Today’s business environment is complex and constantly changing, and modern marketing operations have to be dynamic and flexible to keep pace. As the demand for high-performing marketers has picked up, businesses have turned to highly sophisticated marketing technology solutions to enable faster output and better outcomes. A martech stack is no longer a luxury in 2022 — it’s a necessity.
What is a marketing technology stack?
A marketing technology (martech) stack is the combination of technological tools, solutions and software that marketing professionals use to manage, streamline, optimize or otherwise improve specific operational functions. As digital capabilities have advanced, martech has become essential to success for the modern marketing team. The martech industry was estimated to be worth roughly $344.8 billion in 2021, according to data collected by the MarTech Alliance.
Martech can include a number of different solutions and software, but some of the most common include:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
- Content management system (CMS)
- Data analytics solutions
- Email marketing software
- Project management software
- Social media tools
The total number of vendors in the martech space has grown exponentially in recent years, meaning there are seemingly endless options available for marketing teams. Selecting the right products means understanding the specific challenges you want to solve and envisioning the outcomes you need to deliver.
The benefits of marketing technology
Marketing technology has become increasingly more sophisticated and advanced in recent years. Marketers can now deploy a variety of sophisticated technology solutions to optimize numerous different (and highly specific) areas of their marketing operation. Some of the main martech benefits your team could experience are:
- More relevant content: Data analytics tools enable marketers to gather advanced user engagement insights about the types of content site visitors find most engaging. Use this information to create content that better matches the specific information your customers want to consume.
- Greater efficiency: Automation tools allow you to streamline many of your manual, repetitive tasks, including data entry, social media posting, email subscriber segmentation and more. The elimination of these manual tasks from your team members’ workloads gives them more time and resources to focus on other high-value priorities.
- Better project outcomes: Productivity and project management tools gives your teams complete oversight of every project, including assigned stakeholders, phases and deadlines. You can use these marketing technology tools to ensure phases are properly assigned and that deliverables are completed on time, preventing anything from slipping through the cracks.
- Improved ad performance: Marketing technology enables you to track the performance of each of your ads, helping you determine which ones are most impactful (and which ones need improvement). You can use this information to direct your marketing spend to the places where it’ll deliver the most value.
- Better ROI: The combination of the above benefits is a marketing department that delivers more value at a lower cost, helping you drastically increase your ROI. On a deeper level, some tools let you measure the precise ROI of specific ads (in terms of both marketing spend and goal completion), helping you make better-informed decisions about where to focus your resources.
Key components of a successful marketing tech stack
The martech industry is brimming with different product offerings covering nearly every aspect of marketing. These are some of the most common:
Customer relationship management (CRM) software
Excellent customer service is critical to success in today’s business environment. Highly sophisticated digital technologies have given customers access to a seemingly unlimited array of brand options, meaning the quality of the experience has become a top priority for customers. In fact, more than 75% of customers get frustrated with brands if they don’t personalize the experience, according to McKinsey.
Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms enable enterprises to centralize all customer data in a single location, helping them document all interactions to create a better, more consistent customer experience. CRMs give businesses complete oversight of all customer activity, helping them understand their customers on a much deeper level.
They also give them the ability to analyze all customer data to identify trends and new opportunities, strengthening the customer relationship and driving more profitable outcomes for both sides.
Content management system
Content marketing strategies can be multifaceted and complex, so you’ll need a content management system (CMS) to facilitate the creation and distribution of your content. Through your CMS platform, users can create, edit, format and publish new posts to your website, blog or other pages. CMS serve as the central management hub for all your content activities, and they provide management with an overview of the entire backend of each of your live (and scheduled) pages.
While these are the basic CMS features your platform should have, some solutions provide an additional set of advanced features that help you take your content creation to the next level. Built-in workflows, data analytics and advanced security capabilities are all capabilities that some CMS have, which could help to further enhance and optimize your content creation operations.
Email marketing automation
Despite email giving way to instant chat and video as the preferred method of internal communication in many workplaces, email marketing remains the tried-and-true method of building customer relationships and converting leads. Almost two-thirds of marketers said email marketing was an effective part of their business strategy, according to HubSpot. Unfortunately, the traditional processes that make email marketing work are still highly time consuming and resource intensive, draining employees’ time.
Email marketing automation software helps marketers streamline many of the manual tasks that undergird email marketing, including:
- Performance tracking.
