4 Steps to Explain Technical Debt to Your CMO/Marketing VP

TLDR: Technical debt arises from rushed responses to problems created by poor planning. Think long-term about your projects, and you won’t have to choose between speed and execution. 

Technical debt describes the implied cost of making “quick fixes” to your tech stack or IT infrastructure.

Technical debt accumulates when the people building your software take suboptimal shortcuts to complete projects over more effective approaches that take longer. Doing so entrenches flaws into your tech that become more troublesome to fix as time goes on, leading to higher rework costs later.

In this Tough Talks Made Easy, you’ll learn to discuss the causes and consequences of technical debt with your CMO and suggest cultural changes to prevent it from building.

 

Why technical debt builds

During projects like platform migrations and implementations, a CMO and VP generally focus on contract negotiations.

Their efforts to get the best deal. This focus can, inadvertently, eat into the time needed for the technical work.

When projects start too late, those responsible for building the project will face pressure to make up for lost time and choose “quick fixes” to hit deadlines and achieve results.

While CMOs aim to make the most cost-effective decisions, they often account just for the purchase cost of a new application or platform.

For instance, your CMO may choose a marketing automation platform license cheaper than its competitors without considering the extra admin, consultation, and custom development necessary to make it work.

Add in the cost of training personnel and additional support, however, and you could well face a higher total cost of ownership. Especially if you don’t plan from the beginning to bring these resources on board, or if the project is already running behind schedule.

Short-sighted thinking leads to these negative outcomes:

  • compressed timelines
  • bloated costs and scope, and
  • increased project vulnerability due to mistakes and substandard workarounds.

These decisions compromise a project’s execution and encourage technical debt, making subsequent improvements more challenging to make.

 

Preventing technical debt

Influencing upwards is an impactful approach against technical debt.

Depending on the dynamics of your organization, a direct line to your CMO or Marketing VP might not be possible. In that case, look to your Operations Manager or Marketing Director as allies with the access and technical expertise to impart the urgency of starting on time.

While it’s impossible to identify every gap a solution has until it’s in-house, you can confidently speak to the consequences of a late start.

Here’s how to sell your boss on the respect the project deserves:

“If negotiations drag out and leave us behind schedule, it will impact our ability to deliver this project on time, on budget, and to the level of competency you want. X will happen if we don’t start as planned, and it’ll take Y additional costs to fix.”

 

Implementations and migrations

Implementations and migrations are demanding initiatives. The planning phase is crucial to map out all your anticipated costs and labor needs.

Your CMO/Marketing VP can’t expect key contributors to carry their full workload and give their all to an implementation or migration—people who are stretched take shortcuts, and that just leads to technical debt proliferating.

Freeing up key team members to commit and provide the necessary focus to the project gives them space to contribute to the best of their ability, without incurring rework costs.

For instance, sales and marketing leadership could reduce the quarterly targets of the sales reps involved, or lessen the day-to-day campaign execution responsibilities of contributors from marketing.

 

Create a change management team

The creation of a change management team is a particularly progressive solution to technical debt.

Technical debt arises from rushed responses to problems created by short-sighted planning.

Advocate for a dedicated team of people to support the project from conception, mapping out the ramifications of any change in:

  • costs
  • timelines
  • resource requirements, and
  • post-implementation training.

This increases the project’s resilience to disruption and lessens the risk of technical debt.

 

Long-term thinking

If projects are delayed at the early stages, you’ve ultimately got a choice between paying upfront or later on.

Do you use the most effective methods to build a new implementation or migration, accepting you’ll be up and running later than planned? Or do you take shortcuts to make your initial launch date, at risk of introducing flaws into the project that carry large rework costs and compromise how effectively it works?

Between the two, it’s not an even trade.

The cost of technical debt often outweighs the agility of completing a project as fast as possible.

Steps to avoid technical debt:

1. Reinforce the importance of making a plan and sticking to it with leadership.

2. Scope out your timelines, labor needs, and total cost of ownership upfront—when things need to progress to meet your deadline, the people you’ll need to be involved in the project, and its real financial cost.

3. Advocate for a change management team to reinforce the consequences of starting late or making changes, and to find solutions in a proactive, planned manner.

4. Take the demands of your project seriously, and you shouldn’t have to choose between speed and execution.

Need more guidance? Get in touch — we’re always here to help.

 

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How to Help Your C-Suite Choose Between Marketo and HubSpot

TLDR: Marketing automation platforms play a significant role in how businesses engage with their audiences. Marketo and HubSpot are leading the pack, but which one should you choose? Our latest Tough Talks Made Easy post gives you the tools to help your executive team choose the right platform for your business. Take a look.

 

What you’ll learn here:

  • When choosing a marketing automation platform, Marketo and HubSpot are leaders.
  • Where HubSpot is a centralized inbound marketing platform with multiple functions, Marketo focuses on moving leads through the marketing funnel.
  • You can help your C-suite choose the right solution for your business by exploring these three considerations:
    • your tech stack
    • your products and customer audience, and
    • the maturity of your team.

