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  • Writer's pictureDavid Avery

How To Build a Best-in-Class MarTech Stack


Sure, you've heard about the Grammys, the Oscars, and probably even the ESPYs — but have you heard of the Stackies?

Presented by the annual MarTech Conference, the Stackie Awards are open to any organization that creates and submits a visualization of its marketing technology (referred to as “MarTech”) stack.

What does “MarTech” mean?


The phrase "MarTech stack" may sound like convoluted marketing speak, but it's actually straightforward: Where MarTech refers to a range of software and tools that help marketing teams achieve their goals, the specific set of marketing technologies used is known as their MarTech stack.

As of 2019, there were more than 7,000 MarTech solutions in existence, many of which are featured in six years' worth of Stackie entries. It's currently a $121 billion industry.

And due to the unexpected economic upheaval and forced operational shifts of the past year, companies are now grappling with rapidly changing consumer behaviors while working with a tighter-than-ever budget. According to a 2020 survey, marketing was allocated an average of 26% of a company's total budget, although 66% of marketing leaders expected moderate to severe cuts in the near future.

Suffice to say that it’s more important than ever to build a MarTech stack that has everything you need and nothing you don't. So how do you choose the technologies that are best for your organization? Read on.

What to know before you start building


Start with a strategy, and perform continual audits


Every company uses a MarTech stack — but many businesses lack a cohesive plan for how to manage it. In fact, a whopping 30% of chief marketing officers say they don't have a MarTech strategy in place, opting to add tools on a case-by-case basis instead.

The problem with this approach is that you'll soon find yourself so inundated with technology that you can't keep track of it all, let alone pay for it. If you're unsure about whether your MarTech investments are providing value to your business, a strategy is long overdue.

To develop a cost-effective and efficient marketing strategy, take some time to define the problems you want your MarTech stack to tackle now and in the future. Then, you're better able to perform an audit of all the software you use. The trick is to perform continual audits — not just after a new technology is added. Put routine audits in your company calendar and make sure they happen.

Get rid of overlapping technologies


After performing an audit of your MarTech stack, you may find that you have two or more technologies that accomplish a similar task. Determine which tools are unnecessary, and make the cut. For example, if you already use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that sends mass emails such as Prosperworks, there's no need to pay for a dedicated email software platform like Mailchimp.

Take stock of your talents


Before giving new tools the green light, take some time to consider what training will be required, as this can take additional time and resources — both of which are increasingly precious and hard to come by.

Audit your company's talent and determine where there may be skill gaps. Decide if you’ll need to implement new roles to effectively manage new technology, and consider adding roles devoted to troubleshooting technical issues. Relying on one person to handle all the technical issues for your entire MarTech stack is too risky, especially if you have a rapidly expanding one.

If training is needed, look into what kinds of courses are available that can get everyone on the same page and skill level.

Take an agile approach

To manage the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and an ever-evolving market, it's best to abandon traditional strategic planning for marketing programs and instead adopt an agile approach. This involves:


● Spending more time testing ideas and less time planning

● Gathering feedback and data to make wise adjustments when necessary

● Addressing your changing business needs in real time

● Defining the minimal requirements for success

One of the most important aspects of an agile approach to strategizing is to break it up into short sprints. In the current climate, you must be able to work within a short time frame and adjust often. Prioritizing projects in short, high-intensity strategy sessions helps you test ideas earlier in the development cycle and leaves room for further modifications down the road.

Document it all


As organizations add more technology to their MarTech stacks, many do away with documentation to get moving faster. However, leaving out this extra administrative work can cause issues later on, such as clutter, data integrity problems, and utter confusion for future employees.

Taking the time to document how each piece of your stack works will effectively lay a solid foundation for data architecture and ensure future success.

A checklist for the tools you need


1. Marketing automation


If you find yourself or your team manually completing tasks often, that's usually a sign there’s a gap in your technology suite that should be bridged. One of the primary goals of adding new tools to your MarTech stack is to automate and streamline marketing processes.

