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New Year, Old Software - Is Shelfware Costing Your Business Money?

The martech ecosystem grows more complex by the day, and your stack probably contains more apps and services than you remember. Lurking in there, unused or under-utilised shelfware is burning through money that could transform your marketing workflow. Here’s why the new year is a great chance to audit your software.


The martech landscape isn’t just complex, it can be overwhelming. There are upwards of 7,000 competing and complementary services covering different marketing and customer relationship functions. This makes picking the right software – and ensuring your money is wisely spent – a major challenge.

The turmoil of digital transformation

And it’s not a static problem. Amid the turmoil of digital transformation, yesterday’s great white hope is today’s massive white elephant. Breakthrough services get outflanked or bought up by bigger players. And the shifting landscape demands that solutions keep evolving to stay relevant.

It’s therefore no surprise that the average marketing department is sitting on multiple subscriptions for software and systems that have lost relevance. This is the dreaded ‘shelfware’. Worse still, many are simply not being used at all.

In fact, research suggests the average company could be wasting 37% of its software spend on shelfware. This is money that could better be used to streamline operations and achieve strategic goals. So, how do you identify the opportunities to make savings, and what do you do with the money you recover?

Elephants in the room

You can’t just pull the plug on software subscriptions and see who comes complaining. The first step is to carefully audit everything you have, so you can identify what’s actually being used. It’s a complex job depending on your organisation, the territories it operates in, and how long it is since you last took stock.

Before you even get started you need to seek out the appropriate stakeholders to ensure they are fully on-board. This includes the IT department, budget holders and team heads.

A software audit isn’t just an opportunity to identify shelfware and subscriptions that aren’t being used, however. Use the right audit tools and it’s also an opportunity to highlight and address any outlying packages that aren’t future-proof. And it can also identify workflows that don’t comply with key legislation such as GDPR.

How to stop wasting money on tools you don’t use

When it comes to efficient media management, freemium technology options aren’t always the smartest option. Here’s how to pick the best.

Head in the cloud

It’s important to examine all cloud services, particularly in agile, prototyping brands. Once in-house apps are mature, there can be huge savings to be made in bringing them out of the cloud and onto the premises.

Crucially, you can’t rely on audit results to give you a simple yes/no on every bit of software. By analysing usage, either through appropriate tools or by surveying users, you’ll uncover any services that have become marginalised within the business. For example, those used by a single team or small groups who haven’t adopted newer solutions.

Such orphaned software is easily forgotten, but it’s often the case that it duplicates the functionality of newer departmental or enterprise-wide solutions. That’s a key area you should be looking at to reduce the outlay on shelfware and enhance workflow consistency.

Finally, remember that you could also be reducing the cost of even your essential services. Auditing helps ensure you’re only paying for the appropriate number of seats or licences.

Re-budgeting for software

With the auditing completed, you should have a picture of the software and services that no longer add value to the organisation. Where they’re simply unused, you can pull the plug. But you may need to exercise caution and sensitivity when it comes to the fragmented or forgotten apps that form part of ‘the way things are done’.

Old processes die hard, so colleagues may need support and training to adopt newer software and workflows. Work to ensure they’re happy. Before forcing through a change of tools, ensure their data is secured.

While you might not save as much as 37%, the chances are that a comprehensive audit will recover a good chunk of your software spend. In itself that’s a heroic cost-saving exercise. But it’s also an opportunity to invest in more relevant tools, or to further streamline the way you operate.

A key focus for marketers looking to maximise their reach and effectiveness is reducing the production and distribution costs of video. Having emerged as the format for brand storytelling, video production is nonetheless comparatively expensive. And inefficiencies in the process can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of the marketing spend. Savings that can be made when producing video can be invested in better, more personalised, and more platform-specific content.

How a DAM platform multiplies investment

It’s here that a digital media asset management (DAM) platform can transform the way you use video. And it can also boost the effectiveness with which you can create content that appeals to multiple audiences across devices and channels. At the core of a cloud-based DAM such as Imagen is a centralised repository for all your video assets.

Rather than the confusion of multiple, unsynchronised local libraries, you get a single library, secured by user-level permissions. This also means you can get rid of third-party services, such as Dropbox, for additional savings.

At a stroke this removes the common problems of sharing content between multiple internal and external production partners. It’s easy to see who has access, while proper versioning and searchable metadata ensures that key edits don’t go missing, and that content is always easy to find. This applies across the library, making it the work of moments to call up archive footage based on searches of metadata – including transcripts. With simple recall of existing material, it’s easier to re-use relevant segments or footage and save on the cost of filming.

The video KPI that every marketer forgets

While leading brands are learning to target and personalise video with data insights, many still struggle to get full value from their video. Make sure you’re not missing out.

A DAM pays for itself

By taking effective management of video production, a DAM can repay its cost through increased efficiency. But video marketing also relies on effective distribution and analytics. Many marketers adopt a piecemeal approach to video distribution, manually uploading multiple edits and content formats to multiple distribution or social platforms. And then also struggling to manually make sense of multiple analytics sources.

DAMs such as Imagen work to simplify this, functioning as a distribution platform, and providing a unified source of data about how videos are viewed and shared. With a single platform to deliver audience-specific videos to the right audiences, marketers can move faster.

This allows businesses to anticipate events and seize opportunities with quickly produced, highly targeted videos. And in bigger, global organisations, a DAM makes it easier to coordinate multiple marketing teams. Content can be repackaged and refined for each region as part of coordinated campaigns.

From global organisations down to small marketing teams, eliminating shelfware could free up the budget to invest in crucial tools. In the end, these pay for themselves in productivity and efficiency savings. For teams heavily invested in video, a DAM is a key resource for streamlining workflows, reducing shooting budgets and delivering further efficiencies.

The result is more responsive, targeted and effective video marketing, often for a markedly lower spend.


Digital asset management is critical for effective marketing. Take our diagnostic test and get personalised advice on how you can save time, drive efficiency, and make the most of your assets.

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