Martech stack is a term frequently dropped in discussions about creating and optimizing marketing and sales strategies. Most people simply Google best martech stacks and start adding multiple tools to their subscription list straight away.
The problem with this approach, however, is the low probability of your business using these additional features, even though having them is obviously pretty beneficial. To maximize their benefit, it's important to understand the true needs of your business.
In this article, we take a different approach to create the right marketing martech stack for your professional needs. Instead of compiling a list of tools that mean nothing to you, we guide you towards a proper selection of the right martech tools.
By the end of this article, you will have learned:
👉🏻 The true meaning of a martech stack;
👉🏻 Building blocks of a martech stack;
👉🏻 To understand your business needs;
👉🏻 How to do budget analysis;
👉🏻 The importance of integration of your martech stack tools;
👉🏻 Our advice on martech stack best practices;
First things first, let's start by understanding the meaning of martech.
What does martech mean?
As the term suggests, martech short for marketing technology. Marketing technology is a collective term for all tools and technologies that are used to support the planning, execution and analysis of marketing campaigns.
What is a Martech stack?
Martech stack or marketing technology stack is a collection of multiple tools marketers use to plan, execute and reflect on their different marketing and sales campaigns.
The primary use of a marketing technology stack is to simplify, scale and automate marketing efforts. In addition to this, it allows marketers to create, manage and track all their marketing and sales strategies.
Every business has different goals and therefore requires different tools. Take the example of a set of puzzles. Different sets of puzzles represent different businesses and every single tool in itself is a piece of the puzzle. The solved puzzle then stands for the martech stack.
If you ask me, quite frankly, just give me the ready-made puzzle already. Let's go shopping! Tag along with us through this store:
Each tiny dot in this martech landscape represents a certain tool. Filled up your shopping cart? It'll probably take several months if not years to truly understand the value, pros and cons of every single tool.
We'll now illustrate the difference between 'bread and butter' vs 'blue cheese and red wine'.
Essential components of a martech stack
Every marketing stack has tools you definitely need, tools without which your puzzle would fall apart. Here are three absolutely essential components for your martech stack. Not to be overseen!
1. Customer relationship management (CRM)
A business’ customer relationship management is the process of analyzing and managing professional relationships with customers, typically using CRM systems.
The idea of CRM is to use past data of customer interactions to manage and improve future customer relationships. Customer relations are key when it comes to achieving a business’ long term goals. And as you might guess, CRM is the relationship memory of your business.
CRM tools are used to track and manage interactions with customers. It plays a significant role in the lead nurturing process and also helps a great deal with customer retention. Ultimately it ensures you to provide a great customer experience.
2. Marketing automation
As the name suggests, marketing automation tools allow you to automate your marketing efforts. Marketing automation tools help you connect multiple tools to create a unified and efficient workflow.
For example, you set up a landing page for one of your campaigns and you want to:
- Collect all the leads in one place;
- Send you a message with the name of the person who put in their details;
- Send an email to that person;
- Add their email to your mail list, etc.
Each step of this workflow might require a different tool. A marketing automation tool takes care of the whole process, from the first task to the last. Two of our favorite tools are Zapier and Phantombuster.
3. Content management system (CMS)
Content management system is a collective term for a set of tools used to manage a business' different types of content of a business. These different types of content can be:
- Case studies;
- Social media posts and stories
Content management systems help you streamline and unify all the content of your business in one place. Besides, they help you with search engine optimization and search engine marketing, make sure you keep track of the number of views, etc.
Want to get an idea of available tools? In this article, we've listed the top 50 tools that will help you generate leads.
Steps to create your own martech stack
As you noticed in the martech stack landscape above, martech stacks do not come in one-size-fits-all. And neither is it a list you can check off. Instead, it's a set of tools collaborating to solve your business' needs and problems.
To be able to pick the right tools for your stack, we recommend you to ask yourself the right questions to understand your needs, shortcomings or opportunities.
Now we'll take you through the 6 steps to build a high street tailor-made suit of a martech stack just for you. Adapted to your specific needs, it'll fit perfectly and make you shine in front of your customers.
1. Understanding your needs
When you're talking martech stack, you need to take one step back before you dive into its technology. Any type of sales and marketing technology needs to be fully in sync with the processes it supports.
Without the process in sales and marketing, technology will be standalone doing ad-hoc remote stuff. That's why you start by understanding what the software or the tooling needs to do for you and which type of process it fits.
If you don't have your sales and marketing process mapped out, you really need to cover this first. It's only after this that you get to identify which technology is going to support what.
Ask yourself the following questions to understand your marketing tech needs:
- What are the different steps in our marketing and sales organization?
- What does the sales team need to do?
- What are the marketers' goals?
- Which sources do they use for marketing campaigns?
Your answers will get you a better understanding of why your marketing team needs tools. This way you'll benefit more from them.
2. Identifying the tech you already have
When understanding the needs of your martech stack, check the tech you already have and reflect on how to maybe upgrade it. Does it appear to be necessary to invest in new martech tools?
The answers to these questions help you identify your marketing technology requirements:
- What types of processes take a lot of work?
- What types of processes seem to be successful at this moment?
- What types of processes have more opportunities to be exploited?
- What kind of technology could work with that?
Clarify what kind of technology you already have. Will expanding your existing technology solve these problems? Do the tools you already have include features you are not using?
If yes, you better look into this possibility first. If not, then try to look for new tools that will help you solve the problems you are facing. This is the time you go shopping for tools.
But before blindly purchasing martech tools, handpick a few and apply scores comparing them to each other.
