Re-working your martech stack

When it comes to your technology stack, are your ducks all in a row? / Photo by Joshua Coleman on Unsplash.

Your martech stack is your lifeblood. It’s key to effective campaign execution, sales integration, project management, team collaboration and more. There will however come a time when it becomes stagnant, unless of course you have a plan to stay on top of reworking it. Use this guide to help figure out when and why to change it up.

Evaluating your current stack

What are all the things you need from your martech stack? This is the first question to ask. Ease-of-use, accessibility, scalability? Write them all down.

With this defined, in mind, our journey can begin by dividing the tools we use based on different important categories.

For example, let’s say your current martech stack has ten different programs in it. If we assign them to different categories, we’re able to get a better feel for what types of tools our organisation uses and for what purposes. Now, the amount and types of categories will differ, but for this example we’ll use the following three: planning phase, creation phase and analysation phase. We place the tools we use into the category they belong and this gives us a clear understanding of what’s being used and why. This tells us if we have an overabundance of tools for a certain category and also shows us if we’re lacking in tools in another.

A visual construction of a martech stack can make things easier for everyone. Getting more team members involved in the process is important, as people with different responsibilities have extended insight into the tools they use daily. Once everything has been laid out and understood, you can truly begin evaluating your stack.

Ask all stakeholders: what types of issues are we trying to overcome with technology? This consideration is a large part of the evaluation process. Once you’ve thoroughly evaluated, it’s time to make some changes.

How to tell if a change is needed

Now that you’ve evaluated your martech stack sufficiently and visually organised it, it’s time to see if there’s anything you need to do to improve it. One easy way to get started is to find alternative programs and compare them to the current system you use. For example, if you used program X for the last five years, you might be unaware that program Y is actually better for your particular needs. Do some comparative research to make sure you’re using the newest and best systems.

Another way to figure out if your stack needs an update is by talking to team members. Often times they’ll have some of the best insight into their personal needs or problems and what types of programs could help them. You’ll have to decide how to weight their concerns, and what influence this has on implementation (or subtraction) of some programs. The most important thing to remember when doing this is that your team members need technology that solves their particular issue. This is usually deeply specific so your research into potential new tools will have to be as well. Team members might also have read up on a new or enhanced offering in the market or know something that worked very well for them at a previous employer.

Finally, use the visual representation of your stack to see what areas are lacking. If the planning phase of your marketing projects is bolstered by one program, while the analysis phase includes twenty, you’re probably in need of some new tools for planning. Note that this doesn’t mean there won’t be inequality between your sections. It’s normal that some sections have more than others. However, make sure nothing is sticking out like a sore thumb. That’s usually a pretty good indicator that something needs more attention.

How to create a constant evaluation routine

Creating a regular evaluation routine for your martech stack requires intense organisation and planning. It’s not as simple as occasionally repeating the two sections outlined above.

It goes without saying that this is a vital factor in marketing strategy and efficiency. If you don’t have a plan set in place for when and why to check on your stack for updates, it may just never get done. Plus, your company could fall behind in important areas and create inefficient content and campaigns.

Construct a reasonable timeframe in which to re-evaluate your martech stack. This should be done based on how many different programs you currently have in use and how often your company adds one. The more concrete this schedule is, the better it will work. Also, even if your stack rarely gets additions, try to re-evaluate more often than you think is necessary. This ensures everything constantly goes smoothly. Don’t allow contract renewal dates to delay or dictate when you complete regular evaluations. It’s all too easy to adopt a pattern of looking at martech in isolation at that financial point in time. Not only is it inefficient to scatter your effort throughout the year, you will not be taking a holistic view on a scheduled basis.

Finally, make sure everyone is involved and has an understanding of when these evaluations take place. If all team members are aware of when the martech stack is going to undergo evaluation, they’ll be able to have all their relevant materials, opinions and analysis ready for you.

Your martech stack is only as effective as you make it. If you follow a reasonable process to check up on it, you’re bound to reap the benefits.

Cory Schmidt, head of marketing at Canto.

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