A few decades ago, marketing professionals did not need to know much about technology. In fact, 30 years ago, there was little that the tech world could offer marketers that provided substantial benefits for them on a day-in, day-out basis.
Now, all of that has changed, and today's technology can empower marketers in ways that can make every facet of their jobs more effective and less stressful. This means marketers must remain current on advances and innovations in technology that can help them react to opportunities — or threats — in a timely, proactive manner.
There are three steps required to effectively evaluate your current marketing technology:
1. Enlist an audit sponsor. It may be someone from the C-suite or an IT professional, but the person must have a grasp of the needs and goals of the business. Your sponsor can help you identify technologies. For example, suppose your sponsor reports that the company needs a better way to measure the ROI on email campaigns to improve planning. Your audit should focus on the technologies used to attribute online purchases, website and distribution tracking, and the execution of email campaigns.
2. Create a scorecard for your assessment. The scorecard should capture as much as possible about the technology under evaluation, such as how it populates fields and integrates with other technologies. It should record the match between functionality and properties needed, project the technology's ability to address business goals, and note its best practices. Your CRM may be an excellent framework for this task.
3. Conduct the audit. Your audit steps may vary, depending on the nature of your organization and the degree to which you are already leveraging technology. However, the typical audit proceeds as follows:
- Define the audit scope by identifying business functions and applications to be assessed.
- Conduct discovery interviews and surveys. Normally, you will involve IT and business employees who can enhance your understanding of the current technologies being used, what business logic is in place, projects in development, and similar information.
- Evaluate your notes and create a report. You want to relate your findings, arrive at conclusions, and offer recommendations. You might want to create some basic diagrams to illustrate data flow and system context.
- Conduct a workshop that includes those who participated in your discovery process. Review your report with them and ask them to provide their input as well as confirm the accuracy of your statements. Your goal is to secure their support of your recommendations.
- Create any artifacts that need to be included with your final audit.
- Give your sponsor a copy of your final audit and review it together. Pay special attention to your conclusions and recommendations. Reach an agreement with your sponsor on next steps.
These steps assume that you are conducting a "top-down" assessment. This approach looks at the "big picture," then breaks the components into smaller pieces, much like the building blocks of a pyramid. The top-down method is efficient and requires the fewest number of participants.
It is also possible to conduct your audit from the bottom up. This approach reverses the process; the smallest components come first. Eventually, the "capstone" can be put into place to create the "big picture." Bottom-up audits typically involve many more people, workshops and meetings. Think of them as a grassroots movement in which all participants brainstorm to offer the most creative solutions for specific issues. Although less efficient, bottom-up audits may secure higher adoption rates among the end users.