By Scott Dine
Are you familiar with the term marketing technology stack? If not, you might be surprised to know you may already be using one. The term refers to a group of technologies that marketers leverage to execute, analyze and improve marketing initiatives.
In a recent AAMplify! podcast episode with Mishel Justesen, marketing technology manager for Armanino, LLP, we discussed marketing technology stacks as they apply to accounting firms and how to maximize their potential for today’s accounting firm marketers.
This post summarizes the conversation with Justesen. Now, let’s dig deeper into what is involved with a marketing technology stack and review some tips on how to build and maintain your stack.
Building a Marketing Technology Stack
What steps are needed when starting to build a marketing technology stack? Justesen’s first tip was to make friends with the IT Department. It is important to keep them involved on what technologies are or will be in your stack. If you have questions about the technology, there will likely be someone in the IT Department that can help you.
Marketing Technology Stack Audit
It is important to perform an audit of your own marketing technology stack which includes your website, CRM, e-mail programs and SEO tools, just to name a few. Really, anything that is related to digital marketing and technology should be included in the audit. Be sure to include ALL technologies including shadow IT (technology or software the IT department may not be aware or have officially approved of) to make sure they are aware of everything. After all, the more they know or are aware of, the more they can help.
Top 3 Marketing Technology Platforms
The top 3 marketing technology platforms that need to be part of a marketing technology stack, according to Justesen, include CRM (customer relationship management) software, followed by a website with a good CMS (content management system) and a marketing automation platform. The CRM and website platform suggestions are apparent as major platforms, but the marketing automation suggestion was a great addition since it is tied closely to the CRM and helps marketers focus on the segmentation, delivery and tracking of emails and online marketing campaigns.
What is Most Important?
CRM is what Justesen emphatically believes is most important piece of her marketing technology stack. The CRM is the lifeblood of data, and without good data, all the technology in the world will not be effective!
Key Team Members
Who are the key team members are that you need to have on your team? It’s the marketing technologist, the website developer and the CIO/director of marketing. The marketing technologist is like the conductor of the orchestra, and they are key to making everything work together in concert. The website developer makes sure the technology is properly integrated into the website or different places on the internet, and the CIO/director of marketing works closely with the partners and management and acts as a liaison between management, marketing and the IT department.
Marketing Technology Budget
When asked how much should a firm be putting into their marketing technology budget, Justesen pulled from her personal experience and suggested that 27 percent of the marketing budget be allocated to marketing technology. That amount includes license fees, usage fees and outsourced partners such as website developers. She also noted that the marketing technology budget is growing annually, and industry wide, it is expected to rival the IT department budget in the near future.
Challenges: CRM’s & Data Silo’s
With all of the technology and people involved with the marketing technology stack, there are bound to be some challenges. Two of Justesen’s challenges are people and data silos. Technology does not work unless people understand and use the technology as needed to be able to gather the data necessary. Back to the CRM point, if people are not putting good data into the CRM, then the data that comes out of the CRM will not be effective. When it comes to data silos, these are separate databases or sets of data files that are not able to share and synchronize data. So, for example, when data is collected or aggregated in one program or database and it is very difficult to use that data with a different program or database, then you are facing the issue of data silos.
What is the IT Department’s Role?
When it comes to IT supporting a marketing technology stack, Justesen works hand-in-hand with IT, which is key to making the marketing technology stack effective and to work as a whole. Also, she added that it is a good idea to set boundaries and to create separation of firm-wide technology objectives and marketing department objectives. The IT department is best suited to handle technologies that apply to the entire firm, but the marketing department is best suited to handle technologies that apply to the marketing of the firm. Establishing these boundaries as the marketing technology stack is being built and it will save time and headaches in the long run.
AAMPlify! is a podcast from the Association for Accounting Marketing. You can listen to these podcasts on YouTube, Sticher or iTunes. Whichever platform you use, be sure to subscribe or at least give a thumbs up. You will find that each podcast is chalk full of advice on a single topic brought to you by an industry leader on the topic
About Scott Dine
Scott Dine is principal and technical director at Catalyst Group Marketing. Scott has been a small- and medium-business advocate for over 15 years and has worked in a variety of roles as an entrepreneur, business developer, project manager and website developer. He is the current chair of AAM’s AAMplify! podcast committee and is a member of AAM’s website committee.