Weigh Your Options: How to Prioritize New Marketing Technology

By Jason Wright

Most marketers receive a deluge of offers to improve ROI and productivity. The problem is selecting the right ones.

As technologies advance, new possibilities open up. Almost a third of marketing executives now spend more than $100,000 per year on marketing technology. To become a champion in marketing tech today, you might need to enter artificial intelligence, voice recognition, virtual reality and much more.

It can seem overwhelming. But as the old adage says, “you fail to reach 100% of the goals you don’t set”. By looking within your own business for inspiration, and using a few extra guidelines, you can navigate to success.

What are your options in new marketing technology?
Choosing the right marketing technology solution has become harder than ever. Why is this?

In short, because there are:

  • Eight different categories of marketing technology (advertising, content, experience, social, commerce, sales, data, and management)
  • 50 different sub-categories (search, mobile, video, influencers, CRMs, ecommerce, sales enablement, analytics, collaboration, etc.)
  • More than 6,000 technology solutions (Thunderclap, Oracle, Zendesk, Contently, etc.)

And that’s not including those who joined in the past year!

It’s an ever-evolving ecosystem. As technology advances, marketing technology has grown with it. There are now opportunities in live chat, data science, mobile, cloud services, and much more. Some platforms will integrate more than one of these channels, others will focus on one specifically.

Broadly speaking, marketing technology can be broken up into a few categories:

  • Crafting the customer-facing content such as email, mobile, influencers, events and webinars, social, and video
  • Audience and market data, channel marketing, assets, and resources. There might also be “backbone” solutions such as a CRM, Salesforce, Marketo, and HubSpot
  • “Middleware”. How your software programs talk to each other, as well as data management and other essential back-of-house services
  • The power stations of your marketing energy: big data, cloud providers, and software developers

Having a wide variety of programs to choose from is great for some. But the sheer number of options is overwhelming.

There are recent indications that the amount of choice is having a negative effect on the industry. Chief Marketing Officers are looking to reduce complexity in delivery and supply chains in 2019. To ensure their marketing program stays profitable and hits KPIs, many executives are making a tactical retreat.

How do you weigh your marketing technology options?
To develop a spectacular marketing strategy, you need a pragmatic plan to reach your goals. The first step toward is to look within your own company for inspiration.

1. Don’t look for technology before examining your own business.
Technology should be driven by need. But, the enthusiasm for a new tool and “exciting features” can often override concerns. For example, most marketing enterprises are using more than 90 cloud services in their day-to-day operations and don’t even know it.

Analyze your current inbound marketing landscape. Where are most of your leads coming from? Which turn into repeat buyers? Be ruthless in your approach: cut ties with channels that don’t work.

Start with the customer journey. If you rationalize your decisions by constantly asking “What does the buyer want?” it will naturally lead to a process of consolidation. Identify gaps in the customer journey as these are good opportunities for insights.

2. One of your best sources of knowledge is your own salespeople.
Thinktanks such as Forrester or Gartner are great authorities, but they don’t know your customers intimately. Learn what your sales reps need to be successful with customers and find the tech that best serves them.

After all, it makes sense to consult sales, because as a marketer, the sales rep is your first customer. Any solution must include their buy-in. The best tech solutions bring sales and marketing departments closer together.

3. Draw up an opportunity map.
Using the axes of “risk” vs “reward” you can map and visualize your potential choices. Some might be experimental and short-term, others a long-term sensible investment.

It’s also a great way to brainstorm and get a discourse going in a meeting.

4. Categorize, then prioritize.
You might end up with an unwieldy list of technologies. It’s important at this stage to put them into easy goals and timelines.

Sort out your “needs” from “wants”. You could send the “needs” around to all stakeholders in your company to make sure everyone is on board, preventing any last-minute “need” requests.

5. Research widely.
Look for marketing technology events, conferences, industry analysts, and reports. If you already subscribe to a marketing technology provider, you could chat with one of their experts. Also look at any research, whitepapers, and surveys available online.

6. Get a return on your investment.
In the end, it all comes down to the two precious commodities in business—time and money. And if your new tech doesn’t make financial sense, then why bother?

Long-term, the added expense of technology might save you money. Think about the opportunity cost of not buying in. What are the potential future losses (i.e. loss of growth)? What insights will your competitors gain that you will not?

Overall, remember that new technology often requires a paradigm shift, an intellectual and emotional buy-in, as well as a budget shift. There are ways that sales enablement platforms can make you more efficient. For example, with the right tech a few high performing sales reps could perform better than a much larger team.

Your tech should be goal-focused
If you’re a goal-setter, you can always get help from technology.

Running a marathon? A fitness tracker will help. Cooking healthier? An instant cooker is great.

To prioritize marketing technology, firstly look inside your own business and to sales for inspiration. There is also likely to be gaps in your buyers’ journey. Find the opportunities, then map, categorize, and list them. Finally, make sure you get a return on your investment, without ignoring long-term goals and paradigm shifts.

Jason Wright is the VP, IT and Interactive Development at Triptych. Jason specializes in finding the right blend of insight, technology, and strategy to come up with actionable and achievable solutions. Even as a technologist, he doesn’t believe that everything is solved by throwing more technology at it. That’s why he strives to fit the technology and the people using it — which is critical for the lasting success of any solution.