Let’s get real. Every marketer on the planet is overwhelmed by the number and variety of marketing technology tools available today.
Questions about martech tools run through your mind like:
- What are the best automation platforms?
- How smart are your prescriptive analytics?
- Are you using the right technology to increase the impact of your organization’s social media campaigns?
- Did you know AI can already do that too?
Talk about decision paralysis.
Have you heard of the infamous Martech 5000 Supergraphic? It represents the thousands of marketing technology companies out there, each contributing one or more martech tools to the landscape.
Well, it’s grown a bit over the years…
With a solution for literally everything, where do you even start?
To get a handle of all this often game-changing technology without getting lost in the landscape, here’s a look at how to get started and some of the most essential tools to have in your martech stack.
- Martech tools take up the bulk of marketing budgets but even companies with effective stacks struggle to use all the features – leading many to plan strategic cuts.
- An effective stack is vital for succeeding online but tools don’t need to cost a fortune. It’s about choosing the right tools for your goals.
- Start with the basics, train your team on all the features, and add tools depending on your specific marketing needs.
Why You Need a Solid Stack with the Right Martech Tools
Your martech stack is how you organize your marketing technology tools, or stack, together – like a supplement stack.
The right martech stack can help your team run efficiently and even increase revenue by 70%. However, the key is to build a strategic stack with only the tools you need and nothing more.
As of August 2020, companies told Gartner that martech tools consumed over 26% of their entire marketing budget, more than labor or agencies. Furthermore, nearly 70% expected their martech budgets to increase.
Instead of adopting another marketing tool every few months – no matter how exciting or innovative each new tool you hear about seems – take a strategic approach to your use of technology.
Each platform or program should complement or support the others so that everyone in marketing, as well as in your sales, finance, and other departments, is always on the same page.
Having a well-thought-out stack offers the benefits of each piece of technology, but it also helps to streamline communications throughout your organization.
This will keep goals aligned and focused.
Companies Overdose on Martech Tools
Martech tools are costly. They only save money and improve operations when they deliver ROI.
That’s likely why by November, companies changed their tune to martech budgets.
60% told Gartner they planned moderate to severe martech budget cuts with 35% planning massive overhauls. Although 81% said their stack was effective, most organizations only use about half of the stack’s full capabilities.
Now their situations look more like this…
Breaking: Marketer Browsing Martech Map Sucked into Blackhole
Boston, MA – Searching the most recent Marketing Technology Landscape graphic for a promotion hub solution, Demand Gen Marketer Nicole Dunshire was repeatedly blocked and lured by other devious martech landscape graphics. Impeding her progress by continually taunting “Look at how many there are!” and “Come this way! I’ll show you more maps!”, the marketing technology maps led Nicole not to the right promotion hub solution for her but to a state of increased confusion, fatigue, and cloudy indecision. They seemed to enjoy it, those martech landscape graphics.
It reads like something from The Onion if its subject covered the trenches of modern marketing technologies. Because have you noticed? There’s, like, a lot of marketing technology out there.
It’s kind of like this episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force where Shake clicks all the popups and they take over the house:
The mere topic of navigating the marketing technology landscape seems to be an issue wonderfully befitting for a John Oliver-styled news-desk joke:
“Tonight’s story is about Marketing Technology… an industry brimming with so many new tools, that you didn’t realize the above picture is not their company logos, but just a bunch of Legos and Pogs.”
Laughter and applause.
The point is you can’t buy everything without defeating the purpose. You need to stay focused.
Visualize the Infinite Martech Tool Landscape with These Graphics
Not only is there a veritable explosion of marketing technologies to explore and identify, but there also seems to be an equally large explosion of illustrative graphics to drive home the point.
Martech 5000 (Really 8000, But Who’s Counting?)
Yikes. A tricky read, right? Exactly.
You can zoom in a few times to make out the logos in each category, but you get the idea – so many!
Here’s a little breakdown of how each category has grown just since 2019 for 13.6% growth overall:
Gartner Digital Marketing Transit Map
Finding your way around the London Underground or Paris Metro can be a daunting task in person and displaying martech tools in the same format compares to the circuitous environment.
