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How to Build & Consolidate a MarTech Stack for Large Teams

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How to Build & Consolidate a MarTech Stack for Large Teams

In the vast world of marketing technology (MarTech), there are two main types of solutions. Those that are uber-specific, zeroing in on doing one particular thing really, really well (point solutions). 

And those that are broader, focusing on providing an all-in-one service (suite solutions or platforms). When you put them together, you get the MarTech landscape — a space that’s seen 5,233% growth over the past decade. 

In fact, back in 2011, there were only 150 MarTech tools to choose from.

Fast forward to 2022, and you’ve got over 8,000 of them.  

It’s no wonder so many marketing teams are dreaming of consolidation right now. After all, having too many tools in a MarTech stack can lead to inefficient processes, wasted resources, and confusion. 

So, we’re going to walk through exactly how to build or consolidate a MarTech stack for large teams in 2022. Let’s get started.  

What’s a MarTech stack?

A marketing technology (MarTech) stack is a collection of software tools used to optimize or automate specific marketing tasks, from project management to SEO to lead generation. 

The idea is that the tools combine (or stack) to form a cohesive strategy across the marketing spectrum. For example, a typical stack might have a tool for each of the following categories:   

  • Data
  • Management
  • Advertising and promotion
  • Content and experience
  • Social and relationships
  • Commerce and sales

Why consolidate your MarTech stack?

MarTech stacks are notoriously under leveraged, meaning companies are often paying for capabilities they’re not even using. 

According to the 2020 Gartner Marketing Technology Survey, for example, marketing leaders reported leveraging only 58% of their MarTech stack’s potential — despite the stack accounting for 26% of their total marketing budget. 

If this sounds like your situation, you’re not alone. As you can see, it’s exceedingly common, not to mention understandable, considering all the options out there. 

If you consolidate your stack, however, you can eliminate redundant tools and focus on getting the most out of the ones you already have — saving money and improving team performance at the same time.  

Best practices for building & consolidating a marketing technology stack 

In this next section, we’ll go over 8 best practices to keep in mind whether you’re building a stack from scratch or consolidating what you’ve already got. 

1. Narrow down why you need each tool in your stack

Before choosing tools for your MarTech stack, it’s important to think about why you need them in the first place. In other words, your marketing strategy should come before marketing technology — not the other way around. 

Hana Jacover, Director of Demand Generation at MadKudu, puts it this way, “When considering new tools, remember that technology is not a strategy but something that supports and enhances an existing strategy.”

A good way to do this is by starting with the needs of your customers and working backwards. What strategies do you already have in place to meet their needs? Are they working? Or are there strategies that would work better? 

Make a list of goals with corresponding strategies and tools. Here are a few examples: 

Goal Marketing Strategy Tools
Increase organic traffic Content creation and SEO Content management software (CMS) product, a content distribution tool, an SEO tool, content marketing software, etc.
Get more website visitors to convert Redesign the website Conversion optimization tool, an email marketing product, etc. 
Improve customer communication Automate transactional emails Marketing automation software, email marketing software, etc.

If you already have a full stack, take a look at each tool and narrow down exactly why you need it. Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What specific marketing strategy is the tool supporting? 
  • Is it doing a good job in this role? 
  • Could the job be done better? If so, how? 

2. Know which task(s) to delegate to human vs technology 

The key to building a manageable MarTech stack is knowing which tasks to delegate to technology and which to keep in human hands. After all, technology is awesome but sometimes, it just can’t replace a human touch.

Take chatbots, for example. Many companies are now using this technology to engage with customers alongside traditional customer service channels like phone, email, and social media. 

After all, chatbots are great for helping customers with simple problems, often resolving issues faster than human agents. And they can cut operational costs by up to 30%. 

However, recent studies have revealed that people really don’t like chatbots in certain situations — namely addressing important matters like medical appointments or financial issues. 

So, it’s important to think through your MarTech tools and consider if there are any areas where a more personalized approach would be preferred. 

3. ​​Find other alternatives that consolidate solutions you need

As you can imagine (or know all too well?), you could literally end up with hundreds of tools in your stack if you use a different one for every specific marketing task. And that’s just too much to manage — especially for large teams. 

Fortunately, there are some really good solutions out there now that consolidate multiple tasks into one tool. Take Welcome, for example (shameless plug, we know 😆). 

