In the darkest hours of the night, when the rest of the world is dreaming sweet careless dreams, your average marketing exec is likely wide awake and staring at the ceiling while thinking up better ways to run their team. Marketers are a unique bunch, an exciting mix of people who are just as turned on by a juicy creative idea as they are by some sweet, sweet data metrics.
Managing these passionate professionals is more of a challenge than you know; you’ve gotta be smart and use everything you can to keep those marketing wheels churning—those leads ain’t gonna find themselves. Smart marketing execs use marketing technology to channel the hamster energy of their team in the right direction.
Something else you need to factor in is that marketers are a social bunch, thriving in a collaborative environment where shared ideas are polished and refined by a healthy back-and-forth within the team. The shift to remote work puts a real kink in that. Once again, tech is the answer to team-building and collaboration at a distance.
But knowing that tech is the answer isn’t enough. In fact, it brings up a whole slew of other questions. And these, my friends, are the top 5 Martech questions that keep sleepless marketing executives tossing and turning.
1. What tech to use? (When is it time to upgrade your tech?)
There’s so much tech out there, it’s hard to know what to use in your stack. Above and beyond what company-wide software your IT department issues, there’s a whole world of Martech to choose from. How do you know which to choose? Hubspot? Salesforce? Sendoso? Mailchimp? Campaigner? Marketo? PartnerStack? AdRoll? Monday? Microsoft Dynamics?
Honestly, this list could go on and on. In his 2020 marketing technology landscape, Scott Brinker identified 8,000 Martech solutions, a number that’s up 13.6% from the previous year. That’s a whole lotta tech.
Heck, odds are you’re going to want to look at another piece of tech like LastPass just to help your people keep track of all the logins and passwords they need to access your warehouse of software (although a really smart manager will look for tech that doesn’t require another password, see question #2).
A related question to what tech to use is when do you need it? Knowing when it’s time to upgrade your Martech is just as important as what you need to upgrade to. Sometimes you already have tech that’s supposed to be doing a job, but it’s not performing as expected. Is it time to dump it for an alternative, or is your existing tech not meeting expectations because it’s not being used properly (see question #3).
Then there’s always this question: do we need more tech, or do we need more people? Sometimes the tools aren’t the problem, it’s the number of hands you have to wield them. Tech versus headcount is a balancing act that’s always weighing on a marketing executive’s mind.
Marketing execs are constantly assessing their Martech and trying to optimize their stack for their particular team’s needs. They’re also always looking into the future to anticipate what their team will need next quarter, next year, and beyond. They know that implementing a new piece of technology can take time, and sometimes by the time you recognize a gap in your tech stack, you realize the right time to fill that gap was 6 months ago.
2. How much tech is too much tech?
Yeah, there’s a crap-ton of tech out there (that’s a real measurement, honestly), and you could probably find a tool that does just about any job you can think of (although sometimes those are hard if not impossible to find, see question #4). But surely there comes a point when enough really is enough and it’s time to stop. But when is that?
Are 10 pieces of tech more than you need? Are 25? How much is too much?
There comes a time when a person is just not willing to use another tool, regardless of whether or not it will actually help them. This varies from person to person, and the critical mass for individuals might be different than that of the whole team. What you don’t want is to invest in something that’s not going to be used (see question #3 again).
A lot of the tools out there do their job really well, but they could be doing more. Some other tools will integrate with them, acting as invisible enhancements that don’t require you to login to anything new. These are precious diamonds to be treasured and adored. Anything that can make what you’ve already got better without adding any new demands on you or your team is just plain awesome. And you don’t have to count these towards your tech cap.
3. How do you get your team on board with your tech stack?
You don’t have to be a fan of baseball to know that if you build it, they will come. You do have to know a little bit about tech to know that this is not the case when it comes to people using the tech stack you so painstakingly put together.
One of the single biggest problems companies have when implementing new technology is getting people to actually use it. In some cases, this means an individual isn’t performing as well as they otherwise might if they were using the tech. In other cases, when someone doesn’t adopt the tech it has a much bigger impact not only on themselves but also on the entire organization. For example, a Customer Management System (CMS) is worthless if people aren’t spending the time to enter customer data into it. (There’s a clever way around this, of course, in the form of a CMS enhancement that automates data entry, but you get my point.)
If you meet a marketing exec with hair loss, you can bet it’s because they pulled it out trying to figure out how to get their people to adopt their tech. Any bags under their eyes might also be an indicator that worrying about their Martech stack has been keeping them up at night.
4. Where is the tech that does _______?
This question seems a little weird, considering how we’ve already established there is way more Martech out there than any marketing team could need or use, but every marketing executive eventually finds themselves wondering where the heck the tech is to accomplish task X. Task X varies from exec to exec, depending on what gap they’re trying to fill, but everybody’s got one.
Sometimes there is a solution out there that is supposed to fill a certain need, like, say, budgeting. But they find that the budgeting software that is out there is all tailored towards different types of budgeting, and they don’t do the jobs our poor bedraggled marketing exec needs to have done.
This is often where the vaunted creativity of a marketer comes into play as they are forced to search for alternative solutions. Still, they shouldn’t have to, so they keep on asking where is that darned task X tech?
5. What’s the one tech I can’t do without?
Actually, I kind of lied to you. This isn’t about the top 5 Martech questions that cause insomnia for marketing executives, it’s only about 4 questions. This last one isn’t a question that keeps marketing execs up at night, it’s just one we’d really like to know.
With all the different tools out there, all doing different jobs and filling different needs, which ones do the marketing executives think are the real superstars?
After all, they’ve spent countless sleepless nights agonizing over their tech stack, so who better to tell us what the very best ones are?
And now…the answers
Okay, I lied again. I’m not going to give you the answers, not here anyway. I don’t actually know them. Yet. We need to go straight to the horses’ mouths to get the real dirt on Martech.
Lucky for you, there’s an opportunity to do just that at the upcoming Marketing Executive Roundtable on June 22. This is where we will literally ask all these questions—and more—to some of the industry’s top leaders and get their hot take on how to make your marketing tech stack work the way it’s supposed to. And registration is open! How lucky is that?