How to audit your marketing technology stack?
If you are in the process of auditing your marketing technology (MarTech) stack and you feel overwhelmed, we are here to help. Our complete guide will help you through the process and guide you through auditing your marketing technology stack appropriately.
Table of content
- What is a marketing technology audit?
- Why audit your marketing technology?
- Benefits of a martech stack audit
- What to include in your marketing technology audit?
- When to audit marketing technology stack?
- How to conduct a marketing technology audit?
- Plan your martech roadmap
- A few marketing technology audit tips
What is a marketing technology audit?
A marketing technology stack audit is the process of developing an inventory of all the tools, platforms, and systems used for business operations by marketing and sales teams.
Why audit your marketing technology?
Keeping a comprehensive audit of your marketing technology ensures all systems are accounted for, categorized, and documented. With your MarTech stack audit, your marketing operations team can monitor and optimize their technology investments.
To effectively use your martech stack and optimize your return on investment, you need to know: what you have, why you have it, what it does and how to use to it. It is necessary to periodically audit your organization’s MarTech Stack to ensure that you are making the best use of your tools and the integrations originally put in place are still functioning.
To audit your MarTech stack effectively, you need to know:
- What tools are available
- What tools do deparment(s) use
- Why you use the tools in your stack
- What each tool does
- How each one should be use
- How much each one cost
- Who is the primary owner
By auditing your MarTech stack periodically, your marketing operations team will be able to:
- Uncover existing and new capabilities as the tool evolves
- Develop a better working knowledge of your existing systems
- Identify overlaps of capabilities across tools
- Plan effectively your future MarTech strategy roadmap—such as purchasing new technologies, replacing existing tools, and so on
The audit of your marketing technology will ensure your strategy is on track and that platforms, people, and processes are performing to their highest potential to meet your organization’s business goals.
Auditing your martech stack periodically allows you and your team to review the tools and processes you have in place, uncover existing and new capabilities as the tool evolves, identify overlaps of capabilities across tools, and plan effectively your future Martech strategy roadmap (purchasing new technologies, replacing existing tools, etc.).
By analyzing and understanding all of the functionalities, advantages and disadvantages of each of the technologies in your marketing technology stack, your marketing operations team will develop a better working knowledge of those systems which will translate in an increase in team productivity and efficiency.
Benefits of a martech stack audit
The audit of your marketing technology will ensure your strategy is on track and that platforms, people and processes are performing to their highest potential to meet your organization’s business goals.
Here is an exhaustive list of core benefits:
- Understand how technologies add value to business operations and customer experience
- Enable teams to collaborate effectively, provide training opportunities, and ensure you have the right talent and skills necessary to operate the tools
- Build a single source of truth of your marketing technology investment
- Uncover what kind of data the tools store, how is the data shared with third parties, and how that affects the company's privacy
- Evaluate systems effectiveness to improve operational efficiency
- Audit internal training effectiveness and find how long the learning curve is
- Track integration with technologies in the stack, how data flows, and which processes are supported
- Understand security dependencies
- Uncover overlaps/redundancies in capabilities
- Plan and manage the budget
- Avoid the creation of new accounts or duplicate subscriptions for existing tools throughout your organization
- Build talent expertise and one point of contact for the person who knows a tool
- Define the champions for specific tools and who is driving user adoption
- Document what users like and dislike about the tools
- Plan retirement or adding new tools
- Assist tech/IT/integration teams during the process to add/remove technologies from the ecosystem
- Assist IT with understanding how retiring technologies affect business operations
What to include in your marketing technology audit?
Include any technology used and supported by marketing and sales teams and any tools those teams might be helping other departments with or tools connected or integrated with the MarTech stack. This might include but is not limited to:
- A/B testing
- Affiliate marketing
- Campaign performance analytics
- Content management
- Content marketing
- Conversion optimization
- Customer data
- Customer service
- Customer support
- Data management
- Direct mail
- Email marketing
- Lead generation
- Lead nurturing
- Lead scoring
- Marketing automation
- Paid search
- Project management
- Social media
- Video marketing
- Web analytics
You will need to rely on others to identify all the technologies to include in your MarTech stack. We will dive deeper into the actual process and strategy later.
What do you need to perform a MarTech audit?
In this section, we will identify the key components to run a successful marketing technology audit.
