- Responsible approach. Prioritize simplicity and flexibility in your martech stack.
- Ethical audit. Regularly assess your tools for efficiency and resource management.
- Smart scaling. Choose martech solutions that scale with your organization’s needs.
“Martech sprawl” — or the proliferation of martech solutions within an organization’s ecosystem — can have long-lasting negative impacts. And just how bad is it?
Well, Gartner’s 2022 Marketing Technology Survey found that the average organization was utilizing 58% of its martech stack in 2020. In 2022, that number has dropped to just 42%. Utilization is down 16% in just two years and by now has surely dropped even further. And a drop in utilization combined with a proliferation of martech solutions available (Scott Brinker now has us at 11,038 solutions) directly translates to martech complexity, stack overengineering, increased expenses, bloat and mounting technical debt.
Responsible Marketing: Streamlining for Efficiency & Ethical Management of Resources
In a time of economic belt-tightening, now is the time for marketing departments to contribute to the bottom line by shedding solutions that they aren’t productively using. Less is indeed more. Not only will this help eliminate the complexity, costs and bloat mentioned above — but it will also demonstrate to shareholders and consumers that the organization is operating in a responsible manner.
One of the things we are talking about a lot at SAS is the concept of performing “responsible marketing,” which translates to being responsible with:
- Customer and marketing data.
- Marketing and advertising technologies.
- Marketing resources.
Related Article: Are You Measuring Your Martech Correctly? Really?
Boosting Martech Efficiency: Simplify, Audit, Integrate and Control
Operating marketing and advertising technology solutions without an eye on simplicity, flexibility, accessibility and scalability creates a broader ecosystem that is ripe for the mismanagement of data, technology, resources and outcomes. Let’s discuss these characteristics and how infusing them into your technology ecosystem demonstrates organizational responsibility.
Simplicity: Reduce Complexity of Marketing Stacks
Creating a “simple” martech stack is much easier said than done in a world that seemingly thrives on complexity. And complexity in business is no different — as so many factors are contributing to increased business complexity today. Whether it’s channel proliferation, social and economic events, increasing consumer demands and changing preferences, or data privacy laws like GDPR. All these things create an environment that adds data, process, activation and governance complexity to the business equation. So how do organizations reduce the complexity of marketing technology stacks?
Reduce Over-Engineering in Your Stack
Over-engineering is commonly a result of not fully understanding a process or desired output. If I don’t know how to get from point A (data ingestion) to point B (activating a customer interaction over the newest channel or in the newest environment), I’ll stop and ask for directions (add a new piece of software) along the way. Asking questions like “what is our end goal?,” “is this the simplest manner to achieve our goal?,” and “are there better alternatives to our process today?” are a great way to reduce over-engineering.
Conduct Regular Audits
Performing to understand what tools and technologies are still in use and which ones can be sunset seems like a commonsensical task. However, what’s not often considered is that instead of letting solutions become “shelfware,” decommissioning them in a timely manner saves expense as well as risk from a data leakage, breach and privacy perspective. The organization becomes efficient and “leaner” in terms of technical debt it may carry. Grouped in with martech software audits is the containment of “shadow IT” — or one-off instances of software that is used by small departments or even individuals within the organization. Shadow IT not only poses risk to the organization, but it too imputes additional costs.
Opt for Integrated Suites Over Best-of-Breed Solutions
Natively built, single UI (user interface), Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions reduce the burdens associated with integrations, custom processes and data duplication. Using fewer solutions in a more effective manner reduces complexity, increases user satisfaction and saves money. Per Gartner’s same survey referenced above, “a preference for “integrated suites” is dominant. Turbulence in the macro-environment has cemented reliance on the integrated suite approach to the procurement of marketing technologies. According to our survey, a staggering 60% of respondents say they prefer an integrated suite approach to selecting technology. Meanwhile, just 25% say they prefer a “best-of-breed” approach.” It’s likely popular because of the complexity it helps to shed.
In-House Control: Run Marketing Operations From Within
Connected to the point above concerning integrated suites, complexity reduction is currently coming through the “in-housing” of control over software solutions versus outsourcing daily operations to an agency, consultant, or even big tech. Marketers and advertisers want the choice, level of insight, decision-making freedom and cost-savings that come with running their own operations. Additionally, developing long-term in-house capability allows for ROI to be continually improved.
Flexibility: Use Marketing Solutions That Breed Simplicity
As much as martech vendors might like to believe it, users of software don’t sit down at their desks each morning thinking, “How much time can I spend in Vendor X’s software today?” Quite the opposite — they want a solution that they can access, complete their work in and exit.
Because of that, martech solutions and the stacks they reside in should be designed with flexibility in mind. Make it easy for a user, regardless of if they are a technical do-it-for-myself or business do-it-for-me persona, to get from login to completed action. This translates to procuring software that is:
- Easy and intuitive to use.
- Quick to gain insight from (regardless of persona).
- Easy to integrate into a larger process or with services.
Accessibility: Embrace Multilevel Integrations, API Gateways
Martech stacks are ecosystems. They contain many solutions that are joined together to complete the customer journey orchestration process. As with environmental ecosystems, Martech ecosystems are constantly changing and contain a variety of components that are both interconnected and interactive. Therefore, the solutions within an ecosystem must be both accessible to other systems and extensible — integrating new channels and apps as they come online.
Accessibility and extensibility are delivered by providing multilevel integrations that come out of the box to external systems, API gateways, and agent software development kits (SDKs). From a data perspective, direct connect access to cloud-based data sources is becoming the norm. These audience capabilities take the on-premise or “in marketing cloud” segment creation of the past to a whole new level.
And guess what? Increasing accessibility and extensibility in a responsible manner pays major dividends. Integrations provide access to analytical business decisions or insight derived in other applications, extending insight across the enterprise. Connector frameworks allow for channel activation from a single audience repository. And dynamic audience creation capabilities eliminate data duplication, movement and the security and privacy risks that are associated.
Andrey Popov on Adobe Stock Photos
Scalability: Martech Solutions Must Be Around for Long Haul
Whether it’s a new piece of consumer technology or an enterprise martech solution, no one likes purchasing something knowing that it has a finite expiration date attached. Improving scalability to through software solution purchase to grow your organization purposefully and responsibly is imperative in today’s economic environment.
Having a solution that scales over time and can grow with your organization means not only increasing in customer volumes but also scaling from:
Simple to Complex Customer Journeys
Having the ability to start by deploying simple journeys and then moving to more complex scenarios as you gain customer understanding and organizational expertise.
One to Many Activation Channels
As your business evolves, so can your messaging. Shift from campaigns to journeys with comprehensive customer journey management and optimization. Use behavioral, demographic and historical data to guide consumers to desired outcomes across an increasing number of channels resulting in higher conversion rates, deeper engagement and increased lifetime value.
Elementary to Advanced Analytics
Embedding analytics into your martech processes is a must-have for real-time decision-making in marketing. Choosing a solution that contains basic descriptive and predictive analytics and can scale to more advanced AI and machine learning just makes good business sense. You should have the ability to personalize, test, and responsibly recommend decision actions with trustworthy, contextual AI and analytics.
Related Article: Trends Shaping Martech Strategy in 2023
Embrace Simplicity, Flexibility, and Scalability in Martech
With software buying cycles lengthening, request for proposals (RFPs) becoming more involved, and marketing budgets shrinking (Gartner), now is certainly the time to take a look at martech sprawl. Whether you are purchasing net new or renewing with your current vendor, make your decisions with simplicity, flexibility, accessibility and scalability in mind. And if you think we should add another category or two to the four listed above, let’s have a dialogue.
Learn how you can join our contributor community.