Building a MarTech stack can be a complicated process for companies of all sizes. After all, it’s not just enterprises that are managing a variety of touchpoints across a multitude of marketing channels, and for smaller marketing teams, managing all those moving parts is impossible without the aid of marketing automation and other MarTech tools.
Beyond the need to manage a large volume of content assets, coordinate with sales, and manage website content and social media platforms, there are other important considerations that companies may overlook when building their MarTech stack, and overlooking these considerations can be costly in the long run. If your newest MarTech tool doesn’t integrate with the rest of your stack, for instance, you could end up with overly complicate processes – or worse, silos, one of the very things a great MarTech stack can eliminate.
To gain some insight into the most crucial considerations that companies should weigh when building their MarTech stack, we reached out to a panel of marketing and technology experts and asked them to answer this question:
“What’s the most important consideration companies building their Martech stack often overlook (but shouldn’t)?”
Meet Our Panel of Marketing & Technology Pros:
Wes Marsh is the Director of Digital Marketing at DigitalUs.
“Open APIs are critical to a MarTech stack’s success…”
You can have all the marketing tools in the world, but if you can’t get your data to talk to one another and collaborate when you need them to, the investments you’ve made in building your MarTech stack are worthless.
Amy Bishop is a performance marketer with a successful track record in building integrated marketing strategies. She has strong technical background and a passion for continuous learning and is focused on achieving continuous, improved ROAS/ROI.
“The number one consideration that companies building their MarTech stack overlook but shouldn’t is…”
How does each piece of MarTech fit into the big picture? I don’t mean what the primary function of each piece of tech is, but rather how they each contribute to the greater ecosystem. To get the best return on your MarTech investment, you want to make sure that the technology works together in sync to accomplish a common goal, instead of in silos. As part of this consideration, it’s worth looking into integrations or alternative ways to ensure that the systems are interoperable, even if it means spending extra money.
Mike Khorev is a Growth Lead at Nine Peaks Media, a digital marketing company that helps tech and SaaS businesses generate more leads and grow revenue online. They offer expert advice on marketing your company the right way through performance-based SEO, digital marketing, web design, social media, search engine marketing, and many other online practices.
“Many companies, when building their MarTech stack, are often aiming to include 5 to 10 different tools on their lists…”
While this can be a correct approach depending on the tools/software we include, we should consider the fact that there are newer, more advanced products offering several of these tools in just a single platform.
For example, in the field of marketing automation, there are software tools like HubSpot or ActiveCampaign offering social media, email marketing, CRM, and several other essential marketing tools in just a single platform. These types of tools can be more expensive than stand-alone ones, but they offer better flexibility and control which can save you more time, resources, and money in the long run. With the fact that these tools make it easier to monitor results and reports, you can more efficiently look at gaps and lacking areas where you can improve your cost-efficiency and ROI.
Cory is a serial entrepreneur, with his first exit at 20 in the IT space. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Qoints, and has 10 years of experience in the digital marketing space, leading campaigns for Crayola, Energizer, Ford, Nestle, and more.
“When developing a MarTech stack…”
Businesses often overlook accurate measurement as an essential component of operations. It doesn’t matter the quantity of data that a stack generates if you don’t extract quality insights from the information generated. Your MarTech stack must be optimized through harnessing the data it produces. But how?
Larger companies with multiple brands often have siloed data, which prohibits measurement agility between data streams. Data centralization is key to aid the use of metrics across organizations. Due to the isolated nature of these streams, external benchmarking can allow executives to determine the success of their efforts, measuring advancement in a more broad sense. However, this measurement must be objective, not subjective.
Competitor Benchmarking allows marketers to compare against not only internal stats taken from the stack, but that of a competitor of a similar size. According to a study done by Adobe, 52% of marketers find that the difficulties in accurately measuring their ROI is the biggest source of frustration in social marketing. More startling, only 22% of marketers note that they use data-driven insight to achieve results. Because of this disconnect, it is apparent that something must be done to create a scale by which success is determined. External benchmarking provides marketers with a comparative standard to determine if the stack that they have implemented is actually driving competitive results.
