Businesses are under increasing pressure to optimize expenses and find ways to do more with less. Tech stacks, which have grown from a small portion of the budget a decade ago to a significant piece of the pie, are often the first to go under scrutiny.
As marketers, we need to get more out of our current tech stack, whether through consolidation or more strategic use of existing tools. Finding areas for improvement isn’t new, so why all the fuss now?
Why your tech stack ROI is worse than it should be
In the last three years, my company has conducted over 500 calls with HubSpot customers about their platform setup, spend and optimization. We’ve identified some of the most common martech stack issues — from underutilized capabilities to redundant spending.
The result? The average company is wasting 35% of their budget on cloud and SaaS tools.
Reason 1: You don’t know what you don’t know
Unfortunately, this overlap is unintentional and may stem from a product purchased to solve a specific problem at a certain point. If you’re not an expert in your company’s tech stack, you won’t know how to use existing tools to boost results or maximize new functionality that could replace apps you no longer need.
Unfamiliarity with stack capabilities leads to redundant tools and inefficient workflows. To keep up, you must continually read product updates, beta launches and more to learn how your tech stack functionality is expanding.
In early March, HubSpot announced a new tool that leverages AI functionality within their platform, useful for portal research, market research, writing copy and more. This brings together additional content creation and research tools you might only find with other vendors.
Dig deeper: Marketers making less use of martech’s expanding capabilities
Reason 2: It seems too expensive to upgrade
Upgrading to a more functional version of your stack can seem expensive, but the sticker price is rarely set in stone, especially for enterprise deals. It’s worth exploring options or negotiating a better deal with your vendor. (You might be paying for features you’ll never have any use for.)
Remember providers often offer bigger discounts to upgrade your account than to renew it at the current level. If you can identify ways to generate ROI on that upgrade, it could pay for itself and then some.
For example, in the sales enterprise version of HubSpot, your portal gains automatic enrollment into sequences and team roles. This standardization of information for the sales team, plus the ability to communicate 1-to-1 with leads who may have ghosted or gone silent, could mean huge time savings and more growth opportunities.
Reason 3: Disorganized buying processes and “grandfathered-in” systems
This reason is often underrated, but it’s important. At larger organizations (and even smaller ones), it’s easy to lose track of all the systems you’re paying for, especially when there isn’t a consistent, organized process for buying new software.
And when new leaders come into the picture, they might not know the full extent of what tools are being used, or why, so unnecessary costs are less apparent.
Dig deeper: 3 steps to building an effective martech stack
How to get more value out of your tech stack
1. Negotiate your software contracts
This should be a no-brainer, but there are people more skilled at this than others, so companies often leave money on the table. Many software companies are willing to negotiate to keep you as a customer and expand your usage within their platform.
Consider working with a partner to help you navigate the negotiation process and ensure you get the best deal possible. Partners will have the expertise and relationships to secure better deals.
2. Invest in team training
Knowledge disappears with turnover. Newer team members may not have the same grasp of a system that previous leaders did and, therefore, won’t use it to its fullest extent. This is where training and development can help. Individualized training may also uncover gaps you weren’t even aware of.
Dig deeper: In this economy CMOs need to spend more on training, not tech
3. Consolidate tools
With the accelerating rate of mergers and acquisitions, larger platforms are buying smaller ones to expand their offerings quickly. Many of the larger tools on the market (such as HubSpot) now offer functionality that does an “okay” job of other things once relegated to specific software.
While not always as sophisticated as leading competitors, a unified system adds convenience and cost savings. For instance, HubSpot Marketing Pro and Marketing Enterprise make it possible to schedule and post social media inside the platform.
Does it offer all the full functionality you’d get in a Sprout Social or a HootSuite? No. But it might do enough to save money by discontinuing another tool .
Do an audit of your current tech stack, looking for areas where you can cut old or poorly functioning tools and eliminate redundant services.
Dig deeper: My stack is bigger than your stack, so what?
4. Cut seats, not just tools
Most SaaS companies charge per “seat” or user, so costs increase with each additional employee on it — even if they’re not using it. Look through your platforms and see where you can downsize the number of users you have.
This seems obvious, but companies of all sizes consistently overlook it. Many mistakenly give seats to employees who don’t need access to the platform’s paid features, driving up costs unnecessarily. They may be set with X number of paid users, and the rest of the employees accessing the system can do so using a view-only free seat.
Taking a closer look at who needs access to your SaaS tools and platforms can significantly reduce the seats you must pay for. This can result in substantial cost savings without sacrificing functionality or performance.
5. Bring in external resources
While bringing a consultant or external resource reduces in-house hiring and training costs for marketing and sales software, the advantages often go beyond cost savings.
By leveraging external expertise, you can tap into their deep knowledge of tools and platforms, reducing the risk that you underutilize tools. These folks often have fresh perspectives and can help upskill your existing team, providing training and processes to ensure you’re continually leveraging your investments efficiently.
Lastly, external resources can help with continuity and information transfer. This includes the knowledge you don’t want to lose from employee turnover so that you can ensure consistency in your technology strategy, even as your company restructures or changes.
Dig deeper: 5 tips to boost user adoption of new martech tools
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