In today’s economy, companies are focusing on doing more with less. However, the highest reported investment increase across all major marketing resources by CMOs this year goes to marketing technology.
Marketers and martech professionals have the option to buy one product or a full platform suite. Customer data, AI, marketing automation and analytics are must-haves for any martech stack and several companies are now looking to sell them all at once.
If you have a couple of products from one company, they’re likely already selling you on the benefit of adding a third or fourth. And to be fair, it sometimes is a smart move. The challenge comes in understanding the many facets of this decision — your company’s unique position at the time — and knowing what your strategic goals truly are.
You may be directly responsible for the transformation, but consider these five steps before you make that giant leap to migrate several tools at once.
1. Name the capabilities you truly need, not the product
Assuming you have some success with an existing tool and want to add more of their product line, you should start with identifying what capability you need — without naming a product. This is hard because when we have relationships with a brand, we learn about all they offer, what’s new and exciting and they sell you on the benefits of moving to their product.
While there may be some synergies, focusing on the missing capability and what value it would add to your stack is most important. For example, if you’re already using Adobe Analytics and Target, adding Sites may make things more seamless; but is your current website lacking? If it’s not, the time and expense may not be worth it.
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2. Validate the products’ maturity and whether it was newly acquired
Many large martech companies have grown by acquisition. Often, those newly acquired products still need to be worked into the overall ecosystem. Even if it’s a well-established product with a great brand reputation, verify their plans and ask for a product roadmap.
Since there’s no guarantee, ask for a discount and/or concessions. This also applies to newly released products. Is the system a quick response to competitors, changes in the market or a new capability added to a product?
It’s important to validate its maturity and get specific examples of how it can solve your capability needs. Products can be used in different ways from company to company, so validate the actual use cases of the existing customers to help ensure it will work well in your organization.
3. Calculate the total cost of implementation beyond the platform
If you feel strongly that you are ready to migrate one or several tools, next assess the total cost of implementation, including company changes that will be required. Many companies offer steep discounts when you purchase multiple products in their stack. They may even stagger the licensing cost to account for the time to implement and scale the solution — but don’t be swayed too quickly.
It’s straightforward to add up licensing, managed services support and development costs and then make a choice. But there is a lot more that goes into the actual migration. Things that are often forgotten include:
- User training.
- Data and taxonomy changes.
- Data storage implications.
- Brand template changes.
- Platform downtime impact.
This list will vary based on what you’re purchasing so think about each system’s needs separately and develop a comprehensive budget for each new solution.
4. Outline cross-functional teams’ involvement and get their buy-in and commitment
The most successful implementations are integrated into how marketers do business. While buying a platform and integrating it into the broader company systems may be faster, I strongly discourage this approach.
Change is hard and you need to get teams involved upfront and early. Ask your brand marketers to review how the new platform will render assets (e.g., emails, websites, etc.). Make sure analytics understands all changes that would result in swapping systems. Account for data, tracking and tagging changes that will come with a new product. These are things you cannot afford to overlook.
As you begin having these conversations with your partner teams, clearly communicate your intention to migrate and the intended timing. Be sure to get their commitment to participate, dedicate resources and deliver the necessary work for which they are responsible.
5. Build a comprehensive timeline and project plan then make your choice
Finally, let’s discuss implementation timing. We all hear about incredible transformations that “only took X number of weeks/months,” but those usually only happen in a vacuum. Don’t blindly trust what you hear on conference stages. Consider your current stack and the issues causing you to want change.
Thoroughly outline the work needed and the time it would take to implement based on your team size, past implementation experience and knowledge or expertise in the new area. If you are hiring outside help, account for their learning curve, getting access to your company systems and other little things that can throw a wrench in your plan.
All the little details make a difference between a six-month or year-long implementation. It is further compounded when trying to implement multiple capabilities simultaneously.
Dig deeper: A 5-step guide to retiring martech tools without disrupting operations
Implementing martech effectively
Even with a detailed project plan that accounts for the potential pitfalls from above, timelines are rarely precise. Sometimes there are issues that you won’t think of until you begin the project. You usually start paying for the tools at contract signature, not launch.
If you have the budget to cover the old and the new, you will likely also have a leader counting each day they are paying double.
With martech utilization rates falling, ensure you’re not adding new shelfware to your company’s books. Following the steps above will help you implement and adopt martech successfully, whether it’s one or several platforms.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.