For a marketing leader, choosing the right marketing technology (martech) is more important than ever—and more difficult.
96% of CMOs say they’ll need martech to meet their future goals.
But the same report shows less than half of them can even define what it is. What really is martech?
The confusion is easy to understand. Scott Brinker’s famous marketing technology landscape supergraphic—which lists and categorizes martech companies—doubles in size every time it’s released. It now includes 6,829 solutions from 6,242 vendors, in 48 categories.
That’s because martech is any kind of technology a marketer can use to plan, execute, or measure a marketing campaign. The more established martech platforms, like Eloqua, Marketo, and Hubspot, help marketers automate routine activities and get insights from their data. But the martech landscape includes everything from data security platforms to augmented reality ads on Facebook and Snapchat. And, yes, it even includes CMS and CRM, like Sansan.
With so many options, how do you know what you really need?
You’re not choosing one platform: you need a whole stack
Most marketers combine several different kinds of technology to meet their needs.
There are a few giant brands in the martech market, with support from thousands of small, specialist companies. Often, you can integrate these niche services with a larger platform, to get extra functions you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
If you get this right, you can mix the technology to suit your exact needs. But it’s important to understand your needs clearly first.
Sansan senior marketing manager Krishna Agarwal says: “To a marketer, the number of vendors can be confusing, but it’s a great opportunity to customize the stack as you need them.”
Here are six tips to help you find the right technology mix.
Tip #1: Integration is more important than functionality
Most martech companies say integration will be easy. But the reality can be very different. Small problems can soon take up a lot of time, and that can cancel out the efficiency you gained. So, ask other marketers, and find out what the experience is really like.
At the UK’s martech conference, Get Stacked, Marketing VP Maureen Blandford said: “Martech integration is the root cause of the productivity debt that marketers suffer.”
Agarwal agrees: “Integration is the most expensive part of martech. If you can, try to verify the costs before you go ahead—and if you have to give up some functionality to get an easily integrated tool, that can be a good choice.”
Tip #2: Keep your tech stack small
It’s tempting to get as much technology as you can. But managing too many relationships and integrations can drain your time and resources.
That’s why most marketers are now trying to use fewer suppliers. In fact, 64% of brand marketers in the EU and US say reducing the number of martech vendors they uses is a high or critical priority.
There’s a lesson here: Question every purchase, and only choose the applications you really need to help you achieve your marketing goals.
Tip #3: Make it easy to use
It’s not just a nice extra to have software you can use easily. After good integration, it’s the best way to ensure success.
Agarwal says: “Your technology must be easy to use. Look for an uncomplicated user interface—this is one of the easiest ways to choose a winner.”
Easy-to-use technology saves you time and money: first on training, then every time you use it. People will use more functions, more often, and get more benefit. This means you’ll get a bigger return on your investment, faster.
And if you have a large marketing team, that payback is faster still.
Tip #4: Manage your leaders’ expectations
Any new technology brings excitement. And martech companies often make bold claims on their websites and sales information. But this means even when the results are good, people can be disappointed. This is because they expected more.
This is illustrated in the Gartner Hype Cycle.
If your senior leaders are excited about your new martech, that can be useful. You can get the budget and support you need more easily. But it can also mean they have unrealistic expectations about what marketing can achieve.
Before you go ahead with a martech project, talk to senior executives about the likely results.
Make sure you include a realistic timeline for ROI.
Only begin when you all agree what success will look like.
Tip #5: Hire a marketing operations specialist
Marketing operations is a specialized marketing role. These are the marketers who make technology work.
Their skills include data science and analytics, software integration, and automating processes. And those skills are increasingly sought after in marketing teams.
If you can add a marketing operations specialist to your team, you will always have someone making sure your technology works smoothly. That will help you to make the most of your investment, and to focus your other marketers on delivering results.
Tip #6: Segment your data carefully
Increasingly, customers expect personalized marketing messages. Marketing technology can help you achieve this, but you need good segmentation to make sure you say the right things to the right people.
The more detailed your segmentation is, the more ways you can use your technology to make your marketing more relevant. This is important where your message needs to stand out, like in a crowded email inbox.
“The more segmentation cuts you have, the more personalization possibilities there are. And that means your marketing message is more likely to cut through,” Agarwal says “At Sansan we recently integrated our martech from ads to CRM. This enables sales for more relevant conversations with prospects, knowing the exact brand message the prospect sees.”
Martech is complicated. So keep your decision simple.
The martech market is extremely complex—you have thousands of options. But with the right integrations, you can have a technology stack that meets your needs perfectly.
To do that, you need to keep things simple. Be clear about what you really need, and realistic about what you can achieve. Then look for the easiest way to make it happen.
Business card data as part of your martech stack?
When they offer high-quality, accurate data, and you've got a CMS/CRM solution like Sansan to scan business cards and put them to work in your company, you're golden. Learn more about how Sansan is unique and vital piece you can add to your company's martech.