The number of marketing technology (MarTech) options has grown exponentially over the last few years. To illustrate this growth, Scott Brinker’s “MarTech 5000” infographic has grown from 5,000 in its original version, to 7,040 in 2019:
No matter what your current marketing challenges are, you’re bound to find tools that help you overcome them. But building the right stack for your requirements can be difficult, especially with the sheer amount of options available to you.
Then, there’s finding the right software that seamlessly integrates with each other between each touch-point.
In this article, we’ll cover the building blocks of an efficient MarTech stack, as well as how to evaluate your existing one. You’ll also learn why you should start with your marketing strategy to define your technology needs, not the other way around.
What is a MarTech (or Marketing Technology) Stack?
Your marketing technology stack, also known as the MarTech stack, is a collection of tools and software that helps you to achieve and execute on the right marketing activities for your business, and report on them using data and analytics.
Your MarTech stack should help you measure the impact your marketing is having on your acquisition, awareness and retention goals. Furthermore, it should make collaboration across teams simple and intuitive – no matter what your organizational structure or size is.
With this defined, let’s look at the first and most important step to building your marketing technology stack.
Start With a Strategy
When creating your MarTech stack (or even evaluating your existing one), it can be tempting to start by looking for the coolest new tools and toys to play with.
But the problem with this is that you risk your letting the software define your marketing goals, not the other way around. Indeed, “shiny object syndrome” is an ailment we marketers are constantly trying to overcome.
Therefore, it’s key that you review your marketing strategy and define what your technology needs are around those goals. Your chosen marketing stack should empower you to reach your goals, deliver a great customers experience and achieve a positive ROI – not the other way around.
Consider the following questions when creating your marketing strategy:
- Which channels can our audience be found?
- What is the best approach to reach our audience on these channels?
- How is our existing marketing strategy doing this, and how well is it performing?
- How might marketing technology assist with this?
Look for gaps that aren’t being filled by your existing strategy. Find areas that have room for improvement, and come up with a new way of doing things. Let this inform your strategy, and the technology you’ll use to execute on it.
The MarTech Building Blocks
Wouldn’t it be great if we could simply head to Google, search for “martech stack templates,” and be handed a ready-made collection of tools for you to plug in and get started with?
Sadly, in business, we know things are never this easy. The tools you need for your marketing stack will always depend on the strategy and goals you’ve defined for growth.
However, you can use a model to identify the building blocks needed for your MarTech stack. One of the most common marketing models is the traditional buyers funnel:
For the sake of this article, we’ll examine the first three steps, which are commonly used for customer acquisition:
No matter what industry you’re in, your business likely relies on one (or a variation) of the above. Let’s take a look at each in more depth.
Driving traffic and generating leads is always going to be a top priority for marketers. Having the right tools in your stack can help you manage these activities more efficiently than a manual process.
This stage of the funnel has many practices, some of which include:
- Paid Media
- Search Engine Optimization
- Content Marketing
- Social Media
Each area is then opened up to a plethora of channels. For example, under the umbrella of paid media, you’ll find Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Remarketing and many more as options.
Identify which of these acquisition channels are most effective for you, then look for the technology that automates, optimizes and makes your job more efficient. As you test new acquisition channels, measure the activity that moves the needle and look to add tools that will take those results further.
Once you’ve captured attention and leads, it’s time to nurture them into customers. Some of these tools will even help you convert attention higher up the funnel on the channels you’re trying to reach them, contributing to your awareness activities. These tools include:
- Email Marketing
- CRM Software
- Marketing Automation
For example, in order to capture lead information and email addresses, it’s likely you’ll need an email marketing platform and a CRM.
Your email marketing platform of choice will allow you to capture details through landing pages and send them emails to nurture them down the funnel. Whereas a CRM will help you record important information about those leads and customers.
As touched upon above, the conversion is where your audience, leads or customers take the next step in their relationship with your brand. These actions include:
- Subscribing to your newsletter
- Downloading an eBook (or other lead magnets)
- Requesting a consultation
- Making a purchase
For many of these conversion types, a landing page builder will help you create a message dedicated to the desired action.
Reporting, Analytics & Integrations
To check if your marketing activity is moving in the right direction, you must be constantly monitoring results, and acting on the feedback from the data you collect.
Collect this data by using analytics software (such as the industry-standard Google Analytics), or through more complex business intelligence systems. Using these tools will allow you to optimize your marketing efforts, test new approaches and, ultimately, improve results over time.
Finally, look for tools that integrate with each other. For example, a landing page builder used for collecting leads should integrate with your email marketing system or CRM. Most brands include a list of integrations on their website, which can usually be found in the footer.
Evaluating Your Existing MarTech Stack
If you already have a stack in place – but are looking for a new way of doing things – then you’ll need to evaluate the current state of things. The amount of time this takes will depend on the complexity of your existing stack.
Start by looking at how your current stack is contributing to your marketing goals:
- What budget are you currently investing into your stack?
- Does it make the activities that move the needle easier? Perhaps various tools are missing features that would make your workflows more efficient?
- Does it make the best use of your team’s abilities? Is usage of the tool high?
- How much of your team’s resources are being used by managing and operating your current stack?
Answering these questions will help you figure out which tools and platforms you should keep, and those that should be replaced with a better fit. For example, an affordable tool that doesn’t make a dent in the budget, while making a big impact on marketing results, is usually worth keeping in the mix.
Again, the ease of replacing or adding new MarTech solutions will depend on how complex your team structure is. For example, a tool that allows you to simply schedule social media content will be attractive for smaller teams or startups. But for enterprise-level organizations, something more end-to-end may be required.
You should also look for feature overlap. For example, why use a tool that automatically emails subscribers about a new blog post when your email marketing platform can do the same?
As you go through this process, ensure all stakeholders are involved. For example, if you’re running the marketing team, it’s likely that many of your decisions will affect customer success and sales teams. Therefore, you should ask the questions above when you identify a tool that connects processes between teams.
Your MarTech stack should be the power collective that fuels the growth of your business. This means that it should serve your existing strategy, not the other way around.
Look for the tools that fit your customer acquisition and retention model. This might mirror the buying funnel outlined above, or a customer journey you’ve mapped out for your business. Identify the activities that move the needle, and invest in the tools that bring in better results.
All screenshots taken by the author October 2019
Image 1: Chief Marketing Technologist
Image 2: Aweber