Imagine that you're starving and you sit down at a new, upscale restaurant. The waiter brings over a menu that has hundreds of choices, ranging from types of food to combinations that let you choose how any dish is prepared. How do you pick? It's really tough, because you're hungry enough to eat almost anything, but the number of choices is overwhelming. How does this relate to the choices today's marketing teams face when building digital campaigns and programs? In today's crowded martech tool market, it relates in just about every way.
Marketing teams are in the crosshairs today. The good news is that marketing is integral to the sales process and they now have direct responsibility for lead generation, customer acquisition, and the nurturing of customers throughout the customer lifecycle. To help marketers deliver ROI in the form of revenue, reduced cost of acquisition, and/or customer lifetime value, the industry has created an abundance of tools that can be used to find, target, influence, and track customer activity and engagement. With thousands of new tools to choose from, finding the right mix of tools to use to create the right marketing technology stack is a constant challenge.
Many digital marketing teams dedicate hundreds of hours to sourcing tools to ensure they are leveraging the latest technology to optimize overall marketing performance. It's easy to see how people can get lost in search.
Once tools are sourced, keeping track of the combination of tools that works best to achieve results is a critical but time-consuming task, as the number of tools in use at any given time keeps getting larger and larger. This task is further complicated when marketing teams work in functional silos or are spread across locations where real-time sharing is a challenge. The concept of a technology stack for marketing is relatively new, and refers to the visual representation of how marketing teams use various tools in combination to create, track, and measure the value, cost, and level of integration of the multitude of digital marketing tools in use at any one time.
A marketing technology stack ultimately gives you that "meal" tailored specifically to your team's taste, and creates a common reference point to share information across the organization about what's in use, where each tool fits in the overall marketing plan, where it makes sense to integrate tools, and to identify gaps and requirements. Focusing in on very specific gaps and requirements makes it much easier to search for and narrow down the list of new tools to test and try. It also provides a framework for focusing on tools that need to work better or be replaced, and to isolate the tools that worked well alone and in combination.
The best way to get started creating a stack is to think about how you organize your marketing plan. Do you think in terms of product category (email, social, content,) or marketing function (research, acquisition, engagement)? Create a layer for each structural element of your marketing plan and then identify the tools used for each layer. Next, identify which tools are integrated with one another. From there, you can embellish with cost and performance data to create a high level snapshot of your marketing model.
With a stack in hand, you have a great tool to use in presentations to showcase your marketing strategy and plan. Being able to visualize how and why different tools are being used will help marketers, and their management, keep the menu of options in a manageable framework.