Good morning, readers! Today, we’ll talk about how to create a smooth pathway to data-driven success, will find out what industry experts say we should (or shouldn’t) do when it comes to dealing with martech bloat, and will learn why having an opinion isn’t a bad thing when it comes to creating content marketing that stands out from the crowd.

A roadmap to a smooth data-driven journey

Imagine this: you come to a fork in the road and need to choose between two paths. The path to the left is unkempt, strewn with trash and full of potholes, causing you to drive slowly and remain constantly vigilant, lest you hit something that breaks your equipment or runs you off course. The path to the right is paved, the grass on either side neatly trimmed, allowing you a clear vision of what’s ahead. Which path do you choose? The smooth, clear path, of course.

Kevin Marcus in MarTech Advisor suggests that to get the greatest ROI from your data-driven marketing, you must ensure your data-driven journey is as smooth as possible. One key element is having clean data—data that is consolidated, in date, standardized and deduplicated. But stopping at this step, according to Kevin, would be a pothole of its own. Read the rest of the story to find out more of Kevin’s tips for a smooth ride.

Too many martech tools in the stack?

Back in 2011 when Chiefmartec’s Scott Brinker first released his Martech solution supergraphic, he had to make room for 150 solutions. But his updated version in 2018 needed to squeeze in a few more as the number of solutions had grown to more than 6,800. Enterprise companies today have an average of 91 martech tools in their stack, according to Scott.

Is it possible that we could need all those tools or should we be doing something to streamline those numbers and reduce the bloat? The answer depends on who you ask, according to Kaya Ismail who interviews industry experts in CMS Wire.

Mark Gonzales, Senior Director of Customer Technology at Elicit, isn’t concerned with how many tools an enterprise uses—he only sees a problem occurring if you’re unable to process all of the incoming data, blending and merging data from all of the martech tools to get a 360-degree view of the customer instead of ending up with “siloed pools of customer data that limit usefulness.”

But Mike Melvin, Marketing Manager at BAM Communications, suggests that the urge to automate can lead to bloat, and suggests that to trim the fat, teams should review each tool case-by-case. “If there is value for keeping a tool in your stack, your team will be able to defend it with use cases, reports and data. If they can’t, [then] it’s clear you need to drop [that] tool from your arsenal.”

Check out what all of the experts Kaya interviewed had to say here.

Breathing life back into your content marketing efforts

Is your marketing team doing content marketing for the sake of doing content marketing, or are your content marketing efforts truly driving ROI and boosting your marketing efforts? According to Guy Little in Business2Community, if you’re putting out mediocre, middle-of-the-road content to your target audience, you’re effectively snuffing the life out of your own content marketing efforts. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help infuse your content with vigor.

First, says Guy, you must have a crystal clear picture of your target audience. What do they like? What frustrates them? What keeps them up at night? What are their behaviors? What drives them absolutely crazy? The more you know the people who buy your products or services, the better you can anticipate their problems, needs and desires—and the better you can create content that speaks directly to them.

And don’t be afraid to have an opinion or take a stand on a controversial topic you feel passionate about within your industry; those who turn out to be “thought leaders” often start out as those who are unafraid to simply share an opinion or theory. Read Guy’s other suggestions here.