My name's Genson Glier and in this article, I'm going to be talking about how to build a marketing stack also known as a technical stack, or MarTech.
What is a marketing stack?
It's essentially the technology you're using for building, analyzing, improving, and acquiring all the software you use on a day-to-day basis.
Anything that covers any aspect of the customer lifecycle, even internally, with marketing project management as well.
The key thing before I even get into building a stack is understanding the why.
- Why do you need to build a stack?
- What's your outcome?
- What's your goal?
- Is it aligned with the business goals?
- Is it aligned with your customer goals?
- Understanding what your audience is actually going to get?
- Are they going to be interacting with this part of the stack?
- Is it your customer service side, intercom, for example?
Align your business growth goals
Ensuring it's aligned with your business goals. I personally prefer to have my stack aligned with my north-star metrics, my conversion points, as well as the customer journey, looking at how I can optimize each level and phase.
Five key features
The key features for any stack are more about looking at the integrations. It needs to work well together, it needs to be well adopted.
A prime example could be, you might use Zoho CRM, you might compare that to PipeDrive, as well, you've got to think does that integrate with different technologies? Will that integrate with your marketing automation software?
Real time information
This is not a high priority depending on your company, whether you're B2B, B2C, or B2B2C. You might have a day delay, depending on the development from your back end, or the data that's actually processing from it.
The ability to engage with the customers
Whereabouts will your tech stack actually converse with them? Is it your intercom? Is it your live chat on your website?
A main source of data
Is that data coming from your back end? Is that coming from the app itself, the platform, the service?
Data that provides attribution
Any key fields, in-app events, traffic, more vanity metrics or actual installs. It could be leads if you are B2B.
Why do we need to be aware of our stack?
The reason why we need to plan our stack in advance is things can get quite chaotic.
This is from ChiefMarTech 2019 and they've recorded over 7000 marketing technology provider platforms, covering every single aspect from advertising, content, experience, social, commerce, sales, data, management, it just gets quite chaotic if you don't know what you want really.
That's why strategy is absolutely essential when it comes to building your stack.
Why it matters
The reasons why understanding why your stack matters - 28% of marketers spend over six figures on their marketing stack. This will vary from business size to business size, but it tends to be about a third of your budget that'll go to your spend.
This will be your Asana costs, your JIRA costs, Confluence, you name it. I'm very biased, I do like Atlassian's products, they're awesome.
Most CEOs are very aware that they need to be advancing and understanding new technologies that come out so they can take advantage of them.
Last year $32 billion was spent in the US in the B2B space on technology and software. It's a growing presence.
At least 88% of marketers everywhere have touched some piece of technology, whether it be content marketing, content management system, or whatnot.
Strategy to your stack
Broken down into three main stages; attract, engage, analyze and optimize.
Stage 1: Attract
Ensuring that conversion, those attribution-based metrics are allocated to it.
Stage 2: Engage
Marketers tend to spend over $6 billion attracting businesses to their websites.
Stage 3: Analyze and optimize
Marketing analytics will give you a 360 view of your marketing effectiveness.
We all know why we need to track our data, we need to ensure we're getting the right conversion, creating the correct content that attracts customers, we're really measuring what we're putting out there.
A fully integrated stack will basically cover everything:
- Your content creation,
- Your internal team management,
- The actual conversion points,
- Everything from your data,
- Your warehouse storage, and so forth.
What does a marketing stack look like?
This is a brief example of a marketing stack - it could be just a CRM, a social media scheduling tool, and a CMS.
Tools and structure
Project management - it can be anything from Asana, JIRA, Confluence, we all know these, we all have some exposure to them but the key thing is to really understand do they align, and do they help you?
Because you can get overloaded with the number of products here.
Digital advertising - you've got Facebook, Tapjoy, AdWords.
SEO - normally for research, AHrefs, Serpstat.
Social media management - Buffer, all of the above.
Content - WordPress.
Email marketing - MailChimp.
Marketing automation - Autopilot,
Conversion rate optimization - HotJar.
It can get quite overwhelming.
This is more of a customer-centric marketing stack, where you might have possibly feedback through NPS scores, feedback through your intercom, additional ad delivery, getting feedback through social media, maybe using Buffer Reply to do so.
Ensuring you're pumping those through and you're reporting to get your whole stakeholder team onboard.
At every stage, you are interacting with your stack, whether you're creating content in your digital asset management, or distributing content via social media channels, your blog, Medium, and so forth.
Here are some more examples of when you're actually interacting with each software.