Welcome’s software brings marketing teams together in a single workspace to share plans, collaborate on assets, and flawlessly execute marketing campaigns. 

This means many (if not most) of your marketing tools are in one place. You can execute your entire campaign and content lifecycle, from planning to production to measurement and back again, all within one platform.

4. Determine which tools aren’t worth their cost

Remember that bit about how most companies are only leveraging 58% of their MarTech stack’s potential? Despite the stack accounting for over a quarter of their total marketing budget? 

With that in mind, chances are you’ve got some tools in your stack that aren’t pulling their weight from a cost/benefit perspective. To find the biggest offenders, make a list of all your MarTech tools. 

Look up how much you’re paying to have them in your stack, whether it’s monthly, annually, or per user. Then take an honest look at how much your team is using the tool. Ask the following questions: 

  • How often do you use the tool? 
  • How much time does it save you on a daily basis? 
  • Could you do your job effectively without it? 
  • Does the usage level justify the cost to your marketing stack? 

Most large companies find they have several tools that are just collecting dust (and invoices). These can be eliminated from the stack, freeing up valuable marketing dollars to be spent elsewhere.  

5. Always start with a free trial

As a marketer, you might be familiar with shiny object syndrome. You know, when you’re constantly distracted by every new tool that hits the market, thinking each one is going to solve all your problems? 

It’s a real thing, especially for entrepreneurs and creative marketers who are naturally drawn to innovation. But the thing is, if you spend all your time adding new MarTech tools, it’s hard to be focused on your core objectives. 

Plus, you’ll end up with a bloated, way-too-expensive MarTech stack with overlapping capabilities and complicated integrations. 

That said, it’s just so hard to resist some of the new tools that hit the market. And some of them may actually be helpful. A good compromise is to promise yourself to always start with a free trial — no exceptions. 

This lets you test out new tools to make sure they’re a good fit before committing to making them a part of your marketing technology stack. Think of it as a test that all new tools have to pass before being allowed into the club. 

6. Determine which tools perform too similar functions 

As we’ve mentioned, most companies have MarTech tools with overlapping capabilities at this point. Not only is this wasteful from a budget perspective, but it can be confusing when you have a large team using different tools to get the same job done. 

So it’s important to take the time to identify areas of overlap. You can flesh this out by grouping your tools according to category. Remember, most tools fall into the following six areas: 

  • Data
  • Management
  • Advertising and promotion
  • Content and experience
  • Social and relationships
  • Commerce and sales

Once you’ve grouped them together, make a list of the exact tasks each tool performs and circle the areas of overlap. Then, sit down with your team to figure out which tools they prefer for each function. Keep the ones that get the job done best and ditch the ones that don’t. 

7. Survey your team to identify gaps in marketing technology capabilities

Until now, we’ve been talking a lot about excess tools and overlapping capabilities. But there can also be gaps in your capabilities, processes that aren’t being addressed with your MarTech stack that could be. 

Often, this is because the person adding new MarTech tools isn’t fully aware of the team’s day-to-day tasks and challenges. They’re not “in the trenches,” so to speak. 

The best way to tackle this? Just ask. Sit down with your team and find out more about their daily routine. Or send it to them in a survey. You can ask the following simple questions: 

  • What adds a lot of time to your daily workflow? 
  • What makes your job harder?
  • What tasks do you think could be automated? 
  • Are there any tasks that you feel are redundant or mundane? 
  • What tools do you wish you had that would make certain tasks easier? 

For example, one of your employees may say that keyword research is taking up a lot of their time. If you don’t have anything in your stack that addresses keyword research, then this is a gap in your capabilities. 

You can also tie this discussion or survey to the goals that you created earlier. Here’s an example: 

Goal: Increase organic traffic

Marketing strategy: Content creation and SEO

Challenge: Keyword searches are taking a long time to do manually 

Tool suggestions: Moz, Ahrefs, or other SEO tool

8. Think of your stack like an ecosystem 

Scott Brinker, the creator of the MarTech 5000, believes we’re entering the “second golden age of MarTech.” He posits that a new dynamic is emerging in the industry, that the old battle between suite vs. best of breed solutions is being replaced with something more akin to an ecosystem.

In this new ecosystem, the major platforms will serve as the backbone of marketing stacks, designed to be augmented with specialized apps that can plug deeply into their systems. 

