After attending the recent MarketingOperations.com conference (MOps-Apalooza), my cofounder Tyler remarked, “If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone at MOps-Apalooza say something about companies buying software that they never fully implemented, I think my ticket for next year’s conference would be paid for.”
This problem is true for many types of software, but especially in marketing ops for a couple of reasons:
- There’s “shiny object syndrome,” that constant chase for the latest and greatest tool, leading to a cycle of endless acquisition and inadequate utilization.
- And there’s the trap of over-optimism and underestimation, where companies often dive headfirst into new software, underestimating the resources and effort needed for full implementation. This leaves them with a suite of powerful tools, none of which are used to their full potential, resulting in wasted investments and missed opportunities.
Your company might already be paying for functionality that could help you improve important metrics. It pays to look at the tools you have (and how to better leverage them) before investing in something new, especially when teams are struggling with marketing resource allocation.
Getting your MOps software to its full potential
Diving deeper into the capabilities of tools you already have can uncover efficiencies and functionalities you aren’t using in full — or even know about.
1. Documenting software usage and identifying improvement areas
Encourage your team to meticulously document how they currently utilize software tools. Identify areas where the process could be smoother or more efficient.
This will let you see if a new tool is going to genuinely enhance productivity or just add complexity. Maintaining this baseline is crucial for comparing the performance before and after integrating new tools.
2. Setting specific goals for workflow optimization
Establish clear, measurable goals aimed at resolving specific workflow issues with the current software. These objectives should align with broader business goals, emphasizing practical utility over mere tool utilization.
Regularly track progress toward these goals to keep the team focused and accountable, ensuring continuous improvement.
3. Exploring the full capabilities of tools
Before assuming a task is impossible with current tools, invest time exploring their full capabilities. Modern software often has extensive, underutilized features.
Experiment with different methods or approaches within the current software setup to solve challenges. This approach can unveil hidden functionalities that might negate the need for new tools.
4. Comprehensive training for team members
Ensure that all team members are thoroughly trained in using the existing software. A lack of understanding can lead to misconceptions about the tool’s capabilities.
When we work with clients for HubSpot training, for instance, they’re frequently shocked at just how much HubSpot can do. When we audit their HubSpot portal, we often find broken or inefficient setups built by people on their team who didn’t receive the training they needed to get the most out of the platform.
Regular training sessions or workshops can help bridge any knowledge gaps and empower the team to use the software more effectively. Even taking advantage of free tutorials or webinars every month to learn about the latest product updates is a great way to keep the team in the know and using the software to its fullest capacity.
Dig deeper: In this economy CMOs need to spend more on training, not tech
5. Integrating current software with other systems
Explore the possibilities of integrating existing software with other systems such as chat platforms, project management tools, CRMs, etc. This integration often creates a more cohesive and powerful system than switching to entirely new software, giving you a better understanding of your data.
Consider adding supplementary tools like this to enhance the functionality of your current software, instead of replacing it outright. This approach is typically less risky and disruptive, letting you make incremental improvements without overhauling the whole system.
Thanks to tools like Zapier, Tray.io and ChatGPT, this is more possible than ever.
6. Testing new software thoroughly before adoption
If considering new software, rigorously test it with a free trial instead of relying solely on sales demos. Sales pitches often overpromise, and real-world testing gives you a more accurate assessment of the software’s suitability and effectiveness.
If a free trial won’t cut it, budget for a pilot project. Many teams have early adopters who can help drive the business case before paying to get the whole team involved — especially if the ROI is not clear from the start.
7. Prioritizing business objectives over new software adoption
Focus primarily on making better business decisions rather than acquiring new software for its novelty. Any changes or additions to your software stack should be directly tied to specific business goals, ensuring that technology serves the business strategy, not the other way around.
Put another way, make sure you’re being intentional about what you’re upgrading and why.
Dig deeper: Why you should always ask why: Strategy must lead tactics in marketing planning
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Choosing the right software when you need an upgrade
It’s easy to get distracted by every new tool claiming it can revolutionize your operations. But before jumping on the bandwagon, be deliberate about the software you want and understand why you need it.
- Talk with your team to understand where the pain points are. Are your current tools failing to provide the insight you need to run effective campaigns? Is manual reporting eating up too much time? List out the specific issues, so you know exactly what needs improvement.
- Come up with your ideal wish list. What features matter most for your marketing stack? Ease of use? Big data functionality? Strong integrations and APIs? Define these decision drivers so any new tool can be evaluated objectively.
- Do your homework on the vendor marketplace. Scour forums and review sites to see what users say about a product’s pros and cons. Download trial versions when possible to kick the tires. And don’t just look at shiny new options — see if your incumbent vendors have added functionality you might have overlooked.
- Get hands-on where you can. Before committing to a tool long-term, test it out on a small campaign or for a specific use case. Many vendors offer free demos or trials. Take them up on it and see if the product delivers on its promises.
- Crunch the numbers. As exciting as it is to deploy new technology, you’ve got to justify the expense. Compare potential cost savings in terms of efficiency gains and optimized spend against what you’ll be paying in licenses, training, integration, etc.
- Wring every bit of value from current systems before moving to replace them. Get teams fully up to speed on existing tools with training refreshers. Work with your account rep on optimizations. You don’t want buyer’s remorse from learning your old tools could have done the job all along.
The goal isn’t to eliminate innovation but to approach new solutions strategically. Keep needs front and center, requirements clear and make decisions based on what will best move the metrics that matter most to your marketing performance.
Dig deeper: How experimental marketers can drive martech utilization
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.