So, You’ve Inherited A Martech Stack: Now What?

Published: February 2, 2024

1arttyIn today’s competitive landscape, organizations are continuously seeking strategies that maximize long-term value while containing costs. New marketing leaders — particularly CMOs — face the challenge of minimizing the cost of ever-growing tech tools without a full view of their organizations’ needs. This is often referred to as the “Inheritance Tax,” and in this article, we’ll explore how marketing leaders can reduce this cost while streamlining legacy martech tools to drive differentiation and efficiency while also enabling critical capabilities.

Minimizing The Inheritance Tax

When marketing leaders switch roles to a new organization, the Inheritance Tax can lead to unforeseen and often underestimated expenses. To lessen this burden, marketing leaders can take several steps. First, they need to prioritize understanding the originally intended marketing strategy and business goals associated with the inherited martech platforms.

By uncovering the “who” and “how” of the platform’s usage, marketing leaders can effectively navigate the challenges of a new instance. Seeking insights from key stakeholders and utilizing available learning resources, such as customer portals and consultancies, can expedite the onboarding process and minimize the Inheritance Tax.

Uncovering The Context

With more than 11,000 martech tools in 49 categories, it’s important to know the role and responsibility of each tool you’re investing — or currently invested — in. Keep in mind investment isn’t only in terms of software; business process is a critical factor in determining absolute ROI.

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Leaders need to gain a holistic understanding of the current business goals associated with each platform and assess for technical updates. Are there new features that have been rolled out in the last year? Are you utilizing the full feature set of the platform relative to the capital expenditure/operation expenditure costs being spent on software licensing? If not, you’ll want to schedule a demo to review your software or consider having an external stack audit.

Identifying Key Stakeholders

Knowing the key stakeholders is crucial when inheriting systems that run your marketing and sales engine, as it enables effective collaboration and ensures alignment with team objectives. Additionally, it’s critical to have a pulse on team usage and adoption, particularly when organizational shifts happen that lead to user base churn. With that in mind:

1. Know your active users versus license holders/seats.

This helps you inform who is a part of the discussion group versus decision-making group on technical upgrades, enhancements and integrations.

2. Determine your super users and know your user productivity calculation.

The productivity calculation is total output/total input, which can help you determine your risk of churn in people and inform your process decisions.

Understanding Capabilities

Extracting performance analytics and information from a new (or new-to-you) platform is important. Equally important is understanding the systems’ capability, function and features. 

Lean into support for product info to ensure you are leveraging your tools and enhanced features. For example:

  • Ask for a 20-minute sales demo on the platform and have your team of experts listen for required customizations/configurations to achieve what you need from the tool or identify blind spots to functionality that exists that you may not be leveraging; or
  • Consider getting a tech roadmap audit or playbook to quickly identify opportunities, redundancies and challenges within your tech stack.

Understanding Cost Optimization

Knowing where to save and where to spend is critical. To create long-term value, executive leaders must identify spending areas that drive differentiation and support critical capabilities. Organizations can make informed decisions about resource allocation by analyzing the lifetime value of costs and recognizing that not all revenue is equal. This approach ensures that spending aligns with strategic objectives, enabling sustainable growth and profitability.

Streamlining Legacy Martech Tools

Legacy martech tools can become burdensome when they are underleveraged or overly customized, leading to longer ramp-up periods and frustrations during onboarding. Marketing leaders can mitigate these costs by adopting a proactive approach. Regular martech audits, conducted by outside partners or consultancies with unbiased views on the history of the systems, can assess the overall stack fitness and readiness to support business objectives.

These assessments help to identify opportunities for optimization and can limit the switching costs associated with new leadership and improve operational efficiency. Through careful cost containment and investment, organizations can position themselves for sustainable growth and profitability in the dynamic business landscape.

Arturo Mendiola is the Chief Growth Officer at Shift Paradigm, a digital marketing agency.

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