Marketing technology is evolving at a rapid pace. This is a reflection of the constantly changing landscape, the lower cost of innovation, and the need for marketers to simplify campaign management. In this increasingly competitive marketplace I often see marketers rushing to invest in the latest marketing technology products – without giving much thought to the implementation process. Poorly executed implementation can have disastrous consequences for your business – in fact, failed IT projects cost U.S. companies between $50 to $150 billion annually in lost revenue and productivity according to Gallup.
Here are five tips to help ensure you have a successful implementation every time:
Many brands fail to spend adequate time in the discovery phase when investing in new technology. Before you get too excited about what something can do, take some time to be realistic about what it will do for your company. Are the teams that need to be involved available for an implementation? Will the feature you’re most excited about integrate with your existing technology stack and framework? Proper discovery helps set expectations, identify potential pain-points that may come up during implementation, and prevent scope creep. I’m sure many of us can relate to this scene below:
Fishburne, Tom. The marketing tech stack, marketoonist.com, 10 March. 2019, https://marketoonist.com/2019/03/the-marketing-tech-stack.html
When going through the sales process, most technology companies will provide guided demos to show off the latest and greatest features. Ask them for a sandbox or unguided demo. This will allow your team to assess ease of use and unearth any deal-breakers. You may discover this great new solution is missing a critical feature you rely on today.
Every implementation, regardless of complexity, needs a timeline. A timeline will help you align all teams to a common goal and understand how their work impacts the overall project.
Timeline Tip: build in buffers. If you know that IT is working on multiple initiatives at once, padding the timeline slightly will help avoid missing key dates.
Caption: This sample campaign template from Hubspot is a good starting point for building your timeline.
Things don’t always go according to plan. Before your project starts, consider some of the potential roadblocks and detours you might encounter over the course of the implementation. How will you deal with the auto-renewal clause in your existing services agreement if you are unable to complete the migration on time? Who can help allocate resources when It’s priority list does not match your own? What brand of chocolate will you buy yourself when your CMO pushes the deadline up a month? Contingency planning will keep you on track when things don’t go according to plan.
Every project, no matter the size and regardless of the outcome, should end with a “lessons learned” session. Perhaps a new tool or strategy was used that proved extremely helpful. And if things went awry, use this as a chance to be honest about what happened in a non-judgmental setting. This is an opportunity for your team to learn and create actionable takeaways to improve further projects. Once you have gathered your lessons, document them and refer-back when starting your next implementation.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin may not have a hit Broadway rap-musical, but he is no less relevant to today’s marketer. Preparation is key when implementing new marketing technology. The first four tips should ideally be completed before any paperwork is signed. Don’t let the excitement of a new tool, or a vendor’s fiscal year close, rush you through these critical steps. Only once you have completed your discovery, demoed new tools, established a timeline, and planned for potential roadblocks, should you begin the exciting process of starting your implementation.
A recent report from Gartner revealed that CMOs spend 26% of their budget on marketing technology. With such a large share of marketing budget dedicated to tech, it’s crucial to have a smooth implementation. To improve marketing ROI (return on investment) CMOs must understand the importance of planning and preparation when investigating and implementing new technology.
Paolo is an Account Director for Data Axle with over thirteen years of experience in client service and digital marketing. Paolo works closely with clients across multiple industries to grow their businesses. When he’s not providing strategic insights and industry best practices to his clients, you can find Paolo searching for dinner inspiration at the local farmer’s market.