 

Marketing automation tools are changing the way businesses operate.

On the one hand, they make marketing and sales teams more efficient and productive. On the other, they’ve made it easier for marketers to provide tailored, personalized experiences that meet their target audiences where they are.

At the top of the marketing automation charts are Marketo and HubSpot, two platforms that have led the way in revolutionizing the marketing space. But, which of these tools is best for your business?

To help you guide your exec team in their decision on which software to adopt, here’s an overview of each platform and the considerations you should make as you evaluate them.

 

Marketo Vs. HubSpot

HubSpot

HubSpot is an inbound marketing platform that has four functions:

  • marketing
  • sales
  • customer service, and
  • customer relationship management (CRM).

Users can operate their email marketing, CRM software, contact management, and help desk automation from one place with a well-designed user interface.

While many teams appreciate the centralized experience, HubSpot also offers extensibility that allows you to integrate with third-party apps, including Salesforce.

This flexibility makes it easier for companies to customize the experience to what makes sense to them.

 

Marketo

Marketo Engage, meanwhile, is a robust marketing automation platform.

Marketo focuses exclusively on moving leads and customers through various stages of the marketing funnel. It does this in a way that’s customizable to the organization’s processes and structures.

What Marketo offers:

  • marketing automation
  • email marketing, and
  • lead management capabilities.

This focus allows users to create highly personalized content to tailor marketing campaigns to specific audiences.

 

The truth is, this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison.

When it comes down to it, both tools serve different functions and have to be considered within the broader scope of your tech stack and where your business is going.

So, the question you and your C-suite should really be asking is: Do you need a centralized marketing and sales hub or a robust marketing automation platform that integrates with other best-of-breed solutions?

 

3 non-technical considerations:

When making this choice, you’ll need to engage with your leadership team to determine which platform makes the most sense for your business.

Here are three non-technical considerations that will help guide your conversation with them.

1. For your CIO: Your existing tech stack

HubSpot reduces complexity for your team

As mentioned above, HubSpot is a centralized solution for sales, marketing, and customer engagement functions.

It continues to expand the offerings on its platform, making it a great place to start if you don’t have any technology serving those verticals—and don’t have the budget to invest in multiple integrated solutions.

The other benefit here is that HubSpot reduces complexity for your team, as they only have one tool to learn. This also makes it easier to transfer data from one function to another for accurate attribution reporting.

 

Marketo helps you build a best-of-breed tech stack

Marketo is the right choice if your company builds a tech stack with best-of-breed solutions leading their verticals.

The tool makes up for not being an all-in-one solution by integrating seamlessly with leading solutions like Salesforce, Drift, and Bizible.

In fact, Marketo was originally designed with Salesforce in mind, and they still operate seamlessly together today. That said, it’s important to remember that each platform has its own price tag, so you need to have the budget available to build and run this integrated ecosystem.

The other consideration is that Marketo is less prone to evolving its software, making it a more predictable investment.

 

How to help your CIO: Your CIO likely has a strategy or roadmap for what your company’s tech stack will look like. Talk to them about it and use the points above to determine which platform fits into that strategy.

 

2. For your CMO: Your products and customer audience

Small product catalogs:

Businesses that only market one product to one or two audiences will naturally have relatively simple customer journeys.

It reduces the need for complex workflows, persona building, and robust attribution models.

HubSpot does a good job of addressing this use case as it easily connects the dots between each step in a single customer journey.

 

Large product catalogs:

Meanwhile, companies that have larger, more complex product catalogs require more specialized tools across every part of the path to purchase.

That’s especially the case if they have a number of customer segments to meet with the right messaging at the right time.

This is where teams can make the most of Marketo, accounting for multiple considerations and customer behaviors.

 

How to help your CMO: Raise these points with your CMO to advise them on where a product like Marketo or HubSpot can be more productive.

They’ll also be able to tell you if there are any anticipated changes in how your business plans to market to new or existing audiences, which will also dictate which platform makes the most sense.

 

3. For your CEO: The maturity of your team

Is your business new on the scene? Or have you been around for decades?

Wherever your team sits on the maturity spectrum should inform how your executives decide on a marketing automation platform.

 

Startups:

For growth-stage startups that are prioritizing their product development, HubSpot tends to be the platform of choice.

A centralized, easy-to-use solution can make it easier for the individuals running your marketing, sales, and customer engagement functions to work towards the same goals in a quick and scalable way.

In addition, since HubSpot is continually innovating its platform, it’s an appealing digital solution for companies that are also evolving within their own markets. There hasn’t been significant innovation with Marketo Engage in some time.

 

Enterprises:

Meanwhile, larger enterprises that have invested in building a robust marketing team filled with seasoned MOPs professionals are more likely to have Marketo at the heart of their marketing operations efforts.

