A successful martech stack allows you to automate marketing and sales business processes in a way that you can efficiently report on the funnel and make future decisions on budget allocation. A successful stack will allow each type of marketer and salesperson to work on campaign storytelling and relationship building, rather than analysis.
As you become more experienced in Marketing Operations or Marketo, your martech stack will grow in complexity, or just the number of vendors. You will be constantly peppered with automated outreach emails from vendor salespeople. How do you evaluate if your stack needs help or if you even need some of these tools? What happens when another marketer buys a tool without discussing it with you and expects you to now lead the implementation?
Here are some tips to help you with these situations.
Ask the Right Questions
I would say two or three times a year, I ask myself, or my team, if the martech stack is working well for us.
- Are there tools we no longer use?
- Did a new tool essentially supplant another?
- Did anyone actually shut that other tool off and cancel it?
- Are we getting the best deal at renewal time?
Depending on the answers and pain level, we can prioritize work to improve the day as well as acquire more customers. I will ask a few more questions:
- Can it handle our current volume?
- Is it creating work or taking away work?
- Is it collecting the data we need now and in the future?
- What’s the pain level (or How much would I gain/save by making a change?).
For example, I’ve encountered the question, “Pardot or Marketo?” from many people directly and in the Marketo Nation. When I ask them more about their question, it turns out that they were using Pardot for a year or two, and then reached a certain volume of campaigns as well as database size (usually 30k+) and felt Pardot wasn’t quite meeting their needs anymore.
Similarly, I’ve had a situation where we were running Events out of Marketo. The Events team wanted to provide a certain on page experience and workflow to their audience. When we discussed it more deeply, it turned out Marketo could support that if we spent a bit of time building a better page and Marketo Program Template.
Later on, as requirements and volume changed, we explored an Event Platform as a Martech stack change to enhance our abilities and experiences for the audience. Naturally, we ensured the new platform worked closely with Marketo and our data processes.
Adding and Removing Tools
Again, it’s about asking the right questions. There are a lot of good marketers and sales people like you and me working to convince colleagues at other firms that our tools will solve problems. The challenge is that you may not really need those tools – today or ever. Unless you go through a proper RFP process which include Requirements Gathering, it will be hard to evaluate a purchase (or a no decision).
Over the years, I prioritize projects based on cost-benefit, which in Martech means “Will this automate away work and scale up things we need?”
A good example is Blog RSS to Email automation. For smaller firms or firms that are used to Mailchimp or ESPs, this is an obvious, easy win: get our blog/newsletter automated. But at some companies, the benefit may not be that large compared to the effort. If your database is complex or the blog subscriber level is low, automation isn’t going to solve much, and it will cost more to build out the system than you save in time.
Similarly, you may want to remove technologies due to cost or overlapping features. If a vendor is pitching a tool that overlaps with another tool, perhaps that’s an opportunity to rip out an old technology and reduce a leak in your budget. Some tools are just so old in the Stack, no one remembers why they are there.
Ultimately, there’s a time and place for many tools, it may not be today, and it might have been yesterday.
As your business (or organization) grows or evolves, your martech stack needs to keep up.
Which Teams Should be Involved?
MOPS isn’t an island and over the past ten years, marketing operations has been seen as a bridge to Sales. With more and more teams using similar tools like Sales Email Automation, everyone needs to talk to each other to balance priorities and requirements. We all want the business to grow and teams to succeed. The only times we have challenges is when our teams are misaligned (read: we don’t talk to each other).
- Core Team: MOPS, MOPS Leadership
- Business Owner Team: for Events, the Events teams or leaders.
- Budget or Finance if it’s over a certain threshold.
- IT or Product: a large project may involve IT for a security review or integration assistance.
- Legal: with GDPR and other concerns, the lawyers should review every contract.
Ultimately, it is best to check in with multiple teams as the vendor or project grows in size. I don’t think you need Finance to buy a Zapier subscription, but you might need Finance if you do a multi-year Marketo subscription.
Shiny Object Syndrome is the biggest problem facing Sales, SOPS, MOPS, and Marketers. Vendor salespeople are very happy to work email and phones until they find someone willing to run with the ball. That person may bypass MOPS and other processes because they feel the pain the most or were easily persuaded.
Marketing technology must be evaluated by MOPS and other technically oriented people to ensure there is a good fit in the stack and the vendor does everything they claim. I’ve seen a lot of projects completely fail because they were driven by misinformed business owners who failed to ask questions internally. Likewise, it is a bad move for MOPS to purchase a tool like Sales Engage without bringing in SOPS and Sales for evaluation.
Establish a Documented Technology Evaluation Process
With a written document and trained stakeholders, you can avoid most pitfalls and shiny objects by enforcing a process. Perhaps it is a formal RFP process that internal stakeholders can submit to when there is a need or new vendor. A few recommendations:
- Gatekeepers – if the process isn’t followed, who can block a signed contract? Whose approvals are required before next steps?
- Submission Process
- Questions the team will ask.
- Which teams should be involved based on the tools and budget?
- Does the requestor understand the level of work?
- How can we evaluate the level of work to implement and change existing processes?
- Is this a business process change or just an automation?
- Do we already have this tool? Why won’t it work?
- Is spending less the right choice? Cheapest vendor may cost more in the long run.
How are you managing your stack?