By now it’s no secret that marketing and technology go together like gin and tonic. (Or mustard and ketchup. PB and J...you get the idea). They’re a duo. Naturally paired together to enhance the overall experience. Nowadays, it’s damn near impossible for marketers to perform without the right tools and technologies in their arsenal. The marketing world is non-stop and there are literally thousands of tools and innovations that were designed to help you automate and simplify your marketing efforts.
One of the more jarring tasks of many businesses I’ve worked with is selecting from the vast pool of tools to use. This is where having a marketing technology stack becomes fundamental to your business’ marketing strategies.
But what is a marketing technology (aka ‘martech’) stack and why does your online business need one? Let’s discuss and break it down:
What is a Marketing Tech Stack?
This is marketing jargon that you will definitely hear more of if you haven’t already. Essentially, a marketing technology stack is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a group of tech-based tools that marketers and businesses use to improve their marketing activities. But it’s more dynamic than merely using several tools individually for their own siloed purposes. Instead, marketing technologies are ‘stacked’ to create an integrated series of tools that allows you to build seamless customer relationships across several different channels.
Not only will the right martech stack iron out your processes, but it should focus on the impact of your marketing activities and drive more efficient marketing spend.
Why should I invest in a Marketing Technology Stack?
Like I said earlier, the martech space is made up of thousands of online tools and technologies. The sheer amount of vendors offering the latest and greatest in marketing innovations is overwhelming. Just take a look at ChiefMartech’s latest edition of the marketing landscape for 2020, with over 8,000 solutions to choose from. (For some perspective, ChiefMartech reported only 150 solutions just 10 years ago!)
Martech 2020 Landscape
Put simply, the martech space is colossal. And marketers are pressured to keep up with the growth. According to Korn Ferry, “27% of CMOs were concerned with staying ahead and taking advantage of digital technology trends.”
With thousands of solutions to choose from, it’s vital for marketers and business owners to understand how the right tech stack will impact their businesses and which technologies will be fundamental to reaching their goals.
What Elements Make A Great Marketing Tech Stack?
First of all - as with other areas of your marketing strategy - one size does not fit all when it comes to building the right martech stack for your company. Your chosen technologies will be impacted by factors like your budget and the type of business you have. One key factor to consider is your target market; for instance, B2C companies will likely require slightly different technologies than a B2B company since they each typically use different channels and techniques to acquire and engage with their customers.
So let’s take a look at the technologies I consider foundational to a tech stack, regardless of your target customer.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): this is often a focus for you B2B-ers. CRMs track all customer relationships and marketing attribution for you and your sales force. Ultimately, CRMs are essential to gaining in-depth insights into how your marketing efforts impact your sales pipeline.
[Tools to explore: Salesforce; HubspotCRM; SugarCRM].
Content Management System (CMS): by now, for most of you, this is a basic element of your tech stack that you’re familiar with. A CMS is a technology that powers your website, blog, landing pages etc. These web properties are often where you want to engage your customers.
[Tools to explore: WordPress; Hubspot; Joomla].
Advertising and SEO: this element is pretty vast, but search engine optimization and advertising is key to your customer acquisition strategies regardless of the type of business you run. Many marketers use a combination of software for keyword research, display ads, ad tracking, and attribution.
[Tools to explore: SEMrush, Google Ads; HasOffers].
Email: Email marketing is still a very cost-effective way to support sales, build brand awareness and gain trust with your customer base. Email marketing capabilities might even be readily available in other platforms in your tech stack; like in your marketing automation or inbound marketing platform, for instance.
[Tools to explore: MailChimp; Constant Contact; SendGrid].
Social Media: technologies for this space help monitor your social conversations, schedule posts or curate content. Specific networks like Facebook and LinkedIn also offer social media marketing opportunities that may be a valuable addition to your own tech stack.
[Tools to explore: BuzzSumo; Hootsuite; SproutSocial].
Collaboration: these are some of my favorite tools to add to a tech stack. Collaboration software focuses on working efficiently and transparently with your team. There are a number of project management tools to choose from, or even tools that focus more on the customer journey.
[Tools to explore: Trello; Asana; Slack].
Analysis and Reporting: regardless of the technologies you choose to integrate within your tech stack, you must always be able to access your data to measure Photo Editing Services your marketing efforts. For the most part, businesses will at least have basic website analytics tracking in place, which is a great way to start. But depending on your situation, you could explore building a full data warehouse to pull together data from various systems to make your reporting more accessible and rounded.
