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My Stack is Bigger than Your Stack, So What?

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My Stack is Bigger than Your Stack, So What?

How big should a martech stack be? The answer is, as big as it needs to be, which I know isn’t a helpful answer. On our platform we have almost 1,000 stacks under management, ranging from 10 products to more than 250. Our own stack has 43 and we are a small company with a limited marketing budget.

 It’s virtually impossible to benchmark stacks from a size perspective due to a lack of consistency regarding:

  • The categories to be included  – Only marketing tech or marketing tech + sales tech + adtech (some consider ad tech entirely separate from martech) + service tech + data sources? Note: we see data sources showing up more and more in tech stacks.
  • The types of products included – Generally it’s purchased products, internally developed ones and those acquired and managed by agencies on the company’s behalf. But what about free products? Our data shows most companies don’t bother tracking them because it’s seen as too difficult or unimportant because it doesn’t impact the budget. This is a mistake. Some free products are critically important gems that are important to know about. 
  • How comprehensive it is – Some companies choose to look only at their critical foundational platforms. We, on the other hand, catalog every single piece of technology we use.
  • The scope – Some companies have one comprehensive source of truth (aka stack), while others manage technology at a department, business unit or geographical perspective and manage multiple stacks. We’ve even seen companies building stacks for specific marketing objectives e.g., lead acquisition, engagement etc.

Read next: Here’s how startups and small companies should build their marketing stacks

In building your stack, don’t focus on trying to find a guide to tell you how big your stack should be. Instead work from the ground up:

  1. Establish your foundational technology infrastructure. For most companies this includes:
    • A way to create campaign materials, 
    • A system to be your source-of-truth for data, 
    • A way to manage prospect and customer relationships,
    • A means to acquire and nurture leads and engage customers,
    • One or more systems to support collaboration,
    • Tools to analyze and assess results.
    • Tools to manage assets, budgets and technology, and a platform to facilitate online sales if needed.

You may not need discrete tools for each function, depending on your environment your marketing automation platform may also function as your CRM and email platform.

  1. Consider things beyond core functionality:
    • Suitability for the size and skills of your team. If you choose a product that is too complex than your team can handle, it will never be fully utilized and you will not get enough of a return on your investment.
    • How well everything works together. Can critical data get where it needs to go? Find out if your products can easily integrate before you buy them. Otherwise you will have to develop custom integration code (depending on the system it could be a six-figure cost).
    • Scalability. You should be able to use your foundational elements for 3-5 years. That means they must be able to grow with the company. It’s a huge task to swap systems out, taking from six to 18 months to do. 
    • Cost. It’s important to understand on a product-by-product basis and at the stack level how your purchases factor in and impact customer acquisition costs (CAC).
       
  2. What do you need to achieve your objectives? With more than 9,000 martech products on the market, how do you sort through them? Your marketing goals will focus your efforts in the right place. Also, it’s critically important to consider whether the technology you already have can handle your expected future needs. One of the key contributors to stack bloat is redundant functionality within the stack. This is caused by looking at each set of technology requirements on its own and not considering the stack as a whole.

Remember, the need to create new campaigns, leverage new channels, improve targeting, etc., means you are going to add more technology to your stack. That’s okay, as long as you keep the CAC impact in mind. 

Is smaller better?

There’s an idea going around that we should all make our stacks smaller via consolidation. The argument is that a smaller stack will be easier to manage and less costly – but will it? Replacing five products with one product doesn’t guarantee easier stack management and lower costs. A new product could add a new level of complexity and require a long implementation and onboarding period and extensive training. It could also cost significantly more than the products that are being replaced.  

Consolidation is a favorite theme of vendors with large multi-function systems that want you to use their product over everything else. There are times when this makes sense, particularly when integrations are involved, but there are plenty of times when it doesn’t. As yet there is no single platform that can deliver the functionality needed across the stack so don’t waste any time thinking about that.   

Consolidation can be needed when a stack gets out of control due to lack of centralized oversight and purchasing. Then bloat becomes obvious through skyrocketing expenses without the ability to demonstrate return on investment. We’ve worked through this process with a number of customers and in every situation it’s because of redundant contracts, products and functionality. If you have processes in place to prevent this, your only risk of bloat is keeping products that didn’t live up to expectations or no longer serve your marketing objectives. This is easily avoided by establishing performance benchmarks and conducting regular stack reviews. 