This means you no longer have to choose between a suite solution vs. a hodgepodge stack of disconnected MarTech tools. You can have both — if you build the right ecosystem.  

So, when building or consolidating your stack, find one tool to act as the backbone. This tool should have broad capabilities, including the option to grow or scale your business. It should also allow deep integrations with other tools and apps, not just surface-level add-ons. 

Recommended tools for a marketing technology stack

In this next section, we’ll go over the different types of tools you should have in your MarTech stack, along with specific recommendations for tools in each category. 

Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)

A good customer relationship management (CRM) system is at the heart of any good MarTech stack. This is the tool that manages all your customer data, keeping contact details up to date, tracking every customer interaction, and managing customer accounts. 

Without a CRM, every time someone interacts with a customer or meets with a new sales prospect, all of that information stays with them. At best, maybe they type up some notes to keep on their laptop. 

At worst, all that information just stays in their head. Either way, it’s virtually impossible for other members of the team to step in to serve the customer if necessary. 

A good CRM system solves this problem by tracking all these details and keeping them in one centralized location — accessible to everyone. This allows all your communication to be personalized, no matter which member of the team is handling the situation. 

1. Salesforce

Salesforce is the top-rated CRM on G2 with over 11,000 reviews and an average user rating of 4.2. Salesforce strives to help businesses of all sizes accelerate sales, automate tasks and make smarter decisions. 

It offers the following capabilities: lead and contact management, sales opportunity management, workflow rules and automation, customizable reports and dashboards, and a mobile application. 

2. HubSpot Sales Hub

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Our next pick for CRM software is HubSpot Sales Hub, with an average user rating of 4.4 on G2 based on over 8,000 reviews. 

HubSpot Sales Hub strives to help teams close more deals, deepen relationships, and manage their pipeline more effectively — all on one easy-to-use platform. 

Popular features include sales engagement tools, configure-price-quote (CPQ) functionality, and robust sales analytics for growing teams.

3. ActiveCampaign

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The third-place contender for CRM solutions on G2 is ActiveCampaign with 8,000+ reviews and an average user rating of 4.6. 

ActiveCampaign defines itself as a customer experience automation platform (CXA), combining CRM capabilities with features like email marketing and marketing automation. This allows for segmentation and personalization across social, email, messaging, chat, and text.

Project Management Software

Another essential tool in your MarTech stack is project management software — especially if you have a large team. This is going to help you manage the details of each project while keeping everyone on the same page. 

Specifically, project management software helps teams manage goals and long-term projects by assigning and coordinating individual tasks as they relate to one another. 

Most project management solutions accomplish this by using a range of tools that manage workloads, monitor productivity, and allocate resources. 

Users can typically track multiple projects, track a team or individual’s progress, analyze team productivity, and communicate with other team members.

Welcome 

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Ok, so we might be a little biased here 😉 but we think Welcome’s the top choice when it comes to project management solutions — especially if you have a large marketing team collaborating on multiple projects at once.  

What makes us so sure? For one, Welcome’s software is specifically built for marketing teams. This means you can create seamless workflows designed for creatives, allowing your team to swiftly fulfill requests, track and proof work, and deliver on-brand work. 

You can even keep an eye on the current commitments (and bandwidth) of everyone on your team, helping to avoid burnout and ensuring you have the right people and time allocated to every project.

Plus, you can collect creative requests from anyone in (or out) of your organization, automatically delegate work based on your custom routing rules, lock in SLAs and get back to what you’re here to do — create.

With an average user rating of 4.2 on G2, here’s what a few people are saying about Welcome

“My business partners can now update, edit and place new requests whenever they want. While my team can see the requests and act upon them. There are no lengthy email chains for now.”

“Stakeholders are able to easily fill out pre-designed briefs at the beginning of a project, attach any requirements or content, and our demand gen team can ask questions, ask for additional documentation and can then accept a project and kick it off. As projects morph, so too can this project brief. Really helps with keeping projects organized and inclusive.”

Marketing Automation Software

Marketing automation software is exactly what it sounds like — software that automates routine marketing tasks. Common workflows ripe for automation include email marketing, behavioral targeting, lead prioritization, and personalized advertising. 

Besides automating tasks, this type of software provides teams with a central marketing database, helping marketers create segmented, personalized, and timely campaigns. 

