A well-considered, measurement-centric approach is fundamental to affirming the true value of your technology acquisitions.
When you get the green light to purchase a new software or platform, it can be easy to get caught in momentary excitement. You may play with a few of the simpler features, replacing old processes with new functionality. Perhaps, you will meet to plan the initial launch. But, without a Martech launch measurement strategy based on clear-cut goals for making the most of your acquisition, the true value of the technology may never be realized. Worse, without a change management plan to ensure your team adopts the new system, the platform could be rejected or forgotten altogether.
Onboarding and maximizing a B2B technology acquisition is no easy task. Not only are these expensive line items, but they can be risky – an increasingly competitive B2B Marketing arena, the potential for tech overlap in a company’s MarTech stack, and a complicated buying cycle make MarTech acquisition mistakes far more expensive than ever before. Executives are increasingly vigilant about understanding the value of these tools, especially those which take up a large percentage of budget.
Executives who buy technology must be prepared to prove the value of the tools they purchase. The best way (and, in many cases, the only way) to demonstrate the ROI of a MarTech acquisition is to consider measurement as part of the onboarding process.
I recommend departments make defining measurement part of their onboarding plan from the very beginning. Next time you roll out a promising MarTech tool, ask yourself these important questions about onboarding and measurement.
Are you measuring the right KPIs?
If you were to ask one of MASS’ consultants which KPIs are most important when onboarding MarTech, their answer would be a swift, “It depends why you bought it.”.
Staying focused on the original purpose behind an acquisition is critical when you begin to onboard a technology. As you prepare for your first initiative, you should be answering fundamental questions such as:
- “How will I know if this technology has served its initial goal?”
- “Which KPI(s) will demonstrate its effectiveness?”
- “How will I make sure these KPIs reflect the value of this technology in particular (i.e. controlling other variables in tests, tagging leads from specific campaigns)?”
It helps to quantitatively define your goals at the time of acquisition. Additionally, the KPIs you focus on when measuring a technology’s merit should connect back to revenue if at all possible. This will allow you to demonstrate that the cost of the technology is worth its contribution to your Marketing success.
For example, in the case of Lattice Engines*, a Demand Generation department may buy the software primarily to improve their targeting. While it may also serve other purposes in the long-term (such as clarifying intent signals for lower-funnel marketers), the initial value for Demand Generation should be validated before these additional values are discussed at length. So, for the first campaign, audience growth and/or contribution to revenue from the campaign’s newly acquired audience might be a primary focus.
Before acquiring a new technology, you should define which KPIs will best demonstrate whether the technology is serving its purpose. As you deploy your first campaign with that tool, you should remain focused on your primary objective and hone in on the most relevant data points. With this approach, you should be able to clearly understand whether the technology has the potential to drive top-line results early on in the acquisition.
Do you have a clear plan for your initial campaign?
Now that you have established why you acquired this tool and what you will measure to determine its effectiveness, it is time to put this to the test on the first initiative with the tool. If you are onboarding a particularly pricey or experimental tool, you will only have a single initiative to really prove its value. It is critical to avoid sabotaging this effort by doing too many things at once.
The core need (and associated KPIs) for your technology should be at the center of this initial campaign. You will undoubtedly need to train staff on some functionalities to make this initial campaign a success; however, it is a mistake to waste their time and attention on front-to-back training of the new acquisition. Focus instead on what is necessary for the initial use case, making sure to clarify the value the technology could have in the future should this effort be successful. Your team will appreciate the respect for their time, and will likely do a better job at their particular tasks if they are not overwhelmed with learning an entire tool. This, much like achieving other goals with the technology will come with time.
Have you planned ahead to demonstrate the value of your technology?
If you are spending a sizable amount of budget on a technology solution, there is no secret about what is coming: one day, either at the end of a campaign or during a regularly scheduled budget review someone will be asking you to prove its merit.
When this day comes, you need to have numbers to demonstrate the value of your acquisition. Without these numbers, you risk losing the tool, no matter how well you “think” it works or how integral it has become to day-to-day operations.
There is no reason to be blindsided by the request to validate your purchase. Instead, it is vital to consider measurement, KPIs, and data capture from the moment you purchase the software. As part of your launch strategy, implement processes to capture data about the effectiveness of the technology relative to the original goal of the purchase. Once again, Lattice Engines is a helpful example: if you are onboarding this software, you will want to tag campaigns informed by the software’s data so you can show whether they drove more leads or sales than those launched without this insight.
The principle is simple but powerful: Make sure your KPI goals and your data capture are aligned when the value of the acquisition comes into question (trust me, it will).
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Are you acquiring this tool “reactively” or “proactively”?
In many organizations, technology acquisitions are motivated by an immediate need: a “problem” needs to be fixed in short order – for example, filling in a lead management gap, building capabilities for a particular campaign, or responding to a specific pain point. Software is brought in to resolve that issue, rather than being motivated by a longer-term strategic vision.
Purchasing anything reactively almost always leads to “tunnel vision.” Many companies will spend a fair amount of budget on a powerful platform for a hyper specific use case, ignoring the full potential of the tool and weakening its transformative potential. Eventually, limited utilization could make it difficult to justify the cost .
When purchasing a new platform, it is important to identify both short-term and future goals for the technology. There is nothing wrong with an immediate problem motivating the initial purchase. However, you should include proactive thinking in purchase discussions and clarify what ROI looks like for the software 3, 6, 12, and even 24 months from now. This will allow you to set goals that make the most of the technology while still resolving the immediate need. If you do not think ahead, the software could lay dormant once the impetus for purchasing it is in your rearview mirror.
Why you need a strategic approach to MarTech launch and measurement
It is easy to ignore the inevitable ROI measurement of a new technology when you bring it into your department. Purchasing and onboarding a technology can feel challenging enough, without the added stress of measurements and KPIs.
However, if the purchase is well-informed, its end goal should be clear. But this goal cannot just be an idea in the back of your head – it must be something that is central to your rollout and verifiable when the data comes through. Additionally, you should work to develop a longer term plan that will allow you to use the technology to its full potential.
A well-considered, measurement-centric approach is fundamental to affirming the true value of your technology acquisitions. It will allow you to prove the technology’s merit to others in your company: executives, team members, and even adjacent teams like Sales.
When you are able to showcase the positive impact of your Marketing decisions on revenue, everything becomes easier: maintaining your budget for necessary Martech, getting the green light for future campaigns, and even demonstrating the overall value of your own Marketing knowledge and leadership. In a technology-driven B2B Marketing world, going beyond MarTech capabilities to demonstrate results is fundamental at every step – even the very beginning of a an acquisition.
*Note: You will notice that Lattice Engines is used as an example throughout this article. Lattice is a predictive analytics tool that MASS Engines works with a great deal (you can read about it here). I have seen firsthand how an adoption strategy that prioritizes measurement and adoption can support the successful deployment of a martech tool, and these tips can apply to the rollout of of any MarTech tool.