5 things to consider before making a martech investment

Increased costs, integration problems and a lack of after-sales support are some of the problems that can arise following a martech investment. But what else do marketers need to be aware of and how can they avoid the pitfalls? Michael King investigates

1. Decide whether you need to integrate new and existing tech or replace your current platform/software completely

Ben Wightman, channel and sales enablement director, Asia Pacific, gyro: As with any investment, it comes down to a business value assessment. If the existing tech is preventing the company from growing through effective demand generation and lead management, it may be time for a rip-and-replace strategy. But if it’s just a single part of the martech that isn’t optimised, then just integrating new tech into the existing infrastructure would probably be fine. 

Most mainstream martech systems have application program interface (API) linkage with cloud systems like Salesforce.com and Oracle Marketing Cloud. By ensuring there are built-in API connectors – which enable the programs to seamlessly communicate with each other – extra integration costs can be minimised.

Rishi Dave, CMO, Dun & Bradstreet: If you’re going to integrate new tech with existing platforms/software, the same data has to flow through all systems to ensure customers get the right experience, and all salespeople and marketers are operating from the same clean, integrated and structured data set.

2. Be aware of any hidden or variable costs

Tim Bohn, chief marketing technologist, Ledger Bennett: Cost is one of the most important aspects to consider and manage when buying a piece of martech. Most solutions are now sold on a subscription model rather than as a one-off item, which obviously reduces the risk of a large capital expenditure, but there are still pitfalls to be aware of.

The main drawback is ongoing additional fees, on top of subscription costs, based on how much you use the technology. This can significantly increase costs, and is something that should be calculated when planning a purchase. Cloud technologies, for example, make their money on these increased costs, with variable consumption pricing sometimes dwarfing the base monthly fee. Typical fees are for data storage (common for marketing automation or CRM), data transfer and most commonly logins or concurrent users i.e. the number of people using the technology simultaneously.

3. Choose partners you can trust to install the technology

Ben: Look for proven martech implementation partners that can be trusted to get everything running smoothly when needed. The first thing to look for is certifications that indicate partners have met the martech vendor’s training and capability requirements. While they may charge more, highly specialised partners are likely to receive specialised resources and support to ensure installations are successfully optimised. 

Personally, I’d also advocate choosing a martech implementation partner who actually understands marketing just as much as they understand software implementation. If your partner sees everything solely through ‘tech goggles’ and doesn’t fully appreciate how the technology is going to add value to the marketing department and business overall, the martech will likely fail. The human side of martech – usability, process automation and insights – is just as important as the successful implementation of the technology itself (if not more so).

Tom Smith, senior manager, product marketing EMEA, Salesforce: Look for a good user interface, strong consulting and customer success teams that can make implementation and learning easier, and consider how learning to use platforms can help grow knowledge of the technology you’re using.

The goal of technology should be to allow you to innovate and be more productive, so it's important to ensure the simplicity and ease of use of the platform truly helps you focus on innovation, and frees up time in your day to be what marketers need to be: creative and innovative.

4. Ask yourself whether the investment will help you meet your future goals

Dharmesh Mistry, chief digital officer, Temenos: Consider the end goal you have in mind. Everyone needs to have a roadmap showing where their company’s going and this should inform any decision about whether to buy a piece of technology.

Consulting the roadmap will help to ensure the technology not only meets today’s needs but tomorrow’s as well. And remember to ask about the vendor’s own roadmap to ensure they have a plan for the future. Buying technology that only supports today’s needs will cost you heavily when you have to replace it later.

5. Consider whether you’re able to commit to the cost of new hires

David Ketchum, CEO and founder, Current Asia: Before you commit to the cost of a platform it's important to ask if you're also committed to the ongoing investment required to effectively operate and optimise the tech. Will you need an inhouse team or agency support to effectively optimise it, for example?

Using the example of a mid-sized B2B company, you’d need a campaign manager, a platform/technology manager, a content creator, and an analyst, who’ll all run the integrated marketing technology stack and campaigns. You may not necessarily need four full-time staff but that’s an indication of the level of staffing required.