4 ways to get more value from your martech investments

Here’s how to overcome the trend of underutilization in marketing technology and harness its true power for your organization.

I recently spoke at a marketing conference and, unsurprisingly, AI took center stage in many discussions. My presentation centered on the need for marketers to move beyond generative AI and start using AI to gain deeper insights into their customers.

One eye-catching statistic from my presentation was the Gartner survey, revealing that 63% of marketers plan to invest in generative AI in the next 24 months. However, what truly caught my attention was the statement that “projections signal shift in martech plans, as leaders report utilizing only one-third of current capabilities.”

This decline, noted by my colleague Jon Miller, was even more pronounced than in the 2022 survey, where marketers reported using 42% of their martech capabilities. As he rightly asks, the big question is: “What’s going on?” While Miller dissects the issue in detail, this article aims to provide insights into how marketers can reverse this trend and extract more value from their marketing technology investments.

Tip 1: Avoid shiny object syndrome 

Marketers have long been enamored with technology and the promise of what it can deliver. I remember working at an enterprise software company and being invited to a meeting by a colleague. The meeting was going to focus on a new technology called marketing automation. She excitedly explained to me that this new tool built for marketers would automate all of our marketing and make our lives easier. 

There is no doubt that marketing automation has been used effectively throughout the years. However, it is worth noting that it is the number one tool being replaced by organizations. This doesn’t negate the usefulness of automation, just that marketers have a penchant for the shiny new toy in the martech toy closet. I have seen many jump at the latest and greatest solution that promises marketing nirvana. 

As noted by Gartner, the story typically ends with a lack of utilization and an inevitable lack of value. It is not always the tool’s fault but of those who jumped at the latest and greatest tool only to find that they were not ready to use it to its full potential.


Tip 2: Put your strategy first 

I often encounter companies that have invested heavily in technology, yet nothing is documented when I delve into their growth strategy. Again, this is not the technology’s fault but the marketing department’s.

Technology is not a strategy and, on its own, will do nothing to get you closer to engaging your customer at every stage of their lifecycle. This is why it is imperative to define your strategy first and then determine the technology you will need to enable your strategy.

Understanding who your customers are, what is meaningful to them, and what they need at every stage of their lifecycle is a good place to start. This will then dictate the kind of content you need to create and what channels you need to use to create that engagement. Then, you can determine your technology needs and implement them accordingly. And implementing technology is only the beginning.


Tip 3: Evaluate and optimize your technology

I once read an article where the author claimed, “The wonderful thing about marketing technology is that it is set it and forget it.” I had to read it twice because the statement dumbfounded me. 

Suppose you want to get the most out of your marketing technology investment. In that case, there should be a continual process of evaluating the technology against the defined strategy and optimizing it continually.

Depending on the size of your organization, this should be one of the roles that is filled by marketing operations and if you do not have that role in your organization, consider finding an outsourced partner who can help you. 


Tip 4: Invest in training 

For all of the money poured into marketing technology, it is a good idea to ensure that those using it are getting the training they need to get the most from it. Yet, I often hear that training was never completed, and it has been more of a learn-as-you-go approach, with lots of trial and error.

If you want to get more utilization from your marketing technology, invest in training those who will administer the tools so they are equipped and enabled to get the most from it.


Maximizing martech’s ROI

Investments in marketing technology, including AI, are not going away. It is typically one of the biggest line items in any CMO’s budget. However, to only get a fraction’s worth of utilization is due to poor stewardship.

Keeping things this day does nothing to demonstrate the value of what marketing can deliver for an organization. It is time for marketers to understand how to use technology most effectively to enable a growth strategy and be a revenue driver for their organizations. 


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About the author

Carlos Hidalgo

Carlos Hidalgo is the co-founder and CEO of Digital Exhaust, a data-driven AI-enabled consultancy that helps B2B and B2C clients experience sustainable growth by aligning marketing, sales, and customer success to deliver meaningful engagement to their customers at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Over the course of his 29-year career, Carlos has worked with organizations of all sizes in delivering growth strategies, leading change management initiatives, developing human-centered corporate cultures, and advising executives on how to maximize their organization’s growth. Carlos is the author of Driving Demand, which is ranked as a top 5 marketing book of all time by Book Authority and also The UnAmerican Dream, which was released in 2019. Additionally, Carlos is an international keynote speaker and TEDx speaker. Carlos has won numerous awards and has been named to some of the most prestigious leadership lists in the industry.