Between content promotion, social media management, web analytics, and marketing automation, the number of products and platforms available to help marketers do their jobs has never been greater. There’s even a service that some are referring to as the “Yelp of Software Reviews” to help you choose the right marketing technology for your business.

So why does marketing seem harder than ever?

If You Build It

Part of the problem is that no one tool is the be-all and end-all. It takes an integrated set of marketing technologies and platforms to develop marketing that delivers results. And managing all of it is enough to make a marketer crazy—after all, most of us aren’t IT specialists. (But growing a team of marketing automation rockstars is a great place to start!)

Smart companies recognize the need for a chief marketing technologist (or similar), who will ensure that all of their marketing-related solutions work well together through a mix of operational intelligence and automated processes that ultimately expand marketing’s reach and possibilities. In fact, 81 percent of enterprise organizations in 2014 have a chief marketing technology officer— up from 70 percent just two years ago.

Sounds simple, right? Not quite. Marketing technologists align technology with business goals, facilitate projects between marketing and IT, find the best providers, make funding decisions, and build technology-enabled business models. This idea of bringing together marketing, technology, and strategy isn’t revolutionary, and it’s not just about decreasing costs, but rather about bringing in additional revenue thanks to the use of innovative marketing technology. And it’s never been more important.

Back to the Future

Before anybody—even a newly minted chief marketing technologist—thinks about making a technology purchase, it’s critical to first consider what the company already has. If you’re like many, your company’s frenzy of marketing technology adoption has made it challenging to truly get your arms around all the bells and whistles you own.

Sit back. Take a moment. Determine whether you’re getting the most out of your investment. If you’re not sure how to measure this, start by asking yourself these 10 questions:

  1. Do my current technologies help to plan, develop, and execute our marketing plans on time and on budget?
  2. Do we have a team of trained technologists ready to implement, manage and develop each product or platform?
  3. Are we using technology to automate our marketing, or do we still rely on manual workflows to get the work done?
  4. Can I easily extract and analyze campaign and customer data, or am I struggling with a mass of silos and spreadsheets?
  5. How are we using technology to further align marketing with sales?
  6. What does each solution teach me about my prospects and customers, their journey, and how to provide them with a more personalized experience?
  7. Can I track how my content performs across all paid, earned, and owned channels?
  8. Can I easily demonstrate to my stakeholders how technology supports our business goals?
  9. How do my current solutions enable my team to be predictive, scalable, and react in real time?
  10. When was the last time we evaluated our solutions for their business value, and what is the plan for evaluation as we move ahead?

In some cases, marketing teams were so excited to start using the new tools that they didn’t properly sharpen them, oil them, or tighten them. Perhaps the tools were improperly set up or configured only for short-term needs rather than long- range capabilities.

In 2015, plan to evaluate not just the tools themselves but also how they relate to your strategies. The next wave of marketing technologies is right around the corner, but don’t be tempted by all the shiny new toys without first examining what you’ve already invested in, and then build from there.

Still have questions? Check out the Marketing Automation Owners Manual for more guidance on how to make the most of your martech investmest, or send us a note if you want to partner on building your stack.