Moreover, you can use built-in A/B testing tools to test various aspects of their campaigns (including subject lines, preview text, calls to action and more) and optimize their emails based on the elements that generate the most engagement.
Complemented by advanced data analysis and insights, you can also gather precise information about the way email recipients are engaging with each post (by tracking click-through rates for each post based on the above A/B testing results), helping to inform further enhancements to campaigns.
Data analytics solutions
Data is paramount in the content marketing world, but many marketers are either unable to leverage their data due to structural hindrances or simply don’t have the bandwidth or personnel to commit. Data analytics solutions enable you to access the data contained in all of your stores, breaking down restrictive siloes and turning both customer and enterprise data into impactful, actionable insights.
You can use this data to learn more about the preferences and expectations of each of your customers, information that helps you build more personalized experiences and better targeted content to deliver greater value for both sides.
For example, you can leverage user engagement metrics from your website to pinpoint any areas of friction in your online experience. This helps you enhance UX and promote greater engagement with your online collateral for more conversions.
Bringing everything together, content marketing software and data analytics solutions let you view your data in a centralized, dashboard environment, helping you easily visualize and identify trends in your data that inform smarter decision making.
Project management software
Marketing projects often involve complicated processes that even the most skilled project managers can struggle to oversee. With so many moving parts, there is always the risk of one or more stakeholders making a mistake, leading to missed deadlines and unfulfilled expectations. Project management software provides marketing teams with the tools they need to expertly manage their projects from beginning to end, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.
Project management software enables marketers to:
- Set deadlines and key actionable milestones.
- Attach essential documents to individual projects.
- Assign stakeholders to each project stage.
- Enable messaging features for in-app communications.
- Provide visibility over all deliverables, resources and milestone completion.
Tying all of the above functions together, project management software automates many of the manual tasks associated with project management, helping to reduce the incidence of mistakes and giving project managers (and other stakeholders) more time for other responsibilities.
Social media tools
An active presence on social media channels is the hallmark of the digitally savvy company. Many customers — especially younger ones — consume a substantial volume of content on social media, and they are increasingly using their favorite social media channels to learn about new brands and companies. HubSpot found that 77% of social media marketers rated their strategies as somewhat to very effective. Maximizing social media, therefore, represents a significant opportunity for businesses to engage new customers and deepen relationships with existing ones.
The most effective social media operations today require a full-time social media manager (and possibly even an entire dedicated social media team, depending on your needs). Even with a full-time team, however, the process of managing and posting to social media can be extraordinarily time consuming.
Social media automation tools enable your team to streamline all tasks associated with running an active social media presence, including posting, scheduling, reporting and performance tracking — all in a centralized location. These marketing technology tools also give teams complete oversight of all their active and scheduled social media posts, making it easier to plan and adjust future and ongoing social media campaigns.
4 steps to building a martech stack
Consider these four steps when designing, building and implementing your marketing tech stack:
1. Identify your goals and needs
Every martech investment you make should be carefully chosen to ensure alignment with your specific business needs and objectives. Prior to selecting any new solution, it’s important to fully assess your entire business and identify your goals for future growth.
Envision your ideal future: Maybe you want a more effective and data-driven way to score leads for your sales teams, or maybe you want to optimize your presence across social media channels. Regardless, it’s important to first understand your needs and goals so you can identify the most appropriate technology solutions.
This process should include conversations with relevant stakeholders across the entire organization. Executives and other senior leaders will have a view of the business’s long-term plans, whereas junior staff will be closer to the day-to-day functioning of whatever tools you implement.
2. Shop the market
Don’t just jump on the first technology solution you see or invest in one that your peers recommend. Take the time to scan the entire market and weigh the pros and cons of different solutions, whittling down the dozens of available solutions to a narrow shortlist.
Remember: The solution you ultimately select has to match your specific needs as a business and support the achievement of your objectives. It’s important you consider all the core features different products offer and measure these against the information you gathered at the exploratory phase.
Of course, budgetary limitations also need to be considered, and it’s important to compare different products based on price point to maximize your investment. Many martech solutions are available via the software-as-a-service delivery model, which can be a highly cost-effective and efficient way to purchase, implement and deploy martech solutions across your organization.