Your stack should automate most — if not every — mundane task. Several popular vendors that focus on B2B marketing automation include:


Pardot

But you should also find tools to automate the following:

Collaborative workflows. When your team can work together, manage tasks, and communicate with efficiency and ease, productivity skyrockets. Some of the highest-rated collaboration apps include:


Asana

Trello

Dynamic development. The key to creating dynamic content such as emails, social media, and landing pages is to use tools that target your audience, manage your brand and campaign, track conversions, and adjust content to multiple channels. Tools that hit most or all of those marks include:


Foleon

Spott

Monday

Lead generation and lead management. From live chat to cold outreach and pop-up forms, there are numerous lead management options to choose from. Here are some tools worth looking into:


‌2. Predictive and website analytics


Ideally, you should be able to not only track where your company has been, but also predict where it’s headed.

At the basic level, website analytics tools like Google Analytics help you find out how many people are paying attention to your brand, who they are, where they’re from, and why they’re doing it. Predictive analytics tools, on the other hand, use that data to identify market trends, which in turn can help you identify upcoming customer bases. Examples of this type of software include:


Infer

Radius

However, there are many industry-specific options out there as well.

3. Integrated systems

You shouldn't race to find vendors to fill in every one of your aforementioned marketing/tech gaps. Each new tool should have the capability to seamlessly integrate with your existing tools. Otherwise, it may cause more stress than it's worth.

Because they've caught on to the dire need for integration, many MarTech vendors advertise integration right out of the box.

However, single-vendor suites are increasingly pricey and limiting. The ability to build your own best-of-breed stack that meets your specific goals is much more appealing — but it makes holistic integration a bit trickier. Here are some tips:


1. Take inventory of tools' features.

2. Document and configure APIs.

3. Keep your audience in mind.

4. Choose only necessary customizations.

5. Find out if your vendor has customer support programs.

6. Analyze data before integrating.


Fortunately, there are quite a few MarTech tools that can help you integrate your systems. They include:


IFTTT

Zapier

4. Pre-tested products

Fortunately, the majority of MarTech vendors offer a free trial period. This is the time to put the software to the test, paying special attention to how it functions alongside your existing MarTech stack. Ask yourself the following questions:


● Does this tool make team tasks easier?

● Does it help solve the problems we set out to solve in our MarTech strategy?

● Is the support team responsive if we run into issues?

Additionally, many MarTech companies recently extended their free trials, data trackers, grant programs, and remote toolkits due to the unique issues the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the marketing landscape. Here are some vendors currently offering special deals in the categories of e-commerce, attribution, telecom and remote working, and customer data:

Vonage

Zoho


5. Data-driven personalization

One of the biggest trends in 2021 marketing technology is increased personalization. More businesses are considering how they can optimize their MarTech stacks to engage with and attract customers in personal ways. One of the best ways to go about this is to leverage your data-rich tools to better understand your customers and their journeys. This allows marketers to tailor content to the right people at the right time.

With the COVID-19-triggered automation boom, attaining high levels of personalization looks different. However, by using data to refine your automation, you can better serve customers throughout their buying journey and increase the relevancy of your proactive, self-service, and human support systems. Execute this by using tools like:


Apptus

6. A marketing attribution model

As we note in our article on B2B marketing attribution modeling, assigning a dollar value to a marketing touch point allows you to seamlessly calculate return on investment. This is called your marketing attribution model, of which there are three primary types:


● First-touch

● Last-touch

● Multi-touch

No matter which method you use, it's crucial that your MarTech vendor has a robust platform for building it. ‌Your marketing automation platform may also include built-in attribution models, so it's best to check there first. If not, here are several excellent vendors to work with:

How can I get started?

If you've got your eye on that 2021 Stackie Award, you should get started building or renovating your MarTech stack right away — and we have the perfect solution.

With our specialized MarTech assessment, we'll help you determine which areas to invest in based on factors like budget, maturity, and marketing strategic objectives. Email info@optimaxbusinessconsulting.com to get started with a Tech Stack Revamp today!


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