2021: How Your Marketing Tech Stack Needs to Change
Your marketing technology stack is critical to your organization's success. It enables you to manage your brand efficiently, coordinate and execute campaigns, leverage existing content, and attract and convert customers in an increasingly complex marketing environment. However, putting together the right set of tools and technology may be extremely challenging. With so many competing options, features, and interoperability concerns to consider, piecing together your martech may feel like navigating a minefield. However, the right marketing technology can make all the difference when it comes to the behind-the-scenes task of managing your brand and marketing operations.
Instead of a shiny penny approach where marketing leaders are trying out every new tool that emerges from the market, businesses focus on creating tech stacks that are smarter, more streamlined, increasingly connected, and dramatically more powerful. Here is what you need to know about marketing technology to lay the foundation for smooth brand management and marketing operations.
Top Marketing Tech for Your Business
Whether you are a B2B or B2C marketer, there is no doubt that you have struggled with lead generation. Both landscapes are increasingly competitive, and lead generation can pose one of your biggest challenges. However, lead generation starts with traffic, and there is an entire collection of tools you can use to help you take care of just that.
#1. From siloed tools to all-in-one solutions
As more marketing channels emerge, marketing teams will continue to specialize rapidly. However, more channels mean more to coordinate and manage. As individual disciplines branch off, marketing teams risk building unintentional silos that may ultimately undercut efficiency and brand consistency. All-in-one solutions consolidate and may eliminate the need for disparate point solutions. They are also powerful for aligning cross-functional teams—like marketing and sales—to work together in harmony with greater speed and efficiency.
#2. Tools that connect and interact well with one another
As the need arises, API-first tools empower businesses to add, remove, or swap out solutions with greater ease. Of course, APIs fuel the free-flowing exchange of data between tools, systems, and channels—another area that is top of mind for marketing leaders for the year ahead. This step-level for your marketing tech stack is all about connection. You need to merge it, find patterns, and learn. As marketing becomes more omnichannel driven, channels and software islands need to be connected through API integrations and data warehouses.
#3. Leveraging data to create personalized customer experiences
Businesses focus on creating increasingly personalized experiences for their website visitors and customers. They invest in improving data pipelines to trigger powerful, real-time experiences and communications between prospects and use existing users with sales teams based on the visitor, user, and company information or activity. By planning to leverage data-rich tools to better understand the customer and their journey, businesses can deliver more tailored content and experiences to the right customers at the right time.
Strategy First, Technology Second
Keep in mind that a tool is not a strategy. It may allow you to compare different software packages by their features; however, the real value marketing software offers lies in the strategy and approach it enables and how it affects customer experience (the desired end result). Before you build or update your marketing stack, it is crucial to devise your marketing strategy. This approach should be shaped around your product, desired audience, and how to reach them. Analyze your current marketing practices carefully and identify where they match the strategy and where they block it. Do the work, map your plan, and only when you have a defined need should you consider purchasing something new. Find out where you lack processes and where you need to do things differently and then choose technology based on that. Mapping out this process will give you a better understanding of the required tools needed for your business. Martech is all about devising the right strategy for your business and only then identifying the technology that will help you execute that strategy.
Beyond the Fundamentals of a Marketing Tech Stack [with recommended tools]
The type of business you have will determine which technologies you might find important and how they should be organized. That said, there are certain technologies you should consider as foundational to your marketing technology stack as you build it. Your marketing stack can be broken down into three key stages:
Stage 1: Attract
Stage 2: Engage
Stage 3: Analyze and optimize
Although there are multiple sub-phases within the above, these three are the most common phases almost every business can relate to.
Google Ads – ad tech
When it comes to driving qualified traffic to your website, Google's search, video, and display ads are the quickest way to get the results you need. Not only can you target people who show a specific interest in what you are selling, Google Ads acts as your first point of contact for lead nurturing tactics like remarketing, email marketing, and conversion optimization.
Demandbase enables businesses to deliver personalized online ads to specific people at specific companies across the web while refining the message to convert them into customers.
Unbounce – landing page builder
There is no point in spending hours creating targeted ads only to send prospects to a generic, soulless landing page, as this is one of the quickest ways to lose potential leads and sales opportunities. Unbounce lets you quickly and easily create custom landing pages that will help convert more website visitors into customers. You can create and publish landing pages in minutes—with no code required. The powerful A/B testing functionality allows you to experiment with your messaging, design, and forms to understand the best ways to convert visitors.
Sprout Social – social media management
Sprout Social allows you to manage your entire social media marketing strategy from one place. It can help you attract and engage with hundreds of thousands of customers and prospects. With Sprout Social, you can streamline your publishing workflows, schedule posts at optimal times, and turn social data into meaningful insights. All of this is geared towards optimizing your social media strategy and better connecting with your audience.