Sid Nakappan, Senior Consultant at SBI, looks at what to do when your MarTech stack is not delivering your expected ROI.

Too often, CMOs invest in MarTech without clarity on the problems they are trying to solve. The root causes are typically errors in strategic thinking, flawed execution, or both. Unfortunately, few leaders will take the time to understand why your MarTech Stack is not delivering. Leadership sees the big checks you’ve asked for, and the revenue your company is missing. Conversely, a strategically aligned and effectively deployed MarTech stack can advance your career. It can brand you as The CMO who drives the company to make the number.


Before you dream about the MarTech possibilities, consider the complexity. Innovation is driving rapid evolutions in the MarTech ecosystem. Emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Chat Bots, Customer Experience, and Digital Transformation Solutions continue to increase optionality. The sheer number of MarTech solutions increased ~7x from 2014, up to nearly 7,000 unique solutions in 2018 – take a look. How do you even begin to evaluate 7,000 technologies? Overwhelmed yet? Don’t be.


Having so many options requires laser focus. Don’t chase that shiny object until you and your organization have clarity. But, if you did chase that shiny object, you may still have the opportunity to make things right.


Your ROI Issue Probably Has Little to do with Your MarTech Stack


When it comes to why the MarTech stack is not producing, the first step is to identify the problem. Using the image below as a guide, do the following:


  1. Write down your Marketing objectives (sample objectives below)
  2. Answer the relevant questions



The answers to these questions will unearth many root causes within and across technology, process, information (data) and people. If the problem is strategic it must be solved at that level, and revisiting strategy might be worth considering.


If the problem is execution related, it is essential to understand and manage the end-to-end marketing processes. Only then can you understand if/how MarTech can be embedded to extract the maximum value. With execution, it is critical to manage dependencies upstream and downstream of where the technology fits within the processes.


Realizing Your ROI Depends On How You Solve the Problem


Once you have clarity on the problem, aligning you MarTech strategy and executing against your Marketing objectives doesn’t require boiling the ocean. Use the agile framework below to guide rapid strategy development and focused execution.


  1. Identify where each problem lies within the potential solutions below
    • Marketing Strategy, MarTech Strategy, and/or MarTech Execution
    • People, process, technology, and/or information
  2. Gain alignment on the solution requirements:
    • The solution requires strategic focus, execution, or both
    • The solution requires adjustments to people, process, technology, and/or information
  3. Drive the solution throughout the organization



As you move from diagnosis to solutioning, here are a few best practices from top CMOs and Marketing Executives like yourself:


  • Align the MarTech investment with each executive’s organizational and functional strategy.
  • Don’t fall victim to the idea that a single technology will solve everything. Focus on technology value, effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Setup demonstrations with MarTech providers and relate the solution to your desired business outcomes. Make certain the solution and the business outcome are deeply connected, and that the organization shares your clarity.
  • Once the MarTech solution is selected and it comes time to execute, drive adoption through communication and change management. Communicate how the MarTech solution relates to organizational objectives and the importance of everyone’s role in achieving them.
  • Measure adoption on an ongoing basis through leading indicators (activity) and lagging indicators (outcomes – deals won, quality leads, customer experience lift, etc.).


How ACME Went from Negative to Positive ROI for their Multi-Channel Lead Nurturing MarTech



Seize the Opportunity with Conviction and Immediacy


Commit to diagnosing the problem and defining the right solution. Ultimately, MarTech is extraordinarily valuable when deployed with the right strategy and supported with disciplined execution. Understand the processes and systems your business uses, and anticipate the business impact to drive clarity and awareness. Aligning the organization’s people on why the change is being made, what it means to them, and how the change will manifest will clear the path to realizing ROI on your MarTech Stack.


For more, download the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook.


If your problem is deeper than your MarTech stack not producing ROI, you may want to consider the following:



For more assistance, come visit me and my colleagues in The Studio.




Additional Resource


For additional help evaluating your strategies, click here to take SBI’s Revenue Growth Diagnostic.


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