With the right combination of tools and people, these companies can get creative with how they reach their vast audiences.

 

How to help your CEO: This type of insight will matter to your CEO. As you walk your CEO through the platforms, contextualize each within the current and future states of the company.

 

Making the right decision

With so many marketing automation tools on the market now, it can feel overwhelming to find and pick the right one, but it doesn’t have to be.

The three considerations outlined above should help you and your executives weigh one leading product against another.

We help companies around the world with marketing automation platform setup, migration and optimization.

If you’re still not sure which way to go and would like to continue the conversation, Revenue Pulse is here to help.

How Can I Figure Out the Martech World?

Hi Joe,

I want to understand more about marketing technology, but I don’t know where to start.

The tools we use at my company, like Salesforce and Marketo, have so many functionalities and data that I feel like I might break something if I start playing around.

The martech space moves fast and it’s hard to get a handle on where the industry is going.

I’d feel more confident in my job if I knew how to get the best out of the tools we use, and understood the outlook of martech as a whole.

How can I start to build that knowledge? Where do I find the time?

Thanks,

Martech Mark.

That drive you have to learn is a great thing, Martech Mark.

When I first started using Marketo, I wanted to be productive from day one. At first, I thought that meant sticking just to what we knew at our company. Like you, I thought experimenting would lead to “breaking” things beyond repair.

I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case.

 

Understanding martech

Tools like Marketo don’t have the easiest learning curve, so you might not get it right away. That’s not the end of the world.

Take a few hours each week to read up, play around with tools, post in communities, or whatever grabs your interest. Here are some places to start:

 

Free trials and versions

Many tools out there have free versions (e.g. Hubspot, Salesforce Lightning Platform) or at least free trials (e.g. SAP Marketing Cloud) to experiment with.

So if you’ve got a certain piece of tech in mind, check out what build you can get on the house.

 

Online courses

LinkedIn, edX, Coursera, and other learning platforms have a mix of free and paid courses to try out, covering a breadth of technologies.

 

Product spaces

Official company spaces provide a range of free resources, from the videos and courses on Marketo University to the forums in Salesforce’s Trailblazer Community.

 

Online communities

Chances are, the tool you’re learning has active communities on Github or Reddit—and dedicated MOPs communities can help you steer your course.

 

News and blogs

Sources like MarketingTech and ChiefMartec publish news and analysis of the latest movements in the martech world.

 

Use resources as sandboxes

You’ve got free reign to mess around. It’s all about trial and error.

Once you get going, document all the things you do and hear that are useful to your learning including:

  • your observations
  • how a tool benefits your work (does it make a process faster? Improve analysis?)
  • where a tool falls short of helping you meet certain goals.

These notes are lessons that can help the whole team learn.

As you say, the martech space moves quickly. Trends rise and level out, upstart tools get acquired, and if you’re exploring a new capability area, there’s no guarantee the tool you learn will be one the industry settles on.

For that reason, don’t stress about where the market’s heading. Focus on the tech that interests you and helps you achieve your goals.

You’ll pick up transferable skills that apply across technologies. Like learning a language, it gets easier after the first one. Just keep going.

You’ve got this — if you need any help, drop us a line.

Joe.

How Can I Choose the Right Marketing Technology Stack?

Hi Joe,

My boss has asked me to figure out what type of tools we should add to our martech stack going forward.

Our company is relatively small at the moment, but we’re growing quickly year-over-year.

With so many tech options out there, how can I be sure we’re making the right choices with our investment?

Thanks,

Technical Tammy

pink line

Hi Tammy, this is an excellent question.

Scaling up your martech stack at a rate that aligns with your company’s growing needs can be quite difficult.

You’ll want to avoid as much tech bloat as possible, while also ensuring your team has the proper tools they need to grow operations efficiently.

It can be a tricky balance, but I have some tips that will set you on the right path.

 

Size is your primary benchmark, not time

When looking to invest in new software tools, the most important consideration is the size – and future growth- of your company.

You might be thinking: when will we get use from this tool? One year from now? Three years from now?

This is okay, as long as size is the primary benchmark for these time-based predictions. For example, let’s say you have 25 clients now. How long will it take you to get to 50 clients, 100 clients, and so on?

Think of buying clothes for a child. You could buy the next 10 shirt sizes for them, but those shirts could be sitting in a closet for the next five years before they fit. Or, they might fit much sooner than expected and you need to go shopping again.

Similarly, it’s your responsibility to track the progression and maturity of your martech stack so you can keep developing it to meet your continuously growing needs. Doing so will require continual communication with leadership.

For example, they might have information about revenue projections for the next two to five years, certain KPI targets that have been set, and so on. All of these factors go into understanding your current and future needs, which will direct how you invest in your tools.

 

Tech for now or for later?

Now that you’ve established a reference point for what you’ll need and when you’ll need it, I recommend you future-proof your tech the best you can.