Marketing automation tools also feature strong analytics programs that can help teams determine the success of individual campaigns across segments and channels. They also typically measure the impact of campaigns on marketing team KPIs, campaign ROI, and company revenue.

Something to keep in mind about marketing automation software, however, is that a large database of leads is needed for automation to have much of an effect on your bottom line. 

So, it often makes sense to establish a steady flow of inbound leads before adding marketing automation software to your stack — or to choose a solution that can also help you do that. 

1. ActiveCampaign 

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Our first pick for a marketing automation solution is ActiveCampaign. As we mentioned above, ActiveCampaign defines itself as a customer experience automation platform (CXA), combining CRM capabilities with marketing automation features. They claim it’s like “getting an extra employee without needing an extra desk.”

Examples of tasks you can automate with ActiveCampaign include a welcome series with email automation, tracking contact engagement with tags, custom fields, analytics, and performance reporting, and pulling info from offline and digital channels. 

2. SharpSpring

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The third-place contender for marketing automation software on G2 is SharpSpring, a Constant Contact company that’s garnered an average user rating of 4.5 on the platform.  

SharpSpring frames itself as a revenue growth marketing platform that helps small businesses generate leads, improve conversions to sales, and drive higher returns on marketing investment

All the features in SharpSpring are designed to help users generate quality leads with targeted communication and lead nurturing, win more customers with dynamic content and personalization, and convert leads faster with purposefully designed content and landing pages. 

3. Klaviyo

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Our third pick for marketing automation software is Klaviyo, a solution with 4.6 stars on G2.  Klaviyo calls itself a growth marketing platform and strives to help you deliver personalized, automated experiences to customers. 

Klaviyo allows you to automate these experiences across owned marketing channels like email, SMS, in-app notifications, and the web. 

Email Marketing Software

Email marketing software is a must-have in any MarTech stack because it automates the process of sending marketing and transactional emails to customers. 

Email marketing software can also manage your contact lists, help you design and write compelling emails, and track whether messages were opened or read. 

It can even help you build and manage opt-in email lists, segment lists to target your email sends, and automatically manage unsubscribes or subscriber responses.

There’s a pretty wide variety of email marketing tools out there, ranging from beginner-friendly visual editors to more complex HTML or JavaScript templates. 

Many solutions are integrated with other MarTech tools, especially CRM platforms and marketing automation software, while others are standalone. 

1. Constant Contact

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The top-rated email marketing solution on G2 is Constant Contact, one of the old-timers in the MarTech world with over 20 years in the business. 

Constant Contact has compiled nearly 5,000 reviews on G2 with an average user rating of 4.0. 

The platform offers an easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor along with hundreds of pre-designed templates.  

Other popular features include automatically sending welcome emails to new subscribers, sending emails based on user behaviors, uploading contact lists from Excel, Outlook, Salesforce, or wherever you store your contacts, and tracking results in real-time. 

2. Mailchimp

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Mailchimp takes the second spot on G2 with an average user rating of 4.3 and 11,000+ reviews

This email marketing software is based on AI-powered, user-friendly tools that anyone can use to be successful. 

Mailchimp claims to put your audience at the center so you can send marketing emails and automated messages, create targeted ad campaigns, build landing pages, send postcards, facilitate reporting and analytics, and sell online.

3. Zoho Campaigns

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Our third pick for email marketing software is Zoho Campaigns, with an average user rating of 4.3 on G2. Similar to Constant Contact and Mailchimp, Zoho lets you create emails using pre-designed templates, layouts, and a drag-and-drop editor. 

Other popular features include dynamic content, email polls, and automated list segmentation that help send personalized messages to your audience. Zoho also offers A/B testing, list management, and automatic handling of unsubscribes and bounces. 

Web Content Management Software 

Web content management software has changed dramatically over the past decade. It’s even gone through a few name changes from web content management (WCM) to content management system (CMS) to digital experience platform (DXP). 

No matter what you call it, this software is a critical component in your MarTech stack because it handles all the things that go on behind the scenes of a website — so you can focus on the content itself. 

Today, there’s an endless variety of web content management software to choose from, each with its own set of features and benefits. 

Some software, for example, is ideally suited for ecommerce sites, whereas others are tailored towards bloggers or service-based businesses. Which one is right for you mostly depends on what you need your website to do and how tech-savvy you are. 

