Creating a robust marketing technology stack helps to increase your teams’ efficiency and improve all corners of your marketing operations from content to customer relationships. Whether you only need email software, or all the bells and whistles to help you with everything from lead generation through to retention, there are thousands of digital solutions out there to consider when building a marketing technology stack for your startup.
In this article, we’re taking a look at how to build a marketing technology stack, and why startup marketing teams should care about this.
What is a technology stack?
A technology stack, also known as a solutions stack, traditionally refers to a collection of different software solutions that when combined create a fully operational environment required to run an application. For example, a web application will typically need a technology stack that includes an operating system, a web server, a database, and a programming language.
One of the most common technology stacks for web services is LAMP. LAMP is an acronym of the four open source components that make up the stack: Linux (operating system), Apache (web server), MySQL (database), and PHP/Perl/Python (programming language). Each of these technologies are “stacked” to create an operational environment that allows a variety of common web applications (content management systems, wikis, forums, management software, and so on) to run without the need of any additional software.
What is a marketing stack?
A marketing stack, also known as marketing technology stack or MarTech stack for short, is a group of apps or software products that companies combine to manage and improve their marketing. It is essentially a technology stack (as defined above), where the “collection of different software solutions” consists of all the different marketing technologies a company uses, and the “application” is the full scope of the company’s digital marketing needs.
The size and number of moving parts that make up a marketing stack will vary widely between businesses, and there are thousands of options to choose from. Some companies might only need simple email and content marketing technologies as part of their stack, while others need extremely complex MarTech stacks to manage large scale operations down to the finest details. The key thing for marketers to figure out is which of these technologies are most important to help their company reach its goals, and which ones will have the most positive effect on growth.
How to build a MarTech stack for your startup
Startups can be understandably nervous about adopting new tools to build their marketing technology stack. They can be costly, have a steep learning curve, or turn out to be a bad fit for the business. Companies can also run into problems getting buy-in from their entire team to adopt the use of a new product, so there are many variables to take into account.
Studies have shown that 71.4% of B2B buyers "prefer to conduct research and purchase on their own with access to a sales representative via the phone or online chat when needed", demonstrating an increasingly independent and tech savvy group of buyers looking for B2B organizations that explicitly "empower their customers to browse, research, and purchase products with ease through any medium, while also finding the support they need through any channel." B2B buyers comparing products to create a lean and productive MarTech stack for their business expect a plethora of readily available information ranging from pre-sale (pricing, competitor comparisons, FAQs, etc.) and post-sale information (account details, billing information, support resources, etc.), to a streamlined onboarding process, on-demand sales support, and everything in between.
As a response to the growing need for more robust MarTech solutions, many product providers are diversifying from their original single offering to one that offers a more complete solution for businesses looking to build an effective marketing technology stack. An example of this is Mailchimp, which recently expanded their email product into a complete CRM solution. This meant customers instantly had a more functional MarTech stack without needing to seek out new components.
Similar to a traditional technology stack, there are a few key components that are needed to build the foundation for an effective marketing technology stack. We’ve provided some popular examples of each, but as with any product your needs as a startup will vary — so it’s important to research and trial all the options on the market that look to be the best fit.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM systems help businesses improve all aspects of the customer journey — from lead generation and initial contact through to retention. The goal of a CRM is to keep all customer data in one central location to streamline and track touch points and improve overall relationships with prospects and long term customers. This ultimately improves the growth of the company.
Salesforce and HubSpot are two of the big players in this space, enabling everyone from solo service providers to enterprise customers to experience the difference that a CRM can make to their daily business needs.
These tools enable marketers to gain a deeper understanding of their customers. By measuring the performance of your website, content, marketing, products, and campaigns, you can make the necessary adjustments to increase your growth and revenue over time.
Google Analytics and Hotjar are both free analytics solutions. Their respective functionalities compliment each other to build out a robust picture of your customers’ behavior, and they make a powerful addition to your marketing stack.
Arguably the most important part of any MarTech stack, email is essential to running your business. Finding the best software can be difficult, as there are many competing email providers on the market now. It will depend on how many customers you have, what sort of functionality you’re looking for (e.g. detailed segmenting or A/B testing your drip campaign), and of course — your budget.
Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS handles all the content marketing aspects of a business to help teams manage their blog, website, and other content needs as part of their overall growth strategy.
Unlike the other key components of a MarTech stack, CMS solutions like WordPress require their own technology stack like LAMP in order to function properly. Luckily, most hosting providers now offer one-click installs for popular CMS solutions, meaning you no longer need to manually build a technology stack (or even think about it, for that matter) in order to create a fully functioning CMS application.
Social media marketing
If you use social media as part of your marketing strategy, you’ll most likely have come across Buffer and Hootsuite at some point. These apps, and many more like them integrate with the most popular social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram.
As part of a marketing technology stack, this software enables you to schedule, manage, and analyze the results of your campaigns, saving you a ton of time in the process and helping you become more agile with your social marketing.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Optimizing your website for organic search is an important step in getting that much-coveted free traffic. Many companies opt to include SEO tools as an essential part of their digital marketing technology stack.
Why startup marketing teams should care about building a MarTech stack
As you can see above, building a functional marketing technology stack can help teams manage all aspects of a growing business by automating time-intensive tasks that would otherwise need to be done manually. MarTech stacks can help eliminate many of the spreadsheets, paperwork, and frustrations involved in startup life.
These software solutions are often designed to scale and evolve alongside your business. This means better control over a limited budget, as you only pay for the services/users that you need to until it’s time to upgrade to a higher tier.
Building a functional MarTech stack is also getting easier. In the past, it was tricky to find new software that would mesh together seamlessly with what was already being used. Forward-thinking companies such as Zapier now offer a solution to connect all these different softwares, meaning new parts of a stack can be integrated in just a few clicks.
Benefits of a digital marketing technology stack
Building a digital marketing technology stack can automate many core parts of your business. In turn, this can help increase team productivity, improve customer relations, and enable your startup to grow faster and more smoothly.
There’s no “one stack fits all” solution (yet!). Creating the perfect stack can take up time and resources, but making strategic tech choices means the payoff for your efforts can be well worth it.
As your business needs will evolve over time, it’s wise to keep an eye on the technology landscape to keep track of new innovations that might make helpful additions to your MarTech stack.
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