Marketing technology optimization is an evolution, not a revolution

It can be tempting to jump in with both feet when you're adopting new marketing technologies. But contributor Mary Wallace advises a gradual approach.

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Evolution 1920x1080 H8xnapOptimization doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of little steps that are accomplished over time to reach a high-performance state.

Superstud Olympic figure skater Nathan Chen didn’t accomplish landing quads at overnight. Instead, he first learned how to land a single jump, then a double, then a triple, and finally a quad.

Along the way, he likely fell unmentionable times, learning and making corrections one at a time until he had all the pieces necessary to consistently land a quad. Users’ embrace of the marketing technology stack evolves just like Nathan Chen’s journey to landing quads and Olympic success.

Strategy, not technology, is the driver

Marketing technology should support the marketing strategy, not be the marketing strategy. That means that before you start the journey, you must know what you want to accomplish, e.g., improved lead conversion, more leads or higher-quality contacts.

Then, consider how martech can support the strategy. Take into consideration what is currently being used and the associated weaknesses.

Because data is such an integral part of martech, consider what data is needed to support the strategy. Include not only the data needed for continued operations but also the data needed to determine whether the evolution is on-target or needs to be realigned.

Build a roadmap that supports the strategy and builds on each step that is taken. Understand the sequence and building blocks (processes, technology and resources) needed at each stage to ensure success.

Foundation for martech success

Start with a single basic tool. A good starting point might be a marketing automation platform to engage with your contacts, a content management system (CMS) to manage your website and attract new customers or a customer relationship management (CRM) platform for sales to manage opportunities.

The specific tool selected is not important. It doesn’t matter if your business requires a Cadillac like Eloqua or a more economical solution like Act-on. What does matter is that a new tool empowers marketing to generate new leads, engage existing ones and assist sales in closing opportunities.

Tweak how the tool is used by testing out new processes and functionality. Some ideas won’t work, but others will shine brightly. The key, notes a McKinsey report on top-performing marketing organizations, is to be agile and fluid in new ways of working.

Empowering marketers to be comfortable and successful at each step is the building block for the next step. Not only does it show that technology is empowering the growth and acceleration of lead engagement, it also creates an environment for success.

To help foster this environment, communicate the benefits internally and create a way to praise the team’s successes to the company as a whole. Doing this tears down barriers related to the fear and uncertainty of change that come when team members worry about performing their jobs effectively with the new tools and processes.

A gradual climb to the pinnacle of success

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Optimize and increase the size of your marketing stack as your organization matures. If there is too much technology and the organization is not ready for it, the tools will not be used properly… or worse, they won’t be used at all.

Minimize the number of concurrent changes. Focusing change on one item helps to manage risk and increases the chances of successful adoption. For example, add a data warehouse or tracking tool; don’t add both at one time.

If too many technologies are being added or changed at once, it’s unclear what went wrong when something breaks. And inevitably, something will break. When there are too many shifts occurring, pinpointing the cause of a problem and coming up with an associated solution becomes more complex and time-consuming.

Additionally, marketing teams focusing on too many concurrent changes find their attention spread thinly across each. Diluted attention can result in longer time frames for implementation and create the potential for additional risks when details are missed.

With delays in implementations and unforced errors, the evolution of marketing technology within the organization comes to a grinding halt. Naysayers — those who don’t believe in the changes brought about by marketing technology — will point at the failures and collateral damage.

Even worse, the errors caused by botched implementations can create a bad customer experience and lost revenue.

Keep a laser focus on your goals of optimized marketing

Eight years ago, according to profiles published about him, 10-year-old Nathan Chen set his sights on skating in the Olympics. His strategy for getting there included cultivating a combination of athleticism and grace.

While the tools he used to support his strategy included on-ice training as well as off-ice ballet classes, he never veered from his goals.

Like learning to skate at an Olympic level, evolving to a mature marketing organization — one that successfully harnesses the tools in its marketing technology stack — takes time. It’s a step-by-step evolution that leads to delivering more personalized communications, understanding marketing impacts and, ultimately, driving company revenue.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Mary Wallace
Mary Wallace is a modern marketer with the skills and ability to increase revenue and optimize campaign performance by leveraging technical, business, management, content, and marketing expertise. With over 25 years of industry experience, Mary has a diverse background in marketing, technology, media, consulting, and leadership that enables her to help clients implement solutions that produces optimal results. A leader in marketing automation and marketing technology, Mary provides thought leadership for a variety of publications.

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