In my experience, it’s better to invest in tools that will last as long as possible to avoid the costly process of ripping out the entire system later.

For example, one option might be to spend $100,000 on a tool that you won’t fully use for another few years. But the alternative could be spending $50,000 on something you need right now, only to spend another $300,000 in a few years ripping out the entire system because it needs replacing.

This “rip and replace” process, however, will be a bigger deal for some tools compared to others.

To simplify things, think of your tech in two categories:

  1. Backbone tools, and
  2. Peripheral tools.

Backbone tools are the core of your martech stack, including your essential marketing automation tool such as Marketo, Hubspot, etc. These tools will be much more painful and costly to “rip and replace,” so you’ll want to grow with them over the long term.

In some cases, depending on your current budget and needs, you can invest in the baseline offering of a certain tool now.

Then, later on, you can upgrade and layer in added services and functions as necessary. These add-ons, which can be applied dynamically, are your peripheral tools – in addition to other things like data enrichment software.

As you can probably tell, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to choosing the right tech.

Your needs will depend on many factors including your company’s structure, size, and projected growth. But as long as you’re constantly synchronized with leadership, and you plan ahead to future-proof your backbone tools with room for peripheral upgrades, I’m confident you’ll have an efficiently designed martech stack that can grow alongside you and your team.

 

Next steps

Once you’ve worked out which tools to invest in, make sure you’re absolutely clear with your boss about what a tech overhaul will involve. It’s going to take an ongoing time investment, thorough evaluation of your tools, and behavioral change from team members as they adapt to the new tech.

Effectively communicating all of this to your VP and CMO will increase the likelihood that they support your proposed changes. You can read more about how to explain your tech stack overhaul to your boss here.

You’ve got this — and if you need any help bringing in new technology, drop us a line.

Joe.

 

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How Strategic Changes Impact Tech: What Your CEO Should Know

TLDR: Whether leadership is looking to grow or expand into new service areas, new goals can change which tools are relevant to your business. Speak with your marketing ops team to understand if the proposal requires more time or budget. Before making the shift, visualize how each piece of your tech stack fits together to gauge any impacts. If a new tool is needed, allow for overlapping contracts, time to map out new processes and train people on a new system while they’re still using the current one.

 

Strategy and technology

The link between strategy and technology is essential for any leader to understand:

  • Your strategy sets the direction for the business and shapes your goals.
  • Your tech stack is the means by which you achieve them.

It’s easy to get attached to particular tools, but strategic intent gives purpose to each piece of tech.

Your stack is fluid. It evolves to solve problems and provide capabilities as your business needs change—a quality that’s especially clear when strategic change is on the way.

Whether leadership is looking to grow or expand into new service areas, the establishment of new goals can potentially change the tools that are relevant to your business.

If martech leadership is working on or has recently announced a new strategy, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. You’ll learn how to discuss the impact that strategic changes have on technology, so you can invest the time and budget you need to get your team and stack in shape.

 

Fitting the pieces together

First, your boss should consult with people around the business to better understand the impact of a proposed change. This ranges from director-level and management to the people in MOPs handling tools on a regular basis. Having these conversations early into the planning phase can reveal if a proposal demands more time or budget than first anticipated, along with any additional hires or new pieces of tech.

While putting together a plan, leadership needs to know exactly how your tech stack works across the whole organization. Changes to technology can reverberate across the ecosystem and cause unexpected trouble.

If your new strategy involves using a different marketing automation platform, for example, you then have the task of replacing a platform with lots of data tied into it and integrations with many other tools. Certain tools you’re using might not integrate smoothly (or at all) with the new platform—and that means new problems.

The message to impart here is to hit pause on a big shift until you’ve mapped out the tech stack across your business.

  • visualize how each piece fits together to establish the tools you have
  • understand why teams use the tools they do, and
  • verify how each tool integrates.

By doing so, you’ll better gauge the impact of a strategic change on technology. As an added bonus, you can spot opportunities to consolidate tools with overlapping use cases and save on budget.

Before surveying the market for new tools, ask your leadership to lay out their specific needs.

  • Is there a particular problem you’re looking to solve?
  • New capabilities to add?
  • Integrations that a new tool should have?

This promotes intentional, goal-driven tool adoption.

Sometimes, the trial period for a new tool isn’t enough to accurately determine the fit for your business. Limitations can become apparent after the demo and trial are complete. The clearer they are at establishing the necessary components of a new tool, the better equipped you are to find a tool that’s fit for the strategy.

We wrote an article about explaining your tech stack overhaul to your boss that may also be helpful.

 

Include a human touch

For the time and effort it takes to craft a strategy, punctuate it with clear goals, and make the appropriate changes in technology, the plan risks coming off the rails without a human touch.

You need people with the right skills and time allotted to make sense of any new tools and use them constructively.

When scoping out new technologies for the business, you’ll find that salespeople often understate the difficulty of learning a new tool and the time required to see real results.