Jordan Schneider is the VP of Marketing at DePalma Studios and a strategic advisor at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. Jordan specializes in digital marketing leadership, specifically SEO, demand generation, and marketing automation.
“There are two important considerations companies shouldn’t overlook when building a MarTech stack…”
1. Consider how customizable your CMS is. Let me explain. How important is your website to your strategy? If you’re pursuing any sort of digital marketing, then it’s obviously a pretty big deal. That means you should anticipate conducting a lot of A/B tests in the future. Moving your conversions by a fraction of a percentage can make a big impact on the bottom line. Sure, there are tools out there like Optimizely and VWO that make the process of conducting the A/B test more simple, but take that a step further. How do you plan to implement your winning variants?
Here’s where your CMS selection plays a huge role… You need to make sure you’ve got a CMS that is as customizable as possible without the need for a developer. If you have to bring a developer in for every tweak you want to make to the website, that is not only completely impractical but also extremely costly. Development teams can create BIG bottlenecks for marketing. They have other priorities, and typically those priorities have a bigger impact on the company than a tweak to a landing page, so it becomes very difficult to prioritize marketing’s needs. To minimize the issue, make sure your CMS provides customization features for people who can’t write the code. Not just copy tweaks, but button placement or even module arrangement within the page. It is very important to remember that it is your job as a marketer to make this call and guide your development team. Left to their own devices, engineers can come up with some really impractical solutions here. I’ve seen situations where dev teams have custom coded their marketing site in lieu of a CMS. That is a huge mistake that you will regret dearly as you reach scale.
2. How big are your email lists going to be? There are plenty of options out there for marketing automation or email marketing tools, which is great. The problem is many of them price according to the number of contacts in your database or the number of contacts you are engaging within a given month. This needs to be taken into consideration upfront if you are building your MarTech stack for the first time. If you’re a B2C company, you’re probably going to be engaging higher numbers than a B2B company or a boutique agency. That means you should be spending less time evaluating tools like HubSpot and more time looking at more scalable alternatives like Active Campaign.
Jean Ginzburg is a #1 best-selling author, serial entrepreneur, and digital marketing expert with more than 10 years of industry expertise helping companies scale revenue, optimize sales and marketing processes, and improve productivity. Jean is the CEO and Founder of JeanGinzburg.com, a digital marketing education company and Ginball Digital Marketing, a digital marketing agency.
“What companies overlook most in a MarTech stack is the overall analytics…”
Most MarTech platforms – email, advertising, retargeting, etc. – are standalone platforms. But in order to understand the entire customer lifecycle and the touchpoints, businesses need to have an analytics platform that encompasses all these MarTech platforms to better gauge which channels are working and where to add in more budget. My recommendations for these types of analytics platforms would be Improvely, which is less pricey but still effective, or Wicked Reports, which more pricey but provides more data.
Jonathan Rosenfeld is a specialist in Digital Marketing and Content Marketing. He currently works for ion interactive, which is a Marketing Technology company that provides interactive content marketing solutions.
“Integration is one of the most important factors for success when developing a marketing technology stack…”
It is imperative that the different technologies an organization uses are able to speak to each other. When the data is able to be shared among different technologies, that’s when a MarTech stack truly shines.
Andrew Becks is a passionate digital marketer. He is the Co-Founder and COO of 301 Digital Media, a Nashville-based marketing agency that helps to build and grow brands of all sizes. He has spent his career as a digital marketer working in SEO, email marketing, CRM development, and social media for restaurant chains, cable television networks, media companies, and beyond.
“From my experience, the biggest consideration companies building MarTech stacks seem to overlook but shouldn’t revolve around…”
Multi-platform data integration. While there are tons of amazing MarTech products in the ecosystem today, allowing marketers to do everything from plan, design, execute, measure, and grow campaigns across a nearly unlimited number of digital channels, from paid to owned to earned and beyond, it’s rare that everything happens in the silo of a single product. Integrating the performance results and properly attributing sales and user data across channels and MarTech platforms continues to be one of the biggest digital Achilles heel facing enterprises today.
