Building a marketing technology stack: How to pick the right tools for your team

Finding the right tools for your marketing technology stack can make a huge difference in how your team performs. Check out our recommended tools.
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A marketing technology stack helps businesses achieve their marketing goals. 

Chief Martec found that the marketing technology landscape grew by 5233% in the past ten years 🤯

The good news. More MarTech means we achieve our marketing goals faster. 

The bad news. An over-reliance on technology can stifle marketing creativity. Plus, the overwhelming choices available can turn the “simple” task of building your marketing technology stack into a nightmare for your team. 

In this article, we discuss the key elements you need in your marketing tech stack, the problems marketers encounter when building a MarTech stack, and the right way to build one.

Before that, let’s get some basics down.‍

What is a marketing technology stack?

Think of a MarTech stack like an electrician’s toolbox.

An electrician’s toolbox must come with the essential tools of their trade—pliers, screwdrivers, electrical tape, cable ties, and more. One that ensures the electrician is accurate, safe, comfortable, and effective. 

For marketers, your tech stack is your toolbox. 

MarTech stack tools help you replicate and improve on your best strategies, automate manual tasks, and simplify your team’s workflow. But most importantly, you guarantee your marketing activities are data-driven. 

The ideal tech stack of every marketing team is one where all the tools — sales prospecting, content marketing, data enrichment, etc — work together to drive results for your business.

So, how do you build the ideal marketing technology stack? What are the essential MarTech stack tools that are a must have because they supercharge your marketing tactics and don’t have your team pulling their hair out?

Key elements of a great marketing technology stack (and recommended tools)

Ideal marketing technology stack

First off, there’s no one-size-fits-all in a marketing tech stack.

When it comes to building your marketing tech stack it needs to be led by what you truly need and not the shiny object of the month. What works for one company might not work for you. So, you might have to kiss a few frogs before finding your perfect match.

If you are about to build your first MarTech stack, or looking to retool an existing one, here are a couple of must-haves:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Personalization can crash customer acquisition costs as much as 50%

To do that effectively, you need a CRM (especially for data enrichment on the demand generation side of your business). While it’s often pigeonholed as a “contact list” for businesses, your CRM has the potential to:

  • Help you provide better and personalized customer service
  • Help you mine insights from your customer behaviour and pipeline
  • Leverage these insights to maximize your efforts on the channels that generate the best leads
  • And nurture these prospects towards conversion.

Our preferred CRM tools are:

Salesforce

Salesforce is the top CRM choice for most B2B businesses. Small and large enterprises can carry out their entire sales and marketing functions on the platform. It's cost-effective, scalable, and easy to customize to fit your needs.

Alternatives: Hubspot, Zoho

Sales intelligence software

You might be wondering what a “sales” software got to do with a marketing tech stack.

But what these tools do is help you with smart list building of target accounts and target prospects within those accounts.  

what is sales intelligence software?

That’s what sales intelligence can do for both your marketing and sales teams! It leverages AI to help you find high-quality leads for your email, ads, and account-based everything campaigns.

Adding sales intelligence to your CRM is a match made in heaven. It identifies prospects that are most relevant to you - based on trigger events, titles, and any existing relationship with your company. This allows your team to prioritize resources on those that are most likely to convert. 

Our preferred sales intelligence software include:

UserGems

Your past customers are most likely to buy from you again. 

With UserGems, you can track when your past customers and prospects change jobs and identify warm leads who will most likely buy from you. It integrates with your existing tools (Hubspot, Salesforce, Outreach, and more) to ensure it’s constantly updated with current contact information. 

That way, you reach your warm leads at relevant times and close deals faster. In addition, UserGems’ high data quality ensures that the contact info you get is recent and accurate.

Alternatives: LinkedIn Sales Navigator, ZoomInfo

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Content marketing

Content fuels your demand generation strategy.

It helps you drive traffic to your site. It positions you as a brand authority. And it nudges prospects down the sales funnel. 

But content marketing isn’t just creating content. You need a tool to help you manage its end-to-end execution - from setting up editorial calendars to managing your writers and publishing schedule. In addition, you need a content management system (CMS) to host your work and serve as a customer-facing channel to engage with your prospects and customers.

