With 2019 right around the corner, we wanted to address an ever-important and always-changing landscape, the MarTech stack. That's why we partnered with Marketo Champion Alumni and Founder of Marketing Rockstar Guides Josh Hill to bring you an in-depth discussion on what your business needs to consider when evaluating your MarTech stack.
How do you assess whether or not your MarTech stack is working for you right now?
I would say two or three times a year, I will ask this question of the team and my stack. Depending on the answers and pain level, we can prioritize work to improve the day as well as acquire more customers. I ask a few questions:
- Can it handle your current volume?
- Is it creating work or taking away work?
- Is it collecting the data you 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.
If you consider Marketo one of the core pieces of your tech stack, how do you prioritize adding additional technology?
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.
What members of your organization should be involved in your decision to invest in your MarTech stack?
Definitely depends on the part of the stack we are talking about.
- 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.
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 if you do a multi-year Marketo subscription.
What does a successful MarTech stack allow you to accomplish?
A successful 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.
What are the common pitfalls you see in building and maintaining a MarTech stack?
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 totally 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.
Do you have additional considerations for your MarTech stack in 2019? Let us know in the comments! Also, check out our brand new Holiday themed customer newsletter for more content around setting yourself up for a successful 2019.