In some cases, the issues revolve around lack of full consideration of the myriad consumer touch points in the digital sales or conversion cycle. But no matter the cause, the net effect is an improperly measured return on ad spend that very likely results in wasted media spend and an incomplete understanding of the most effective marketing channels in the customer journey.
Josh Loewen is Director of The Status Bureau, a digital marketing agency in Vancouver.
“Simplicity and long-term usage get overlooked for some reason…”
I’ve seen so many MarTech stacks being built out of control, creating a nightmare down the road. I call it Frankensteining.
Acquiring new tools is exciting, which can lead to adding too much on, but when it comes alive you have work to do. The boring part of managing your MarTech stack is thinking about reasonable long-term goals, so it’s understandable why people overbuy. I’ve done it.
Emil Shour is the Director of Demand Generation at Chili Piper, the smart assistant that helps businesses help their buyers.
“One thing a lot of marketers overlook when building their MarTech stack is…”
Including tech that makes their potential customer’s life easier and more efficient. For many teams, the focus of their MarTech is primarily around tools that help acquire more leads (i.e., automated nurture programs, conversion optimization tools, social media tools, etc.). Those things are all essential to help your company grow, but marketers should also be incorporating tech that makes their prospect’s life easier once that person actually raises their hand to say they’re interested in your product or service.
Find solutions that remove friction for your prospects on things like booking a meeting, giving them an easy way to talk to sales, getting buy-in from other stakeholders at their company, etc.
Nate Masterson is the Marketing Manager for Maple Holistics.
“When building a MarTech stack many businesses favor output over community building…”
To create a solid brand you need to establish a conversation with your market. Email marketing, content creation, and automation software can help establish your position in the market, but lack of responsiveness with your audience establishes you as an inferior service. When building your MarTech stack make sure that your customer relationship management is up to par so that you’re not only offering a great product, but a great experience.
Jed Carlson is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Adwerx. He helps real estate agents, entire brokerages and other small business owners overcome the challenges they face with today’s digital marketing platforms by providing a brilliantly simple advertising solution.
“I think the biggest consideration companies fail to consider when building their MarTech stack is…”
Asking themselves what objectives the new tech will accomplish to really understand the benefit to the company and the employees who will be asked to use it. It’s easy to get caught up in the shiny new products and forget to ask yourself what business goals those new products support and how success of the implementation will ultimately be measured. Always ask yourself: Can I achieve what this product would achieve with the tools I already have? As an example, our account management team uses our Sphere product, a technology that enables users to effortlessly sync with their email network, to stay in front of their clients. This enables our sales team to constantly stay top of mind, while eliminating a massive amount of overhead creating and updating targeting audiences.
Ed Marsh is a strategy & growth consultant for B2B companies. His work builds on experiences of former paratrooper, global market expansion, HubSpot partner, and channel sales models. He’s done the work on which he consults! Ed is a keynote speaker for large companies and trade associations, exploring the disconnect between buying journeys and sales models. He’s a contributor to publications including Entrepreneur, and Industry Today. Ed developed the Sales Fracking™ model for Buyer Intent Data.
“Companies almost always forget the prospect and buyer…”
In today’s SaaS world marketers often hear of tools solving a problem they didn’t know they had and bolt it onto their stack. Alternatively, they set out with a list of tactical requirements for the current and desired functions of the marketing department.
Sadly, customer experience is nowhere on that list of requirements or vision of outcome. And as a result, well-intended MarTech spending ends up perpetuating the revenue growth silos which exist on the marketing and sales side. These originate in the way we used to buy, but now interfere with how we’d like to buy.
Each of us as a buyer, whether B2C or B2B, has a single continuum of experience with a company. Too often legacy mindset reflected in process, tradition, departmental and technology barriers which are comfortable and convenient to sellers disrupt our buying experience.
Companies that visualize the customer experience and build their MarTech stack to simultaneously improve the CX while supporting the marketing and sales goals will win. But that doesn’t happen by accident. It must be an explicit consideration in design and each implementation step of the stack.
