Marketers know there’s a lot that could go wrong when setting out to integrate data, deployment, CRM or any other two platforms. From unexpected roadblocks to missed deadlines and hidden costs, we’ve all experienced the frustration of a rocky technology integration. Data needs to flow easily through your martech stack’s layers – from your email deployment tool through your CRM, analytics, lead generation, and ABM platforms, to your landing pages, mobile marketing tool, marketing automation software, and graphics solutions.
A recent report from Gartner revealed that CMOs spend 26% of their budget on marketing technology.1 With such a large share of marketing spend dedicated to tech, it’s crucial to have a seamless integration process. A poorly executed integration 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.
No matter the size of a technology integration, every project should end with a “lessons learned” session. Perhaps you used a new tool or a new strategy that proved extremely helpful, or maybe things went awry, and you need to honestly discuss 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 to them when starting your next integration. Below, we’ve listed important lessons learned from the many technology integrations our teams have managed recently.
It’s essential to work with stakeholders before implementation to determine the project’s goals and what the optimal business outcome. Is it a better customer experience? Better reporting? Fewer manual steps? It’s crucial to answer these questions before coming up with an integration strategy.
Brand example: PwC UK
One of the UK’s leading professional services firms integrated a fully integrated marketing automation and CRM solution. During the implementation phase, they conducted a 6-week strategic assessment working with their vendor to map out existing processes, benchmarking their current systems, and outlining key goals for their new martech solution.
PwC’s objectives included:
Deciding to integrate your campaign deployment tool and CRM into one tech stack opens up countless opportunities for improvement and automation. But what about those 3rd party integrations you’ve used or are using for one-off projects in your existing system? Will you be re-building those or do you need to pay that vendor to reintegrate them into your new solution? These are the questions you need to answer before moving ahead with your project.
Use case example:
During the sales process, you will most likely hear that the solution you are evaluating will meet all your current and future requirements. But before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you understand the extent of the out-of-the box coverage of your new solution. In our technology evaluations, we often uncover that in order for one or more original business requirements to be met, the client is required to purchase more add-ons, which is not included in the solution’s estimate. After integration, this surprise cost will lead you to either buy the add-on or give up your customization.
Before you go ahead with any integration or implementation of new technology, marketers need to make sure the data powering their new solution is cleansed and standardized.. Importing bad data into a new solution will lead to wasted time and money at every stage of the integration. Always allot budget for comprehensive data hygiene to ensure data accuracy and recency. You don’t want to fall victim of the old adage “garbage in, garbage out.”
Brand example: Top 5 U.S. Health Insurer
Following a merger, a leading U.S. health insurance company found itself with a vast amount of valuable but unstandardized data they gained through their new partner. As a result, Data Axle was tasked with helping the health insurer combine, cleanse, and integrate the disparate data sets, as well as adding additional consumer attributes for further targeting. Data Axle’s database solutions team created a centralized database with marketing capabilities such as advanced targeting and real-time messaging. The insurer worked with Data Axle to use the combined datasets and create customer acquisition strategies that lead to an 8.2% lift in acquisition rates.
Your project may run late – it’s a universal truth many marketers have learned the hard way. You can mitigate the damage by being realistic about the amount of time the integration will take. Creating a timeline that considers each team member’s initiatives and additional projects will help you create a timeline that works for all parties. Adding some contingency padding will ensure you have time to put out any fires that may arise.
This sample timeline from Hubspot is an excellent example of how to plot your timeline.
Brand example: AEG
AEG is one of the largest sports and live entertainment brands in the world. They partnered with Data Axle to create a custom marketing solution that integrated their communications platform with all of the brand’s existing marketing solutions: Content Management System (CMS), marketing automation platform, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and customer data platforms used by three separate business units, and more.
Despite the complexity of the integration, AEG hit a very tight timeline by working with the Data Axle team to map out each stage in the process and clearly define their needs. Richard Battersby, VP of Business Intelligence and Digital Analytics at AEG, explained, “This was an especially complicated implementation, but we were able to work with Data Axle so effectively that it ended up being the easiest onboarding I have ever worked on. Incredibly, we were able to implement this complex new system within five months of delivering the requirements.”
Streamlined, integrated Martech stacks support core processes and power insights and decision making. No project is a failure as long as you keep track of lessons learned and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
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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.