Designing the structure
What key things do we need to think about when we're designing the structure?
Define the goal of your map
Defining your goal. It could be, once again, your downloads, your installations, it could be the number of leads you're actually passing through to the sales team.
Start with a list
Starting with a list of those in priority order. Highest frequency, who's going to actually use it, an outline of the overall costs, what processes are involved from management to maintenance?
Create your map
Creating the actual visual map of it.
Identifying opportunities and gaps too, within this.
People, technology, and relationships
- Who's actually going to be managing this?
- Who are the core users?
- Is it your support team?
- Is it yourself?
- Is it your social media manager?
- Is it perhaps everyone using JIRA or the such?
- How are they affecting your business, your bottom dollar?
- Do they interconnect?
API is a big thing. We use Segment, one of my favorite tools, to connect almost everything, especially if you're matching different data sets.
Does it have an out-of-the-box connection?
Is someone going to be manually doing this? Depending on your level, you might be old school, go Excel spreadsheet, upload it into your email marketing or marketing automation if you really want to do that, or if you haven't savvied up to technology these days.
But really it comes down to what's the role of the PMM within each stage of the product lifecycle? What are your limitations and resources? What do you have access to?
For instance, for Cheq, we started less than a year ago, we managed to raise $1.7 mil, pre MVP, our pre-seed was $400,000 and then we bumped it up to $1.75 mil including a small debt facility.
With this, we decided to build the product, testing, and validation, we did a lot of research in terms of identifying what were the key issues.
Over 70% of Australians are in debt and we're actually trying to fight predatory consumer lending by creating a new industry or sub-industry of sustainable consumer lending.
We're doing this by providing people with their pay on demand, essentially, it's instant short-term cash advances of their paycheck, nothing that would stretch people. For example, 100 bucks, 200 bucks, 300 bucks, they're at a fixed 5% transaction fee, paid back by the next pay cycle, or the following depending on where they're at.
That's the concept very briefly in a nutshell, how we grew it out was a very simple structure.
Validate it, get some emails, we ended up chasing up our competitors in the industry and that's where we got our original data. We got a waitlist of 2,500 within about two months, we then built out and expanded, we moved to launch the soft beta and within that, apart from additional digital advertising, we ended up getting 1,000 downloads within the first week, which was absolutely awesome.
But the tech stack had to cope with all of this.
At the start, it was kickoff labs, very simple, keeping it quite lean, we developed the usual social media platforms. We then built out all the structures through JIRA, Confluence is our main source of truth in terms of mapping out each process.
The next step is scaling and expanding this.
Of course, the third step will be optimization of this. This will be when we'll move into more structured approaches, we'll go into a set agile marketing approach that is more aligned around agile dev development. So where we run fortnightly experiments to validate, more of a growth hacking approach.
Identifying these stages; bootstrapping, scaling. For a PMM, this is your own career lifecycle. Hacking, bootstrapping, you're more of an inbound where you're pretty much "Okay, I've got an idea. We need to build a product. We've got to validate it".
Building out the product, scaling, validating it, more of an outbound approach. Then of course, finally, customer-facing where it's justifying to the team about market adoption. How do we improve market adoption?
Your MarTech stack
With your tech stack, don't be afraid to gut it. You should always be auditing your stack, determine:
- What's of use now?
- What isn't of use?
- What do you need to scale?
For instance, we use Autopilot for marketing automation. I would love to use Braze but it is quite out of our price range.
With that, the beauty of marketing automation is you can increase the personalization for it.
But just remember the stack's only as good as your ability to handle it, that includes for your users too.
Make sure you don't have shiny object syndrome. I get this all the time, I love AppSumo, I get lifetime deals on almost everything, and I test it out in my stack - it doesn't always work.
Know if it actually integrates with your platform or with your stack.
Have you done enough research on it?
- Does it have enough backing?
- Does the company itself have a long enough roadmap or runway to actually support your growth? That's if you're using a smaller early-stage platform and testing with that.
Do you internally have the manpower to actually use it?
- Is it just you managing this?
- Or are you offloading it to your customer support?
- Are you offloading it to your sales team?
- Is it your dev team that's actually going to handle it?
What other departments need input on this?
- Is there additional development time required to actually install this software?
- Do you have buy-in from your shareholders? And so forth.
I'm going to leave you with this.
You should always be listening to your customer, you should be listening to your stack as well. Getting proper feedback, ensuring that you're taking time to get those metrics in hand.
Want to share your insights into building a marketing stack? Maybe you've got questions? Share them on the B2B Marketing Alliance Community!