Take control of your marketing technology stack
Marketing technology has changed at a rapid pace over the last five years and now plays a critical role in how we reach current and prospective customers and add value to their everyday lives. However, the number and variety of technologies available today, and the data that they produce, can be overwhelming. Just take a look at chiefmartec.com’s latest Marketing Technology Landscape supergraphic … wild, right?
Marketers face many challenges in managing the technologies they use on a day-to-day basis. Oftentimes, tools are added to their stack ad-hoc without considering the overall effect on the customer experience. They also tend to be managed in silos with minimal or no data flow between departments, which results in inefficiencies.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are just a few steps involved in taking control of your marketing technology stack. I outline them below, placing a special emphasis on data flow and integrations.
Step 1: Understand your Current Marketing Technology Stack
The first step to using your marketing technology stack effectively is to understand your current system and how it is used. A simple way to start is to take an audit of all the tools currently at your disposal, making note of the capabilities they are being used to offer. Along with the capabilities, this step also involves understanding the People and Processes involved in using those tools. Be sure you understand which teams in your organization are using which technologies, and dig even deeper to uncover their workflow. Keep in mind that there may also be processes or regulations that are relevant only to the industry you operate in that must be followed.
Lastly, the data that the tools consume or generate should be considered. A dependency map that documents how data flows between all these tools should be generated to get a full picture. This is critical to understanding your clients and how they interact with your brand across multiple channels, including your website, newsletters, invoicing system and more.
Step 2: Identify Goals, Especially for Data Integration
Based on the analysis in step 1 and your current wish list, you can establish some immediate goals to improve your marketing technology stack. Focus on improving areas where the current stack is missing your business goals or your user goals. Although this could involve changes to tools, people and processes involved in your stack, a common scenario that we have seen is where different tools can be integrated with each other for a smoother data flow.
Automated data flow can be useful in two key areas:
- To help the business manage content in a central repository that can get pushed into different tools for consumption. For example, your content marketing platform can push content to your website, social media and other channels as needed.
- To help the business identify users and understand their activity across multiple channels by combining analytics data into a central repository, like a CRM. A profile in your CRM can capture the proposals that have been sent to the client as well as their activity on the website to give you some actionable insights on when to reach out to them, and with what information or content.
The possibilities of integrating this data are varied and should be prioritized based on business/user goals. For example, web personalization (through integration with an Email Marketing System) could be prioritized over getting all the web traffic data into the CRM for the Business Development team to consume.
Step 3: Be Mindful of These Additional Considerations
- Establishing seamless integrations between different systems used to be a hard thing to accomplish, but most modern marketing technology tools now expose microservices or APIs that can be leveraged to access or write data to them. In other words, technology limitations are no longer a concern. Some platforms, like Sitecore, already come with built-in integrations that can be extended to meet your business goals.
- More data comes with more noise in that data. It is important to configure automated rules or perform a manual review to prevent the data from becoming too noisy. A review process and a data cleanup protocol should be put in place to keep the data useful, actionable and aligned with clear goals.
- Data sharing, especially with Personal Identifiable Information (PII), brings with it a slew of its own challenges related to security and privacy. Regulations across the globe should be considered when designing data sharing between different tools.
- Data sharing can also impact how other digital and non-digital touch points with the client interact. For example, you may no longer have to ask users for their company information if you are getting that data through a CRM integration. Consider how data integrations may simplify the user experience.
- Finally, consider simplifying your marketing ecosystem as your business goals and KPIs change. Before introducing a new system into your stack, consider if any of your existing tools can fill in that gap. For example, if you are using Sitecore as your CMS and want to add a marketing automation system to your stack, consider Sitecore as one of your options.
Integrating data from different systems in your marketing technology stack will help your business improve information sharing efforts, better understand your clients and enhance the overall client experience. Before you allow yourself to get too overwhelmed with adding a new weapon to your arsenal, consider taking a step back. Analyze what’s currently at your disposal, and I guarantee you’ll find ways to make those tools work smarter and harder for your organization.
Vinu is the Director of Solutions Architecture at One North, defining technical architecture for complex marketing/IT systems and products, acting as a technology consultant for clients and working with One North’s Strategy and Design teams to define and implement solutions that will serve the client’s objectives now and in the future.