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marketing-tools

Marketing technology has exploded in complexity over the last decade. The average marketer now juggles an overwhelming number of marketing tools in their tech stack—from CRMs and email services to social media management and analytics. Yet more cluttered than clear, slower than seamless.

In our quest to have the shiniest, most robust tools, we’ve ended up drowning in tabs, toggling between disconnected platforms, and wasting hours on manual, repetitive tasks. Production has plateaued. Efficiency has dropped. And still, the software stacks keep growing.

But what if less could actually mean more?

The key is not to keep frantically grasping for the latest, shiniest new tools at the first sign of a bottleneck. But to smartly optimise what you already have. Take stock of which features or integrations you use. Identify redundant systems to consolidate or cut. Then fill gaps with targeted automation to free up strategy and planning time.

This is where artificial intelligence has become an invaluable assistant rather than a threat. With machine learning now handling data-heavy activities from social media to email, calendar management and more, human marketers can focus on high-level decision-making and creative work only we can spearhead.

The latest AI marketing technology (MarTech) solutions or marketing tools also allow us to operate faster, more nimbly and cost-efficiently than ever before. No longer confined to rigid legacy platforms, we can mix and match modular tools that evolve with our needs—always improving performance rather than just maintaining.

So don’t despair if your tech stack has become unwieldy. With some thoughtful re-scoping and responsibility delegation to artificial intelligence, you can transform it into a flexible powerhouse. Read on to start winning back time and seeing tangible ROI gains.

Take Stock of What You Actually Need

When was the last time you stepped back and took stock of your marketing tech stack? For most teams, it’s been a while. We simply move from campaign to campaign, promotion to promotion in an endless effort to keep up. Rarely evaluating whether the tools in our arsenal are still pulling their weight.

It’s an easy trap to fall into—thinking business is going too fast to stop and optimise. But as costs and complexities pile up, the cracks start to show—small inefficiencies accumulate, barriers slow critical data flows between systems, and tasks take longer than they should. Potential insights are obscured behind a clutter of tabs and windows.

That’s why a top-down audit is critical before you even think of augmenting your stack with more AI-powered marketing tools (as promising as they may be!). Follow these steps to get oriented:

  1. List Out ALL Current Software/Costs

Start by creating a spreadsheet with columns for platform name, price, contract dates, who manages the tool, and usage rating. One by one go through your systems and fill it out across teams. The results are often surprising —so many redundant or barely used apps still draining the budget every month.

  1. Identify Crossovers/Inefficiencies

Do any systems have overlapping capabilities that can be merged? See any opportunities to streamline tool use between departments or break down siloes? Flag tools where usage is low relative to cost as candidates to potentially remove.

  1. Map Workflows to Find Gaps

Review current marketing workflows end-to-end (e.g. lead generation, conversion) and identify any bottlenecks. Are there manual hand-offs between systems slowing things down? Does staff spend too much time compiling reports vs strategic work? Flag those pain points for automation opportunities.

This “audit” exercise alone generally frees up 1015% (if we had to give it numerical value) of meaningless costs. But more so, it also clarifies where AI tools can create the biggest impact for a smarter, leaner marketing technology stack.

Embrace Automation to Work Smarter

Once you’ve streamlined your stack of marketing tools to the essentials, it’s time to target automation opportunities that will maximise productivity and free up the brainpower of your team.

Many mundane marketing duties that formerly required hours of hands-on work each week are now ripe for assistance from artificial intelligence. The latest AI advancements allow the software to handle repetitive tasks just as accurately as humans, if not more so—while we (humans) focus on higher-level strategy, creative direction, and customer insights unique to the human touch.

When evaluating automation opportunities, pinpoint processes that:

  • Involve repetitive data inputs or analysis
  • Depend on large volumes of content being handled in a similar way
  • Require outputs to numerous platforms

Some of the quick wins prime for early automation are:

Social Media Marketing

AI tools now readily available to manage the hefty workload of social media including identifying influencers, posting content across multiple channels on an ideal cadence, monitoring conversations and analysing performance. This allows teams to ensure social media integrity and coherence even with a limited headcount.

Email Marketing

Similarly, AI email tools can handle list segmentation, personalised campaign creation, automated nurture flows responding to user behaviours, and A/B testing of content variations to optimise open/click-through rates. Humans then supply the superior creative messaging and branding strategy to connect with audiences.

Calendar Management/Meetings

No small feat, scheduling across complex organisations with packed calendars and ever-shifting priorities is made smoother by AI assistants. Integrating context from past meetings and email exchanges, they can suggest optimal times and locations, send invites, and even compile prep materials.

The options grow continually, but the key is targeting automation to remove daily drudgery. 

Saving the brain trust for more innovative and meaningful work.

Stay Flexible as Needs Evolve

The key to continually optimising your stack is accepting that needs will evolve. The tools and workflows that serve you well today may not sustain success in 6 months or a year from now.

As your business grows or changes direction, your customers and audiences also progress. Not to mention the rapid pace of technological change itself,  with new solutions emerging to supplant the old.

Therefore, it’s essential to build regular reevaluation checkpoints into your process rather than just set it and forget it after an initial optimisation.

Conduct Quarterly Reviews

Marketing teams should carve out time every fiscal quarter to thoroughly review performance. Take a hard look at metrics for each platform in your stack. How has adoption trended? Are users dropping off? Which tools still demonstrate tangible ROI vs those no longer pulling their weight?

Build in Triggers Based on Key Milestones

Beyond calendar reminders, create mechanisms to prompt reassessment when strategic changes occur. This may include post-campaign analysis, the launch of a new product line demanding unique marketing needs, leadership changes, major customer shifts, or entering new regions.

Utilise Analytics Dashboards

Centralised analytics dashboards integrated with key systems can provide ongoing visibility rather than just point-in-time check-ins. Configured appropriately with lead funnel metrics, you gain quick feedback on pinch points. And can stay ahead of issues vs. being reactionary.

While still leveraging any remaining contract period for temporary tools, start scoping alternatives on the horizon. It’s no longer a static landscape. The most effective marketing stacks maintain flexibility to swap out underperformers regularly.

Routinely optimising the right mix of best-in-breed technologies and AI automation is well worth the effort. Keeping your suite aligned with strategic objectives saves money, and frees up creative juices to thrill customers in new ways.

Continually Optimise for Peak Performance

The marketing technology landscape will only grow more complex and crowded with each passing year. Bright, shiny objects will continue appearing left and right promising more advanced analytics, better audience targeting, and reduced workload. And while innovation should be applauded, more solutions do not necessarily mean better outcomes.

As we have covered, the key is not to keep stacking on more platforms out of FOMO or frustration. But to intermittently prune back and consolidate around what drives real productivity gains and delivers ROI – while tapping AI to automate repetitive tasks.

Think of your marketing stack like an engine: It may have all the latest parts and horsepower when first built. But without ongoing tuning and maintenance based on performance, it will soon sputter.

By taking time to reset, reevaluate and optimise your tech suite routinely, you can keep it humming at peak efficiency even as needs shift. Put automation in place where advantageous so that strategy and creative direction remain fueled by human ingenuity. And ensure ethics and responsible data usage are never compromised along the way.

With the right workflows and AI assistance in place, your team will be empowered to thrill customers in new ways. While you rest easy knowing budgets are maximised for impact – not just upkeep. The future of marketing technology should feel limitless, not overwhelming.

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