Joshua Feinberg is a digital MarTech strategist and revenue growth consultant, specializing in the data center, mission critical, and cloud services industries – and president of the Data Center Sales & Marketing Institute. Since 2002, he’s been using MarTech to scale marketing and sales – and is certified in HubSpot Marketing Software, HubSpot Sales Software, Inbound Marketing, Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, and Growth Driven Design.
“So many companies building their MarTech stack fail to…”
Properly evaluate the health of the ecosystem surrounding that platform. Whether it’s looking for a pool of trained and certified potential job candidates, third party consultants, application integrators, designers, or developers, no MarTech investment can be successful as an island by itself. The leading platforms in the MarTech space all have this in common: very popular conferences, user groups, training/certification programs, channel partner programs, and developer partner programs.
Whitney Meers is a strategy expert with a background in marketing and journalism. Since 2011, she’s developed and executed on strategic marketing and publicity plans for a number of startups and agency partners.
“In my experience, the number one thing that small businesses overlook when building a MarTech stack is…”
The amount of time it will take to onboard, become acclimated with, and manage the tool. Perhaps a true understanding of how long this will take comes only with experience, but when implementing a major SaaS product, you should estimate that it will take several months of use (and lots of video tutorials) before you can start using it optimally and effectively.
Kelsey Galarza is a 25 year marketing technology expert and the Co-Founder of Orange Marketing.
“Many early-stage companies build a MarTech stack based on what’s cool or trendy at the time, or what their friends are talking about…”
One of the most important considerations is the capabilities of the actual technicians – the marketers. You may accidentally overpower your team, rendering them less effective and efficient. Startups tend to err on the side of piecing together free or nearly free components, which are fragile and inefficient, where larger companies tend to choose enterprise tools, which may be too much for the team and the job at hand.
Shannon Howard is a Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Overit.
“The most important consideration I look at for our clients and that companies should consider in general when building their MarTech stack is…”
How they are all communicating?
What I see most frequently is that companies pick a platform they think is best for a particular tactic: CRM, email marketing, paid ads, blogging, etc., but none of them are connected. None of them communicate. So when you look at stats for each, you’re looking at them in isolation. You don’t get an accurate picture of the user journey. You can’t be sure which channels are converting the best, which are responsible for acquisition vs. sales, and how they’re working in tandem, because all of that information is piecemeal.
Jon C. Wolfe
Jon C. Wolfe is the founder, president and CEO of House Advantage, an international customer loyalty, marketing, strategy, and technology company headquartered in Las Vegas. With over a quarter century of casino management, technology experience and building patron loyalty in the gaming and hospitality industries, Jon is considered an expert in business intelligence.
“I have developed some very robust marketing stacks…”
And our core loyalty product HALo plays a primary role in some of the largest marketing stacks in North American gaming. As our technology has evolved over the past few years, we have been very careful to evaluate missteps and oversights by our customers and our own teams on some of these large projects. As we continue to grow our product suite and assume larger roles in existing stacks, we have a number of items that we are sure to include in the early planning phases:
- Make the tools simpler to use and achieve the mission. Many times, tools developed are so comprehensive and complex that a large staff must be deployed to manage the software. Bring key personnel in early, not just leadership, but also the front line. Get their input on workflow and tasks that need to be performed and weight them accordingly in repetition and significance. Create solutions that are intuitive and cost effective to adopt and use.
- Your software doesn’t have to be all things to all people. Don’t be scared to integrate into other best of breed solutions. Let them be great at what they do, while you are great at what you do. Companies tend to create weaker solutions overall when they get dragged out of their core competency.
- Also, as part of the above: Learn to integrate. I mean this both technologically and organizationally. We spend 35% of our development dollars on integrating into new solutions and products. These create several bi-directional opportunities. First, the amount and quality of data we get from that integration is typically substantially better. Secondarily, we find another outlet and point of presence in other products for the items that our products do really well. Most of these situations provide two wins, not just one.
