Why tech mapping is increasingly vital for today’s marketers

It's time to think about what your technology is doing for you, your business and your audiences, says Nate Holmes, product marketing manager, Widen.

a collection of maps

Today’s marketing teams face the opportunities (and temptations) of more channels, more content, and more technology.

While thinking about how it all works together to deliver a consistent, effective customer experience can lead to even more headaches. This technology that promises to simplify processes and make life easier has often been built up piecemeal in silos over time. And for some, it’s now leaving them feeling like there’s more work, not less, as they struggle to keep up with the speed and demands of business using tools that aren’t working together.

If this is you, then it’s time to take a step back and think about what your technology is doing for you, your business, and your audiences. Martech stacks (your specific combination of technologies helping deliver marketing efforts) are so individual, no two are the same. So it is important that you stop and take stock of what’s in place and what it is, in actuality, delivering for you and the business.

There are many ways to go about this, but one reliable method is to map your marketing technology. Whether you have two or 200 marketing systems, mapping is a worthwhile exercise because it helps facilitate collaboration and efficiency, eliminates redundancy, and exposes opportunity, as well as laying the groundwork for business continuity and scalability.

Key benefits of following the mapping process

Just like a map, your martech stack illustrates how your tools connect and what can get you from one place to the next.

Marketing is the crossroads of many different roles, channels, and tools within a business. As such there can be discrepancies between the ways people use tools, host digital assets, maintain them and even in terminology. Bringing key stakeholders together and visually mapping out assets and terminology can allow all parties to get a view of the big picture. This in turn ensures you can agree on priorities and processes moving forward.

One of the core findings in this process will inevitably be the ability to eliminate redundancy and expose optimisation opportunities. There’s nothing worse than wasting time and resources in duplicating efforts, mapping can be invaluable in showing areas where this may be happening and in identifying a solution to ensure things are streamlined moving forward. It may also reveal areas where tools are being underutilised and even where processes can be automated.

Finally, the map documents the state of your stack and identifies future potential for growth. It ensures teams have the context for the tools they are using, how it benefits their workflow, and how this sits in the bigger picture of the organisation. Most importantly, it brings visibility to the tools being used across teams and departments so that it can be referenced and updated as systems and processes evolve.

What to include in your marketing technology map

The first step in creating the marketing technology map is gathering your list of technologies and their owners. The goal is to create a framework that will provide overall visibility and open connections and processes between technology and people. There are three core areas to consider:

1. Technology – this is an inventory of all the tools your business uses. Speak to all the stakeholders to ensure that nothing is missed from this list, from marketing, creative, sales, and IT. Typical solutions include digital asset management (DAM), product information management (PIM), content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM), mobile marketing platforms (MMP), and so on.

2. People – think about the people who bought in the technology (system owners), core users, and decision makers. Is there anyone else who should be included here for your business,

such as an internal advocate or someone in another area who may benefit from the technology?

3. Relationship – what are the relationships between those technologies and your people? This is where there is an opportunity to look at processes and workflows and where they might be improved upon, connected, or, where relevant, automated.

Think about the visualisation

There are any number of options you might want to consider in presenting your map. You might choose visualisation which puts a core functionality or task at the hub, with technology and people positioned as spokes from that hub. Or you might prefer a workflow style visualisation.

As every stack is different, and every need is different, there is no single answer at this point. As you move through the phase one information gathering, it will likely become clear to you the best way to visualise what you have. Feel free to use others as inspiration or create something totally fresh.

Draw the map

Using all the data you have gathered it’s time to create your map. Traditionally, when working with key stakeholders, you might have done this in a room with a whiteboard or a whole host of sticky notes. In today’s more remote working environment, virtual whiteboards may be more appropriate. As you lay out the map and all the connecting pieces it’s useful to work through these questions:

● What is the workflow process?

● Who executes the step?

● What system is involved?

● What decision is to be made?

● How does each tool interact with or link to adjacent systems?

● What manual processes or pain points currently exist?

● Are there skill gaps in your teams?

● How is success measured?

Revisiting and refreshing the map

Once you have your map it should remain a living asset, continually used by the team, refreshed and built upon. As people and tools change, it is critical that the map is managed to reflect this, so it continues to be a valuable asset to the team.

Mapping your martech stack is a crucial process for marketers today to ensure that the tools and teams have the right set up to deliver a seamless customer experience in a streamlined and efficient way.

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