings to mind a bunch of platforms neatly piled one on top of the other, much like a tower of LEGO. If only it were that neat. Your martech stack is a way of describing how your portfolio of martech solutions integrates and works together to deliver your business goals. It is rarely a tidy process.
First, some realities. There is inevitably some wastage and duplication in every martech stack. Some technologies simply don’t play nice together so IT will have had to create a kind of Heath Robinson workaround. The martech stack will have evolved as different needs are identified, tech evolutions make something redundant or new data streams make demands on storage and processing.
When auditing, you have to bear all this in mind. One piece of that stack may seem utterly superfluous, until you see what happens when you take it away. Or another piece of tech looks absolutely right except you realise that three other pieces are doing exactly the same job, only faster and cheaper. It’s looking less like a LEGO stack and more like a wobbly tower of Jenga, with most of the bricks already missing.
And through all of this, you have to keep one eye on the future. That piece of tech might not be pulling its weight today, but will it come into its own when your priorities shift or grow tomorrow? You’re dealing with tech but always with one eye on the wider business and where it needs to be. We get it, it’s a lot to think about.
Auditing your stack isn’t just a good piece of preparation, it’s a vital habit to establish. It should be pretty clear by now that neither your business nor the martech that supports it stand still. Establish audit behaviours as a regular part of both your tech and your marketing review strategies and you won’t go far wrong.
The thing to focus on when maintaining a strong audit process is that it’s worth it in the long run. Excising the redundant tech from your stack frees up cash to invest in newer, more capable or more innovative systems. The auditing process often reveals new business avenues to explore, opening up opportunities you didn’t know existed… and stops you making expensive mistakes.