1. WordPress

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Our top CMS pick goes to WordPress, bringing in an average user rating of 4.3 on G2 and powering around 43% of all websites on the internet. WordPress offers the flexibility and freedom to build any kind of website you want (personal blog, online store, membership site, and more). 

Plus, with hundreds of themes to choose from, you don’t need any technical skills or coding knowledge. That said, there is a bit of a learning curve with WordPress and many beginners use drag & drop page builder plugins to make things easier.

2. HubSpot CMS Hub 

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The second choice goes to HubSpot CMS with 4.5 stars on G2. Like WordPress, this software allows users to easily create and manage websites without coding experience. 

HubSpot CMS also lets users personalize pages for different visitors and optimize them for mobile devices and conversions.

3. Pantheon 

 

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Another good choice for web content management software is Pantheon, which has a user rating of 4.5 on G2. 

Pantheon is a serverless CMS that allows you to build WordPress or Drupal sites on a cloud infrastructure that delivers sub-second page loads using object cache and a lightning-fast content delivery network.

Content Marketing Platform (CMP)

A good content marketing platform helps streamline and optimize the content creation process — something that’s becoming increasingly important as content marketing becomes more and more complex. 

In some ways, a CMP is similar to project management software in that it creates workflows and helps manage individual tasks related to larger projects. 

But CMP’s dive deeper into content creation itself, providing teams with things like collaborative editorial calendars and workflows, digital asset management, and content performance analytics. 

Welcome

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Our top recommendation for a content marketing platform goes to Welcome. Welcome’s CMP helps teams create faster, repeatable processes to deliver content your audience will love. 

Plus, Welcome’s platform includes SEO and keyword research to optimize your content and it lets you leverage‌ ‌real-time‌ ‌search‌ ‌data‌ ‌to inform‌ ‌your‌ ‌content‌ ‌strategy,‌ ‌optimize‌ ‌content‌ ‌so‌ ‌that‌ ‌it‌ ‌ranks‌ ‌well‌ ‌for‌ ‌search,‌ ‌and‌ ‌ensure‌ ‌it‌ ‌resonates‌ ‌with‌ ‌your‌ ‌audience.‌‌‌

You can also create and proof content of all formats with Welcome. Have a fresh idea? Use our built-in, rich-text HTML editor to author an original piece, and upload content (.ppt, .xls, .doc, .mp4 or other format) directly. That way, your team can create, proof, and version work — all in one place.

You can even distribute content to every channel from one location and seamlessly‌ ‌push‌ ‌content‌ ‌to‌ ‌your‌ ‌most‌ ‌important‌ ‌downstream‌ ‌systems‌ ‌(social,‌ ‌CMS,‌ ‌CRM), ensuring ‌‌a‌ ‌consistent,‌ ‌cross-channel‌ ‌content‌ ‌experience.‌‌‌

2. Loomly

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Our third choice for content marketing software is Loomly, with an average user rating of 4.6 on G2. Loomly is designed to help marketing teams create better content for social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

SEO tools are critical to have in your MarTech stack if you want to improve how your website and content rank in organic search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Most SEO tools provide insights and help identify the best strategies to improve ranking on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Many also offer competitor data and broad industry analysis. 

1. SEMrush

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SEMrush is the top-rated SEO tool on G2, garnering an average user rating of 4.5 with over 1,000 reviews. 

SEMrush offers over 50 products, tools, and add-ons to improve online visibility — including tools for search, content, social media, and market research. Plus, SEMrush has data for more than 140 countries, seamless integration with Google, and task management platforms

2. SE Ranking

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In second place on G2 for SEO tools comes SE Ranking, boasting a whopping 4.8-star average user rating. SE Ranking is an all-in-one SEO software that claims to offer all the SEO tools needed to successfully complete online marketing projects. 

Popular features include keyword position tracking and keyword research, website audit, competitor analysis, keyword suggestion and grouping, backlink monitoring, and automated professional reporting. 

3. Ahrefs

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Our third pick for search engine optimization software is Ahrefs, with an average user rating of 4.6 on G2. Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO toolset, with free learning materials and a passionate community and support system for beginners.  

Popular features include competitor research (unveiling your competitor’s organic keywords, backlink strategies and PPC keywords) and link building (find the strongest backlink opportunities in your niche).  

Plus, you can take advantage of Ahrefs’ mentions monitoring feature and get email alerts every time you or your brand is mentioned online. 

