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It’s hard to believe, but three years ago pundits were of the mindset that the marketing technology (martech) landscape had “reached a point of super-saturation.” How wrong they were. By 2018, that same ecosystem had tripled in size, and marketers couldn’t get enough.

Today, the average enterprise uses a dizzying 91 marketing cloud services, although it’s widely believed that the number surpasses 100, it’s just that marketers “don’t consciously identify them all.”

Most of these tools are purchased with good intention and for a valid business purpose, but, as they say, there can too much of a good thing.

If your martech tools have started to lose their utility, lack cohesiveness, or no longer move the needle in terms of your organization’s commitment to delivering an ideal customer experience, it’s time to trim the fat.

Why reduce bloat in your martech stack?

Marketers are always looking for new and better ways of doing things, and SaaS tools scratch this itch. Easy-to-procure, use, and manage, they quickly address an immediate need at an affordable price.

But as businesses evolve, many of these tools lose their value, become unnecessary, or are superseded by something better. That’s okay, but many of these apps are procured by an “army of one” for a singular purpose. When that person leaves, they leave behind an “orphaned” SaaS subscription that the company continues to pay for, even if no one is using that tool.

It’s time to trim the fat from your stack.

Illustration of person cutting away tech logos

Whatever the reasons behind the bloat in your martech stack, knowing which subscriptions you can cut, isn’t always easy. Here are two tips for trimming the fat in your martech stack.

Step 1: Find the zombies in your martech stack

While it’s relatively easy to determine which martech apps you’re using regularly, identifying the zombie pieces of software that don’t have an owner or are buried in the bloat is a little harder.

Part of the problem is that most businesses fail to document the martech tools they’ve procured. This includes information about the buyer’s original requirements, the value proposition and problems they solve, how they’re used, what they cost, who owns them, what other tools connect to them and what data will be collected, etc. Without this information, you’re going to need a little extra help auditing your stack.

Of course, technology can help. We previously wrote about how tools like Ghostery and Datanyze allow you to discover your competitor’s martech stacks, and the same methods can apply here. These easy-to-use browser extensions can reveal the web tools and vendors that your business is using to drive leads, analyze and measure traffic, run remarketing ads, and more. From here you can see what’s being used regularly as well as any obsolete or overlapping tools.

This process can help you find tools that no longer serve their original purpose or have been co-opted to do something else. A lot of tools can be pressed into service for functions they were never intended for, simply because they’re already in place. It may seem that they have the right feature/functionality set to do so – even if it’s not the best way to achieve their goals. These tools are ripe for reevaluation.

Finally, another way to ferret out potentially dormant or zombie tools embedded in your martech stack is to run through your department’s credit card bills for any subscription-based services that you don’t recognize. Armed with this information, socialize this list across teams to help weed out owners or insights into how they’re being used.

Step 2: Trim the fat on a quarterly basis

Make a strategic decision to conduct this discovery exercise on a quarterly basis and roll it into your Quarterly Business Review (QBR) process. Software is a strategic investment, not a tactical event that happens in a silo. It should support efforts to reach your customers and drive their experience. If it doesn’t, it probably shouldn’t be in your stack.

As you start trimming the fat, don’t dwell too much on the actual size of your martech stack. Instead, focus on analyzing your stack and how each tool is used. What is its ROI? Does overlap or redundancy exist? Do all of your tools integrate with other tools in your stack for seamless data flow? Then build out a plan for your stack that takes into consideration where each subscription fits in terms of current and future business goals and, most importantly, how it serves those that matter most – your customers.