The marketing technology landscape is not getting any smaller, or more narrowly defined, with this number increasing from about 1,867 in 2015 to nearly 10,000 as of mid-2022. With so much choice, it can become nearly impossible to make good decisions, or to even know where to start narrowing your choices.
One incredibly helpful thing to define before embarking on an effort to define your technology infrastructure is to define what I call a marketing technology philosophy. This will consist of your guiding principles that point you in the right direction as you make fundamental choices about the types of platforms you incorporate or reject as part of your marketing technology stack.
Organizations that don’t have a strong philosophy are at a disadvantage because it becomes harder to make strategic decisions. With so many platforms available with similar features, integrations, and promises made, not having a clear direction to go in makes the choice of investments even more difficult. What’s more, not having a strong philosophy also means that a course correction may be required in order to deprecate a system that significant time and resources have been invested in if it fails to fit in a longer term plan.
In this article, I’m going to discuss a few ways to define your marketing technology philosophy and why they may — or may not — be a good fit for your organization.
Build vs. Buy
The first consideration as you define your marketing technology philosophy is whether you will build some (or all) of the components of your infrastructure internally (or with the help of contractors), or if you will buy it all from third parties and integrate those components with one another. This is the “build vs. buy” approach, and there are many factors to consider here.
First, you should consider if you have the team of internal or external resources that can build the type of systems that you need to accomplish your goals. In most “build” scenarios, organizations aren’t building 100% of their systems, but anywhere from some small but significant components, to rather large pieces can conceivably be built and maintained. The benefits of building become greater the more internal resources you have, and the more specific your needs are. Likewise, buying allows your organization to benefit from countless other customers using the same platform in similar ways and having an often solid foundation with which to work.
One nuance of the build vs. buy part of your marketing technology philosophy is the increasing presence of composable architectures and systems. With these platforms, it becomes easier to build and integrate, and thus you may end up having a hybrid approach.
Understanding how much of your marketing technology infrastructure you want to build from scratch and maintain, versus host in the cloud and license from a third party, is a key consideration as you define your philosophy.
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All-in-One vs. Best of Breed
Do you want a multi-tasking marketing machine that can do any task you can throw at it, or do you want a precision tool that does a handful of things really well? When you are choosing between an all-in-one system or a best of breed platform, these are the types of questions you need to ask.
Of course, some of the features of all-in-one systems are not only robust, but perfectly suited to many organization’s needs. However, if you’ve decided to buy (versus build), and your feature needs are detailed and specific, you may not feel an all-in-one platform is the right approach. On the flip side, integrating several best of breed platforms takes more engineering work than benefiting from the built-in connections an all-in-one system provides.
Whether you choose an all-in-one or best of breed approach is likely to depend on the investments and integrations you’ve already made, or are planning to make in the near future, with an all-in-one system. If those efforts are large and all-encompassing, then your decision might already be made for you, but if you and your team have instead chosen carefully which systems to use based on a careful analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, and features and interoperability, then best of breed might be the way to go.
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Making the Best Decision With Martech
While there are other combinations and nuances besides the two decision points I described above, generally speaking, they are all variations on one or more of those themes. Choosing the best path to go down may be made easier based on what you currently have in place, as well as the teams you already work with and their capabilities.
There are several benefits to defining a philosophy, however. Although there are more, here are just a few:
- It makes the unenviable task of narrowing down marketing technology vendors and approaches much easier.
- It helps you prioritize strategic marketing initiatives based on a realistic knowledge of what capabilities and functionality you will be able to have in place and when.
- It helps you plan the team members and resources you will need and for what skillsets you should hire.
- It can help as you budget for your marketing technology infrastructure for future quarters and fiscal years.
- It helps you to be more realistic about the marketing and experience you will be able to deliver to your customers over time.
Every organization is different, and factors may change the needs of that same company over time. The best decision requires making a calculated decision that takes the current state, near term, as well as the foreseeable future into account.
As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to defining your marketing technology philosophy, but it’s important that you take the steps to define one of your own, even if it evolves over time due to changing internal and external factors. It will save you countless hours as you and your team identify and evaluate potential components to add and incorporate into your infrastructure, and it will help you define a clearer and more strategic path to marketing success.