In 2011, Scott Brinker compiled the first of many marketing technology “Supergraphics,” illustrating the rapid growth of companies supplying digital marketing tools. The original displayed the logos of 140 prominent marketing tech brands.
Today, that chart contains nearly 10,000 logos.
Buyers have unprecedented tech choices, making the martech landscape more competitive than ever. Simultaneously, the prospect of a slowing economy is affecting marketing budgets, creating the perfect conditions for a wave of tech stack consolidation.
“We’re in a time of uncertainty,” says Hussam AlMukhtar, senior director of demand generation at ZoomInfo. “Organizations are facing the decision of which tools to purchase, and how much to spend on those tools.”
We’re here to explain the benefits of consolidating your martech stack, and how you should go about it.
What is a Marketing Technology Stack?
A marketing technology stack is the set of tools marketers use to execute their everyday tasks, from analytics platforms to task management systems. Your tools should work together to streamline workflows and save time and resources. A well-designed technology stack increases your productivity, efficiency, reporting capabilities, and most importantly, revenue.
Key components of a martech stack
Your tech stack should be a full-funnel operating system. While it will look different for every marketer depending on their individual needs, functions, and goals, there are a few fundamentals every team should have in order to scale their business.
1. B2B Database
The foundation of any tech stack should be a highly accurate, robust database. At a minimum, it should include firmographics, demographics, technographics, and behavioral data. This will help you build target account lists, identify buying committee members, and retarget good-fit customers. Note: Make sure your database is privacy compliant with regulations such as the GDPR and CCPA.
2. Content Marketing
High-quality content, such as blogs, ebooks, whitepapers, and case studies, is a critical element for drawing in new business and capturing leads. Content marketing tools may include project management, content management, creative development, and distribution systems.
3. Social Media
Social media is especially important for upper-funnel marketing, building brand awareness, and creating community. You may need content calendars, social listening tools, post scheduling software, and employee advocacy systems.
4. SEO & Website Analytics
You need to understand and optimize your website to suit your buyer’s journey and strategically guide website visitors further down the funnel. This may include analytics, heat maps, keyword research, and content optimization tools.
5. Marketing Intelligence & Automation
This will help your demand generation team interpret data and put it to good use. Think buying signals, engagement, and account-based marketing. Intelligence and automation will not only help you turn marketing-qualified leads into sales opportunities — but do so at scale. Tools may include intent data, personalization, and chatbots.
6. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Sales and marketing alignment should be a constant goal in your tech stack. A universal CRM system will give you a birds-eye view for managing your prospects and customers along their buyer’s journey, tracking inbound leads, and reporting down the funnel. When everyone uses the same system as your sales team, you’ll all be working from one set of information, which reduces the risk of human error.
Benefits of Consolidating Your Marketing Tech Stack
“Consolidation gives you an edge in economic turmoil,” AlMukhtar says.
If you have tools that aren’t being used or don’t deliver a strong return on investment, it’s time to consolidate. Minimizing the number of tools you use typically increases productivity and efficiency, saves money, and improves sales and marketing alignment. But it’s not just about the tools: it’s also about the processes.
“Reducing the number of systems and dashboards, and having integrations that make data flow between your tools easily, is really important,” says Andrew McCraith, vice president of partnerships and alliances at Act-On. “If you can get rid of all the manual work and segmentation, that frees up your people to do what they really enjoy, which is being creative and driving programs and campaigns — not managing vendors and doing manual tasks.”
5 Questions To Ask Before Making a New Purchase
Consolidating doesn’t just mean getting rid of tools, but also investing in new ones to replace them. Here are some questions to ask when auditing your martech stack (which you should do on an ongoing basis).
1. Is this a point solution?
Does this tool solve just one of your problems? If the answer is yes, there’s almost certainly another tool out there that will solve that problem in addition to others. As your business grows, your needs will change and become more complex, and point solutions can’t always keep up.
2. Do I have ‘shiny object syndrome?’
Shiny object syndrome refers to the desire to make a purchase based on the perception that it’s new and exciting. Instead, consider the tools you already have. Is there a way to reach your goals without investing in this new technology?
“Don’t be distracted,” AlMukhtar advises. “When new technologies came in, I used to be one of the first to jump right on them. I failed to understand the value proposition and how it would scale inside my existing tech, which is a recipe for disaster.”
3. Does this integrate with my existing toolkit?
Integration is one of the most important considerations to make when re-constructing your tech stack. Even if a platform promises great results, it will do more harm than good if it doesn’t integrate with the rest of your tools.
For example, a new website management tool might promise to double the number of leads you generate. But what if it doesn’t integrate with your CRM and requires four different people to move leads from one system to another? Not only does this cut into productivity, but the manual data entry dirties your database, creates data silos, and requires an additional tool for database maintenance.
4. Do I have the people to operate this system?
It’s important to buy tools that are easy to run using the resources you already have. Operating some of the best, most advanced technologies are full-time jobs. Ask the potential new vendor about their onboarding and training processes. Will they provide adequate customer support? If you’re a small team, it may make more sense to go with a less complicated option.
5. Should other departments have input on this buying decision?
In order to stretch your martech budget, consider the needs of other departments (such as sales, or even engineering). Will this tool translate across departments? Will it increase or harm alignment? And be sure to look at other teams’ tech stacks to determine if marketing could leverage a tool they’re already using.
Constructing a marketing technology stack is like putting together a puzzle. You have to find the pieces that fit together and work well for your marketing goals and initiatives.
Technology isn’t a band-aid you can slap on a marketing ailment and forget about. Instead, think of each tool as part of a comprehensive health and wellness program. A healthy, robust marketing tech stack can sustain, supplement, and improve your campaigns — driving unprecedented productivity and pipeline for sales.