The learning curve for the likes of a CRM, CMS, or MAP is steep. Realistically, it’s a job for multiple people. Adding a complex, foundational system onto the plate of a two-person MOPs team, in addition to their current responsibilities, is a recipe for burnout.

If your boss’ new strategy requires significant extra work or a new set of skills, the most sensible step they can take is to budget for new hires or an agency’s help — learn how we can help.

Likewise, leadership wants to achieve a particular result as fast and cost-efficient as possible.

Throughout a tool’s implementation period, allow for:

  • overlapping contracts
  • time to map out new processes and changes to data architecture, and
  • training people on a new system while they’re still using the current one.

 

Optimize your budget

If you can only budget several hours a week for your MOPs team to learn a new system, the timeline to understand how a new tool works and integrate it into the team’s day-to-day workload will naturally take several months.

This learning curve is something to consider when setting strategic targets.

And while your boss sets the strategy, the tactics are best left to the MOPs team.

The learning process is all about trial and error. Experimenting and finding out the best ways to use a tool to do the things you need.

The people using the tool will eventually understand better than anyone which methods work and what results are realistic. Leadership should trust them to decide how to execute daily and encourage their feedback to shape performance goals.

 

The takeaway

While strategy is your guiding star, the capabilities of your tools and the people in your MOPs team are what make achieving goals possible.

Plan for changes in technology and human resourcing as early as possible when developing a new strategy, and leadership can expect success.

Need some support? Drop us a line, we’re here to help!

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How Do I Enhance Security in MOps?

Hi Joe,

I’m worried that we’re not doing enough when it comes to security in MOPs. There are some pretty big gaps and I’m not quite sure what to do about it. How do I go about asking for help? Should I create a plan beforehand? How transparent should I be with leadership?

Thank you,
Concerned Casey

Casey, I can’t thank you enough for that question. I don’t think we talk about security enough in MOPs—but we should. Our marketing automation software holds a ton of sensitive information, whether it’s user account details or some level of personal identifiable information (PII), and our customers trust us to keep it safe. Particularly now, where marketing relies so much on personalization and connecting the dots between what our business offers and our customers’ needs. 

The risks of mismanaging this data are huge. For one, if a hacker or bad actor gets access to a pool of customer information, you better believe they’ll use it for nefarious purposes. Whether it’s selling that information to other cyber criminals or your competitors, using it to access your customers’ accounts on other high-value platforms, or blackmailing your company; there’s no shortage of ways your data can be used.

Beyond compromising your customers, a data breach is also bad for business. After they’ve been compromised, companies can spend millions of dollars addressing their security vulnerabilities and the loss of reputation that comes with a cyber attack.

The MOPs teams and businesses that are doing security right are focusing on the following areas: 

  • Data integrity: What data you collect, how you collect it, where you store it, and how you maintain it can all influence how secure that information is. For instance, there’s no need for you to have your customers’ social security numbers—so don’t ask for them. And if you do have passwords or PII on your marketing systems, you should look into encrypting or hashing them so that if a hacker gets their hands on them, they can’t read anything. You can also evaluate whether there’s even a business need for this sensitive information on your marketing system.
  • Controlled access to your systems: Security savvy teams ensure that only the right people have access to the right data—at the right time. It can be dangerous to have too many user accounts with permissions to access and manipulate the information on your systems. Instead, you should take a look at all your roles and permissions, and limit access to the people who need the data on a daily basis. Not everyone should be an admin. In addition, conducting regular scrubs on your systems to remove any old user accounts will also ensure you’re not at risk of a disgruntled employee compromising your data or your systems. 
  • Robust security policies: Good security should mean that you don’t have to think about security. With solid policies in place that let the right people in and keep the bad actors out, you and your team can focus on what you do best: marketing ops. 

If you’re seeing gaps in any of these areas, you should absolutely have a conversation with your security team (if you have one) and your executives. Be fully transparent about what you think is lacking, what the impact of those gaps are, and what the business should be doing instead. If they ask you whether this is an immediate need, the answer is yes. At the end of the day, securing your data is all about being proactive. You need to stay one step ahead of the bad guys—and avoid being the next big data breach in the news. 

 

You’ve got this, 

Joe Pulse

How to Talk With Your Boss About Learning Martech

Martech moves fast. As more and more tools enter the space every year, it’s increasingly a priority and a challenge to spot the best ones to adopt. Access is another barrier to navigate; many tools are too expensive for individual learners to experiment with, and when businesses have limited licenses to distribute, your ability to learn a new tool comes down to resourcing. Even when you’ve settled on a new piece of tech to learn, it can be tricky to structure your learning into realistic, achievable goals, with many features to explore, high expectations from management, and competing projects to juggle. 

MOPs people have a hunger for knowledge and a keen understanding of martech, but the above factors often complicate the learning journey. If you’re having trouble with learning tools purposefully, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. We’ll help you sit down with your boss and come up with a development plan for learning; one that focuses on the right tools to make an impact, with intentional and realistic goals to work towards.