3. Earn buy-in from key stakeholders
At the end of the day, any effort to revamp your tech stack is going to require approval from your organization’s key decision makers. But introducing new technology can be expensive and disruptive, so it can be hard to win executive buy-in, especially if you already have a raft of martech solutions currently in use. Budgets can be tight, and there are few things more frustrating for the business executive than spending money on technology they don’t feel the business needs.
Once you’ve identified a series of martech solutions that you feel deliver the value you’re looking for, you’ll need to explain to your executive decision makers:
- How the product’s specific features support your marketing and business goals.
- What specific processes and operations will be streamlined or enhanced.
- How much money (or opportunities) are lost without having this tool.
- How productivity and efficiency gains outweigh the costs of the product.
Of course, your strategy for winning sufficient buy-in should be supported by quantifiable metrics — including, especially, hard dollar forecasts.
4. Implement your solutions
A purchase has been made, but it doesn’t end there. The process of introducing new technology and deploying it across the business needs to be handled with care. Rushing to roll out a slew of new gadgets can be jarring and disorientating for employees, and that can lead to mistakes and slowed operations — the exact opposite of what these tools are meant to do.
Instead, craft an implementation timeline with identifiable benchmarks that includes an increasingly larger number of features at each stage, giving employees time to grow accustomed to new tools.
You should also make sure to host team-wide training to ensure employees understand the ins and outs of new products from the very beginning. These training sessions should not only focus on core features and capabilities, but they should also explain how these tools fit into the wider strategy and objectives of the business.
Martech stack best practices
There’s a right and wrong way to utilize martech. Consider these best practices when building (and maintaining) your marketing technology stack:
- Make a list of ideal features: Before you start exploring the market, make a list of all the essential features you need in a martech solution, as well as a secondary list of nice-to-have features that would enhance operability but are inessential to your goals. Ensure you understand how each of these capabilities will improve specific job functions and advance business objectives.
- Focus on automation: One of the great benefits of a martech stack is that it enables your teams to do more with less. But for this to work, your tech solutions have to have automation built into the core. Focus on solutions that automate and streamline specific marketing functions to ensure maximum productivity and efficiency.
- Prioritize user experience: Your employees expect a seamless, easy-to-use digital experience on work tools that matches the customer experience. Make sure to invest in martech that’s easy for employees to use and doesn’t require excessive effort to learn. User-friendly interfaces and dashboard environments are among the hallmarks of high usability. You might also consider free trials so employees can test proposed solutions in live settings.
- Lean on manufacturers/service providers: Your vendor has a real interest in your success as a business, so they are often willing to offer support to ensure success throughout the process. Lean on them for implementation, maintenance and other support as needed, but keep in mind that some of these services might come with a cost.
Challenges companies face when implementing their martech stack
Implementing a martech stack is a complicated process that involves many moving parts. Here are some of the top challenges marketers face when investing in marketing technology:
- Tech alignment: While implementing multiple martech solutions is now critical for the modern marketing team, failing to deploy solutions that integrate with one another can create more problems than they solve. Different departments might find it hard to communicate with each other using the same tools, and siloes can be reinforced and formalized.
- Underused tools: Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. It can be easy for marketers to get excited about a new and sophisticated technology and invest thousands in purchasing and implementing it without taking the time to assess whether their teams actually need it. This can cause tools to go unused, creating a serious drain on marketing resources.
- Failing to evaluate team needs: At the end of the day, effective martech solutions should streamline existing marketing functions and support both your marketing and business goals. It is important to take the time to consider thoughtfully whether martech products will actually fit within your digital marketing strategy or simply add an unnecessary layer of tech that hinders progress.
- Maximizing value: Perhaps you bought an email marketing solution because you needed a way to automatically segment and target (and retarget) your email subscribers. That works, but you might not realize that your solution also has a series of other functions that you’re not taking advantage of, missing the opportunity to truly maximize your investment.
- Smooth implementations: Your martech stack is only as good as the people using it. It is important that any technology you introduce can actually be used and leveraged by your teams effectively. You should invest in routine training to ensure all relevant team members are able to operate with a basic level of functionality. Reinforce these sessions with periodic training as you discover new functions.
Marketing technology is essential for businesses operating in the modern business environment. But to really make your martech stack work, you need the right data to fuel your marketing operations and drive your success.
At CONTENTgine, we offer marketing professionals deep data insights gathered from our database of hundreds of thousands of pieces of B2B content. Learn how the CONTENTgine team can help you enhance your content marketing strategies – contact us today.