Stack Readiness: Audits, Integrations and Roadmaps

When martech stacks are running as designed, they become coordinated ecosystems where tech needs and customer needs influence one another in organic and productive ways. Sounds idyllic, right?

In practice, however, martech stacks often become desolate spaces where marketers wait on siloed processes, data disconnects into insignificance, and potential evaporates. Before long, your stack starts holding back your campaigns rather than helping them achieve their full potential and impact. Your siloed tech stack can even start working to prevent the results you’re hoping for. 

It’s a harsh truth, but your big ideas to drive customer growth and retention simply can’t thrive in a fragmented, failing ecosystem. Martech disconnects kill budgets, drain revenue, and slow progress. 

Fortunately, there is a solution. In this post, we’ll identify common mistakes marketing organizations make so you’ll know exactly what to avoid, give you some ideas for how to plan a rigorous auditing process, and set you off on the right track to build a successful roadmap for the future. 

A Strategic Approach to Martech Stacks

Before you examine the readiness of your own martech stack, take a moment to pause and remind yourself about what you should be getting from all of the technologies you’re already paying for.

Your MOPs team should be enabling your campaigns team to:

  • deliver the buyer and content journey from beginning to end 
  • create meaningful experiences that engage their audiences
  • leverage actionable insights from vast swaths of data that can lead to improved results 

In reality, the average B2B marketing team uses or has access to more than 50 different technologies—way too many to make sense of—each with a changing array of features to keep up with. Too many features can lead to chaos as mismatched tools that lack a shared infrastructure soon lose connection and relevance. 

A Stack Without a Strategy

Many marketing organizations lack a clear strategy for streamlining their tech stacks and their array of sophisticated tools. As a result, they have a hard time creating the most impactful customer engagement possible. 

No surprise, if you neglect the impact of the engagement and functionality of your technology on the customer, then your returns are going to diminish

Without a clear strategy, something like this can start to happen:

Individual teams begin choosing one or two technologies that work for them, neglecting other tools (and subsequently making integration less likely in the future). Because this “progress” happens quickly in isolation rather than as part of a coordinated effort, it can seem positive at first. 

However, in the end, it can actually cause chaos rather than momentum. Why? The data each team produces, impactful as it may be, remains siloed, and their channels lose connections with others. 

The first step to achieving the desired benefits of your martech stack and realizing your full ROI is to assess your customer engagement as it relates to your martech functionality. To do that, you need to audit your stack. 

Why a Stack Audit is Necessary

When you audit your martech stack, you create and maintain a detailed inventory of all the various tools, platforms, and systems that make up your marketing technology. If that sounds like a lot to ask, consider the cost of not auditing your technology. Since your technology will evolve rapidly with vendors constantly adding new functionality, it is recommended to audit your tech stack regularly to make sure your instruments are in tune. 

A simple worksheet can help you begin a martech audit. As you list each tool, system, or platform, you’ll begin asking yourself some important questions. 

Auditing Your Stack’s Current State

A tracker as straightforward as the one below can help you think about the important questions you should be asking about your martech stack. For example, is a particular tool doing its intended job for your business? Is the tool working against you?

Don’t be afraid to admit the truth here even when it’s not what you want to see—it doesn’t mean that you wasted your money or have to start over. Discovering an issue with your tech often means that the service or platform your company purchased to solve a problem is sitting there waiting for you to put it into action during the next step of the audit. 

Auditing Possible Expansion

You can use the same worksheet to plot future expansion for the tech you already have. Share this with your teams and encourage collaboration to maximize data integration among teams. Return to it when you take the next step of the process and enable your team to implement new systems and technologies. It can also help you identify when you might have multiple technologies with overlapping functionality. This is a good opportunity to evaluate both to see which one will serve the needs of your team the best and might allow you to eliminate technology that will free up budget for something new.

What’s the Difference Between Utilization and Value?

What is a technology’s utilization and what is its value? You need to know in order to measure the efficiency of your martech stack.

How much of a technology’s capacity is your organization taking advantage of? Whether it’s 10%, 20%, or 50%, that amount is your tech’s utilization value. 

Now, is it expected that every technology you buy will be used to its full utilization value? Probably not. It’s unrealistic to be at 100% capacity because not every business or department benefits from every feature a technology provides (that would be overwhelming!). 

So instead of thinking about technology in terms of how much or how often you use it, think instead about what value it has for your organization.

Here’s a great example. Imagine you’re using the Microsoft Office Suite. Most of us have it and have used it, but how many of us can say we use all there is to use in the software? One department might use Word to send documents and another might like to use Excel for accounting. Those programs get a lot of use, but they don’t make up the sum of all the tech. You’d need to account for programs like OneNote and PowerPoint—programs that are included with the suite but that your company might not yet need or be using.

That’s where your Martech council and committee come in. They can look deeper into the true value of those programs and identify the features that may be helpful. Jazzing up a meeting? PowerPoint is great for presentations. Need more templates? You can get those in Word. Need to add a chart into a presentation? You can create it in Excel and link it to your PowerPoint presentation.

Expanding your understanding of the tech you have and how they can work together could open a world of possibilities and improve the tech’s value as well as its utilization.

Increase Your ROI with a Roadmap

The key to increasing ROI and getting the most out of the investment you’ve already made in the technology is to create a roadmap to increase the maturity of your martech usage. This roadmap will also help build a case for why each piece of technology is important. 

Here’s how you can get started. For each technology, ask yourself questions like these:

  • What problem will this feature solve?
    Too often departments roll out new functions because they come with a package that the company has purchased, whether or not they relate to the team’s work. This contributes to the tendency of martech stacks to become wasteful and underused or adding complexity that doesn’t result in improved performance.
  • What current processes will this feature impact?
    What current processes and systems need adjustment because of the tech’s implementation? What teams will be impacted once it is integrated and rolled out?
  • How proficient should each marketer be?
    You can create a maturity model so that marketing professionals know the level of knowledge they need to acquire for each tech based on their specific role. This will also create your enablement roadmap that the martech council will be responsible for.

Put Your Audits Into Actions

CMOs need to increase efficiency in the tech their companies have already invested in. DemandGen teams are feeling the pressure to produce more leads without added resources, and MOPs teams are juggling too many technologies and tactical demands to provide strategic guidance and support.

We’ve also discussed how to break down silos in your tech stack by leveraging martech councils and committees. Ensuring the work you put into fixing your tech stack stays effective requires ongoing management and adaptation.

Ready to enhance your tech stack's efficiency and effectiveness? Let's talk!