The idea of a “technology stack” originated as a way to describe the layers of software that build up for the end user. Now that marketing technology tools have exploded as a category, a new term has emerged: “marketing technology stack.”
Marketing of all types – traditional, digital, direct, email – has now merged into…Marketing. Since marketing has become such a multifaceted discipline, marketing technology has blown up to help support marketers who have to do it all. As a result, marketing tech has become one of the biggest drivers of corporate IT spending. In 2012, Gartner predicted that by 2017, marketing technology spend would be greater than the other IT spending. And in January 2015, IDC predicted CMOs will drive $32.2B in technology spending.
Now that the marketing tech stack is a reality and there are people like me, who are marketing technologists (and sometimes marketers too!), it is time to really understand what should go into your marketing tech stack.
Minimum Marketing Stack Requirements in 2015
The base marketing technology stack for any business in 2015 includes:
Website: I bet you have one. I have one, my company has one, and you should too. Small businesses and startups head to WordPress, larger firms or global multinationals may need other platforms.
CRM: Your company has some sort of CRM. I highly recommend Salesforce.com, and MS Dynamics, while Oracle, Sugar CRM, and Zoho will do as well. If you are thinking of migrating CRMs, make sure you understand everyone’s needs – from sales to marketing to finance.
Marketing Automation: Yes, a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) is a must for B2B and B2C organizations. If you do not have one of the big three – Marketo, Eloqua, and Hubspot – you may have an Email Service Provider (ESP) like ExactTarget, but these are not the same.
Access to Marketing Channel Platforms: For outbound marketing, you need access to platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Integrate, and other publishers, and you may need to add tools to your stack to manage them.
These systems comprise the base of your technology stack. They need to intelligently speak to each other, and you need to be able to build on this base to create a stack that fits your unique needs and objectives.
What Else Do You Need?
Now that you have the minimum marketing stack to do business, let’s talk about what else you will need as you mature in your capabilities. As you develop your skills with each tool and your business expands (that’s your job, right?), you will face new challenges. Strategic additions to your marketing tech stack can help you overcome these challenges. Here is a list of other valuable tools in the order I would expect many organizations to roll them out.
1. Data Management and Deduplication: During a MAP rollout, you will quickly realize your CRM and other marketing databases need to be deduplicated and managed for data cleanliness. If you skipped this part during the integration, find a vendor today and build this into your stack. There are several vendors depending on your setup and needs. Some solutions work with both your MAP and CRM, while others may export your data and re-import it. Definitely add at least a tool like DupeBlocker in your CRM to prevent manual dupes from salespeople.
2. Ad Tech (optional if you do not focus on paid media): The increase in advertising technology management created this category. Not every organization requires a heavy duty ad tech investment. If yours does, be sure to work to integrate the data into your MAP and SEO tools. Ad tech is optional in my opinion because a lot of SMBs are not running giant ad bidding campaigns.
3. SEO Management and Analysis (optional for small organizations): Usually a more mature company with a high traffic site will require an SEO manager to keep your website, keywords, and backlinks working at top efficiency with the latest changes to Google. A small company can get away with basic technical SEO, but as you grow, you will need to optimize and analyze the traffic. Definitely invest in a tool like Moz to get started.
4. Phone Call Tracking: While I put this one fourth, your company may want to make phone call tracking a higher priority. If your company uses telemarketing, telesales, or SDRs, you want to track their calls. In addition, you want to know if your marketing is driving inbound calls. Invoca’s Call Intelligence Suite will help you do both. When I first heard I could track phone calls back to previous interactions, I was in a “face palm” moment – of course phone calls are a huge gap in tracked behaviors! As a marketer, I need to know that my reports are closed loop, and that means voice too.
5. Video Tracking: I put video tracking further down the list because companies tend to invest more in video as they accelerate growth. Video is as powerful as it is expensive. As video publishing increases with webinars and lower cost HD production, I highly recommend tracking video in more detail. With a special video tracking plugin, you can track video views, minutes watched, and more.
6. Reporting Tool: Reporting is not inherently last on my list. A truly powerful system may be hard to build and hard to justify until there is a lot of data to sift through. Most CRMs and MAPs include pretty good reporting tools. As you grow, and your dataset grows, you will find it helpful to have a powerful reporting system. A good reporting system will be able to monitor the entire sales funnel, from new lead to closed-won sale. Pulling in data from your website, CRM, SEO, and other systems means having a fully fledged reporting platform.
Your Marketing Technology Blueprint
Now that you know core solutions that should make up your marketing technology stack, you need to draft a blue print for your entire system from outbound lead acquisition to website to order. You will need a good visual is a process flow chart at a minimum.
I recommend drafting the blueprint before you move forward with any new contracts. Align with sales, technology, and even finance to understand the data requirements and process. Once drafted, show this blueprint and requirements to the vendor. Scott Vaughan of Integrate says to ask each vendor where they fit in the blueprint. If they cannot answer you clearly, find a different vendor.
For a marketing technologist like me, building the stack is almost an end in itself. But why are you spending time and money on this? As Bizo points out, the ultimate purpose is “to get a unified understanding of a prospect across all platforms,” so you can improve your messaging and increase the velocity of the funnel.