Before you incorporate another technology provider into your marketing stack, vet them fully. Here’s a three-part formula that will help.
As any marketer will tell you, getting all of your platforms to ‘talk to each other’ in a meaningful way is one of the biggest challenges. Half-baked integrations, insufficient APIs and solutions that don’t solve anything are among the many perils of dealing with the modern MarTech stack.
As data systems are connected and integrations on-boarded, it becomes important to look deeper into any provider’s claim and assess how the solution will deliver business success.
At their core, many solutions enhance the flow of data points from one platform to another. But data augmentation, advertising enablement, content distribution networks, and data visualization experience providers, among many others in the technology landscape, need to be vetted fully before you incorporate one into your marketing stack.
#1 – Evaluate Your Goals
When setting goals for marketing technology integrations, here are some questions to ask that, once answered, can be worked into measurable outcomes. It is important for all stakeholders – regardless of position – to at least consider each question:
- Are there baseline measurements to quantify improvements against?
- How fast does it currently take to get efforts out the door, and how will this integration improve that efficiency?
- Are there new data points I want to act upon that wasn’t available before and what value do they provide? Are they informational? Actionable?
- Can the service be recreated through existing capabilities?
- Does the cost of this integration warrant the volume of records flowing through it?
- What is the quality of the documentation for the service?
- Are dedicated representatives assigned to you from the service provider?
- Are there baseline measurements to quantify improvements against?
- What are the promised increases in interactions or funnel acceleration for the integration?
- Are there new data points I want to act upon that wasn’t available before and what value do they provide?
- Does this integration provide new functionality or is it repackaged?
- Does this integration create more steps for our end user?
- Can the cost of this service be measured by an individual person, lead, account, opportunity?
- Once implemented, what are the primary success metrics the integration will be tracked against? Is there a baseline established?
- What is the differential in reporting between systems and what is the primary source of truth for measuring success?
The answers to these questions are not always apparent or easily answerable, but through careful consideration, integrations become easier to understand and clearer to implement.
#2 – Conduct a Business Impact Analysis
Once you’ve answered those questions and the value proposition is quantified as positive, you can put communication processes in place.
Implementation then becomes goal-oriented, with attention paid to understanding the factors that might impede success. These factors are summarized in a successful Business Impact Analysis. The look and feel vary but one aspect to include, which is many times left out, is what happens when something goes wrong.
For web marketing, I have used the following rough priority scale, which communicates problems faced during the integration:
- Priority 0: System Down — No interactions (website down, automation platform down, data system is broken)
- Priority 1: End User — Bad or broken experience (blank email, malformed link, localization error, unexpected experience)
- Priority 2: Systems — Error in hygiene or data collection problem (Mis-tagging, attribution problem, poorly collected and tagged data)
- Priority 3: Operational Downage — Difficulties in building or creating (Unable to build, workflow errors resulting in a manual process, misaligned workflows)
#3 – Focus on Platform Management
Our team recently worked with a client to better understand how a webinar vendor was interacting with their marketing automation platform, Marketo.
At first, the client asked us to explore the integration to see if they were fully taking advantage of its features. From there, we had to get the integration to work, communicate gains and risks, and ensure the work was done with goals, impacts, and platform management in mind.
By asking questions of the integration, our team was able to take the following course of action (ordered somewhat chronologically):
- Goal-setting for integration – Based on the initial question to test vendor claims, we set goals to better operationalize and incorporate webinar data – registered, viewed, interactions, length of time viewed, and attribution for each webinar.
- Communication of additional process impact – The process for establishing admin level function was necessary for each webinar build. We developed potentials for risk and mitigation in this stage of communication that included new levels of access as well as potential system down-age options.
- Analysis of Webhook troubleshooting platform (GET or POST HTTP push) – Within Marketo, an unlimited amount of multiple response mappings are enabled. But for this specific provider, an individual webhook was required for each webinar. We needed to analyze and troubleshoot the technical details of each call and response.
- Assessment of output – Registered, attended, attended on-demand, and no-show/cancelled are traditional program success metrics for webinars. This integration enabled new data points such as length of time watched, on-screen interactions, and specific calls to action. We added new data points to monthly marketing baselines and provided reasonable growth goal points.
- Creation of a consolidated data management program – The sole intent of this program was to create easily accessible tracking for the success of this integration. A reporting module was included by the integration partner. By adding measurements directly into Marketo as membership statuses, reconciling reporting module to automation platform was no longer needed and monitoring for problems became much easier.
- Communication with webinar provider on process and successes – A solid channel of communication with the webinar provider was essential in getting the integration to work and to troubleshoot various aspects of the build. By sharing how we were able to implement on this specific platform, a shared value was established between user and provider.
- Continued support for the integration – Once operationalized and integrated, full tracking and continually monitoring success becomes necessary. By continuing to communicate against goals and impact analysis, the inclusion of the webinar provider to their marketing stack became possible in a way that was unobtrusive and done with business goals in mind.
Any systems integration can be tackled through robust goal setting, technical expertise, and communiction. These integrations become stronger by questioning intent and communicating against integration and business impact plans. By repeating these processes and creating frameworks for integration, business operations can scale against the ever-growing marketing landscape.
Our teams enable these frameworks every day by asking questions of the technology we implement and ensuring that the marketing promises of any provider are integrated both in the process and data flow.