A large white room with many entryways and doors, lots of choices - marketing investment concept
PHOTO: Jan Genge/Unsplash

Decision-making around marketing technology (martech) investments has become more complex than ever. With constant changes in technology options and ever-increasing customer demands, the process of choosing tools that are agile and as spot-on as possible has become a major marketing mountain to climb.

The problem, say experts, begins with the massive size of today’s martech landscape and the vast number of platforms and services available. Then you “layer on an organization’s technical and business goals and challenges, and marketers can quickly become overwhelmed,” said Melissa Tait, SVP of technology and managing director of digital agency Primacy. There is also the common problem of "data paralysis" that comes with a myriad of platforms gathering data, she added, as marketers struggle with ingesting and interpreting that data to develop insights and actionable solutions that are meaningful to the customer. 

Another significant issue is that for large martech engagements, decision-making often straddles different departments, including marketing, IT, media and procurement. “There may be several stakeholders with varying visions, concerns and responsibilities, so getting internal alignment can be difficult, said Gene Tiernan, managing director of agency teamDigital.

Finally, marketers often struggle with "picking the winner" when it comes to investing in marketing tools, said Tiernan. Solutions works best when the organization commits and uses them to their fullest, he explained, but that requires not just investments of dollars, but time and discipline. “You need to test and learn to use the solution progressively better,” he said.

Related Article: Here's What Customer Marketing Will Look Like in the Very Near Future

Tips for Making Your Digital Marketing Investments Move the Needle

As far as the martech universe has come, digital marketing is not fully matured, so organizations looking to invest always have to be ready for change, said Tiernan. “Having an approach in place so that your business strategy sets the direction and martech simply supports it, will allow for continuous reassessment and evolution as opposed to purchasing a martech solution with the expectation that it will just run on autopilot for the long haul.”

Have a Plan Before Exploring Solutions

It is easy to be amazed by a software’s "wow" factor, said Tiernan, but marketers should make sure solutions satisfy the department’s actual, existing needs. “When marketers take the time to create a proper strategy with a visionary roadmap to implementation over a set time period, requirements may emerge that can then be shared with solution providers,” he explained.

Ensure Stakeholders are Involved in Decision-making

Who will actually use the new marketing tool daily? Make sure those stakeholders are involved in the decision-making, said Tiernan, because understanding the day-to-day impact on real users makes the organization smarter and more efficient.

Get a Full Demonstration and/or Trial Usage Period

Case studies and current client references help go beyond the salesperson’s pitch and into the reality of day-to-day use, said Tiernan. “Ideally, current client references should also focus on similar marketing channels. Ask them about challenges they’ve had and how the tool specifically address them.”

Partner with the IT Team

Too often, marketing and technology act as adversaries rather than partners. Instead, when it comes to digital marketing investments, marketers should first partner with their organization’s IT team to ensure they select a platform that can be integrated with their technology solutions, said Tait. At the same time, the technology team must not force-fit a solution that doesn't align with marketing goals. “Business goals, technical goals, budgets and solution choices have to be aligned,” she explained.

Iterate to Optimize the Customer Experience

With each solution marketers launch, they should iterate so they can learn what solutions have the biggest impact and the greatest return, said Tait. To do this successfully, implementation flexibility is key. “Some platforms take longer to roll out and integrate,” she said, adding that results may mean moving towards different strategies than initially planned.

Seek Advice from Trusted Partners

Many marketing organizations seek to bring all of their martech  planning and execution in-house, but this is often biting off more than they can chew, said Tait. “They place lot of faith on a platform’s marketing promise,” she explains. Product companies are focused on their product sales, so organizations can and should seek outside advice from trusted partners who offer a more balanced perspective. 


As technologies evolve, new customer touchpoints will be created, innovative solutions will be introduced and marketers will, in turn, have an influx in data and opportunities they have to analyze and deploy. “That means marketers will need to continue to educate themselves on current and future solutions and partner with trusted advisors as needed to ensure they’re delivering on their business goals,” said Tait.