The 4 Pillars of a Marketing Technology Strategy
For a long time now, marketing and technology have been on a collision course, and we’re well past the point of impact.
That’s why you keep hearing the term “MarTech,” and it’s only getting bigger as a buzz word.
The thing is, just because MarTech is a buzz word doesn’t mean every potential marketing technology is worth the time and investment.
As we’re heading through the era of smart phones and into the era of wearables and the Internet of Things, the tricky part is figuring out which of those technologies belong in your marketing budget, and which are just the latest shiny thing distracting your attention?
That’s why you need to have a deliberate marketing and technology strategy to guide your investments and keep your wandering eye for technology focused on the part of the horizon you’re aiming for.
What Does a Marketing Technology Strategy Look Like?
On last year's Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, I had the chance to moderate several panels about this, including the keynote with UMarketing founder George Wiedemann and the closing panel discussion on how marketers are coming to terms with enhanced tech responsibilities.
Four elements emerged from those panels that are really the pillars of a solid MarTech strategy.
Marketing Tech Pillar 1
It is guided by your larger marketing strategy as it relates to your business strategy.
The marketing technology you invest in should not be guided by the newest shiny object or by the tools a few of your employees pick up to meet an immediate need.
The strategy should follow the goals your business plan has set for your marketing, and the overarching integrated marketing plan you’ve put in place to reach those goals.
This lets you build a marketing technology “stack” that works together and is all pulling in the same direction.
For example, your social media offers should be collecting conversions and routing them into your marketing automation or CRM system the same way any other marketing program works. They should be accountable to similar types of metrics, and you should be able to evaluate the technology and its benefits in metrics that align with each other and can be easily compared.
Marketing Tech Pillar 2
The strategy should look three, five or even 10 years down the road at where you want your marketing tech capabilities to be, how you expect to be using it, and the opportunities that are emerging.
If your technology is good enough for your needs today, but is building to a dead end in the future, then fixing that should be part of the plan.
But then how can you try new things if you’re only focused on what fits into the plan you already have?
One great idea from the closing panel was to set aside a “Skunkworks” budget specifically ear marked for trying out new technologies and figuring out if they do belong in your strategy in the future. That way you can try new things without skewing your strategy just to reach them.
Marketing Tech Pillar 3
Figure out how to make it accountable.
There’s nothing worse than a technology that, after it’s implemented, doesn’t contribute to the bottom line, or even becomes a drag on your efforts.
This gets back to our first point: Whatever technology you choose to invest in, it must contribute to your overall strategy in a measurable way. And you need to identify those metrics, collect them, and define how they relate to the other systems and metrics you’re using to evaluate your marketing.
Measurement and evaluation are as important, if not more important, than anything you consider before choosing a technology.
Marketing Tech Pillar 4
Make sure you have the people to make the technology work.
In the old Schwarzenegger movie Conan, they called it "The Riddle of Steel": The sword is nothing compared to the hand that wields it. Well, the same goes for your marketing.
No technology you install is more important than the personnel who are going to work it. Before choosing the technology, you need to figure out if you have the people in house to use it, or if you have to bring someone in.
If you’re going to bring someone in, are you looking at consultants or new hires?
Do you or other managers have the understanding of this technology to tell if it’s being used correctly?
If not, you either need to find a way to get that understanding, or hire talent at a higher level.
As you’re starting to hear more about new technologies like the Internet of Things, Periscope, Tinder or whatever is catching your eye, remember these four pillars for a successful martech strategy, and you’ll be on a solid base.