How to Choose a Marketing Technology Stack, Part 2 of 7: Strategy

How to choose a martech stack

In this series, we’ll unpack our marketing technology deployment strategy. We’ll learn how to properly plan a marketing technology stack rollout, develop a sensible governance model, examine what could go wrong, and succeed on the first try rather than patch and duct tape a disaster repeatedly.

The Marketing Technology Strategy Framework

Part 2: Marketing Technology Strategy

All strategy begins with why. Why are we doing what we’re doing? When it comes to marketing technology specifically, we must ask ourselves why marketing technology is the right solution for the problem we face.

Let’s walk backwards through a standard list of questions we should be asking.

Understand Goals

First, what are our business goals? What does the business need to achieve overall? For some companies, it may be a gross or net margin. Margins focus heavily on both cost and growth, so knowing that the company has a margin target is important. We may be constrained on what we can invest in technology to meet the margin target.

Other companies might focus on gross revenue. Avinash Kaushik recently relayed a story from his time at Google where CEO Eric Schmidt faced some business challenges. Rather than lay out a margin or net revenue target, Schmidt called for all hands to pile on gross revenue, stating that revenue fixes all known problems.

Understand KPIs

Once we understand the business goal, we work backwards to what we are responsible for. What is our portion of the business goal, our contribution? If we face margins or net revenue goals, then our KPIs must be equal parts cost reduction and growth. If we face gross revenue targets, what is our contribution to those targets?

  • Do we generate supplementary revenue with our audience reach?
  • Do we crank out more marketing qualified leads?
  • Do we change our marketing target to chase higher value leads?

Understand Limits

Next, we examine our constraints. What constraints do we have on achieving our goals?

  • Is there a specific timeframe we must achieve them in?
  • Do we need to stay within a certain budget or headcount?
  • Are there certain markets we cannot address?

Knowing our limitations also helps us to make an eventual marketing technology solution choice. By knowing what we cannot do, we can eliminate specific implementations.

Catalog Methods

Finally, we need an existing inventory of what we do. What are our current systems in place? Consider the average marketing technology stack, which looks something like this:

  • Advertising systems
  • Social media
  • Public relations
  • Data management platform
  • Website
  • Lead management
  • Email marketing
  • Marketing automation
  • Sales enablement
  • Remarketing/retargeting
  • CRM
  • Customer service
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Financial management

What methods do we currently have in place? We make an extensive catalog of what we’ve got.

Consider Marketing Technology’s Impact

When we look at the above marketing methods and systems we use, we must focus on two key principles: efficiency and effectiveness.

Efficiency is a question of return on investment. Given a certain amount of time and resources, how well does any given method accomplish the tasks set before it? We measure efficiency as a financial measure. For $X invested in hard and soft dollar costs, what does the method return to us? (We measure time as money in soft dollars)

Effectiveness is a question of impact. How much does each method contribute to our overall targets and goals? If we are tasked with 1,000 conversions per month, how much does any given method contribute towards those conversions, either as the last touch or as an assisted conversion?

We need to understand efficiency and effectiveness to understand our marketing technology strategy. Different marketing technology solutions fix different marketing problems. Some solutions, like marketing automation, focus on fixing efficiency problems. Instead of manually scoring leads, marketing automation can accelerate the scoring process by automating it.

Other solutions, like enterprise social media management or data management platforms, help us to scale, to be more effective, to generate more impact and greater results. They help us stretch beyond our current limitations and reach.

Walk through the list above and score the different tools, methods, and processes we use in each bucket. How efficient or effective is each portion of the marketing technology stack we currently have?

When we are charged with goals relating to margin and net revenue, we focus on efficiency over effectiveness.

When we are charged with goals relating to gross revenue, we focus on effectiveness over efficiency.

We don’t completely discount efficiency or effectiveness in either scenario, but we emphasize one or the other.

Once we’ve scored each of the existing pieces, we should have a clear understanding of the parts of our existing strategy that are underserving our goals. We know what’s wrong, and that lays down the strategic foundation of what we will improve.

Next: Who

In the next post in this series, we’ll move onto understanding who is responsible for our marketing technology stack choices and implementation. Only through knowing who has personal, individual responsibility for each of the pieces in our marketing technology stack can we make true progress towards achieving our goals.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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Posted on March 13, 2017 in Marketing, Marketing Technology, Strategy

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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