3. Do the scoring
Pay attention to this step when
- You have acknowledged that you need new tools;
- Tools you already have are inadequate;
- You need to replace your current tools.
But how to score them? Here's the 3-step blueprint we follow to help our clients score their marketing technologies:
In this scoring metric, you need to check:
- if the tool is appropriate for your needs;
- the other features it brings
Sometimes tools have dozens of fancy features that sound great before you buy, but the key feature you are looking for is developed poorly.
Maybe one tool turns out to be slightly more expensive compared to another, even though it has fewer features. But it might perform core tasks better than the other one. And you might end up neglecting the additional features anyway.
So, the key here is to really score them on supporting the key goals you expect them to achieve. Any additional features are nothing more than a bonus.
ii. Technical requirements
The next scoring metric is to check the technical requirements of the tool. Is it a Windows tool while most of your colleagues have MacBooks or vice versa? Is it a Chrome specific tool, while you only use Safari or Microsoft Edge?
You can see where this is going. If a tool appears to be incompatible with your device, then it will probably pay off to look for alternatives.
Not only should you check if the technical requirements meet your current usage, but also anticipate your future usage and sharability with other colleagues.
iii. Privacy and security
This is perhaps the most important scoring metric, one that doesn't leave room for mistakes. Is the tool secure to use? Is it a single sign-on? Is it secure enough for you to trust it with your company data?
You also want to make sure that the privacy of your customer data is maintained. Is the customer data storage GDPR compliant? Is the customer data processed by following local regulations and international law?
This is how your scoring analysis should look like:
Notice how the scoring is done based on separate requirements: business, sales and service and training requirements. For different companies, this varies depending on their aims for using the martech stack.
Once you have completed your scoring, turn it into a scorecard for future decision-making. Here's an example:
After the scoring, the dozens of tools in your cart will now be reduced to a handful. Now on to the budget analysis.
4. Budget analysis
Doing a budget analysis can help you save quite some money. Imagine you have two tools with very similar functionalities that both meet your privacy and security requirements.
One tool, however, costs way more than the other. Although the more expensive tool will include some exclusive features, you shouldn't spend your money on them unless you are certain to use them.
In most situations involving small businesses, even the free versions of tools are be good enough to be added to marketing tech stacks.
If a future need is anticipated, it should definitely be considered while picking tools. Some rapidly growing companies might want to consider going for tools with slightly more features if they believe they will be needing them in the near future.
Looking for new tools will take a lot of time later, let alone the time and attention required to change all the integrations.
This takes us to the next step: integration.
5. Check for the integration of tools
Once you've selected your tooling, it gets really important to look at integration capabilities. The main reason why we call a collection of tools a stack is because of their ability to integrate.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the tool integrate well with my other tools?
- Does it have a secure API to transfer data?
The only acceptable answer to these questions is yes. You want the tools in your martech stack to communicate with each other.
Your martech stack represents the human body and its tools are our organs. For your marketing strategy to run well, the functioning of each organ. Even if only one of them remains unconnected, your stack may fall apart.
Therefore, try to avoid tools that need a workaround to function within your stack. You might find a short-term solution to solve an integration issue, but after some updates, it might not work anymore.
Now that you have found yourself the perfect tools working together as a true team, it's time to take some trials before you scale the tools on a large scale.
6. Take trials
Most tools offer significant discounts when businesses buy yearly plans. Sometimes the discount is significant enough for the businesses to feel it is too good of a deal to miss.
Before you get too excited about this yearly commitment, it would be better to take the free trials. Some tools offer 14 days, some offer 30 days and others offer no trials at all.
For the tools that do not offer any trials, buying a one-month subscription would be good. Once you activate the trial period, test how well your martech stack functions. Is integration going well? Is your blueprint functioning properly or are there still some elements missing?
If something is not working well in this trial phase, try to connect with the support of these chats to find a solution. This will hopefully give you a good understanding of where to go if something breaks down and whether or not you will get quick support when you need it.
Once everything works well, start scaling your martech stack to your liking. If not, then pivot or kill some tools and look for alternatives. Start again from step 3 if this is the case.
At GrowForce, we understand that every business is different. That's why we treat all cases differently. In addition to that, we offer an unbiased recommendation of tools. We do or don't? push you to buy a specific tool over some other tool.
If possible, we advise you to avoid all-in-one tools. This is often the difference between a generalist and a specialist. All-in-one tasks are generalists. While they help you get more than one tool's worth of features, the actual quality of the features is often compromised.
Moreover, if a specific part of this all-in-one doesn't work properly, then it gets difficult to find another tool that can replace only this small feature. It will also be possible that the replacement tool doesn't integrate.
There are thousands of tools in the market, so finding the best fit for your company can be a hard process. We know every company has different needs. That’s why we made this article an open buffet of lead generation tools. Simply pick what you need and create your own approach.
The software in this article with 50+ tools is divided into categories so you can quickly find the tools you are looking for.
You have reached the end of this article and at the same time the bottom line of understanding a martech stack. By now, you don't only understand the value of a martech stack but also the fundamentals of creating one for yourself.
To sum up, follow the next steps to create your marketing technology stack:
- Understand your needs;
- Identify the tech you already have;
- Score the competing tools according to your requirements;
- Do a budget analysis;
- Check for integration possibilities;
- Take trials before committing yourself.
If you follow these 6 steps, you will never go wrong with your marketing technology stack.
Understandably, you have a thirst for finding new quality tools. We have listed our top 50 lead generation tools that you can add to your martech stack in this article. Make sure to check them out! 😉