The marketing technology landscape has gotten complicated. Scott Brinker’s “supergraphic” is the perfect visualization of not only the incredible growth within the space, but the wealth of options available to marketers.
There are literally thousands of vendors and solutions to choose from and – truth be told – there are a lot of marketers who are overwhelmed by much of it. It’s one of the central reasons CabinetM exists.
As technology becomes even more critical to the success of marketing teams, building a marketing stack that works for your unique business is an ongoing challenge.
At the MarTech Conference in San Francisco last week (March 21 & 22), we got the opportunity to talk with many of the martech vendors and marketers about the challenges and obstacles they face in creating an effective marketing stack. We wanted to better understand where marketers are seeing gaps within their stack.
Here’s what they had to say:
Andrew Wheeler, Vice President of Services, Skyword
The marketing technology landscape is incredibly crowded, and the biggest challenge that marketers face in creating an effective stack is sorting through the possibilities and making a decision that they feel good about. The amount of choice is overwhelming. Marketers are forced to make these distinctions on their own, while weighing the needs of all sides of the organization, and ensuring new and old technology investments will play together nicely.
Scott Vaughan, Chief Marketing Officer, Integrate
Without a doubt integration is #1. One of the most innovative and successful execs at FedEx used this phrase, “If it doesn’t connect, do NOT invest.” And for good reason. We often invest in marketing technology and it sits in a silo underutilized, offering little value to the organization. Integration is followed closely by the talent or skills gap. Technology is an enabler of effective process and execution of strategies but few of us – today – in marketing have the tech experience or savviness to fully utilize what’s available.
Larry Kim, Founder, Wordstream
The greatest gap is in how your solutions work together. We have some platforms inching closer to providing a one-stop solution, but by and large, you’re having to come up with a bunch of technologies that you hope will integrate reasonably well in order to get anything done. With a point solution, you can have one thing done great, or you can go with a platform and have a ton of stuff done terribly. Pick your poison.
Sheryl Schultz, Cofounder and COO, CabinetM
We encourage marketing teams to split their stack management into two distinct elements — active stack and test stack. For the active stack it is important to maintain a current view of all tools being used, their function, spend, performance and integration points. This can be a challenging task for enterprises with distributed marketing teams but taking the time to understand what’s in play and how well it is performing is essential to determining where improvements are needed, where it makes sense to consider further integration and where there are gaps to be filled. Having a separate test stack allows you to cycle new products in and out and ensure that they are adding value and performing to expectations before cluttering the core stack.
Christopher Hart, Head of Client Development, Linkdex
I think the next challenge for marketing technology lies in helping customers better harness the data derived from our platforms to tell their brand stories. Companies constantly seek out new technology, which they then purchase and implement. But even if the technology is doing what it is supposed to do, organizations don’t always know how to optimize it and – what’s worse – they don’t know how to take the next steps after harnessing data from these platforms, thus rendering the investment useless. As a result, companies begin to question the technology itself. This has even given rise to consulting companies whose sole purpose is setting up, optimizing and running the technology that companies have purchased but don’t have the skills to operate. But it also means we – as technology providers – have an opportunity to align more closely with our clients and to provide a better experience so they can derive genuine value from our products.
Yoav Schwartz, Cofounder & CEO, Uberflip
I think the biggest challenge marketers face is not knowing or understanding where their technology gaps lie, and, of course, attempting to navigate the martech landscape. As an example, Kapost, Contently, and CoSchedule are all “content marketing platforms”, but they all satisfy a different part of the content marketing process. One solution likely won’t cover all of your needs.
From a B2B content marketing perspective, the biggest technology gap is definitely in creating a well-optimized content experience. Many B2B marketers are focused on content creation, distribution, and generating insights, but aren’t focused enough on the optimization of their end user’s experience.
Sam Melnick, Director, Customer & Marketing Insights, Allocadia
Two things here:
First, patience! Everyone wants a quick fix or a silver bullet. BUT it takes time to implement (good) technologies and then takes time to see the benefits. Marketers need to identify vendors they can trust and partner with for years to come, not a technology that is going to solve all their woes in 1 – 2 quarters. That’s unrealistic and sets your stack up (and the marketing team) for failure.
Second, companies are not laying the ground work for success. This means start with core operational issues. If data isn’t clean or processes are broken, throwing a technology on top of that will not solve the problem. Marketers need to identify technologies that help enable the change they want to create internally, not create the change for them. For instance, a lot of companies want ROI insights, but they first skip right to the returns – that’s a mistake – without an understanding of marketing investments first, returns have no anchor or grounding on what it actually took to get there.
Anne Murphy, Content Marketing Manager, Kapost
The challenge we’re seeing is with content. Companies are investing in technologies to track their buyer’s behaviors and interactions. They’re taking those data points and scoring them with marketing automation. But when they aren’t seeing the return, it’s usually because they don’t have the right content to drive customer conversations and build out nurture tracks. It all boils down to content. Another missing piece for a lot of businesses is understanding how content is impacting business metrics (i.e. revenue) and getting a clear picture of what’s working and what’s not.
Allen Gannett, CEO, TrackMaven
Finding the right sequence of adoption to build up your marketing stack is critical. If you invest in the wrong platforms to start, you’ll waste time rebuilding your infrastructure later. You’ve got to evaluate which technology investments will help you get quick wins now without overbuilding.
Lynn Langmade, Director of Marketing Communications & Content, Certain
Ninety-two percent of marketers have no way of measuring event success, meaning that there is no way to determine Event ROI (Return on Investment) or Event ROO (Return on Objective). Being able to target attendees before, during, and after events, allows marketing teams to develop email campaigns and nurture tracks, and send leads through the sales pipeline, turning prospects into customers. Event automation, quite literally is the martech tool that helps marketers bridge the gap with their sales team to grow pipeline and increase revenue.
Tackling MarTech Challenges
As marketers build and improve their marketing stacks, it’s clear there are bumps along the way. The vendors we spoke to highlighted some of the common obstacles – the breadth of options, the challenge of integrating tools, and optimizing martech to its full capability.
The upside is we – as marketers – can learn from each other. We’d love to hear from you about the challenges you’re facing with marketing technology and what solutions you’ve found. Connect with us on Twitter @CabinetM1.