The digital tools commonly known as martech help automate and streamline processes, aggregate and manage data, and ultimately reach customers more effectively and efficiently. An integrated martech stack allows marketing, operations, IT and more to understand data holistically, from the beginning to the end of the consumer engagement lifecycle. The martech stack is the integrated collection and categorization of those tools. Martech doesn’t work unless the various products and systems are able to talk to one another and/or have some level of automation and process design enablement.
While it’s called a “stack,” martech is truly more of a “pile” or a “collection,” with the possibility of being connected and stacked together. It may be helpful to think of it as an ecosystem comprised of such things as:
- Video commercials.
- Print ads.
- Web copy.
- Ecommerce products.
- Customer data.
- Distribution channels.
The better the data, the design and the process, the better the customer experience and engagement. Consider the customer journey along the way as the integrated martech stack allows marketing, operations, IT and more to understand data holistically, from the beginning to the end of the consumer engagement lifecycle.
Businesses will often look to transform their entire martech stack in one go. Without developing a roadmap and understanding the current data landscape, implementing technology of any kind is extremely difficult. When trying to onboard more than one technology in your martech stack, the one that takes the organization’s data landscape into account will be the most successful. Many technology implementations fail when implementations run congruently within the martech stack without consistently collaborating with one another.
The only way to truly integrate your stack is to build a strong data foundation through DAM. If done well, it will help you understand where opportunities for improvement are, and then allow you to respond accordingly to optimize reliability and efficiency. Each component of the martech stack must be seen as a key marketing enabler and an opportunity for orchestrated movement of content across channels.
History of Martech
The phrase and/or concept of martech first came up in the early 2000s. Some say the term is no more than a buzzword used by marketers to capture the attention of anyone working in marketing, creative operations and more. Some argue it started when Salesforce made its CRM available to everyone for many different purposes. This started a chain reaction of new software being designed and created to serve marketing needs from inception to distribution. It allowed marketers to automate and streamline many aspects of their day-to-day marketing activities. The keywords here are “automation” and “time-saving.” Martech is always evolving, responding to the needs of marketers, influenced by rapid and innovating changes in technology, and responsive to new regulations and compliance demands. With SO many choices, it is that much more important to ensure the right decisions are being made. And things really have changed.
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Getting Started With Martech: Prioritize Opportunities
While it might be tempting to just jump into a martech project, success relies in part on defining and prioritizing opportunities before getting started. Chances are you will need help with next steps, so you’ll want to support your requests with as many facts as possible. Have specific information at hand — assets, data, process, volume, frequency, costs — and consider the micro (one user’s needs) and the macro (the broader content operation). Again, knowing your organization is key, if there is an easy way — use it, but don’t get bogged down, we want action not slides.
My recommendation is to start by outlining two or three business use cases, then prioritize each using several vectors important to you or your organization such as the business or operational value (what can we deliver to the operation or the customer) and the complexity (how many users are involved, how many systems, any data transformations). Remember to note the possible risks associated with any project and what would happen to the operation if it fails or if a mistake is made. It is always good to gather and use your data, but also trust your gut. Perhaps the opportunity you’ve uncovered is too large, or too complex or risky to pursue — if so, you may need to present and hand it off to a PMO.
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Content Is Only Valuable if It Can Be Found, Consumed and Shared
Everyone working in marketing, communications, operations and other areas require readily accessible content as the cost of remaining competitive and delivering what consumers want, when and where they want it. Content is only valuable if it can be found, consumed and shared by your users. Metadata is what allows this to happen. Metadata is a fundamentally human endeavor. The secret to successful metadata strategies? Librarians. Do the right thing, put the people who know how to manage and add a little magic to your content in charge. The opportunity for content owners, marketing technologists and all those managing content lies in understanding how assets are positioned at the center of digital operations from creation to discovery, through distribution. Unfortunately, people come and go and with very little attempt to curate a culture of documentation, and it is documentation that will save us from our content conundrums.
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Metadata Connects the Workflows
Establishing data standards in the DAM ensures that all processes that interact with the DAM are speaking the same language. All of this data exists in the DAM. Once you’ve established the DAM’s data and taxonomy, everything can be connected. When everything is connected, everything changes. All departments speak the same language, find and collaborate on assets, and get them in front of your customers, sharing a consistent message across marketing channels.
It is important to consider stack fluency in this process. Are employees downloading these images to their desktops only to upload them to a file share server? By connecting your distribution software to the DAM, users can streamline their distribution processes. DAM should connect to specialized distribution platforms. In cases where the process isn’t being handled in house or is being done in collaboration with other teams, most DAMs allow users to grant restricted access to external agencies and other teams that don’t need full access to the DAM. This way, everyone involved can collaborate on a specific subsets of assets, assets which are easily findable by campaign and are clearly marked for usage.
Build Your Martech Stack on a DAM Foundation
The integrated martech stack allows marketing, operations, IT and more to understand data holistically, from the beginning to the end of the consumer engagement lifecycle. The only way to truly integrate your stack is to build a strong data foundation through DAM, and focus on the people, the process, and the technology affecting your content. If done well, it will help you identify opportunities for improvement so you can optimize reliability and efficiency. Each component of the martech stack must be connected, and seen as a key marketing enabler and an opportunity for orchestrated movement of content across channels.
John Horodyski is a Managing Director with Salt Flats for the Insights & Analytics practice with executive management strategy experience in Digital Asset Management (DAM), Metadata and Taxonomy design, Data strategy, Analytics, Governance, MarTech, and Marketing Operations. John is a world leading expert and has provided strategic direction and consulting for a variety of Fortune 10, 50, 100, and 500 clients from Consumer Packaging Goods, to Media & Entertainment, the Pharmaceutical industry, and Insurance.