September 17, 2020

Do You Really Need That Piece of Martech?

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No matter what you’re trying to do in marketing today, there’s a piece of technology out there to help you do it. Marketing technology — or martech, as the sector is often known — is a huge market today. The latest count of the solutions in the martech space by Scott Brinker, VP of platform ecosystem at Hubspot, listed 8,000 applications.

The martech sector gets a lot of attention because of its size; because of its mix of well-established vendors and start-ups; and because a lot of people think it’s ripe for a major consolidation. There’s also a lot of innovation happening in martech, a number of very useful tools, and to be honest, some applications that are pretty cool in what they do and how they do it.

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Considering a Martech Investment?

If you’re seriously considering investing in a piece of martech, make sure you cover all the areas you would for other business or technology purchases.

These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Cost
  • Functionality
  • Integrations with existing systems and platforms
  • Scalability
  • Buy-in from your stakeholders, which includes the people who will be implementing the solution and the users.

Since software-as-a-service (SaaS) is the dominant deployment model in martech, it’s unlikely you’ll face a decision about cloud vs. on-premise installations.

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Why Are You Considering This Investment?

Shiny new tools are fun, and interesting applications abound in the martech space. But budgets are rarely unlimited and resource allocation is an important consideration when you’re running a marketing organization. You can improve your chances of getting buy-in from internal stakeholders and seeing a return on your investment if you can build a solid business case.

Start with these questions:

  • Is something missing from your current martech stack?
  • Do you need to upgrade a solution that already exists in your stack?
  • Will the piece of martech you’re considering automate a manual process or otherwise improve efficiency?

Here’s one of the challenges of choosing a martech solution: This isn’t a completely mature market, as witnessed by the 8,000 solutions vying for your attention. Marketers that fall in love with a specific software feature or a point solution they think their team can’t live without might end up experiencing buyer’s remorse. There’s simply a good chance something as good or even better will be available in short order.

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Avoiding Buyer’s Remorse

One way to avoid buyer’s remorse in a fluid market like martech is, of course, to vet your vendors. More than 600 of the martech solutions featured on Brinker’s 2019 list were not on the 2020 list because of consolidation or because they went defunct. That’s consolidation of nearly 9%. The 2020 list of martech solutions grew to 8,000 strong because 20% of the solutions on the 2020 list weren’t on the 2019 list.

Companies coming and going from a market can represent a risk to your investment. Thoroughly vet the vendors you’re considering and make sure you understand their funding, their product roadmaps, their record of customer service, and more.

Vendors and their solutions are only part of the equation for a successful martech deployment. On your end, you need to think about your people and your processes.

It’s estimated as many as 80% of all software product features are rarely or never used. Sometimes this happens because the organization over-bought on functionality or because the plans in place at the time later changed. But it also happens because the software users don’t know how to use it, or they don’t adopt it because they are resistant to change. Either way, you won’t see ROI if your people aren’t trained and using the piece of martech you decide to buy.

One of the ways to guarantee a case of buyer’s remorse is to fall for a shiny object that doesn’t fit within your processes and your organizational structure. You should always think long and hard about ripping and replacing effective processes to make room for the latest piece of technology. Some investments might be a better idea when your processes are more mature or after a carefully planned reorganization.

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The Bottom Line on Martech Investments

You’ll be better positioned to see ROI and improve your marketing outcomes if you think strategically about when and where to invest in martech solutions. Build your use case and be prepared to demonstrate your ROI. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to use manual processes and be scrappy while you search for the right solution and build a consensus among your stakeholders.

Once you have your use case and ROI stories in hand and you’ve vetted your vendors, by all means go for it. The martech space is full of helpful tools that can improve your marketing, help you uncover new insights, and change the way your organization goes about building its brand and acquiring customers.

Now get started, you have 8,000 solutions to explore.

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