Choosing tools

The martech boom has given businesses new and evolving options to solve problems and create efficiencies. Your boss or team might be excited by particular pieces of tech taking the industry by storm, but the best tools to learn are always the ones that address your business goals. Therefore, you’re looking to answer two questions: What does the business need, and what is the most effective tool to meet those needs?

First, chat with your CMO, CRO, or direct manager about goals. What does the business want to achieve with Marketing Operations? What problems or opportunities exist with the MOPs team? What functions can you perform in your role to contribute to big-picture performance outcomes, like increased revenue, productivity, efficiency, or lower costs?

Once you understand the intended outcomes of adopting a new tool, suggest surveying your company’s tech stack first—it’ll save time and money to adopt a piece of tech your company already uses over onboarding a new tool, even if it means purchasing an additional license. If you find a tool internally that could fit the bill, chat with your colleagues who use it. Does it perform the particular function or get the results your team needs? Does it have the potential to do so?  

If you’re unsure, vet this tool against other solutions on the market. Get a sense of pricing, reviews, demand and discussion in MOPs spaces (forums, channels, job postings). Once you’ve narrowed down 3-4 top contenders, suggest trialling each of them and measuring the results to investigate how each tool impacts performance. Present the relevant data to leadership, whether it’s ROI or productivity gains, and you’ll have made a strong case for your tool of choice.

Setting learning goals

Now you’ve got the right tool for the job, how should you learn it? Your boss has likely given you specific KPIs to meet; contributions to revenue or efficiency you’ll make from performing certain functions. Perhaps leadership wants you to generate a certain number of MQLs from the campaigns you build, or increase conversion rates by using a data enrichment tool to deepen your lead scoring.

Leadership may want fast results, but rushing through your learning to meet these goals quickly is an easy way for things to break, particularly if a tool has particularly complex features to master. Realistically, it’ll take months to learn the capabilities you need, gather performance data, and illustrate the business impact of your activities with the tool. A point your CMO and CRO would agree with: if it’s a choice between doing things fast and doing them correctly, choose the latter every time.

Here’s a game plan that works: break down any big-picture achievements and complex projects into attainable, gradually paced milestones. Many commonplace tools and platforms have different certification levels to obtain. Even if you’re not taking a certification exam, the curriculum provides a framework for learning a tool, from foundational to advanced levels. There’s a logical progression to this structure that will help you identify specific features to learn and understand how long it’ll take to learn them.

Exam curricula and other official learning resources are endorsed by the tool creators themselves, so they’re compelling pieces of evidence to back up your learning goals. Here’s how you articulate this to leadership: “Based on the official resources, I’ll be able to do X in three months; let’s set Y as a goal for six months’ time. When I’ve sufficiently learned these functions and allowed several months for reporting, I’ll show you how my work has contributed to Z outcome. From there, we can see what ongoing goals make sense.”

Purpose makes an impact

Learning is continuous in an evolving space like MOPs, and martech in particular demands a constant finger on the pulse. Measure and share the impact of your learnings with leadership as they progress, listen to emerging issues in the team, and keep an eye on developments in the martech space. Doing this will help you set fresh and relevant goals to pursue by using tech impactfully—because when it comes to getting results, purpose wins over speed.

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How to Pitch a New Marketing Automation Platform to Your CIO

TLDR: Marketing automation platforms are difficult to insert and replace, which impacts teams around the business. Your CIO can allocate personnel from IT and Data Science to help implement the platform successfully, but they need to know the investment makes sense. Gather the data to forecast the impact of the platform on revenue and productivity, accounting for costs and long-term personnel demands. Position this platform as urgent for survival, and back it up with a thorough cost/benefit analysis, and you stand a strong chance of getting your CIO’s support.

 

Reading the martech landscape and identifying technologies that can add real value to the business is a key skill for Marketing Operations professionals. While MOps succeed at understanding the relevance and benefits of new technologies, it’s often tricky to translate industry know-how into persuasive arguments that convince C-Suite to invest in new tools.

This is especially difficult when talking about marketing automation platforms. These key pieces of infrastructure impact teams around the business, integrate with many other tools and require significant time and cost investments.

If you’re pitching a new marketing automation platform, that conversation will take you beyond Marketing. You’ll need to speak with your CIO, who can allocate technical personnel to implement the project successfully.

In this Tough Talks Made Easy, you’ll learn how to plan and present a case for a new platform that your CIO can get behind.

 

Building your case

Before putting together a plan, it’s worth reflecting on the scale and value of the implementation. Marketing automation platforms are difficult to insert and replace. They with downstream impact on different teams in the organization — most notably IT and Sales.

 

Get cross-departmental buy-in

By nature, a platform implementation demands collaboration across disciplines. At a minimum, Sales, IT, and Data Science should support the project and contribute their expertise. Marketing might exclusively use and spend on the platform, but getting cross-departmental resources means selling the platform as a lift to productivity and/or revenue that boosts the business as a whole.

