By Chris Sugrue

February 3rd, 2017

With ‘agility’ and ‘flexibility’ being standard entries in what it means to be competitive, it is not surprising that marketers are working with more martech (marketing technology) tools than ever.

The Walker Sands State of Marketing Technology 2017 report states that around half of marketers are now using integrated martech stacks. The figure increases with larger companies (54% vs 44% of companies with less than 100 employees).

Martech stacks allow marketing teams to evolve with the changing needs of customers while customizing the tech tools that define our every workday to deliver the most value.

Done properly, that is.

And with around 3,874 martech solutions to choose from, how can marketers pick the new tool that will add the most value to them?

Here are some pointers, illustrated by the example of our recent Falcon platform integration with QBank, a digital asset management tool.

First step is to establish where this bridge is leading to
What challenges are you out to solve here? More leads? Better governance? A more complete customer experience? The end-goal should always be your starting point.

Be sure to align the technology you wish to incorporate with your practical business goals. Extra bells and whistles with only an occasional application will simply sap your team’s time and budget.

With QBank and Falcon, the integration use case is clear. It allows larger companies to service their social media teams better by controlling digital asset availability from a central repository where design, tone of voice, governance and other key considerations are aligned across channels and markets.

And, as Mikael Lemberg, Falcon.io’s Director of Product Innovation & Partnerships puts it, the integration “cuts out all those emails and spreadsheets, which is where creativity goes to die.”

That’s something of a mantra with our developers here.

Make sure it reflects real user needs 
As mentioned, there are a lot of niche solutions out there. So think how to bring niche tools together to create a tightly-functioning whole.

Many marketers already feel bamboozled by the cavalcade of software tools that seem to come and go. So it is advisable to select tools that don’t crossover and reflect real everyday challenges

That is why it is important to seek end-user input from across departments in the decision-making process. Martech is no longer just an IT decision.

As the editor of chiefmartec.com Scott Brinker says in The State of Marketing Technology 2017, “Marketing technology is democratized at this point. It’s no longer the high priests in IT who control it.”

The people who use your stack must influence the purchase decision – and you may be surprised by how much knowledge they bring to the table.

In the case of QBank and Falcon the workflow is fully integrated but clearly defined. You can see it in action here:

Users can bulk upload their stock items from QBank to Falcon. These will be automatically cropped and resized to the optimal format for the selected social networks.

Falcon’s Editorial Calendar is then used to plan and execute distribution and – very importantly for asset management – Falcon will withdraw the assets the moment licenses or key campaign dates expire.

All actions taken on these assets are registered back in QBank, ensuring a fully centralized overview and control over them, even when adapted to local markets.

How fast can you get this up and running?
According to Campaign Monitor, 67% of the marketers they surveyed expect new technology to be implemented in four weeks or fewer — preferably without the help of a developer.

Easier said than done? Sometimes certainly, but integration technology is improving at a similar pace to the martech space. Indeed, according to Walker Sands it is one of the factors driving the adoption of martech stacks.

Nevertheless, many enterprise-level integrations still take a long time; up to six months with some platforms. And six months is a long, long time in martech world.

But in the case of Falcon and QBank it is possible in a matter of minutes. This is due to our respective platforms being optimized for plug-and-play integration, without the need for extra coding.

Consider the API capabilities 
When integrating a tool not designed for plug-and-play connection to your existing stack, it is vital to consider the APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that come with it. These can make or break your integration.

With Falcon’s QBank integration our developers have created API endpoints for every interaction between the two platforms.

Consequently, even if Falcon users are not using QBank, they can integrate any other digital asset management platform – or even other category software such as their webshop CMS or a RSS feed – to create stock items in Falcon.

Not all developers are so giving, so your company had better have a handle on the API capabilities within your martech stack. You will also need to weigh up the documentation on offer with any new addition you are considering.

If the data is hitting walls, it’s time to reconsider
If your stack doesn’t allow a seamless flow of data between its components then it is inherently flawed.

Siloed data simply means more time, labor and potentially skewed results. As well as impacting heavily upon marketing attribution, the fragmentation will likely project outwards onto key competitive drivers such as customer experience.

The Falcon platform pushes back information about every social post an asset has been used in, including its performance stats. This means QBank users can now get a better understanding of which content works best for social, so they can adapt their content strategy accordingly.

martech stack
Martech stacks: a reflection of where marketing is heading
A last key finding of the Walker Sands survey was that social media marketing tools are the most popular martech pick for 2017, with 32% of respondents planning to add one to their stack this year.

This is strongly indicative of the role of social media going from a sideshow to a core pillar in marketing strategies. And an illustration of how marketers are employing martech stacks to evolve with the times.

So what software will you be bringing into play this year? Hopefully, it will tick all these boxes and extend your brand’s capabilities in the direction you want to go.

Just don’t get wowed by the bells and whistles. Doing your homework, both in-house and out, will help ensure your investment goes further.

Falcon also recently integrated with the CRM platform Salesforce, you can read about it here.

The Essential Facebook Guide for Marketers.

Expanding your social capabilities this year? Check out our guide for Facebook.

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