My marketing technology stack is always evolving. In 2016, we saw more than 4,000 providers of tools, apps, platforms, and technology for marketers and business owners to leverage in their marketing and sales efforts. That’s up from 100 just 5 years prior. With such huge growth, and more to come, it can get overwhelming. How should you build a marketing technology stack?
A framework for your marketing technology stack
There are many ways to think about your marketing technology stack. People often start with a piece of technology that’s solving an immediate need. From there, they start bolting on. Before long, you end up with a 10,000 lbs gorilla, much redundancy, significant cost, and worse of all a big mess of data that means nothing to your business goals.
In my business and with my clients, I recommend starting with a framework before any technology is acquired. For example, I like this visual for sequencing the marketing stack if you’re a local business. I think that example does a good job with the relationships between marketing technology, consumer journeys, interactions between them, approximate budget spend and how a business can progress from one stage of marketing technology stack development to the next.
I found the easiest framework to get started with and translates well across industries, aligns the marketing stack to the buyer journey plus your core marketing needs like planning, analytics, and automation.
As a result, I usually design my marketing technology stacks around six key buckets.
There are many things that need to happen in the marketing and sales function. I often find that planning how we’re going to plan what we do consumes significant resources and time. So I look to technology a lot to take planning frameworks I create and start automating or adding efficiency to planning processes. Simple things like ways to curate content to review in one place can reduce the number of newsletter subscriptions clogging inboxes. Editorial and marketing calendars connected to publishing schedules can automate promotion of content etc.
The highest level goal of any marketing initiative is to grow awareness and drive demand. This pillar of a marketing stack looks to build the set of tools that makes this easier to accomplish. I take a textbook approach to this and think through paid, owned, and earned/shared media. You can add additional categories that make sense to your business, product or industry like referrals if you’d like. But at the end of the day we want to bucket the things that are helping us with this high level objective.
In the conversion pillar we’re looking to the tools and technologies that play a role in getting a success event. A form filled out, an email subscription, a cart checkout, an app download, a click to call, a donation or whatever is vital to your organization. Common things to consider here is the function of your website and CMS, landing page tools, and any tools you use on site/app interactions. For example on site chat or exit intents or in app prompts and notifications.
At this point we’re looking to the tools and technology that drive repeat purchase or move someone further down a sales funnel to a potential sale. This is a big category but I mots frequently will include an email category and remarketing category at the least.
Another big category, sales, can have plenty of bloat. At the least, we’re looking to our CRM. From here we look to bolt on specifics related to our own unique work flows and business needs. For me I leverage a mix of different sales enablement tools and then leverage an automation tool like Zapier to move data back and forth from various sources to make sure I keep a clean and updated central database.
Analytics, Optimization & Automation
Finally, the analytics and automation pillar. This category may seem like a bit of a catch all but it’s the glue that connects everything. The technologies that fall here serve one of three purposes. First, to deliver insights about any of our various marketing touch points or databases via a set of analytics. Second, provide optimization via testing, personalization or data visualization. Third, and finally, leverage automation apps and tools to create a connection between other pillars, tools or data sets.
Final Thoughts On Building A Marketing Technology Stack
I customize the pillars and buckets within each pillar for clients I work with as their business needs dictate, and you should do the same. The point is, starting with a rough outline of the areas you’re looking to build a stack across will help prevent the 10,000 lbs gorilla scenario I previously mentioned. Saving you organizing time, money and lost opportunity.