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StrategyJan 22, 2018

6 Questions to Modernize Your Marketing Tools in 2018

Gabe Knapp

The job of chief marketing officers (CMOs) and marketers gets more complex with every new year. Over the last five years, the marketing tools landscape has gotten continuously more cluttered, growing from approximately 150 logos in 2011 to approximately 3,500 in 2016. That’s more than 20 times the growth in just five years!

Meanwhile, the average CMO tenure is in decline—now down to only 3.5 years according to Spencer Stuart. So, what does this mean for you? Making the correct marketing technology decisions has never been more difficult, or more critical, to the success of marketing leaders.

As a fan of college football, I can tell you that winning can’t wait until year four or five of a coach’s tenure. The same is true for CMOs—you need to win now. And finding quick wins could be as simple as reprioritizing your roadmap and staging your investment. With 2018 in full swing, now is the perfect time to take a hard look at your marketing technology stack.

With that in mind, here are six questions to ask about your marketing tools in 2018:

6 Questions to Modernize Your Marketing Tools:

1. Are you getting full value out of your current marketing tools? Many marketing tools feature hefty licensing fees regardless of how much you use them, while others charge by volume and can quickly become just plain expensive. You may be paying a lot but only using a portion of the tool’s features or capabilities. Alternately, you may be paying a premium for volume overages if your tool is not right-sized to your needs. By conducting a marketing tools assessment, you can quickly get a sense for what tools are giving you the most value and which ones may need to be replaced or pared down.

2. Do you have the right marketing tools to support your vision? With the changing landscape of marketing tools, many marketing departments still utilize tools that are outdated or designed to do something different from the current use case. Take a hard look at your current marketing tools to determine where your gaps exist in relation to your vision. Data management platforms (DMPs) have come a long way in recent years. Also, marketing suite technology has recently taken a step forward, with Adobe, Salesforce, IBM, and others bringing together what used to be component parts into integrated toolsets.

3. Do you have the right customer data available to support your vision? With the “need for speed” and personalization in marketing today, heavily structured data repositories like a customer data warehouse can make it hard to quickly access the data needed to deliver a personalized experience. Many marketing departments are supplementing their existing customer data warehouse and data lake technology with a customer data platform (CDP). This approach enables new marketing capabilities such as ID matching, visitor stitching, real-time data processing, predictive insights, and flexible marketing systems integration. Better access to customer data can be a significant help when trying to deliver on the desired marketing experience.

4. Do you have the right talent to get the most out of your marketing tools? As the marketing tools landscape gets more and more complex, the need for talent with the right skills and hands-on experience becomes even more critical. Be willing to pay for top talent, especially if they have specific knowledge about a marketing tool that’s central to your organization. If your current employees lack experience with a specific marketing tool, it may be time to invest in training to get their skills up to snuff. Most employees will appreciate the investment in them, and the improved results should follow.

5. What marketing tools can be automated? So many marketing departments today still operate with a large number of manual processes. This can slow campaign delivery and be a huge workload burden, while also resulting in human error. With the advent of AI and machine learning, there are more and more marketing tools and processes that can be automated, taking a huge burden off the daily marketing workload. This is a great opportunity to improve marketing velocity, while simultaneously reducing errors and benefiting employee morale.

6. Have you recently re-prioritized your marketing tools roadmap? Even if you are inheriting someone else’s marketing tools or tech debt, you can still take action. The marketing tools roadmap needs to be prioritized according to your vision and the value it will deliver to your organization. It also needs to be sequenced so that new capabilities come online in a logical and complimentary order to provide some “quick wins.” Where many marketing leaders fall short is managing expectations with their executive team regarding the expected delivery timeline and value of marketing tool releases. A well-prioritized roadmap can put the most important things first and help manage expectations.

If you don’t have good answers to these six questions, do not fret. 2018 is just getting started and there is plenty of time to begin putting together your plan for modernizing your marketing tools.

The key is to take action. Don’t be the CMO or marketing leader who just “goes with the flow” with whatever marketing tools were there before you. Take control of your marketing future and set the tone for what new capabilities you want to deliver during your tenure. This will enable you and your organization to realize the benefits sooner and take your marketing to the next level.