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7 Steps to Design Your Ideal MarTech Stack - With Template

September 17, 2020

In this article you will learn:

MarTech, or marketing technology, is integral to nearly every marketing endeavor from acquisition to long-term customer loyalty. We’re taking a deep dive into what matters most about MarTech, and how to build a MarTech stack that delivers the business results you need.

What is MarTech?

MarTech is exactly what it sounds like—the merging of marketing and technology. The term was coined to refer to technologies used to execute, enhance and optimize digital marketing, but as nearly all marketing has some digital aspect these days, MarTech can now mean just about any marketing solution or tool that uses technology to complete a marketing objective. Most marketers already use multiple types of MarTech to do their jobs.

What is a MarTech stack?

The word “stack” was originally a computer science term meaning a linear series of elements, but has been adopted by the tech and IT fields to refer to a series of technologies that layer on top of each other and work together, such as a company’s software stack or application stack.

A MarTech stack is all of the technology solutions and marketing tools a company has implemented to make their marketing operations more effective and efficient. Marketing automation solutions, customer data platforms, AI solutions, analytics tools, social media management tools and email marketing software are just a few of the dozens of categories of MarTech.

If that sounds a bit overwhelming, that’s because it is. The publication MarTech Today created an infographic of the entire MarTech landscape showing how all the sectors and companies interconnect—and the result is more than a little mind-boggling. With all these options, getting your MarTech stack right is a challenge, but it’s also key to the success of your marketing initiatives.

Why your MarTech is so important

The right MarTech stack can make or break your marketing strategies, campaigns and offers, so it can have a significant impact on a brand’s business results and the loyalty of its customers. There are a few reasons the MarTech stack has become indispensable to marketers:

It integrates your platforms, tools and channels

The fragmentation of technologies is one of the biggest challenges in marketing. In a well-built MarTech stack, all of your tools, platforms and solutions should be able to connect to each other and share data where needed.

It allows you see the big picture

Choosing MarTech elements that integrate well and play nicely together enables marketers to view all their data points across the entire customer journey, so they can see what’s working well and where to optimize.

It enables marketers to do more with less

MarTech solutions help marketing teams streamline processes and automate previously manual tasks, so they can make resources stretch further and scale much faster. Adding MarTech that includes machine learning lets marketers automate even knowledge-based tasks.

It breaks down silos to make collaboration possible

A well-integrated MarTech stack allows marketing to share data with other business units like sales and operations, so everyone is able to look at the same information and make collaborative decisions that improve business results.

MarTech vs AdTech: What’s the Difference?

Just as MarTech is used to refer to marketing technologies, AdTech is technology used for advertising, particularly to execute digital advertising. Some common types of AdTech include programmatic advertising tools, tag management systems, demand side platforms, ad exchanges and data management platforms.

While AdTech can technically be considered a type of MarTech, experts recommend thinking of the two as separate when building your MarTech stack. The reason for this is that the technologies can overlap and sometimes offer similar functions, but you’ll want to avoid duplicating your efforts or paying for the same functionality twice.

In addition, the way AdTech and Martech companies charge their customers is different, so it makes sense to allocate separate budgets for them. According to the Wall Street Journal, AdTech has “typically relied on “media-based” business models, whereby they collect revenue based on the volume of advertising they purchase and place on behalf of clients.” By contrast, MarTech tools usually operate like other software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, charging marketers monthly or annual subscription fees. This more consistent revenue stream may be why investment in MarTech has gone up in recent years, while investment in AdTech has gone down.

How to design your MarTech stack

You likely have a number of MarTech elements you’re using already. But if you’d like your Martech stack to be more integrated or need to figure out what data and solutions you’re still missing, these are the steps to take.

1. Determine the journey. Map out the ideal journey stages that will keep your customer in the loyalty loop, and figure out what customer data you will need in order to direct them on that path.

2. Audit your MarTech stack. Make a list of your current MarTech tools, solutions and platforms, along with their purpose and cost. Use this list to see how the elements of your stack interconnect and where there is overlap or duplicated effort.

3. Consider data quality. Once you’ve audited your stack and what customer data it’s collecting, evaluate the quality. Are you getting all the data you need to achieve the ideal you set out in step 1? If not, you’ll need to build a data management plan.

4. Define your business needs. Figure out your current goals and opportunities, then try to project how you see them evolving 5 years down the line. Involve any stakeholders from other departments who will also be using your stack, and make sure you capture their needs and goals at this stage.

5. Evaluate your technology. Based on the needs you identified in the last step, figure out what functionality you will need to achieve those goals. Lead management, lead nurturing, content management, data analysis and marketing operations automation are a few of the functions you might need.

6. See what’s missing. Compare the functionalities you identified in step 5 to the list you created in step 2. See if there are gaps between what you need and what you have, and identify MarTech solutions that can fill them. Also, consider if there are any tools you no longer need, so you can shift that budget to your new vendors.

7. Get executive buy-in. Present your findings from steps 1-6 to any decision makers who need to approve new solutions or vendors.

You may find it helpful to create a visual representation of your current and prospective solutions, and how they correlate to the stages of your customer journey. We’ve provided a MarTech stack template below to help you create your visualization.

MarTech Stack Template

MarTech Stack

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