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How to Find Balance in Your Marketing Technology Stack

Chelsea Iversen Mar. 5, 2020

Marketing technology, often referred to as martech, is any technology that helps marketers do their jobs better. To date, marketing technology encompasses more than 7,040 different tools — from well-known giants like Google, Salesforce, and Quickbooks to growing platforms like Zoom, Customerville, and Applovin.

The number of martech platforms available has skyrocketed over the past decade. The martech boom is both a symptom of the times and a driving force in the shifting marketing landscape. 

At the ANA Masters of Data and Technology conference in Orlando this week, we caught Scott Brinker’s session, Demystifying the Growing and Complex MarTech System. Entertaining and illuminating, Brinker, the creator of the widely referenced Martech Supergraphic, cast light on the how of the martech stack — as in, how do marketers know what technology to include and what to leave out.

His advice? Focus on two opposing forces: automation and humanization.

We’re all looking for automation because it makes our lives easier, makes our teams operate more efficiently, gives us better insight into the customer, and lets us act with more precision. And, we are lucky to have 7,040 options to choose from. But automation without humanization is worthless. The human element adds not only purpose to marketing technology but it helps keep automation in check and humans are the ones who operate and maintain the automated platforms we use (for now). In other words, automation is no good without humans.

So automation and humanization are not really opposing forces at all. It’s only when you combine these two principles together so that everyone is happy — your bottom line, your team, your customers — that will you have a perfectly balanced marketing stack.

Balance your marketing technology stack

As we see it, there are four human elements that must be in place to counter the ease of automation and ultimately balance your marketing stack:

  • Your pain

  • Your business goals

  • Your customer experience

  • Your budget

Purpose from your pain

Technology is of no use to a marketing department, an agency, or any group for that matter, if it’s not being used to help people. That’s the point of martech, isn’t it — to help your people do their job well so that other people will want to buy from you? This is the humanization aspect of building your martech stack. You need to truly understand the pain points your team is facing right now — where are you struggling for efficiency? Where are things taking forever? Whose work is stultified by old-school processes? These pain points will drive tech decisions, and not the other way around.

Gains from your goals

Your in-house team not only has a close eye on what their pain points are, but they are the key to formulating business goals. With the help of continuous learning that keeps them fresh and up-to-speed on marketing advances, your team can drive business goals. Goals go beyond existing pains. These are the results you are striving for, and in many cases, automation is required to get you there. But it’s your team’s expanding knowledge of the industry — what works, what doesn’t, what’s new, what’s turning out amazing results — that drives these goals. And it’s your team’s on-the-ground experience that will determine where the gaps are and which technology is needed to achieve your goals.

Cues from your customers

Balancing your marketing technology stack is not just about choosing technology that helps you achieve your goals or alleviate pain for your team. It’s essential, when weighing the thousands of martech options, to continue to think about the customer. Sometimes, automation for you can come at the cost of the consumer, making the customer experience clunky and disjointed — giving you something else to fix. Be sure to take a walk through the customer journey to see how marketing technology can either improve the user experience or leave well enough alone.

Brakes from your budget

In 2019, marketing budgets dipped to the lowest they’ve been in five years, and more than a quarter of marketers blame weaknesses in their martech strategy on insufficient budget, resources, or capabilities. However, rather than seeing the budget as a barrier to balancing the martech stack, you can choose to see it as a safety precaution. That is, the budget helps you measure real value in your martech. Deploying any single marketing technology as part of your stack requires close oversight from an in-house team that truly understands the value, especially when resources are constraining. That means your budget will pump the brakes so your martech stack doesn’t grow to precarious heights. Instead, only tools that offer tangible value will make the cut, and you can achieve the balance you need.

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