How to (finally) simplify your B2B marketing technology stack

The vice president of marketing at a B2B technology company is sitting in her office. The space is cleanly furnished, sparse and tasteful. All she has on her desk is a neat stack of papers, her phone, and her computer. And yet she couldn’t possibly feel more overcrowded.

Her computer screen is crowded with logins, dashboards, and control panels for a hundred different marketing technologies. The advertising team is struggling to find a number while the board is curious about a breakdown of web traffic and lead information for the previous quarter. The data team wants to review a stat they’re not sure is correct, while the web team is equally concerned about a number they’ve just discovered definitely Reporting wrong – and this is affecting web reporting as a whole.

B2B marketing today presents thousands of challenges, each of which seems to have between one and fifteen technological “solutions”. It’s easy to pile everything up on your team, and before you know it, your marketing mix is ​​a tangle of inconsistent reports, tedious manual entries, and arcane paths that only one person on your team fully understands. But despite all the expense, work, and headaches, does all this technology actually help your brand tell its story more effectively?

The playing field

It’s not difficult to understand how we got here.

Between an ever accelerating pace of competition in the digital space and technology evolution seemingly offering new solutions every day, the marketing tech space has quickly become overcrowded over the past 5 years. Between 2011 and 2016, the space for technology providers has grown from 150 technology options to over 3,500 (although recent measurements have omitted even more ‘generic’ technologies such as database software). On the one hand, the resulting competition has meant a lot of more effective solutions to more marketing problems. On the other hand, research from Conductor found that 31 percent of marketing leaders now report using more than 10 different marketing technologies (and another 7 percent of marketing leaders report breaking the 20-piece tech blanket).

But these numbers might not be a real concern when all of these technologies enable marketers to do their jobs better. Right?

The same conductor study found that this is probably not the case. Around 53 percent of marketing leaders said they felt “overwhelmed” by the amount of data their platforms provided, while another 67 percent said they had to sift through too many dashboards to find the information they wanted. Just five years ago, the biggest challenge for marketers was gathering accurate and useful information. Today, our access to information has moved to the other end of the spectrum, and marketers are drowning in it.

The good news? There is absolutely a way to slim down your B2B marketing technology stack. But it will likely require a thorough assessment of what your team is doing, and then a long de-cluttering of the data you already have.

team

Narrow down your criteria

There are two processes you need to go through to simplify your marketing tech situation: assess your data questions and assess your current technology platforms.

Data questions are simply the questions your team answers with reference to data. In the past, when good data was scarce, it was difficult to know exactly what it might be. The result was often a Scrooge-like hoarding of all sorts of data “just in case”. Today, however, data science is becoming an increasingly entangled part of the way enterprise marketers around the world work, and the practices surrounding how we approach data have also been refined. This allows marketers to focus on what they really need and not what they might need.

Score these questions to understand what your brand’s data needs really are:

What do I have to justify?

Before any research or analysis, data is used to prove what you know about your brand. Take the time to list exactly what your team needs to report on before any experiments come into play. Elements like conversion tracking and spend attribution fall into this category.

What do I want to learn?

Marketers tend to be curious by nature, so it’s likely that your answers to these questions will be exhaustive. However, once the list is complete, take the time to group your answers by what kind of data would help you test that hypothesis, and you’ll likely find a few large groups with a few interesting outliers. If possible, try to eliminate or tweak your outliers to fit your larger groups, and it will be easier to choose technical solutions that will help you test most (if not all) of your questions.

Who will see this at the end?

Do you report your data to an executive or does your entire team have access? Are marketers the only people looking at your data, or maybe you have non-marketers trying to interpret your marketing data? Thinking about how your information is presented—or how you might want to avoid having it presented—can help you make choices between two equally powerful platforms.

Once you understand what your data needs are, the process of choosing your most efficient marketing technology stack becomes a simple matter of scouring the market while keeping a few priorities in mind:

  • ROI. How can a platform help you better understand how you spend and make money? And does the cost of the platform justify it? This should be your most important selection criteria above all else.
  • Customization and Integration. Marketing moves fast, and the result is that platforms sometimes can’t always meet your specific needs with every update. To avoid constantly switching platforms or relying on a daisy chain of intermediate tools, choose marketing technology that gives you the freedom to customize to your personal needs and easy integration with your other essential tools.
  • User friendliness. If you (or your team) don’t enjoy using the platform, chances are it won’t be as effective as you’d hope. Now that you’ve learned the basics of how a tool actually works, you should always consider ease of use and presentation when making your choice.
  • Find a single consolidator. Last but not least, several technologies have entered the field to help marketers avoid the “too many dashboards” syndrome. If your stack and budget have room, consider one of these reporting platforms to bring all your material together in one easy-to-access place. However, keep in mind that this platform will likely need to invest a lot of time upfront to get set up well. If your stack is small enough (less than five tools), this type of consolidation is probably unnecessary. Looking for an all-in-one enterprise content publishing solution?Check out the Skyword platform.

Marketing technology is becoming increasingly complex. The digital world is filled with needs that businesses are hoping to solve, and the result is that your brand is already caught between too many options that do too much or too little to actually matter. The only way to stay ahead of the curve is to remember your human element: keep your curiosity and needs in mind, and focus on the technology that efficiently meets those needs.

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