I think you take the Orange Line from Analytics, switch to the Baby Blue Line to ride around Mobile a while, then three stops on Lime Green to Social and you end up… closing your laptop.
Accel Marketing Ecosystem Map
We are all at the center, like the sun – that white dot.
The various branches orbit cyclically around us collecting energy to power our fitness trackers – I mean marketing campaigns.
Do we need these graphics?
Well, yes and no. They definitely put into perspective the unlimited availability of martech tools, reminding us to stay focused at all costs – lest we get sucked into the void.
How to Build Your Own Stack with the Right Martech Tools
Even 20% of marketers running effective martech tools told Gartner they struggle to use their stack’s full range of capabilities. With companies spending thousands (or millions) on martech each year, that’s a lot of budget straight down the drain.
Before turning outward in a search for shiny and new tools, or hitting panic buttons with choice paralysis, be sure to look inward first.
Why do you want a martech stack in the first place? Figure out what you need first and build outwards once you exhaust each tool’s full range of features.
What are Your Biggest Marketing Pain Points?
The first step to choosing the right martech tools lies in knowing the specific problems you want to solve.
This might include:
- Production scalability
- Web analytics
- Lead generation
- Brand promotion
- Or smaller fragments within those categories
Regardless, you should be able to say, “we need a technology that does x,” and then go find that solution.
Simply browsing technologies and signing contracts without proper alignment can create what are sometimes called “Frankenstacks:” bloated stacks and budgets full of tools your team isn’t even fully trained to use, much less integrate.
Cover Your Basic Martech Tools
Before layering a bunch of complicated technology, make sure you’re solid on the basics.
A successful marketing program needs:
- Marketing automation
- Customer relationship management
- Content management system
Beyond that, it becomes about how your technology enables you to serve your prospects and customers better. Whether that means delivering better experiences, helping sales have more relevant conversations, or serving up context-based content, technology can help you.
Finding Example Martech Stacks
If you’re re-evaluating your whole martech stack, or think you’re missing a key component but can’t put your finger on it, look to real examples of other companies’ martech stacks.
Reach out to partner companies or browse through sites like G2.com for insight into how one specific marketing department leverages technology compared to others.
What Do You Need from Martech Tools and a Stack?
First, what types of martech tools do you need? Just because there are some really exciting tools for gamification, data visualization, chat – the list is endless – it doesn’t mean you need to use them all.
On the other side of the coin, if you’re looking for ways to take your engagement levels through the roof, by all means, dive into interactive martech tools.
Need to understand trends and use this information to better convey marketing needs to the rest of your organization? Make DataHero your hero.
The trick is to find the balance between what martech tools your organization needs to achieve goals and where your martech stack is getting out of control.
Here’s where you run into problems. With too many tools, you have to spread your resources too thin to master each platform and train everyone. It is also easy to go from having a well-organized stack with in-sync components, to wobbly chaos – not good for drawing insights.
It will take some trial and error – and fortunately, a lot of tools offer a trial period exactly for this reason. But once you figure out which content management system, SaaS platforms, analytics software, social media tools and more are right for your organization, it will be ultra-smooth sailing. And you’ll have officially entered into the martech marketing era.
Essential Martech Tools Every Marketing Team Should Consider
Depending on factors like business size and marketing strategy, every company’s martech stack is going to be unique. However, these are the basic building blocks you’ll likely want in yours.
Martech Tools for Website Analytics
A lot of small businesses start here with their martech tools.
Once you get your digital face to the world up and running, step two involves finding out who, how many, when, from where, and why people are paying attention to your brand and tracking your web analytics as they change over time.
Google Analytics can make up the web analytics ‘bloc’ of your stack by itself. Alternatively, you might look into more advanced tools for larger sites.
Content Management System
Your CMS is your central control station for content publishing: Upload, schedule, edit, and make sure your web content is meeting your marketing strategy’s needs.
Millions of top sites like TechCrunch, Spotify, TED, and CNN run on WordPress, making it the most popular content management system.