Some of our favorite content marketing tools include:

WordPress (CMS)

Did you know that WordPress powers over 32% of websites on the internet? Businesses love it because it’s easily customizable and quite easy to use for developers and non-developers.

Alternatives: WebFlow, Medium

Asana (Project management)

Asana helps you create workflows for your team and visualize the progress of your projects. It has a simple UI and works for small and larger teams.

Alternatives: Trello, Airtable

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

You need your target audience to find your website easily. 

And one way to do that is through SEO. Yes, SEO falls under content marketing strategies. But it’s best practice to treat it as a distribution pillar if you want the best results. 

For example, when you publish a blog post, you fulfill the content marketing plan to educate your audience. But if you want to drive organic traffic and reach qualified leads, you must ensure that your article is optimized for search engines before publishing.

SEO tools help you understand what your ICP is already searching for, the best keywords that can generate traffic, and how to make your content marketing more effective.

Our preferred SEO tools include:

Ahrefs

Keyword research, content writing, and link building are just some things to be done for SEO. There are several tools for specific areas of SEO, but Ahrefs is a full-service solution. They also provide comprehensive educational content that help you wring the best results out of the tool.

Alternatives: SemRush, Moz

Social media

Social media is becoming a major distribution channel for B2B businesses.

But you don’t have to be present on all social platforms. You just need to be where your target audience is engaged. LinkedIn leads the charge with 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn vs. 13% on Twitter & 7% on Facebook, as reported by Foundation Inc.  

With the right social media marketing software, you get:

  • Insights into what types of content your audience finds relatable and engaging
  • And the ability to curate, distribute and automate social content publishing at scale

Our favorite options are:

Sprout Social

Sprout Social offers B2B marketers deep listening and analytics, social management, customer care, and advocacy solutions. You get an end-to-end tool.

Alternatives: HootSuite, Buffer

Email marketing

Great email marketing tools help you build an audience and drive engagement.

You can segment your audience and create personalized, targeted content for your customers and prospects. It’s also an effective way to build brand credibility, nurture prospects into leads and elevate the buying experience for each customer. 

Some email marketing software we have considered include: 

Hubspot

Even a newbie marketer has heard of HubSpot. But, not everyone is aware that they offer email marketing services, among other services. Their free option serves well for companies at the early growth stages. It's also scalable and integrates with many other popular MarTech solutions. 

Alternatives: Marketo, Pardot, Active Campaign, Mailchimp

Web analytics

Finally, analytics.  

Most tools come with some form of native measuring capabilities. For example, your CMS can tell you how many readers clicked on a link or visited another post after landing on your blog.

But it’s best practice to use tools solely developed for this purpose - tracking and reporting the efforts of your marketing tactics. 

Our preferred tools for web analytics include: 

Google Analytics

Google Analytics helps you measure your website traffic and analyze customer behavior on your website. You can track which pages get the most traffic, conversions, and high bounce rates. You can use this data to improve your site UX and improve your website content.

Alternatives: Hotjar, MixPanel

Google Search Console

Google Search Console provides more insight into how your web pages appear on search engines. 

You can find out if your site is showing up on search results or submit your sitemaps. You can also see the top queries your website visitors use to find you. By using this data, you can close content gaps and improve your SEO efforts.

Alternatives: Kissmetrics, UserTesting

Notwithstanding these benefits, having the best tools does not always translate to success for your business. 

The problem with how most marketers approach building a tech stack

Yes, you need a marketing stack. 

And no, it’s not the most important decision you need to make in your role as a marketer 🤷🏽‍♀️

Talk about a new marketing model today. And ten tools pop up tomorrow that you, apparently, must use to be successful in that strategy.  This thinking leads marketers to assume their marketing tech stack is the solution to their challenges. Instead of a means to enable their creative ideas.

Chris Walker of Refine Labs puts it best in this LinkedIn post: 

“B2B Marketing has become increasingly systematic driven by the over-adoption and over-reliance on technology. The result is a cookie-cutter, assembly line style of marketing that prioritizes measurement over customer needs. That prioritizes measurement of easy-to-move vanity metrics over actual effectiveness.”

So, how do you get it right?