Crucially, you’ll need people outside of Marketing to handle the technical wiring and create training resources. CRM Admins, Developers, Data Scientists, and Data Warehousing Specialists are examples of key people who can bring the implementation to life, all of whom usually report to the CIO. Personnel contribution, rather than dollar investment, is why you’d approach your CIO.

To get buy-in, your CIO should understand that the platform you’re advocating is necessary for the organization’s success and survival.

Obsolescence = lights out for any business.

Frame this as a do-or-die opportunity. You can adopt this platform and transform your business, or fall behind.

 

Gather the appropriate data

Assume that your CIO isn’t plugged into the martech space. Your observations about how the platform fares in the industry and with competitors won’t persuade them alone.

Instead, numbers speak louder than words.

  • What are the hours saved and efficiency gains per month?
  • What revenue increase do you expect?
  • How does the platform make personnel quantifiably more productive?

When it comes to revenue projections, you might not have the data on-side to create a solid forecast. This is where you reach out to Sales—it’s equally in their interest to have a platform that brings in the dollars.

Sales projections can help to frame the revenue opportunities on offer with the platform. Consider projections like:

  • opportunity and win rates
  • lead types and quality gains, and
  • conversion rates for the highest-scoring leads.

Gather the data points you need to forecast the impact of the platform on revenue and productivity.

Then, accounting for the costs of implementation, walk your CIO through the hours and dollars that the business can expect to save or gain by implementing the platform.

Even when working with estimates, a thorough cost/benefit analysis is exactly what your CIO wants to see.

 

Thinking long-term

Even after digesting the benefits of the platform, one key question remains from your CIO: How is this going to be a permanently successful venture?

To answer this, you want to factor in post-implementation planning.

Users and people who experience a downstream impact from the platform need to clearly understand how it works. Account for any training sessions, change management, and the creation of educational resources that personnel under the CIO need to lead.

Realistically, the ways your Marketing team uses the platform will evolve over time. This means increased support should be available from technical staff long after the implementation.

Let’s say your current platform requires the support of two admins from IT. You might budget for a surge of 10 system administrators to implement the platform.

After working at this cadence, the demands on your business will change.

Rather than scaling back down to two admins post-implementation, you might need four admins permanently to manage the platform. This is especially likely if you’re scaling upwards to a more robust platform.

Your CIO wants this platform to succeed on a long-term basis. The more precisely you can account for the investment of personnel, during and past the implementation, the more accurately your CIO can size up the investment and commit the resources you need.

 

Selling your vision

Cross-departmental support can be tricky to secure, but it’s crucial to successfully implement a new marketing automation platform.

Come prepared to pitch the platform to your CIO as a vital and sensible move for the business. It’s necessary for survival. Prepare a thorough forecast of the revenue and productivity gains against costs and long-term personnel requirements. This is how you build a persuasive case for buy-in.

Need support implementing a new marketing automation platform? Contact us, it’s our specialty!

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How Can I Keep My Tech Stack Healthy?

Hi Joe,

I’m responsible for managing all the marketing tech in my organization; making sure that all the different tools run smoothly, and we’re getting the most out of each purchase. With teams across the organization using different tools in various ways, it gets difficult to keep our stack in a manageable state where each piece fits its purpose.
Do you have any advice for keeping a stack in good shape? How can I ensure that we’re using tools in the most optimal way?

Thanks,
Tech Stack Tom.

 

Tom, thanks for writing in. Keeping your stack under control is a great project to prioritize, because the more your organization grows, the harder it becomes to untie the knots. I’ve done tech audits in the past with companies of various sizes, and I’ve seen how messy things get without upkeep.

Tools onboarded and forgotten about, broken integrations, teams using multiple different solutions to fulfil the same functions. Without even realizing it, you can sink real cash into redundant subscriptions, disjoint your data between all the different tools, and burn effort working around errors.

Some companies make peace with sunk costs—if the breaks in the chain aren’t too damaging, or the tool we have can do at least a passable job, we’re okay to ride out a contract. What I advise here is that complacency doesn’t lead to improvement; tools that work well and fit their purpose make your life easier and help the company perform. That’s worth the time spent giving your stack a health check.

Here’s what I recommend to get the most out of your stack:

– Consolidate: If various teams use tools with significant overlap in what they offer, collapse these solutions where possible into one piece of tech. It’s a tough sell when teams love their tool, but consolidation has clear benefits; lower costs, simpler management, and a reduced risk of breakage.

– Centralize: Compile a resource that’s available to everyone, giving a complete picture of the tools in the company and how each team uses them. This helps to curb redundant software purchases, and it’ll highlight any capability gaps to fill in your stack.

