Blog | September 28, 2016

Make the Most of Your Marketing Technology.

by Mike Waite in Marketing Operations

Marketing technology is definitely starting to approach the “too much” boundary by attempting to solve marketers’ every conceivable challenge. There’s something for everybody, whether you create content, drive demand, build awareness or analyze results, there’s software out there to increase speed, foster productivity and create more compelling customer experiences.

At some point the bottomless buffet starts to give you heartburn: More than half of marketers (56%) point to fragmented technology as a top barrier to marketing success. Most marketers now believe technology is actually getting in their way.

How did that happen?

For the past five years, marketers have been like kids in a candy store with a credit card. We buy so much software that the typical marketer now uses more than 100 applications in their everyday routines. With tools available for everything, marketers are buying something for everyone. But marketers don’t have a lot of experience buying technology. Most marketers with purchasing authority today didn’t get into marketing because they loved technology.

And it shows: almost two-thirds (62%) of marketers say their technology is underutilized because it isn’t well integrated. Without a clear plan for the big picture, marketing technology often lacks coordination and results in redundant steps, confusion about processes and uncertainty about interdependencies between systems.

Every technology purchase comes with unintended consequences and ripple effects. Not only does the buyer have to consider the benefits of the specific solution, but also how that technology choice will impact existing technology and choices to be made down the road. For technology to be successful, the buyer needs a clear understanding of the processes, activities, interdependencies, data and outcomes the technology will support.

The interactions and workflows between core marketing functions are surprisingly complicated. And no project ever follows a straight line. For example, take a look at the path creative assets take through the development of new campaign materials.

As you can see in the visual, everyone is doing their job, but the tools aren’t working together. Communication comes unglued, and teams default to 20th Century solutions. Paper is left on chairs with sticky notes. Files are emailed around and lost. Creative assets go missing, get duplicated and take on lives of their own. Use restrictions are violated. Deadlines are missed. And customers are disappointed.

Let’s face it, processes that string together marketing systems that don’t work together look more like random flight patterns of a pollinating bee than orderly flights approaching O’Hare airport.

All that said, the abundance of marketing technology is a good thing. It only turns bad when good solutions pile up into a roadblock that impedes marketing’s overall success. This can be overcome with a framework that recognizes the goals of each function and the connections between them. With thoughtful consideration of the process, you’ll be much better positioned to buy the right solution for the current problem while retaining the flexibility to adapt.

Mapping interdependencies and workflows to spot the high-traffic interchanges in your marketing processes is the place to start. Many companies find that centralizing marketing assets where they’re easy to access, update and distribute straightens out many convoluted project paths.

Working with our customers to understand their marketing workflows helped us identify core technology categories they were using, see interdependencies between functions and opportunities for improvement. We’ve organized what we learned in a new guide that includes a common sense roadmap to success.

Download the guide to see how some marketers are starting to get more from their marketing technology.