WordPress is also SEO-friendly, easy to use, and integrates with thousands of third-party marketing tools – perfect for businesses of all sizes to scale.
Content Planning and Collaboration
Every company is swimming in content. With today’s mostly-virtual environment, it can feel nearly impossible to manage what to create, who is creating it, who edits, and where to publish content.
That’s why we use DivvyHQ’s content calendar and collaboration platform. Recent improvements include a Content Request feature that allows anyone from around your company to request content, and an analytics dashboard that delivers immediate insight into what’s working and how well you are moving the needle.
Martech Tools for Customer Relationship Management
Your CRM is where you track and manage your interactions with your customers.
It plays a significant role in both lead nurturing and customer retention. Ideally, your CRM will grow and evolve as your business grows.
Depending on which CRM you use, it may encompass or integrate with several of your other martech tools, such as your email marketing and sales software.
There are dozens (and dozens) of excellent customer relationship management platforms available, from small to mid-sized business solutions like HubSpot and Pipedrive to enterprise-level behemoths like Salesforce.
Here’s where the CRM market stands as of November 2020:
Marketing Automation Martech Tools
Marketing automation plays a key role in any strategy. Automation martech tools will help you streamline your processes and improve customer experience with better personalization.
In a multi-channel marketing world, you’ll need a solid automation platform – and the ability to use it well – to navigate hyper-personalization and to deliver what customers want across the board.
72% of B2B buyers say they expect brands to personalize engagement based on their needs and nearly 70% expect a B2B buying experience more like Amazon.
If you don’t already have marketing automation tools in your martech stack, here’s a marketing automation guide to get you started.
Email marketing – as ‘old school’ as it is in the digital marketing landscape – is still the core of how your brand stays connected with leads and customers.
You may want to use an email marketing platform that doubles as your automation software, like we do with Mailchimp. Mailchimp offers decent automation features with a user-friendly dashboard for small businesses to reap the benefits.
Alternatively, something more email-specific and approachable for small businesses, like Constant Contact or GetResponse, will still integrate with your CRM and automation software.
Social Media Martech Tools
And the last of the essential martech tools, which can turn out to be a tech stack of its own – social media.
What tools are you using to manage and track your social media campaigns?
With social media marketing technology, you have a wide range of choices to unify your efforts and streamline your social strategy:
- We use Hootsuite to schedule our posts across multiple channels and from multiple employee and client accounts
- Here are some social analytic tools
- These tools to create visual content to share on your social media profiles
Don’t Forget to Audit and Manage Your Martech Tools
Marketing technology allows you to do more in each area of marketing. You can make smarter decisions, create better experiences, and save a lot of time on tasks that technology can do for you.
Start your stack with the essentials and grow from there if you need to. When you need more, from a dedicated personalization platform to an AI-driven content creator, make your stack a little taller one block at a time. Keep experimenting.
Likewise, don’t forget to audit your martech tools and stack every so often. You might find it’s not delivering the ROI you expected, that you aren’t using a tool’s new features, or that new full-suite tools are available for a lower cost.
Analyze your stack and ask questions like:
- How much ROI is each tool delivering?
- Which capabilities are we using, and which have we neglected?
- Have we integrated all our tools to use the full features and data?
- Do any tools offer overlapping features?
- Can we cut any martech tools without sacrificing ROI or results?
- What are our current marketing challenges and how do our tools fit in?
Once you get comfortable, don’t worry. Marketing technology will evolve again, and your entire stack will become obsolete. Then you can build again.
The Bottom Line on Martech Tools
Navigating the current martech experience seems overwhelming to say the least.
The key is to remember all marketing tools are designed to make life better for marketers – not worse.
Instead of freezing like a deer in the headlights at the prospect of finding new technology solutions, get excited about it!
Think of what you’re doing well and see what’s out there that can make you do better.
Consider your weaknesses and pinpoint exactly where they need improvement.
Then go forth in search of that specific platform. Just make sure it really (not just kind of) addresses your need – and keep track of the ROI.
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