Your inventory of technologies
It may seem obvious, but you will need to list all your marketing and sales teams’ tools. You can use a mix of spreadsheet, tech stack diagrams, stack management tools, and wikis to define all the marketing tools your marketing and sales operation teams use.
A Platform to capture the information
Spreadsheet, visual charts, tech stack diagrams, stack management tools, wikis, there are many options to choose from. You will need to assess what is the right fit for you, your team, stackeholders and your organization. Jump to this section to find out more about the platforms we recommend.
A solid process
You will need to map out the process you will need to follow to collect, review and capture information within your organization.
Strong governance is vital to make a MarTech audit process successful. You want to assess the data and privacy risks that each tool poses with the help of your IT and legal teams.
Auditing your MarTech stack is a long-term initiative that your executive management team should support. Without C-level buy-in, you will be challenged working with those who don't see the benefit of allocating time for this critical initiative.
To sustain the audit over time, you must involve all relevant stakeholders in it. Each stakeholder should facilitate knowledge transfer from the subject matter experts.
You also want to analyze the employee experience to measure your stack's performance, assess its adoption, and your internal training effectiveness.
Patience and perseverance
Auditing marketing technology takes. Not everyone in your organization will see the benefits and value of spending time auditing technologies they use, so you must ask for everyone's patience until the process is finished.
When to audit marketing technology stack?
Inventorying all your existing marketing technology will seem a lot more daunting at first. With a good process, governance, discipline, and, most importantly, by empowering your team, auditing and documenting your existing MarTech is manageable.
How often you want to audit your MarTech stack depends on your capabilities. You can do it monthly, quarterly, or annually.
With the right marketing technology stack management tool, a simple and sustainable process, and clear governance, your team will be able to capture important information about the tools they use and the vendors they work with effortlessly.
Sync with your team weekly or monthly to discover the subscriptions and contracts's renewal dates with the help of a MarTech stack management platform like MartechGuru and remind technology owners automatically. Create a sense of transparency and build accountability from the technology owners by simply reminding them about the tool.
Moving to a new role at a different company? Building a new martech stack from scratch? This is the best time to capture all the necessary information to help you run successful future martech audits. Creating or rebuilding a stack is the easiest time to build good documentation habits with your team as you progressively add new tools to the technology stack and you can document each technology, integrations, related processes and other details properly.
From that point, you can discuss and set recurring schedules with each technology owner or stakeholder to review the capabilities and performance of systems or platforms periodically.
If you already have stack in place, inventorying all the existing tools will seem a lot more daunting at first. But with a good process, governance, discipline and most importantly by empowering your team, auditing and documenting your existing martech is easily manageable.
How often should you run martech audits?
Auditing your martech stack could however be done on an ongoing basis. It does not have to become a project that everyone in your team fears.
With the right tech stack management tool, a simple and sustainable process and clear governance (get buy-in from the Chief Marketing Officer), your team will be able to capture important information about the tools they use and the vendors they work with with a minimum of effort.
Product demos, conversation with vendors, bugs and new feature requests, tools considered for replacement, free tools, all of it is important information that should be documented in a centralized environment.
Sync with your team every week, or every month, let them know which subscriptions and contracts are up for renewals during standup meetings or by reaching out via communication channels like Slack or Microsoft Teams, or simply a group email. Create a sense of transparency and build accountability from the technology owners by simply reminding them about the tool.
Set a schedule
In a recent survey, we discovered that 50% of marketing operations professionals audit their MarTech stack quarterly, and 35% audit their martech annually.
- Quarterly Most common
At contract renewal
This is the least proactive approach, but every time a contract or subscription is up for renewal, you will get a chance to quickly review, audit and update the information about the technology. You can set up reminders in your email client, using a third party tool or leveraging a martech stack management platform like MartechGuru to automatically remind technology owners.
Good documentation lays the groundwork for optimized team productivity and efficiency. If you postpone documentation until later, you may never do it.
How to conduct a marketing technology audit?
Auditing a marketing technology stack takes time and requires governance and a solid process.
Reach out to your team and team leads across your organization to draft an initial list of tools they are using. You can categorize each tool by adding columns to define the costs, features, and uses they give each tool (more on that below). You should build a strong initial inventory based on your own knowledge and your team's.
You may not be able to collect all the tools during the first audit. Remember that some tools are only used once or few times through the year, and your team might not recall initially that those exist.
You will eventually build a more accurate and sturdy list of tools by engaging periodically with your team.
