My marketing technology stack is constantly evolving. No surprise, it seems like daily there’s another tool for this, that and the other thing. I often find myself wondering how marketing was even semi-efficient or scale without the software and apps we use without second thought.
I like to test new tools on various side projects and websites. In the interest of sharing my lessons learned through the tinkering, here is where my marketing technology stack is … well … stacking up. I build my marketing technology stack through a framework similar to the buyer’s journey, so the categories should seem familiar to you.
Disclosure: Some of these links are affiliate links. The marketing technology stack represented is the result of years of product testing and application. I recommend them because of my experience. As a result, I may get commissions for purchases made through some links in this post.
As my stack evolves and I try new products out, I’ll work to keep this updated with notes on changed. Last update: Jan 6, 2017
Marketing Planning – jump here
Awareness Tools – jump here
Conversion Tools – jump here
Nurture Tools – jump here
Sales/Close Tools – jump here
Analytics & Automation – jump here
My Current Marketing Technology Stack
Here’s where my marketing technology stack is falls today in my business operations.
Marketing Planning Technologies
Marketing Calendars & Schedules
CoSchedule – I’ve had an on again off again relationship with CoSchedule since they first launched in 2013. Over 2016, the product evolved in leaps and bounds. I’m committing myself to integrating it into our processes in 2017. Coschedule’s planning, workflows, re-queuing, and 3rd party integrations make this a stellar tool. It’s a particularly powerful tool, now, for those us who struggle with regular content marketing.
Marketing Processes & Checklists
Process Street – I fell in love with Process Street in 2017, both personally and professionally. I used to have lists and process documents strewn between Evernote and GoogleDocs and a mess of tags, folder, notebooks and other obscure filter structures attempting to help me get to them when I needed. In the end, I felt like I spent more time weeding through all the other random crap piling up in my Evernote notebooks. So I ended up not using or remembering to compile processes or checklists. That is until the next time I needed to do something again and found myself having to recreate the process. Time wasted. Sad Panda. Now I have one place just for process, and it’s easy to connect and set off other reactions in other apps. Happy panda
ToDoist – My attention span is bad sometimes. I get distracted. I wrote about how I stay focused on goals earlier. ToDoist helps me master my to-do list in a way that works, and the integration with other apps helps me scale both the tracking of to-dos and dones.
Trello – There are some Trello masters out there. They have hundreds of boards. Color coded crap everywhere. That’s not me. I keep Trello simple. I use it as a digital scrum board for things like tracking content ideas to staying on task with client deliverables. Again, some cards, will trigger events through my automation setup, which makes my life way easier. For example, when a card moves from headline idea to drafting it creates a new Google Doc in my content marketing folder so I can get started.
Toggl – I’m obsessed with knowing how I’m using my time both billable and not. Toggl is a super easy to use time tracker that integrates with the apps I need it to send client details for example into Quickbooks.
Drafting & Delivery
G Suite – As much as it pains me to say, in the past three years I’ve gone from Apple fanboy to full one Google evangelist. My life revolves around what I can tie into my suite. Drive, for example, stores all my docs which I can move back and forth seamlessly int the sales or planning pillars of my marketing technology stack.
Evernote – Evernote is part of my content marketing workflow. Storing boilerplate items like bios, but also a place to store screenshots with Skitch. I also use scannable for business receipt tracking. (That’s a whole different tech stack!)
Canva – Canva is a tool to create graphics on the fly without needing to leverage robust tools like Creative Suite. Works well for things like simple social graphics.
Technologies To Attract
*Note – for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out the value of all the players in the space. After trying many of them, I’ve landed on these three for the following reasons.
Ahrefs – As Google has made it harder to find relevant data behind organic keywords and ranking, Ahrefs continues to be the best of the best in monitoring sites and reporting on changes. If you want to know when you start ranking for a new keyword, Ahrefs will let you know. They also seem to boast the best backlink report on the market (in my opinion). Finally, with a recent change to their keyword tool, doing research and planning an attack for a keyword is getting easier.
Moz – Moz’s keyword explorer tool is the bomb dot com. They also have a set of pro tools like follower wonk which helps with influencer research. I think the competitive comparison is the best on Moz, so if you’re in a competitive industry or market, Moz will help you monitor your progress the best.
SemRush – SemRush takes a blend of the best of both AHrefs and Moz and then ads paid search to the mix.
There probably isn’t any surprise at the four paid media channels being leveraged. Google and Facebook, in particular, dominate the digital media space and have shaped where we are today from an ad tech perspective. As an AppNexus, Buy Side certified media buyer, I have spent some time in the programmatic DSP space. However, for 95% of businesses, in my opinion, spend levels aren’t big enough and targeting strategies aren’t sophisticated enough yet to warrant the robust capabilities offered by these larger media buying channels.
