Making martech usable

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There are 5,000 different technologies in the Martech Landscape. And those are divided into over 50 different categories. It’s a lot to deal with: analytics, web technology, CRM, marketing automation and many, many other types of marketing technology.

Within a marketing technology stack, you can easily have dozens of layers, and each software package has its own specific capabilities, its own user interface and its own specific ways of interacting with the rest of the marketing technology stack. And of course, when it comes time to look at how marketing is performing, each tool generates its own reports that need to be interpreted and acted on.

As marketing technologists, we think of ourselves as owning all this stuff, though, right? Our job is to manage the data and systems and analytics and reporting so that other people don’t have to worry about it. So it shouldn’t be too overwhelming to manage.

But in fact, our fellow marketers are interacting with marketing technology more and more every day.

Everybody uses marketing technology, and everybody uses analytics. Not just CMOs who need to explain their stack and put the right tools in place to be effective, but also:

  • your blog manager, who has to be able to pull data from Google Analytics.
  • your event manager, who needs to understand how Salesforce is set up.
  • your product marketers, who have questions about who’s in the database.

And so on.

So how can we make marketing technology easier for the rest of marketing to cope with? In other words, how we can help everyone become a marketing technologist?

Justin’s expensive mistake

The first principle is that good process should always come before tools. To explain why, here’s a story about a $40,000 mistake I made.

I was running marketing ops at a company that was having problems with content marketing. We didn’t know if what we were publishing was working, and beyond that, we didn’t have a good process to get the right things drafted and published on time. We couldn’t track whether we were actually talking to the people we wanted to be talking to. We couldn’t easily get approvals and control content workflow, and even publishing our content took several steps.

This was when content marketing platforms were starting to emerge. “Interesting category,” I thought to myself. “A content marketing platform will solve all of our problems!”

So we did a vendor selection process. I got the CMO to sign a contract and roll it out in the organization, to a lot of fanfare.

A few weeks after the rollout, I was hearing really good things. People were excited! I logged into the tool to see how people were using it, what data was in it, and what we were learning.

But there wasn’t anything there. People weren’t using it. In fact, some people to whom I had sent logins had not even confirmed their email addresses.

Process first, then tools

I learned a lot from that particular experience. But the main thing is that tools only work if there’s good process and culture already behind them.

If you try to bring in a martech tool where people haven’t figured out the very basics of what it is they’re trying to do, your rollout will fail. People are grappling with a basic problem that they have, and now they’re trying to learn to use a new tool to do a job that they didn’t know how to do in the first place.

Martech is an accelerator; it doesn’t go in place of doing the hard work up front.

The same thing is true about data, by the way. I’ll bet that in your inbox you have an automated report or two that you signed up for months ago that you never use. At the time, you might have been very excited about the possibilities for this new data. And people often are: I have clients for whom I pull reports with dozens of pages every week.

But there’s no process to decide how to act on the data. So it’s just data. And not only does the underlying problem not get solved, but now there are lots of extra reports for people to read and discuss without really being able to do anything about them.

Process first, then tools. Process first, then data.

Focus on usability

Once you’ve got the process in place, you’re ready to start building new reports or considering a new marketing technology tool.

In this moment, think about usability.

Why? Because poorly designed tools take more time to use and result in more user error.

Imagine you get invited to a customer meeting. It’s on the 10th floor of some office building in town. You’re running a little bit late; you dash into the lobby and over to the elevator, and you see the two elevator buttons: “up” and “down.”

Except they’re not labeled. So you press what you think is the “up” button, but it’s actually the “down” button. And you watch the elevator go past you instead of picking you up, because you pressed the wrong button.

And now you’re really late to the meeting.

[Read the full article on MarTech Today.]

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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