How to Select the Right Marketing Technologies

How to Select the Right Marketing Technologies

December 2021 | Marketing Technology

Choosing the right marketing technology is a complex task. Follow this 5 step process to make sure you arrive at the right decision every time.

Technology is not the solution to every problem. Plenty of businesses thrive without it, but it is essential when a particular task or process needs to be scaled. Technology exists to solve particular business needs. In its absence, human ingenuity and manual effort solves those needs instead.

Lead routing is a classic example of this. In a small team, all marketing leads are passed across to the same sales rep. That person then allocates those leads out to the rest of the sales team based on workload. Technology isn't needed for such an approach to work.

However, as lead volumes increase and additional sales reps are hired, this breaks down. A company might start routing leads to a nominated rep or queue in each territory. The lead routing features of Salesforce are implemented to manage this process. Finally, as daily lead volumes move into the hundreds, a dedicated routing tool such as LeanData might be used to handle complex territory mappings or automatically balance lead volumes across the team.

Making Choices

There are a lot of point solutions in the modern marketing technology marketplace. Scott Brinker's Martech 5000 diagram now encompasses 8000 different applications, covering the major marketing cloud providers through to niche technologies that solve a particular pain point or automate a specific business process. No company needs every application.

All this technology solves a valuable business purpose that many marketers are struggling with. However, the functionality within these tools frequently overlaps with other technologies or processes already deployed in the typical marketing department. When adding to the tech stack, it's important to properly define exactly what the new technology should do. Then, review whether the existing stack can fulfil that need before kicking off a procurement process.

Decide Business Objectives

Defining the right use case for a particular technology purchase can be tricky. Frameworks such as the Martech 5000 are a useful overview of the capabilities available in the marketplace, but they are not detailed enough to guide procurement decisions. That can only come from within the business. Every business is different, and every tech stack is different. No two business requirements are exactly the same.

Begin by considering the capabilities or processes that need improvement. What would be the real world benefits from making improvements? These could be expressed in financial terms, such as a revenue target. They could be efficiency gains measured in man hours or scalability improvements measured in lead volumes, or increased campaign output. Every technology purchase needs a business case with actual business benefits expressed in language meaningful to the boardroom.

Collate Requirements

Use this objective as a starting point for the technology selection process. Consider all the teams in the business impacted by the desired outcome. Each team's individual needs should be considered in the list of business requirements. List out the specific processes and capabilities that need to change to achieve the desired business goal. Then consider how those processes could be improved. Apply a bit of blue sky thinking, and imagine the ideal process or solution for the specific situation.

Also, consider the customer and partner perspectives. Are they impacted by the proposed change, and how could their experiences be improved? Ultimately, customer experience is king. It's far easier to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one. Anything that enhances the customer journey will positively impact the business far beyond the initial investment.

Prioritise Requirements

This exercise will result in a set of ideal business requirements. However, no solution can deliver everything. Be prepared to compromise. The key is to prioritise the list by working out the must have items and those items which are less important. Repeat the exercise until you've selected five essential business requirements. These are the items that your selection process must deliver. Everything else is optional and should be discarded where necessary.

Make sure the business requirements aren't too detailed. That will prejudice the selection process in favour of your existing tech stack, which most businesses want to avoid. Technology vendors are used to receiving wish lists as part of the typical RFP. From their perspective, a key part of the sales process is to work out the essential items and the items that can't be delivered. Few sales reps will admit that their proposed solution can't deliver every customer requirement. Yet, inevitably that is the case.

Review Options

Always consider which of your requirements can be delivered by the existing tech stack. That may require discussion with the incumbent vendors to review features and solutions that aren't being used today. It's likely that at least one requirement is best delivered through changes to existing technologies or processes. Be prepared to press ahead with that, regardless of your eventual decision.

If all your critical requirements can be delivered by the existing stack, then you're probably better off sticking with what you already have. Adding new technology to the stack is disruptive. Tweaking an existing solution is far less risky because there is a ready-made backup plan if the change doesn't work out. Make sure to have a fallback option even when replacing an existing solution.

Consider Change Management

Everyone always underestimates the change management aspects of technology implementation. It's rarely considered until after the new platform is purchased. Ask about training upfront, and make sure to check out any online tutorials and documentation before signing the contract. Reviewing help sites is an excellent way of finding out what a particular solution can't do, as well as the level of complexity. These are things vendors will try to downplay in pursuit of a deal.

Proper due diligence can be a slow and frustrating process, but it's essential to making the right decision. There is a reason why large companies have such strict purchasing controls. They typically lead to better decision making and less wasted spending. Take your time to navigate the process and build consensus. It will lead to the best outcome.

Banner Photo by John Schnobrich / Unsplash

Written by
Marketing Operations Consultant and Solutions Architect at CRMT Digital specialising in marketing technology architecture. Advisor on marketing effectiveness and martech optimisation.