Don’t Let the Systems Get Your Down: Decoding the Language of Marchitecture
MarTech. AdTech. Analytics platforms. Big data. They are all part of the modern day marketer’s vocabulary. Why? Because today, we find ourselves in an environment more complex than ever before, due to a highly intelligent, technologically savvy, and more social and interactive consumer.
About a decade ago, an organization could likely group its technology stack based on two primary objectives: the operational needs of the company and the customers or donors’ expressed needs. We know that we’re far from those days; in fact, today, marketing touches just about all points of an organization, particularly when it comes to making the big strategic decisions that impact revenue. With all of the moving pieces—constituents, channels, big data, technology and staff—it’s critical to have a clear view into how everything is working together, where marketing dollars are flowing and, most importantly, if those important revenue goals are being achieved.
That’s where "marchitecture" comes in, or, as Ashley Friedlein from Econsultancy likes to put it, "the bastard lovechild of marketing and architecture." All joking aside, having a handle on the marchitecture of an organization is a critical component of success. Taking an architecture-like approach can give a marketer the needed insight to make sure systems, strategies and people are all connected, which becomes particularly useful when things constantly change. (And we know they often do!)
Why is this important to me?
To put it into context for a nonprofit organization: Think about your current donors. They’re looking to engage with you across many diverse channels and devices, and they expect the experiences you’re delivering to be consistent and personally relevant. But for some reason, that desire to find and engage with your content isn’t actually translating to donor acquisition and retention. Why? The answer often lies in disjointed systems that don’t speak to one another. When databases, communication deployment systems, CRMs and staffing structures aren’t in sync, it makes it incredibly difficult to engage donors with ongoing, relevant experiences. But the systems don’t have to get you down.
Focus on the functions, not the individual solutions
As it stands today, the MarTech landscape is pretty daunting. OK, it’s very daunting. And that makes it easy to get distracted by all the shiny new technologies or latest silver-bullet solutions. The truth is, they’re not always all they’re cracked out to be, and sometimes they’re just not the right fit. Simply because there are thousands of platforms available does not mean you need all of them to connect with donors and meet your revenue goals. In fact, here's an important question you’ll want to ask yourself: Are all of my systems and platforms working together to achieve a common goal?
If the answer is no, you’re likely in a position where, No. 1, you have too many platforms or, No. 2, your platforms aren’t integrated. Instead of focusing on the fancy, overcomplicated solution any one technology has to offer, work on understanding how it fits into the big picture—i.e. what its function is in the more general marketing stack, and how it helps you to meet a specific goal. Some critical functions to consider are: advertising and promotion; content and experience; relationships; commerce; and data and management.
Where should I start?
Just like in any marketing initiative, the key to a solid MarTech environment begins with your donor. And this often means beginning with the person and/or teams that manage donor data, from acquisition, to ongoing engagement and conversation, to retention. Take these steps:
- Identify the key stakeholders for the donor data capture and usage conversation at your organization. Get them around a table to map out a plan to ensure alignment.
- Establish a common language. Ensure the data is viewable, readable, easily synced and easily actionable for each stakeholder, as well as other parts of the organization. (Keep in mind, it’s not just data scientists who use the data.)
Align technology, data and strategy
Once key stakeholders and data sources are realized, and your marchitecture is falling into place, the next important step to take is to ensure all technology is aligned with overall strategy.
- Define small, incremental goals, like tracking content interests of a high-value segment.
- Formulate a calendar of outreach, i.e., outline the types of content you can serve, like personal stories versus research articles. Determine what type will be served to each donor segment.
- Ensure that data capture, measurement and deployment systems work together to support these goals.
- Determine ROI, but think from an organizational value perspective:
- Is there value in our spend?
- Is it driving our mission?
Continue to assess and evolve
In today’s marketing ecosystem, we not only have to keep up with the rapid proliferation of consumer technology, but we must also continually evolve our own understanding of technology and marketing systems in order to connect our donors with the experiences they truly desire. With everything aligned from the core, it becomes much easier to assess new technologies, and continue to evolve the organization to maintain relationships and meet revenue goals.
Bethany is the director of programs at Progressive Multiplier, a funding intermediary helping nonprofits scale their independent revenue generation efforts. She is a skilled nonprofit strategist with a passion for working at intersections — where fundraising and marketing meet, where consumer experience affects philanthropic behavior, where technology enables strategy, and where brand understanding incites activation. She has a 19-year track-record of developing successful integrated fundraising plans, creating new revenue opportunities and delivering optimal constituent experiences for some of the nation’s most respected charities. Before joining PMF, Bethany spent the first half of her career as a fundraiser at local, chapter and national nonprofits and the second half agency-side as a fundraising and marketing strategy consultant.