Depending on the structure of your organization and procurement process, working directly with your Finance or Procurement departments can also help identify the tools used.
Here's how you do it:
Build a martech inventory
You can create a simple Excel file, Google Sheets, or Airtable where every team member adds the tools they use. Choose a tool that aligns with internal business operations, processes, and budget requirements. Make sure to consider your current internal talent and expertise, resources and time allocation, accessibility, and usability of the chosen tool.
Here are some the tools you can use:
Google sheets, spreadsheets of any sort, Airtable, there is a range of options available. If you are looking for a template, you can find Google for "martech stack template" to find a wide range of free templates. However, you will quickly reach functionality and capability limitations using spreadhseets.
"A stack visualization is an effective tool to help evangelize within the enterprise how martech enables capabilities that deliver on customer expectations and drive value." (Gartner)
Marketing technology management solutions
Platforms like MartechGuru offer features and capabilities to not only help you build a centralized source of truth for your team and organization, help you track important information about each tool and vendor and streamline the management of your martech stack.
What information to collect?
Here are some of the most common information martech stacks collect. However, remember that every organization is different. You should collect any information that is pertinent to your business needs and your organization's overall business and operational needs.
- Name of vendor
- Name of tool
- Business owners
- Technical owners
- Billing owners
- First date of use
- Departments using it
- Renewal dates
- data flows
- Security requirements
- GDPR/Data laws/data protection
- Technilcal documentation
- Relationship with vendor
- Vendor contact information
- What are the benefits of Martech tools
Organizing your martech
As you build your martech stack, you will have the opportunity to organize the tools and technologies in it. There is no one way to do this. Here are the most common categorization of marketing technology:
- by category
You create your own, or rely on the popular categories.
- by department
- by marketing function
- by contract or subscription type
- by cost type (free, paid)
- by category
The discovery phase with technology stakeholders (business and technology owners, users) brings context to the tools they use and insights on how they use them. During this process, the goal is to collect important information about each tool to help you answer important questions. In order to identify users and business/technical owners, you will either need to reach out to each of the departments' head, your IT department and/or your Finance, Accounting or Procurement department as they might that information on file.
Here's a sample list of questions to ask your stakeholders. Feel free to adapt them to your exact needs and internal communication methods:
- What tools they use?
- How does each tool do?
- What purpose do they use each one for?
- What value does the tool bring?
- What challenges do they face with each one?
- What works well with each tool?
- Are there any improvements they would desire to make?
- How does each tool integrate with other systems and tools?
Channels of communication
- Meet in person
- Set up a virtual meeting
What to use to collect answers
You can use tools like SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, or Google Forms. Submissions are private, easy to fill out, and can be submitted from anywhere, including a mobile device. However, the stakeholder might have to submit the form multiple times for each of the technologies they are responsible for.
Use a spreadsheet or Google sheet to list all of the fields/questions you are looking to get answers for.
Develop a sustainable process
Make sure to foster strong communication and transparency by:
- Reaching out to department leads or information architects
- Providing access to the audit or platform you are using
- Creating a sustainable process (keep in mind time and resource scarcity)
- Collaborating with every company stakeholders
- Reach out to departments leads or information architects
- Provide access to the audit or platform you are using
- Create a sustainable process (keep in mind time and resource scarsity)
- Collaboration, work with company stakeholders
Plan your martech roadmap
During the audit process, you might identify technologies your team is not satisfied with. When that happens, you want to start thinking about their replacements and build a roadmap that specifies the timeline and alternatives that will help implementing new technologies and retiring existing ones. That includes:
- Analyzing features and/or capabilities the alternative tools have that your current one doesn't (and vice-versa)
- Gathering feedback from users about what works or not and what new features are needed
- Defining what tools are critical to business operations
- Analyzing redundancy, data backups, and other challenges associated with the replacement
Because many tools are tightly integrated in a marketing stack, you need to work with IT and other stakeholders to ensure technologies are disconnected from the stack before replacing them. You also want to ensure a successful transition to the new ones.
A few marketing technology audit tips
- Ask your team, and other departments
- Talk to your finance department to identify technologies
- Reach out to your IT/security ops team
- Keep notes of your conversations with vendors
- Update costs every time you renew a contract to keep information updated
- Create scorecards that capture user sentiment, including whether the tool meets their expectations, if it helps with customer experience or engagement, if it's easy to use, and if it has any performance issues