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Terminus Blog

October 15, 2020

Making Sense of Martech: Platforms, Integration & Beyond

Category: FlipMyFunnel Post

Most marketers know how to weigh traditional marketing services. 

But technology? That leaves most marketers at a loss. 

It doesn’t have to — deciding between martech products and building a killer tech stack can be made simple.

In this takeover episode, hosts Yaagneshwaran Ganesh and Manish Nepal catch up with Scott Brinker, VP Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot, to discuss what every marketer needs to know about martech.

Why martech is so muddy for most marketers

For most marketers, the difficulty with martech purchasing decisions doesn’t arise from not seeing the value in the technology.

Almost everyone is aware that a killer tech stack is an advantage in their career. 

The problem is any purchasing decision is a big commitment. 

With traditional marketing services, you are purchasing something ephemeral. It’s simple to hire an agency for one campaign. 

And if you don’t like the results? 

Simple: Don’t use that agency again.

And this approach leads to marketers quickly learning from their experience and inculcates a general savviness at agency management.

“Technology is still pretty new to most marketers. They’re not always clear on how to be an astute buyer.

With martech, however, any buying decision can’t be thrown out if you don’t like the results in the short-term. 

Technology is an investment in infrastructure that will be with you for the foreseeable future. 

This puts a lot of pressure on marketers to make the right decision. 

Luckily, the choices are getting easier. 

The platform movement

The push for platforms in the industry is transforming how marketers interact with their tech stack. 

The platform movement is all about simplifying your technology by creating a central ecosystem in which your various martech tools can reside. 

Once, it was incumbent on every marketer to pick their tools and cross their fingers that they could find a way to integrate them, invariably relying on complicated solutions that often added new challenges. 

The platform movement aims to free marketers from this burden. 

“If we’re really successful with the platform movement in the industry, then the burden is no longer on non-technical marketers to figure out how to connect this stuff.” — Scott Brinker

But many of the offerings still have a long way to go and problems persist. 

Onboarding or bullying?

For one, many of these platforms are what Scott refers to as “bullyware.” 

What he means by this is that the platforms are often too rigid and inflexible with how they think a user should interact with the technology.

So, what ends up happening is the in-built onboarding bullies users into using it in a manner that may not be ideal for their situation. 

Yes, it works, but… 

Another issue comes with integration. 

With the current technology, if you were to ask whether a platform will integrate with your other technology, the good news is that, yes, it probably will. 

The bad news?

It’s the wrong question.

You should be asking how well it integrates. And that answer is all over the map. 

The 4 secrets to integration

Since levels of integration vary so wildly, this is the hurdle most marketers stumble on. 

But integration is the name of the game with your tech stack, so it’s important to know how to evaluate a platform’s capabilities in this arena. 

Luckily, Scott is a fount of knowledge. 

“This is a competitive dimension you can win on. So, build great integrations. ” — Scott Brinker

Here are the 4 layers he recommends analyzing to evaluate any platform’s integration capabilities:

  1. Data

Data is the area most marketers already know to think about when looking at their technology. What we’re looking for here is a platform’s ability to get data from product A to product B. 

But with today’s tech, that might not cut it. 

You may need it to synchronize both ways. Maybe it needs to have a place for dealing with conflicts or exceptions. Speed could matter. 

These are all things to keep in mind when looking at this layer.

  1. Workflow

So, you have all these great tools in your tech stack and they are communicating with each other. Then you need the ability for customer interactions to trigger some sort of workflow in your marketing automation.

There could be all kinds of steps that you want the platform to handle. And it matters that it handles them well. 

If the flow between the customer journey and your internal processes is interrupted by the platform you are using, is it helping you or hurting you? 

Make sure your choice doesn’t interrupt your flow. 

  1. UI and UX

This is easy to overlook but some thought here can save you huge headaches down the line. 

A platform could do every task under the sun, but if you have to switch between 15 different browser windows and wait 45 minutes for what looks like a 90’s Geocity page to load, is it saving you time?

Probably not. The user experience is just as important as the platform’s capabilities.

  1. Governance

This isn’t a technical layer, really. But it’s just as important. 

Say, you are looking for apps that integrate with your platform and you’re in the Hubspot marketplace, there are all sorts of other considerations you’ll need to make. 

It may be important to know if these apps are certified by Hubspot, the scope the apps have when it comes to accessing data and how much control over that you, the user, have. 

There are regulatory considerations, transparency considerations — the list goes on. 

Good governance can mean the difference between a life-saving platform and one that makes your job harder. 

Your tech stack awaits

Hopefully, Scott’s wisdom has washed away your fear of martech and left you eager to get your tech stack in the best shape it’s ever been. 

If you follow his advice and put careful consideration into each of these areas, martech will no longer be a bad decision lying in wait. 

Instead of giving you a daily headache, your technology will do what all technology is supposed to do…

Make your life easier. 

This is a #FlipMyFunnel podcast. Check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or here.

Written by Sangram Vajre

Sangram Vajre is the co-founder and chief evangelist of Terminus, the leader of the account-based marketing (ABM) movement transforming B2B marketing. Before co-founding Terminus, Sangram led the marketing team at Pardot through its acquisition by ExactTarget and then to Salesforce. Sangram is the author of Account-Based Marketing for Dummies and is the mastermind behind #FlipMyFunnel. Follow Sangram on Twitter at @sangramvajre.

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