The right marketing technology (martech) stack can help businesses streamline all areas of their marketing processes, making it easier to reach new audiences and drive business growth.
According to Gartner, only 33% of organisations believe their martech effectively meets their needs; this is likely due to not having suitable tools or under-using certain tools simply because staff are not aware of the extent of their capabilities.
In order to get the most out of the technology, it’s important to view the stack as an ecosystem and not separate parts. This will ensure the best combination of tools are selected.
This article breaks down the key components of a successful martech stack and discusses some considerations to keep in mind when selecting them.
When Should an Organisation Update Their Martech Stack?
Marketing technology is always evolving, so it’s important to conduct regular reviews as to whether one’s existing tools are fit for purpose. Businesses may need to make updates when the tools are actually slowing down progress rather than simplifying and streamlining them (and this may happen for a number of reasons, such as difficulty integrating them with each other, which makes processes clunky and inefficient).
Questions to ask when considering an update include:
- Are we still handling some processes manually/sub-optimally when there are tools available to speed up operations?
- Are there processes that can now be automated that are not automated by our existing tools?
- Which problem areas need addressing and which tools are needed in order to do so?
- Are the different tools currently in-use able to integrate with each other easily?
- Are some of the tools being used less over time or becoming redundant; or is there a lot of overlap in capability among different tools?
- Are we getting enough helpful insights from our data?
- Is there a single data source that all tools connect to or is data stored in separate silos?
- Are marketing, sales and customer service accessing the same source of data? Do they have the same overview as each other? Is there a single source of truth?
The Key Components of a Successful Martech Stack
Customer Data Platforms
A customer data platform (CDP) is a type of software that consolidates customer data from various sources (including websites, social media, email marketing software, and CRM systems) into a single, comprehensive view. It sits at the heart of the martech stack and supports the flexible addition and removal of tools without disruption.
The primary goal of a CDP is to help businesses understand their customers better, enabling them to create more targeted and personalised marketing campaigns. It does so by creating a unified profile for each customer based on their interaction with the brand across multiple channels, and includes data on their demographics, preferences, and purchase history.
According to a report by CDP Provider Treasure Data, the most common reasons businesses use CDPs are:
- To unify data and maintain customer profiles (50%)
- For website personalisation (47%)
- To build/maintain audience segments (45%)
- For the personalisation of digital campaigns (44%)
- To provide better in-person or call-centre customer service (40%)
- To strengthen targeting in sales outreach and engagement (40%)
- To report on campaign performance and ROI (34%)
- To map the customer journey/experience (33%)
The final point on the list above pertains to customer journey analytics, the process of discovering the interactions that a customer has with a brand throughout their buying journey. This includes every touchpoint, from the stages of initial awareness to the final purchase decision and post-purchase experience.
Any organisation employing a multichannel marketing strategy can therefore benefit greatly by using such a tool, especially when attribution modelling is used in order to assess which touchpoints are best for conversion.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools
A CRM tool is another essential for any business, helping them to manage all customer data, track the sales pipeline, and automate some sales and marketing processes. The data it collects also makes it easier and quicker to segment audiences in order to create targeted and personalised campaigns and messaging, so it is helpful if a CDP is not an option. In addition, it is an essential way to align marketing and customer service teams.
There are a broad range of CRM tools available for organisations of different sizes. Popular CRM tools used in larger organisations include those by Salesforce, SAP and Oracle, as well as Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Other tools include Hubspot, Zoho, and Nimble CRM.
Marketing Automation Tools
Marketing automation software automates various processes such as lead generation, lead nurturing, and customer onboarding. It enables a business to personalise their targeting and schedule communications ahead of time for more efficient campaign management. For example, emails can be automatically sent to customers in different time zones at the time of day at which they are most likely to be effective.
When choosing an email marketing platform, look for a tool that allows for the creation of visually appealing emails, audience segmentation, and the automation of email sequences. Some of the most popular email marketing platforms include Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor.
Using tools for automating social media management saves a great deal of time, allowing marketers to manage social media accounts on numerous platforms from one centralised dashboard. Some of these tools also have analytics functionality and the ability to monitor brand mentions. Among the most popular social media management tools are Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer.
While using separate tools for the above purposes may be suitable for smaller businesses, large organisations will benefit from an all-in-one marketing automation platform that can manage everything, such as HubSpot Marketing Hub and LeadMaster.
Many marketing automation tools will incorporate additional features such as a CRM system and analytics. This emphases the importance of looking at the big picture and selecting the right combination of tools for each business’ unique needs.
Data Analytics Tools
Website analytics is a must for any business, providing insights that can enhance user experience and increase conversions. It will indicate traffic sources, which pages users spend the most time on (in some cases indicating what type of content to produce more of), where they exit the site, and so on. It also helps assess the effectiveness of SEO activities and advertising.
Social media analytics tools help track conversions, engagement, brand mentions, and some use sentiment analysis to ascertain how a business’ target audience feels about them. They can also report on the competition’s social media activity.
Some organisations will need a dedicated analytics platform rather than using the analytics functionality built into separate platforms. It depends on various factors including how complex the customer journey, the complexity of the data, and the types of insights required. When a business is using a CDP and wants to use attribution modelling, for example, robust analytics functionality is required.
Additional tools to review are:
- SEO tools: Some of the most popular SEO tools include Ahrefs and Semrush; enterprise level SEO platforms include seoClarity, Linkdex (for link building), BrightEdge, Conductor Searchlight, and Search Metrics (also helpful for content research and planning).
- Conversational marketing tools: Chatbot software/live chat come under the category of conversational marketing software. They enable personalised conversations with customers with the aim of guiding them towards a sale, and collect data that can be used for retargeting or analytics purposes. They are often integrated with a CRM system.
Overcoming Common Challenges
Among the most common challenges organisations face when building a martech stack include issues with integration and redundant tools, difficulty maintaining privacy compliance across all tools, total cost of ownership, and finding it slow to roll out new campaigns (which is likely due to the integration and redundancy issues). A lack of integration is not only is this inefficient, but it can also lead to duplicate data, lost leads, and missed opportunities.
Another common mistake is choosing too many tools, which can lead to a fragmented stack that’s difficult to manage.
Every organisation is different and their stack should reflect their unique needs; analysing these needs is the starting point for developing a stack that is able to cater to those needs in the most robust yet streamlined way possible.
Most martech tools offer integrations with other popular tools; it is simply a case of finding the most effective combinations and ensuring that those combinations make it possible to maintain compliance with data privacy regulations.
Marketing technology is constantly evolving and a business’ martech stack should evolve with it. Continuous evaluation is necessary in order to keep up with the changes.
Organisations should also monitor the performance of tools currently in use and troubleshoot any issues in order to get the most out of them; for example, perhaps the issue is with the tool itself or maybe staff need more training in order to use it to its full potential.
A successful martech stack is essential for increasing efficiency and driving business growth. Many marketing processes can be automated, saving a great deal of resources and allowing staff to focus more on taking strategy forward.
One of the most common challenges to implementation is the integration of different tools. This is compounded by the fact that many platforms contain a range of different features (i.e., marketing automation software that also contains a CRM system). This increases the chance of overlapping functionality, making it difficult to get the maximum utility from the stack on the whole. Using too many different tools is also problematic. To solve this problem, aim to use the minimal number of tools to carry out the required functions and ensure those selected integrate seamlessly with each other.
Finally, a CDP is a must for any organisation looking to really harness the potential of customer data and conduct more complex analyses for more advanced personalisation.
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