Feedly – I’m beyond fed up with my email inbox. Late in 2015 I started ruthlessly unsubscribing to things. If there were newsletters I found interesting, I added them to Feedly. Feedly is a great resource not only to clean out your inbox but also to find content ideas for social media, blogs, and content offers. You can add content from Feedly directly to social media; you can tag it so it gets sent to a folder in Google Docs as a resource for a blog you’re researching, or you can curate it into a curated email newsletter. Just a few examples. With both a desktop and mobile app, you can now make monitoring industry and news that matters to you fit into your schedule.
Google Alerts – Brand mentions, industry mentions, opportunities for speaking, all this is where Google Alerts shine. I usually have these set up to go to a folder and check it at set times. Depending on how many alerts you have set up, it can get overwhelming.
Buffer – I used to hate automated social media. Then Buffer came along. They took the automated out of social media. Using Buffer to set schedules that don’t have you posting every 20 minutes and at all hours of the night, lets you do social on your schedule. Maybe you had 15 minutes over lunch to review Feedly, found three articles relevant to you industry. Add them to buffer. In conjunction with you editorial calendar, Co Schedule posting a couple of new pieces of content and leveraging the re-queue feature, all of a sudden your brand has a week’s worth of content going out on a human schedule. LOVE LOVE LOVE Buffer. Seriously. It’s like magic, especially when plugged in with other tools in your stack.
BuzzSumo – This is a great tool for influencer marketing or finding content ideas. In niche categories especially, it can sometimes be hard to find things to write about or to know who to try to reach with the content. Buzz Sumo provide insights on both, increasing your chances of success with your content.
Technologies To Convert
WordPress – Having a CMS, in my opinion, is core to a flexible, modern, marketing strategy. A marketer should easily access and edit the digital front door, testing new ideas, implementing scripts and more. When it comes to ease of use and good digital ju-ju, word press is my favorite. It provides a groovy nice platform for client use and has a great community around it.
Genesis – Going one step further, I like to use the Genesis platform. While WordPress is awesome, some things out of the box are lacking. SEO, speed, and bloat are all among them. Genesis takes care of this by providing a framework structure for handling theme development that I’ve grown to love over the years. All my sites run Genesis, and when I can, I advocate client use of the platform as well.
Successful marketing so often comes down to focus. The most critical element of this is the campaign development and the final destination, where you want your prospect to take action. Because of this, you need landing pages.
I go between two platforms, each with their unique strengths.
Unbounce – Unbounce has a huge library of beautiful themes and spectacular support. When you just need landing pages, and you need them to work well, I lean this way. I also like the dynamic keyword insertion feature which helps with PPC efforts and personalization.
LeadPages – For those looking to take conversion to a new level, LeadPages offers a suite of tools I like that acts, almost like an arsenal. They’ve developed features beyond landing pages and focus on conversion events, like turning a link into an acquisition point with lead boxes.
Both LeadPages and Unbounce have a place to play depending on what I’m doing and where it fits in my flow. At the end of the day, I’m looking to build a list of prospects or drive sales, so the platform is only facilitating a transaction that dumps into a database. We’ll talk about that a bit later in this post.
Sometimes we want to tweak on-site events to engage prospects. Prompt with a relevant offer based on behavior, or open a chat window at the right time. I have a couple of tools I’ve learned to love, after trying many them.
SumoMe – Noah Kagan and the team at SumoMe have developed some of the best tools and templates for intent conversion opportunities on the planet. From content pop-ups related to the blog category, repeat visitor or time on site, to exit intent, Sumo Me lets your imagination run wild with ways to engage people on how they interact and create relevant offers, ultimately increase conversion potential.
Drift – It’s a super easy to install, on-site chat that integrates with existing communication tools like Slack. Why does this matter? Because too many other on-site chat tools make you site in another browser window if you want to be accessible. With Drift, I can take my site chat on the go with the Slack mobile app, and I just love it!
Technologies To Nurture
Mail Chimp – Of all the things you do, building an email list is the highest value marketing asset you can build. Email marketing has come a long way, and so have the tools available. I love MailChimp because it’s easy to use, the functionality is robust; the integrations are extensive, and there are thousands and thousands of companies big and small using it, so the platform is constantly evolving and improving.
With more than 95% of site visitors not ready to buy yet, remarketing is critical. Remarketing spans ads and email. I leverage three tools to make this happen.
AdRoll – Adroll makes robust remarketing like email and sophisticated ad exchanges accessible to everyday organizations, no matter your budget size. Setup is easy. The only drawback is you don’t have as much control as you would if you were buying in the exchanges themselves, however, most small and medium size businesses don’t have the resources (time and money) to manage this inventory.
Google – Google search and display remarketing are a second ad inventory to add on top of the AdRoll pixel. I like it because in addition to search retargeting you can also access the Google Display Network (GDN), sites running AdSense to monetize their blogs. The GDN is a nice way to reach audiences, especially niche ones.
Facebook – Finally, Facebook remarketing comes to play. You can do Facebook remarketing via AdRoll but I don’t like the level of control you get, so I do it direct through Facebook.