– Audit: Talk to people around your organization about any problems they’re having and how they use the tools at their disposal. You want to map out the purpose each tool fulfils in your company and how all the pieces of your stack connect. Can you solve one team’s problems with an existing tool used by another team? What functions of current tools can you get greater mileage from? Is a new tool the best solution? An audit provides answers to questions like these.

– Prioritize: When deciding where to optimize your stack, consider the balance of problems solved and opportunities gained. Whatever your priorities as a business—boost revenue, decrease overhead, save on subscriptions, work more efficiently—think about changes that achieve your most pressing goals or solve multiple issues at once.

– Consult: You’ll run into situations where the right tool to use isn’t obvious. Your best move is to ask your network if they have experience in similar situations. The response from people you know and trust will likely be more relevant than answers in online discussions, and you’ll be able to solve the problem faster than if you approached sales reps at different providers.

You’ve got this,
Joe Pulse.

Why RevOps Should Look Under the Hood of Seismic

TLDR: Seismic is a boost to RevOps teams who’re looking to surface content more efficiently and better understand how content contributes to revenue. But the platform is most successful when paired with ongoing efforts to produce and organize content to a high standard.

Content lets organizations tell the story of their value to customers and prospects. RevOps teams often struggle to surface the value that content provides and double down on what works.

Without reliable insights into how content performs with its audience, marketing leaders find it difficult to prove how content contributes to the bottom line. 

Sales also needs content analytics to determine how best to personalize their story for each prospect. Without a well-organized system to categorize and manage content, sales risks sinking hours into searching for and sending out pieces that are outdated or ill-suited to the customer.

If your RevOps team struggles to optimize content, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you.

With a single source of truth to categorize and analyze content, RevOps teams can make decisions that help to close deals—and prove it. That’s the essence of what Seismic offers, and this piece will help you discuss the need-to-know aspects of the tool with RevOps.

 

Surface your best content

Seismic is a sales enablement platform that provides automated content management and analytics to makes RevOps’ lives easier. 

Admins can set permissions so sales only needs to search through content relevant to their accounts and campaigns. Then, sales can identify which pieces of content to deploy based on a series of categorizations that describe the properties of each content piece at a glance (e.g., asset types, relevant personas and products, sales stage to be deployed).

Seismic will save sales a few headaches if you have a well-developed content library but lack the processes to efficiently surface the most appropriate pieces.

Rather than clinging to a few pieces of content and deploying them past their expiry dates, sales gets an easy way to explore the deep bench of your library and engage prospects creatively with various pieces. 

Seismic also cuts down the significant amounts of time that reps spend just trying to get their hands on content. No need to trawl through a disoriented database or chase content people to ask for pieces.

Teams can actively surface the most relevant, useful content to serve to prospect by searching for content via filters like:

  • client type
  • topic, or
  • customizable options.

 

Connect content to dollars

The platform also tracks and reports on how prospects and opportunities engage with the content your team sends them. Seismic’s analytics let sales and marketing gauge how well each piece resonates with recipients and draw a direct line between content interactions and deals. 

For marketing, Seismic clears the uncertainty of how content contributes to the bottom line.

Marketing can map content engagement stats onto close rates and gain a stronger grasp of what types of content win deals from different prospect segments. 

With clear insight into how content provides value, RevOps teams can rethink for the better how they create content and personalize their outreach to each prospect.

 

Before you sign

For the ways that Seismic helps RevOps, the platform isn’t a silver bullet for poor organizational systems.

Seismic will be organized similarly to your source information on SharePoint or Drive, meaning that the platform’s presentation and categorization of content will be just as clear as your original folder structure.

In other words: if you’re in a mess, clean it up before you get Seismic.

To do that, RevOps needs to answer a few questions:

  • What are your naming conventions?
  • How will you tag and categorize content?
  • Where will content live depending on its category—e.g., persona groups, internal or external?

Your team should work through these details until you can confidently identify content by three key properties:

  • what each piece is
  • who it targets, and
  • the situations you intend to use it.

From there, Seismic allows RevOps to categorize, present, and analyze the performance of content—but it isn’t going to boost the underlying quality of that content.

If your bottom-of-funnel pieces aren’t inspiring opportunities to buy what you’re selling, then your RevOps team should consider doing an audit for quality.

Ask your team if the pieces:

  • Well-written and presented?
  • Relevant to your persona and industry groups?
  • Conveying the right level of information for the stage in the sales cycle? 

As much as Seismic’s analytics let RevOps spot trends and steer the direction of content to capitalize on engagement, the execution of those insights is always going to split the difference between landing a deal or not.

 

The bottom line

Ultimately, Seismic is a boost to RevOps teams who’re looking to surface content from their libraries more efficiently and better understand how content contributes to revenue.

As long as RevOps puts in the work to organize content and produce it to a high standard, teams can use the platform’s analytics to create and deploy content in a way that wrings more dollars from customer engagement.

For any advice on assessing sales enablement platforms or connecting content to revenue, Revenue Pulse is here to help.