Value = Resources and Reach
When you start a business, the expectation is that the business will grow, and you’ll make money — pretty straightforward. Strategy and planning will account for scalability in your ERP and MRP systems, and the same consideration should be made for your digital marketing platforms and strategies. You need a strategy. You need a plan. And your planning includes the selection of your martech.
Key aspects of martech selection that are often overlooked and underestimated are the time and human resources needed to manage and maintain your marketing efforts because automation does not mean the complete elimination of tasks. And your resources have to scale to your expectations. (Think reach!)
The Martech Stack — Digital Marketing Platforms and Strategies
Step 1: Define your martech needs.
These should include:
- A sales enablement system like SalesForce or Microsoft Dynamics CRM*
- A marketing automation system like Constant Contact, Act-On, or Hubspot* to handle promotional marketing
- Website and e-commerce – Many website platforms offer integrated e-commerce.
- Don’t forget analytics and metrics for your campaigns! Many platforms offer integrated analytics, but in some cases, you may need specific add-ons for things like social media marketing, marcom sales enablement, product information management, configuration tools, or heat mapping.
Step 2: Develop a comparison table for each platform under consideration, and formalize your selection process.
The example below is not comprehensive. Your criteria will be unique to your business process, and it will be important to weigh your selections to get a balanced perspective. You may also want to weigh the input from your stakeholders based on use cases or interaction with the martech stack components. Formalizing the selection process includes collaboration and stakeholder buy-in from Sales, IT, Marketing, Communications, and Product Management.
Note: The following are examples of commercially available platforms and do not constitute endorsements.
Martech and the Connection to the Customer
Essentially, this discussion centers around software and applications, but your primary driver is using this technology to connect with potential and current customers. Your overarching strategy has to read something like:
We are going to use X to increase awareness by X percent. We are going to use Y for lead generation, and we are going to use Z to manage our pipelines, improve our customer contact, and manage our sales process.
A good idea is to map out your path(s) to market:
- How does your audience learn about your product or service?
- Who do they contact to learn more or purchase?
- How do you measure the inflection points of your specific sales process?
- How are your digital systems or platforms going to grow with your business?
It should be said that sometimes additional capacity can be added to address growth, but it’s important to recognize the limitations of your martech choices up front.
The Bottom Line
In many aspects, platform and martech stack selection are pretty straightforward. You’ll want to select for features, cost, and scalability based on your current and expected requirements. Either address scalability up front, or plan on replacing platforms every few years. (In some cases, the latter may be inevitable, but it’s certainly not the preferred approach.)
Help with selection can come from a variety of sources, and one of your best resources is your CIO. Strong support from IT is also necessary because they’ll be charged with integrating at the platform level, as well as managing the engagement of systems integrators, partners, or contractors.
I’ve been in many discussions where each stakeholder group wants specific information or results from the martech stack — and the problem is not that the platforms are not capable of providing the results; it’s actually a question of the cost of configuration as well as whether the expected results are in line with the strategy, campaign, or direction.
Concurrently, in each function that interacts with the martech stack, make sure you are staffing with the right people who have the right skill sets who get the big picture. and understand how the stack fits together and supports your growth strategy. Your team will offer specialized contributions in martech support, but your goals have to be aligned. And don’t forget to recognize and reward your team — The key ingredient of success is the ability of everything and everyone to work well together!