Technologies For Sales
Now we are the part of the stack where a bunch of data starts getting fed into to start making a close. You can use the automation tools we’ll review in a bit, especially if you’re using multiple platforms in some categories like I do for landing pages, so everything comes into the same, central place.
Pipedrive – For small and medium size business, Pipedrive is a great CRM. I spent three months reviewing nearly a dozen CRMs, and Pipedrive had everything I needed. A good blend of out of the box functionality, customizability, a good community, and good extensibility.
I also like it because I can manage multiple processes, not just sales. I use it for deals, business development, and PR/Guest Blogging.
Ecquire – Prospecting and contact development can be a pain. I find someone in an article, spend 20 minutes tracking them down and maybe another 30 or more of sleuthing to do email recon. With Ecquire I can send contact info for someone from their LinkedIn page into my CRM. Now all I have to do is find them on LinkedIn, and now it’s easy for me to reach out and let them know that I loved the comment they made in such and such column.
LeadFeeder – When I can, I like to know what companies are looking at my website. Leadfeeder is the best tool I’ve found to do this. It has a nice interface, good data set, and nice integrations with my email platform and my CRM making it the hands down front runner.
PandaDoc – The more things I can turn into processes the better. So many of my documents are the same with small tweaks. PandaDoc lets me create document templates and sections and speed up the creation and delivery of sales assets.
Technologies For Analytics & Automation
Google Analytics – This is probably a no-brainer, but Google Analytics is the foundation of my analytics framework.
Conversion, Event, & JS Management
Google Tag Manager – Google tag manager makes it, easy to set up conversion points once, then assign them to tracking tags as they get installed without having to redo all the custom event tagging. Anytime I can find something to speed up workflows.
Mouseflow – From scroll tracking, interest and heat maps to visitor mouse tracking, Mouseflow is a one stop shop for on page analytics. It’s like CrazyEgg on steroids. Wondering why your landing pages suck? Mouseflow can uncover things like – oh hey, only 10% of visitors get past your first paragraph, so you can make a change and try to improve.
AB Testing & Personalization
Optimizely – When it’s time to get serious about your hypotheses, Optimizely makes it happen. I don’t use this all the time, only when I want to be certain about a rest result. The personalization capacity of Optimizely is also a crucial function for app developers looking to increase relevance to users.
Automation & Workflows
So now you’ve put all these other things in place. You have a marketing plan. You need some help connect it all. Pieces of technology, marketing plan campaign components. Otherwise, you end up with a bunch of pieces of technology just spitting out data.
Here’s my current automation stack.
Zapier – Zapier is my catch-all bucket. Anytime I need this app to talk to that app, I look to see if can make a zap. A zap can be anything from just passing data back and forth to letting an event in one app trigger something somewhere else. The second one, triggering events elsewhere, is huge. Here is where you scale and gain efficiency in your process. I try to look at my processes at least once a month to see what new things I can automate.
- Both Hubspot and Drip provide marketing automation and workflow capabilities to your campaigns and activities. Hubspot serves at a more enterprise level with a bit more robust set of functionality and has a nice, all in one feel to it. Meanwhile, Drip is more approachable, budget wise, for small business, but requires a bit more of a technical approach. I use both across various aspects of my businesses and have learned that marketing automation, in general, is a continually evolutionary process.
Pulling the marketing stack together
So how do all of these individual tools work together to make sales and marketing scale, get smarter, more efficient, and ultimately more effective? To answer that, we have to break the framework down to a flow of data and activity.
Moving through the stack, we see
- Planning, research, and owned media tools like Buzz Sumo and Moz work together. The objective here is to create content that drives and grows traffic to our website.
- Shared media tools like Feedly and Google Alerts aid in curating and expanding audiences via social channels with the help of Buffer. Ultimately building audiences we can leverage to drive more traffic to our website. Sometimes, if the campaigns are appropriate, we can focus these efforts onto a landing page to increase conversion.
- Paid media behaves like our other attraction channels. Here specifically we direct them to a landing page.
- Once we have traffic hitting our digital touch points, either a website, landing page or one of our interactive tools like chat, they either a.) convert b.) turn into a remarketing opportunity or c.) need some more nurturing via email or from sales.
- Our nurture and sales/conversion stacks receive data from our digital touch points so we can appropriately categorize suspects and keep moving them along.
- Retargeting campaigns get kicked off for those who barely kicked a tire so we can stay top of mind in the days and weeks that follow their visit.
- Email campaign kicks if someone abandoned a cart, made a purchase or triggered a behavior that we can automate a chain of events to move them to the next step. Like a repeat purchase.
- Sales get information on behaviors of their prospects, and we score and adjust our sales database appropriately moving people along as needed, possible kicking off sales activities.
- All of these activities from attraction, conversion, nurturing and close are being monitored, optimized and helped along by our analytics and automation tools.
Love to hear from you!
That’s the stack as it stands today. I’m always looking to learn what others are using or what’s new.
What tools and technology are in your stack? Leave me a comment.