We know that marketing is more and more focused on using technology to make data-driven decisions and to be able to scale, but it might surprise you that CMOs will soon outspend CIOs on technology. This is a seismic shift: Marketing automation platforms (MAP), CRM systems, and analytics platforms are now as highly prioritized by many organizations as the systems that keep the IT infrastructure running.

The shift in investment reflects not only increased spending on these systems but also the transfer of responsibility for martech systems from the IT department to the marketing department. Marketing departments are now responsible for larger slices of the corporate budget and for having staff that build, implement, and run technology with the same expertise expected from IT departments.

The greater the budget and the more complex the investment, the more difficult it is to assess value. So when it’s time to look at the line items in your marketing budget, it can be overwhelming trying to determine whether you’re getting the return you need from your investment.

Prove it or lose it

Increased spending brings greater scrutiny; if you can’t prove the value, you might not keep your budget.

As a case in point, Aberdeen recently reported (gated) a trend that MAPs are on the chopping block at smaller organizations. MAPs aren’t inherently enterprise platforms—arguably, their functionality and scalability overall better serve small to midsize firms—so what gives? The analysis suggests that the likely culprit is mismanaged expectations, specifically the expectation that a MAP works like a kind of auto-pilot system that doesn’t require skilled marketers at the wheel.

So what should you do if you find yourself in a series of alarming conversations over the future of your martech investments?

  1. Socialize. Your team is doing amazing things, make sure leadership knows it. How? Marketing automation and CRM aren’t going anywhere. Make sure your executive team has at least a passing familiarity with the power of these tools—and the skills it takes to harness them. Executive dashboards can be a great way to showcase the tools and the amazing work your team is doing, so build them and roll them out!
  2. Productize. Treat your MAP like a product and come up with a road map that that lays out specific technical and business milestones, and the return on investment you expect to see. It’ll keep your team on the same page and give you a plan you can use to get your leadership excited.
  3. Calculate. Once an organization has run a MAP for a while, it tends to forget how long things used to take. Want to know just how much time your MAP is saving you? Do what agencies do and calculate the level of effort for a particularly common request, like a nurture program. How long would running an email nurture program take your team up front and then ongoing in an email execution platform (think MailChimp or Constant Contact) versus something fully automated? How much more are you able to get done because of your martech investment?
  4. Invest. How does training factor into your road map? Who are the resources running your MAP? How do you properly uplevel your team to ensure you can do the best, most efficient work with the fewest number of people? It might seem counterintuitive, but investing in your sales and marketing operations teams—and putting that training on your road map—will pay back in spades. A little knowledge can go a long way in the field of marketing operations, helping you do more with less. Send your most junior marketing ops team member to a class or to the yearly Marketo or Eloqua conference. You’ll get more than the $3–5K investment back in increased efficiency.

Your martech stack is vital to your company’s performance. You know it, and so does your team. Make sure your whole organization knows it.

Learn the nitty-gritty about fine-tuning your marketing engine and how you can prove the value of your investment in the Marketing Automation Owners Manual.