- Finally, try not to be too myopic around the role of your particular technology in the stack. Understand the role your product needs to play in the comprehensive suite, both in primary functions and in supporting roles with other systems, and apply the proper amount of effort on all sides of those responsibilities. Having another system not live up to its potential because of dependencies on your technology is just as bad as your own technology not performing in its primary function and role. Respect your role and be a good supporting technology when needed. Understand where your product overlaps with another product in the stack, and ensure you understand the operational expectation on who provides what service and role to the overall success of the stack.
Kerry Bianchi is president and CEO of Visto (formerly Collective), with responsibility for the company’s strategic direction and business execution. Kerry joined the company in 2015 in the role of Chief Operating Officer and was elevated to CEO in 2017 to spearhead the development and growth of the Visto™ Enterprise Ad Hub, which offers a unified view of the execution, data, and measurement partners and technologies of the ad tech stack.
“The number one technology question that organizations should ask themselves when developing their MarTech stack is…”
Do the pieces work together? Our industry has no lack of technology to help enable different aspects of the advertising supply chain – DMPs, CDPs, ad servers, verification vendors, data suppliers, DSPs, SSPs, APIs, measurement, BI tools, the acronyms go on. But it is difficult to get a holistic view across your marketing stack unless you have some unifying tech or ability for your tech to talk seamlessly to each other. As you make your selections, understand the future flexibility of your selected vendors to work with other vendors you use currently or may want in the future.
The second key question that is often overlooked when talking about MarTech, is about people and operational readiness. You can spend a lot of time and money implementing new technology, only to have it fail because teams or processes were not put in place to embrace the new tech and leverage it to its greatest benefit. Ensuring you have engaged users and broad buy in as well as a well thought implementation and onboarding plan are critical to the success of any technology within an organization.
Jason Katz is a B2C & B2B executive marketing leader. He is a recognized expert in marketing technology (MarTech) and operations focused on data management. Jason has worked in Technology, Marketing & Advertising, Ecommerce, Entertainment, Health, and Financial Services for startups and global brands like American Express, Shutterstock, HMH, and Criteo.
“Here are the top three considerations companies building their MarTech stack often overlook (but shouldn’t)…”
1. Single Unique Identifier – Most companies have many digital properties for different brands, devices (e.g., mobile app, website, streaming player), landing pages vs main site, and more. Marketing Cloud (e.g., Adobe, Salesforce, Google) documentation and guidance make setting user identifier for a single digital property relatively clear; however, each has a special configuration to de-duplicate down to single user identifier across all one’s digital properties. This special configuration is regularly overlooked by many.
2. Integration Broker – Newer integration brokers have emerged in the newly minted Customer Data Platform (CDP) category (e.g., Segment, mParticle) which typically helps ingest data from many sources into a single location and syndicate it downstream. This investment previously didn’t make sense; however, as Marketing Technology vendor ecosystem has grown to 7k+ with new functionality that Marketing Cloud suites just can’t keep up with, this new CDP category allows much greater flexibility to move one’s data to partake in this ecosystem. Many overlook this because they don’t anticipate all the use cases early enough and because Marketing Cloud sales people are just so good at their jobs.
3. Data Science Brain – Many companies are becoming more data-centric and starting to uncover richer insights with emerging data science teams. The largest benefit comes from integrating data science and activation into company operations (e.g., AirBnB, Facebook). A fast way to operationalize data has become with data-science first MarTech vendors like Optimove and Datorama that have operationalized the insights-factory for companies surfaced in reports, websites/apps, and artificial-intelligence bots that will suggest or even do the optimizations for you. Most companies don’t think about operationalizing data science early enough.
As VP of Strategy at LeadMD, JT Bricker works closely with organizations to develop a strategically grounded approach to marketing and sales with a blend of strategy, analytics, technology, and creative to achieve growth objectives.
“Put simply, what they are trying to accomplish…”
The most successful MarTech stacks are those that are built as a vehicle to deliver a company’s go-to-market strategy. Without understanding what the strategy is it becomes difficult in a noisy technology market to determine what is needed and how it all has to fit together. Too often, companies have a tech stack built over time, on the pain of the day, or worse yet, the trending topic.