Web analytics tools

Web analytics tools are important to have in your MarTech stack because they help you understand who visits your website and what they do while they’re there. Here are some examples of the type of data you can collect with a good web analytics tool: 

Visitor data:

  • Number of visits and unique visitors 
  • New vs returning visitor ratio
  • Where your visitors are from (country)
  • What browser or device your visitors are using

Visitor behavior:

  • Common landing and exit pages
  • Frequently visited pages
  • How much time visitors spend per visit
  • Bounce rate

Campaign data:

  • How much traffic specific campaigns are driving
  • Which websites send the most traffic
  • What keyword searches are driving traffic

1. Google Analytics 

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Used on over 30 million websites, Google Analytics (GA) is by far the market leader in the web analytics space. It has an average user rating of 4.5 on G2 with nearly 6,000 reviews. 

GA uses state-of-the-art conversion attribution and testing tools that can help your marketing team build better user experiences and maximize your digital strategy. 

2. Mixpanel 

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Our second pick for web analytics software goes to Mixpanel, with a 4.5-star user rating on G2. 

Mixpanel is a bit different compared to traditional traffic tools. It’s specifically designed to help SaaS and website owners get real-time data insights into how people interact with a product.

Mixpanel’s self-serve product analytics solution allows teams to analyze how and why people engage, convert, and retain — in real-time and across devices. 

3. Amplitude Analytics 

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Our third pick for web analytics software is Amplitude Analytics, coming in with 4.5 stars and 1,000 reviews on G2. 

Amplitude frames itself as a Digital Optimization System used by brands and disruptive teams to understand and personalize their digital products, and optimize the business value of product innovation. 

Popular features include real-time analytics, cross-platform tracking, powerful behavioral analytics, and enterprise-level security and customer support. 

MarTech stack FAQs

Still have a few questions about marketing technology? Makes sense, it’s a huge topic. Here are a few answers to some common points of confusion. 

What are MarTech and AdTech? Any difference?

As you know, MarTech is short for marketing technology. It includes all the tools used to optimize or automate marketing tasks, from project management to SEO to lead generation. 

Adtech, on the other hand, is short for advertising technology. It’s somewhat related to MarTech, in the same way that marketing and advertising are related. But adtech solutions focus primarily on things like ad buying and digital spending. 

That said, MarTech and adtech solutions are starting to converge in some places as consumers gravitate more and more towards digital content. Savvy marketers can use this convergence to create seamless experiences that are more engaging for the customer. 

One way to do this is to integrate your adtech and MarTech stacks. This can give you a more complete view of your customer by unifying data and communications. 

What are some examples of AdTech

Demand-side platforms (DSP) – Companies use DSPs to buy online ad space through bidding auctions. DSPs connect advertisers with ad networks and allow them to access available inventory. 

Supply-side platforms (SSP) – Publishers use SSPs to sell ads. The SSPs connect to ad exchanges to make a publisher’s inventory available for DSPs to bid on. 

Search engine marketing (SEM) platforms – These platforms help advertisers purchase ad space on search engines for specific keywords. Examples include Semrush and Google Ads. 

Native adtech – A native ad is designed to look like part of the web content that a person is viewing, as opposed to an ad. Native adtech platforms help advertisers distribute these ads. Examples include Taboola and Outbrain. 

Ad exchanges – This is a marketplace that facilitates the buying and selling of digital advertising spots between DSPs and SSPs, often in real-time. Examples include AppNexus and Verizon Media. 

Advertising networks – These are aggregators that collect ad inventory from publishers and sell it to buyers. Examples include AdMob by Google, Yahoo Gemini, Google Display Network, Meredith, and AdCash. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, you’re feeling more optimistic at this point about wrangling your MarTech stack into shape. Here’s a quick recap of 8 best practices when building or consolidating a stack for large teams: 

  1. Narrow down why you need each tool in your stack.
  2. Know where human vs technology is more appropriate.
  3. Find other alternatives that consolidate the solutions you need.
  4. Determine which tools aren’t worth their cost.
  5. Always start with a free trial.
  6. Determine which tools perform functions that are too similar. 
  7. Survey your team to identify gaps in marketing technology capabilities.
  8. Think of your stack like an ecosystem. 

How to Build Consolidate a MarTech Stack for Large


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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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MARKETING

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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