How to build the right marketing technology stack for your B2B business

Graphic with text Before you build your martech stack consider: 1. Your objectives 2. Your customers 3. Your basic needs 4. Potential to scale 5. Integration capabilities 6. Employee buy-in 7. Your measurement models

Here’s how we’ve approached ours the past two years: 

Define your objectives

It’s easier to select the right marketing tools when you know your marketing goals and the gaps you need to fill. 

Let’s say you need a tool to execute your content marketing strategy. Here’s how you can match your goals to the right outcome:

  • Objective - Build thought leadership in my industry.
  • Problem - To establish thought leadership, we need to begin publishing educational content, but our website is programmed and only accessible to developers.
  • Ideal solution - A CMS that enables writers to publish articles without coding.

With a firm grasp of what your desired software should solve, you’re confident when deciding on which CMS to add to your stack.

Customers before technology

How well does your marketing technology meet your customers' needs? Or does it force them to adapt to your workflows?  

You shouldn’t choose your MarTech stack tools based on what’s trendy. Instead, focus on your customer’s expectations and the customer experience. Understand your customer touch points, and select tools that support those touch points. 

For example, you can invest in a data enrichment tool that fills out forms based on old information they’ve used on your website. This tactic shortens the time spent filling forms for lead magnets and improves the customer experience on your website.

Start small

As marketers, we tend to like shiny new toys. We also often get targeted by vendors with lofty vision. But, You don’t have to splurge on an expensive tool when you are starting out.  

Remember your objectives and your audience, start small then iterate quickly to see what works and what doesn’t. Only then you should look into tools to automate and scale the ones that work.

Splurging on a fancy tool upfront before figuring out how exactly it will help you get closer to the objective means you’ll end up spending time and resources to justify the ROI of the tool rather than delivering the results.

If you are a startup with a small budget, take advantage of several free and low-tech options that still provide great value for your business. 

Begin with the basics and go for more high-tech or customized tools when needed.

Consider scale but don't over-index on scale

It’s normal that your business will outgrow its MarTech stack tools every two years. 

Consider where your business will be in 18-24 months and whether the tool of choice can meet the criteria from now until then. For example, even if you have only 500 contacts, a crucial criteria for investing in any CRM tool is the capability to scale with ease as your contacts increase.  

However, it is unrealistic to plan for a tech stack suitable for a $100M ARR business when you’re at $10M ARR. Plan two years ahead, then prepare to make major changes to your tech stack as your business enters a new growth phase and has new complexities. 

Consider integration with existing tools

The central experience of a marketing tech stack is integration. Integration enables you to get the most out of existing tools while streamlining and automating the workflows.

For example, UserGems integrates with CRM like HubSpot and Salesforce, monitoring and updating our customers’ target accounts with prospect information that increases the win rate of their marketing campaigns and sales prospecting efforts. As these tools are already part of our customers’ marketing technology stack, integration simplifies their workflows, facilitating adoption and producing faster results.

Get employee buy-in

Talk with your team and know what challenges they face and what technology can meet their needs when building your marketing technology stack.

There’s no need to buy tools that make your team’s workflow more complex. Or tools they struggle to adopt. This point is important in specialized fields where they are more knowledgeable than you. 

Get recommendations from the team. And you not only save time, but speed up onboarding and ROI. 

Pick the right measurement models to track effectiveness

Attribution is a contentious topic. 

Though many marketers have spent much time trying to come to the perfect attribution model, it still doesn’t exist. Every model has its flaw whether it’s first touch, last touch, or multi-touch attribution. The buyer journey isn’t linear, nor logical. The rise of dark social doesn’t help either. 

A pragmatic approach that has worked relatively well for us is tagging and tracking all of our marketing activities to map our customer journey -- the various touch points and their relative frequency. The goal isn’t to attribute “doing X will lead to Y”, but simply to identify common touch points that seem to resonate well with our audience and double down on those. 

Your marketing tech stack is an enabler, not a solution for business growth

👆 The above sentence puts it best.

Approach it any other way, and you have a marketing team trapped by the limits of their tech stack. This severely limits the customer experience. And in extreme cases, you struggle to hit your goals. 

Start small. Define your objectives. Plan for scalability and integration. And you’re well on your way to MarTech bliss.

Why UserGems

UserGems helps companies generate more revenue by combining relationship data with trigger events to surface the most relevant buyers within target accounts. With UserGems, customers get a bigger pipeline and win more often.

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