Mind the Gap! How to Identify and Close Gaps in Your MarTech Stack

Illustration of how to close gaps in your MarTech strategies.

You’ve heard it before: on average, marketers only use 42% of the capabilities in their martech stack, impacting internal and external users. 

In our experience, it’s true. During most digital audits, we see clients use as little as 20% with an ecosystem of incompatible tools and customer data that is dispersed and disconnected. 

That may seem like a large number at first glance. But most organizations don’t assess the impact of their software when everything is functioning fairly well (i.e., it’s mostly working, it’s not broken, no one wants to use up resources or time to improve it). 

In many cases, marketing leaders are doing the right things and even have some great assets in place. However, they're leaving money on the table by ignoring the gaps within their technology platforms and the impact on customer experiences. 

To move forward — from good to great — you'll need to close gaps and lean into the new martech era. This is possible when you assess your programs and focus on marketing and adtech personalization, advanced analytics, customer data security and compliance. 

It's not just about integrating tools. It's about creating harmonious, repeatable and profitable processes that stay on track to keep your team running at its best. 

It's about purposeful digital transformation.

The business case for a digital audit: the chicken and the egg 

For your business, consider which came first, strategy or technology. Did you first choose your favorite CMS platform and then your email marketing program? 

That's okay — nearly every business enters the marketplace with only a few technologies then grow to use up to a dozen before realizing that they've created a non-scalable digital ecosystem. 

It’s incredibly common. In fact, it’s nearly a rite of passage. 

Eventually, you may realize that you are facing inefficient workflows, low quality of data across platforms, lack of user acceptance and low ROI for technology spend. You aren’t able to properly measure results. 

How to start tidying up resources with a martech stack audit

Take a minute before you dismiss investing in this step. Audits dramatically increase your chance of implementation success.  Let’s quickly review the general process involved.

During an audit you’ll want to identify:

Gaps – Where in your customer journey map are there gaps in technologies? In other words, where have you listed goals and capabilities, but do not have technologies to support these needs? This could include gaps in how systems are integrated and sharing data. Perhaps you want to start running more sophisticated A/B tests on your website but your CMS or DXP doesn't support it. Maybe you’d like an automation workflow based on last-order date, but your ecommerce platform doesn't currently send that data to your marketing platform. 

Redundancy – Where do you have capability overlap? Are there multiple technologies performing the same function? Are there certain business units or regions using different technologies that do the same thing (i.e., event management, lead scoring, email marketing, etc.)? 

Inconsistency – Are there multiple ways that internal teams and admins are using your technologies? Is a governance system required or something to be considered? Are some teams using more of a specific technology solution than others? For example, have your acquisition source codes and UTM parameters gotten out of hand? Are different teams using different rules and naming conventions?

Underutilization – Do you have robust technologies in your stack, but your teams are only using a small fraction of what they can actually do? Are there capabilities within certain technologies that can increase productivity, accelerate lead-to-revenue, and/or eliminate the need for additional technologies or processes requiring resources and money? Perhaps you're paying for SMS marketing capabilities but not using them. Almost all marketing platforms today have some flavor of automation, but these capabilities are often underutilized. 

The general framework for the audit:

  1. Assess Your Business Objectives & Strategies – Define the customer experience goals you want to achieve with your digital marketing strategy. Evaluate how well it aligns with your overall business strategies and objectives.
  2. Identify Your Current Technologies – Take inventory of all the technologies in use to build digital experiences, including your content management system, marketing automation tools, analytics solutions, etc. 
  3. Analyze User Experiences & Personalization Capabilities – Examine where in the customer journey there are points of friction or opportunities for improvement in terms of website design, user experience, personalization capabilities, etc., so you can better understand how different technologies could help optimize each stage of the customer journey.
  4. Establish Performance Metrics & Goals - Set up realistic performance metrics (such as conversion rates) based on key milestones throughout the customer journey. Define specific goals that will enable achievement across these stages to measure success accurately over time. 
  5. Research & Evaluate New Technologies – Identify new cutting-edge technologies that have potential applications for enhancing your digital experiences based on their features and capabilities. 
  6. Analyze Costs vs. Benefits – Calculate the costs associated with purchasing and implementing new technologies, plus the potential benefits they could bring in terms of ROI and customer experience improvements. 
  7. Monitor & Adjust – After implementing new tools or processes, keep track of the performance metrics regularly to adjust the technology stack where necessary. This will help make sure you’re getting the most out of your martech stack and meeting your customer experience goals.

The good, the bad and the ugly sides of change management 

A down-to-earth approach is the key to success when assessing your martech stack. Take a pragmatic, data-driven look at how well your current technology stack is performing. Adjust as necessary to optimize customer experiences.

The good — You and your team are likely doing many of the right things already. This type of evolution will only help your existing operations and allow your business to scale more efficiently. There is less need to hesitate. Any investment will likely pay off in new prospects, more engaged customers and more loyal fans.  

The bad — This will take time and effort to evaluate, rebuild, and “stick the landing.” Those involved at any stage need to be a part of the journey in order to have complete buy-in and be prepared to use and excel with a more refined martech ecosystem. It’s not bad, but it’s not easy. Everyone needs to be on board to change.  

The ugly — Fewer than 25% of businesses make it 15 years. Taking a small or medium business to the enterprise level is hard. But most business “don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” Neglecting your martech stack stops you from accurately tracking ROI and leaves gaps in the customer journey.

Other key questions to ask:

  • What skills does my team have and how does that align with the technology we're using? 
  • What approach aligns with organizational culture and style? Are you nimble and able to test out tools and manage a composable ecosystem? Or are you better served by all-in-one type enterprise platforms?
  • Are the platforms you're using scalable? Can you add additional features and capabilities as business needs change and grow?
  • Is it possible to downsize the current plan you're on so you're only paying for what you actually use?
  • What is the level of effort to replace a system or test a new platform — is the juice worth the squeeze?

Reliable, iterative success for future you

Many businesses lack the resources needed to conduct a thorough, non-biased audit, or they may be hesitant to invest in new technologies. It never hurts to get a quote to see if the benefits outweigh the costs, though. 

Detailed, data-driven insights are more important than ever. It’s vital to take guesswork and assumptions out of the equation by closing gaps between your processes, technologies and customers.  

By tracking performance metrics regularly, setting goals for improvement, and making changes based on user feedback and data analysis, businesses can ensure they're getting the most out of their investments while delivering engaging customer experiences now, and for years to come. 

Interested in kick-starting a tech stack audit? If you are wondering where to start or interested closing the gaps in your digital ecosystem, give our pros a call for a free consultation.