“Everything’s fast now and it’s totally unreasonable,” says comedian John Mulaney. “The world is run by computers. The world is run by robots. And sometimes they ask us if we’re a robot just because we’re trying to log in and look at our own stuff!”
Marketing teams face the opportunities (and temptations) of more channels, more content, and more technology. And thinking about how it all works together to deliver a consistent, effective customer experience can lead to more headaches.
If you’re feeling like your marketing technology is making you work more instead of the other way around, or if you feel like you’re struggling to keep up with the speed of business, it’s time to take a step back from your technology to think about what it’s doing for you, your business goals, and your audience needs.
One way to do this is by mapping your marketing technology. Mapping marketing technology will help you think about how your choices about technology, people, and processes can deliver more effective marketing, just like how Balsam Brands achieved faster turnaround times for getting photography onto their e-commerce site.
In this article we’ll look at when the right time is to map your marketing technology, what to include in your map, some models you can build on, and what to do next.
What is marketing technology
Marketing technology is software that facilitates and executes marketing activities. Marketers use it to work more efficiently, communicate more effectively, and measure their efforts. There are many categories within marketing technology and thousands of vendors.
Why you need to map your marketing technology
To facilitate collaboration and efficiency. Marketing encompasses many roles, channels, and tools. And there’s typically overlap. Mapping your technology stack will help your teams understand what’s going on around them and how everyone can work better together. For example, you may be struggling to get your team to agree on where digital assets live, how they move between tools, and who’s maintaining them? Get your key stakeholders together and start mapping it all out on a whiteboard. The visual will help reduce confusion caused by varying terminology and allow both parties to realize they are talking about the same thing!
To document for business continuity and scalability. The scale and complexity of marketing technology can feel overwhelming. A map can help you document the current state of your stack of systems and where you’d like to take it. It will give your teams context for how their work and tools fit into the larger context. It’s also beneficial to make sure this information doesn’t leave with the people who developed it. Employee turnover is a reality all businesses deal with.
What to include in your marketing technology map
When you’re ready to create your map, use this list as a starting point for what to include. You’ll have to decide what’s most beneficial for your organization.
1. People: The tools are there to make your people more effective and efficient.
- System owner: This person owns the day-to-day of the tool. They help execute the strategic vision for the tool.
- Core users: The people who use the tool to accomplish their work.
2. Technology: The tools that your business uses.
- Content Marketing Platforms
- Digital Asset Management
- Marketing Automation
- Marketing Resource Management
- Product Information Management
- Project Management
- Social Media Management
- Web Content Management
3. Relationships: Label the relationships between your people and technology.
- API: These involve using an application programming interface to develop a custom connection with functionality that supports a specific workflow.
- Out-of-the-box connectors: These are add-ons to an existing solution and ready to install as is.
- Managed integrations: These are customizable middleware solutions that offer more flexibility than out-of-the-box connectors.
- Process: Not all tools are connected technically. Some may be connected via your team’s processes.
Marketing technology map models
To help you get started with thinking about your own marketing technology map, below are some models. We’re big on digital asset management (DAM), so these examples focus on digital assets. Use it as a starting point, inspiration, or template to make your own.
The content hub
This model puts your DAM system at the center of content activity. Upstream of the DAM system is where designers, marketers, and project managers are creating assets. Downstream of the DAM system are the distribution channels and people who share the final assets to make up the customer experience.
The martech stack
Martech is about the convergence of marketing, technology, and management. This model, inspired by Red Wing Shoes, focuses on the technology and how it supports a richer customer experience with efficient marketing operations and reliable business analytics. Use this model to document a high-level picture of the existing marketing technology and for discussions on where new technology will impact your customer experience, operations, and analytical ability.
The asset lifecycle
The asset lifecycle model helps your team think through how assets flow through your organization, from ideas to experiences, and eventually long-term preservation. Below we focus in on the different technologies that are involved throughout the process. You could apply a similar approach to the teams involved throughout the asset lifecycle. Creating and publishing an asset isn’t always linear, so don’t be afraid to throw some arrows on the map to show where the process deviates from the linear flow.
How to map your marketing technology
Now that you’ve seen some models, it’s time to map your marketing technology.
1. Define the goal of your map
Write down the goal of your marketing technology map. There are many variables that could be considered. Documenting your goal will keep you focused and provide guidance on who to involve and how large the map’s scope should be. Some common goals include:
- Increase productivity –– Find those high-frequency, manual processes and automate them.
- Improve the customer experience –– Document your customer’s experience and the people and technology delivering it.
- Reduce costs –– Identify duplicate tools and work to eliminate them.
- Increase revenue –– Shorten time to market and optimize the buyer’s journey.
2. Start with a list
Mapping out the different technology and people can be overwhelming. Take that next step by listing the tools you use. The checklist below helps you think about the most popular categories of tools. As you make your list, you can include other information, like the data available for assets and the owner of the tool.
Creating the list with stakeholders from other teams can help uncover the tools you don’t interact with frequently.
3. Create your map
Use your goal and list to guide your mapping process. You can do this on a whiteboard, using sticky notes, or digitally. Some questions to ask during the mapping process:
- What is the process?
- Who executes the step?
- What system is involved?
- What decision is to be made?
4. Identify opportunities
Now that you have your marketing technology map, you can identify opportunities for improvement. Give attention to potential areas of waste, identify the technology gaps that are impeding performance, and explore all measurable improvements. You may have a long list of ideas, so prioritize them and consider the business impact, customer impact, and the level of effort.
5. Take action
Now’s the time to act on your first opportunity.
If your map has inspired ideas for integrating your technologies, you’ll want the right people to make it happen. The right mix usually includes a decision maker, a system admin from each technology, IT support, a project manager, and a few influential power users.
You got this
This doesn’t have to be a 24-month project. Take these concepts and apply them in a way that your teams can act on. The process of creating the map can be just as valuable as the map itself. Be sure to revisit it regularly (say, every six months) as people, teams, and tools change.
If you’re interested in improving the flow of assets throughout your organization, download “The World of Widen Integrations” white paper, which provides a high-level exploration of the different types of systems that can integrate with DAM as well as mini case studies on how those integrations add value to marketers today.
You may also check out the “DAM in MarTech” webinar for more information and inspiration to get started with mapping your ideal marketing technology stack.