Scott Brinker just released his brilliantly detailed research on the 2015 Marketing Technology Landscape. For 2015 the number of platforms, and applications has doubled from 2014.  This is both incredibly exciting and overwhelming.

Over the last several years of working with dozens of companies on their marketing strategies and tactical campaigns, marketing technology has been both a blessing and a curse.  SaaS-based marketing automation, CRM, content publishing and analytics platforms all provide marketers with tools to implement strategies like never before.

Viewing marketing technology as the strategy is where problems begin. Buying technology for technology’s sake simply throws money at problems without a plan. When budget expenditures on technology get to the point that customer engagement and demand generation is handicapped, it’s a significant problem that has a negative business impact. Programs, content, and data are the fuel that drives marketing technology.  Focus on the marketing strategy and programs first, and the technology second.

Are you acquiring new marketing technologies for the right reasons? Will your overall marketing budget be hit so hard that developing and executing an effective strategy is severely handicapped?  Here are some general common sense guidelines to help you make the right investments in marketing technology.

Develop the Strategy and Process First

Marketing technologies require a marketing strategy. The strategy should identify the necessary technologies that will integrate together and enable success. Of course not all processes can be mapped, and they likely won’t be perfect to start.  Of course tactical tools will emerge that can support a strategy later on. And not all processes will be known at first.  That’s OK. What doesn’t work is buying technology such as marketing automation without any plan for workflow, integrations, data, content, sales engagement, and metrics.

Customer Focus

Prioritize technology needs on whether the technology engages with your customers the way they want. Measuring results is very important ass well, although not always possible. If the technology investment supports the strategy and customer focus it may be the right fit.

Identify Strategic versus Tactical Technology Needs

There’s a big difference between strategic platforms like marketing cloud and automation platforms and tools that help with the tactical elements of an overall campaign. Quite often the niche tactical tools are the shiny objects that are easy to buy because they’re cheap and seem easy to utilize. If the tactical tools don’t support the overall strategy, it’s not a good investment.

Programs First

Marketing technologies require content, data, implementation, agencies, and other resources that require expenditures. Simply buying marketing automation won’t automate your marketing! Develop the marketing strategy and objectives and design the overall programs and campaigns. Designing the programs and campaigns will show the necessary channels to engage customers. Planning the programs will also show what content is needed. When this view is taken it’s easier to make the right decisions on the technologies to invest in, or not.

Get Everyone Ready for Change

Marketing technologies require change. Lots of change. And change is hard for people. Change pushes comfort zones. Change scares people. Change creates doubt and uncertainty. For a marketing strategy to succeed with marketing technology, change management is a must. Executives must support the strategy. Sales must support the strategy. The CEO must support the strategy. With everyone onboard, change becomes easier to accept, especially when following a solid plan.

The Budget Hit

When companies are flying high, technology investments are easier to make. Don’t take the hit on marketing campaigns and programs because marketing technology expenditures go over 40% of the overall marketing budget (less headcount). Some companies have gotten into the 60% range!

Utilization

A marketing technology is useless without implementation and utilization. If a technology isn’t utilized, cut it. And if a new technology won’t be properly utilized because of a lack of a plan or lack of support, don’t buy it. Period. Don’t waste the people resources or budget to buy or keep a technology. If a technology doesn’t make business sense, don’t pay for it. Incredibly many companies of all sizes struggle with this concept.

 

Marketing is a fantastic space to be in because of new innovations, processes, and technologies. The expanding landscape of technologies makes marketing exciting and daunting. Marketing is also incredibly complex and demanding. Technology can dramatically help companies, or lead to a train wreck. I am excited to see the innovations and options we marketers can utilize. But we also need to stay focused on business requirements.