If we can’t define the optimum size of a tech stack then we certainly can’t look at a stack and say “that needs to be consolidated.”  Stop worrying about stack size, the perfect size for your stack is one that ensures you meet your marketing objectives in a cost-effective way.


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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Anita Brearton is founder and CEO of CabinetM, a marketing technology management platform that helps marketing teams manage the technology they have and find the technology they need. A long-time technology marketer, Anita has led marketing teams from company inception to IPO and acquisition. She is the author of the Attack Your Stack and Merge Your Stacks workbooks that have been written to assist marketing teams in building and managing their technology stacks, a monthly columnist for CMS Wire, speaks frequently about marketing technology, and has been recognized as one of 50 Women You Need to Know in MarTech.

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

This afternoon, HubSpot announced it would be making cuts in its workforce during Q1 2023. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it put the scale of the cuts at 7%. This would mean losing around 500 employees from its workforce of over 7,000.

The reasons cited were a downward trend in business and a “faster deceleration” than expected following positive growth during the pandemic.

Layoffs follow swift growth. Indeed, the layoffs need to be seen against the background of very rapid growth at the company. The size of the workforce at HubSpot grew over 40% between the end of 2020 and today.

In 2022 it announced a major expansion of its international presence with new operations in Spain and the Netherlands and a plan to expand its Canadian presence in 2023.

Why we care. The current cool down in the martech space, and in tech generally, does need to be seen in the context of startling leaps forward made under pandemic conditions. As the importance of digital marketing and the digital environment in general grew at an unprecedented rate, vendors saw opportunities for growth.

The world is re-adjusting. We may not be seeing a bubble burst, but we are seeing a bubble undergoing some slight but predictable deflation.


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About the author

Kim Davis

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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Advocate | DigitalMarketer

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Advocate | DigitalMarketer

Happy customers love to share their experience, but sometimes they need some encouragement to do so. The cool thing is, once they do, they become even more loyal to your brand.

So, at this stage of the Customer Value Journey, ask people to share their positive experience with your brand by writing a review or sharing a social media post.

Once you get to stage seven, the Customer Value Journey is going to get a whole lot easier for you. This stage is all about learning your customer’s experience, and building up your testimonial database. 

The most important part of this step is asking these four questions. 

What Was Your Life Like Before Finding Our Solutions? What Challenges Were You Facing That Caused You to Consider Us? 

These questions are great not only because it gives you some really good stories, but because it gives you some insight on how you can provide similar prospects with that AHA moment. Understanding the average day of your clients is important in reflecting on your Customer Value Journey, and helps you understand what really set you apart from your competitors.

What Key Features Had the Biggest and/or Fastest Impact?

Not only is this going to get you to really specific stories, you will understand the specific things you provided that gave the biggest impact. The answers to these questions will not only give you great insight and testimonials, it will provide you with ideas for new lead magnets. This part is a new Entry Point Offer goldmine! 

What Has Been the Impact or Results in Your Life or Business Since Using Our Product or Service? 

This is a fairly broad question, and that’s why we put it after the others. You will have already gotten all of the specifics out of the way with #1 & #2. But when you ask this question, this is where you get the most valuable stories. You can use this part as testimonials, as an order form, as a sales page, this part is testimonial gold. 

If You Were Asked to Justify this Purchase to Your Boss or a Friend, What Would You Say? 

This is our favorite question by far. If you had to go back in time and justify this purchase, what would you say? I promise you what we’re going to find is a lot of great ideas for the jobs that your product or service has done. You’ll get a lot of great ideas for your core message canvas. This question is about backfilling all of the assets that you may not have. Here you’re going directly to the customer who are already happy, and using their justifications to help you sell to new customers. 

Hopefully you now understand just how valuable the Advocate stage could be, as well as the key questions you need to ask to get your customers talking. Here’s how it works for our example companies.

When it comes to fashion we all love to show off our outfits. So a good example for Hazel & Hems would be to have customers write reviews for a discount code or points towards their next purchase. 

Better yet, follow up with the customers to ask them to share and tag themselves wearing the items in a social media post and providing them with something valuable as a reward.

For Cyrus & Clark Media, hopping on zoom meetings or a streaming service for live talks about them and their business could generate valuable awareness for them, and a live case study for the agency. They can use the questions Ryan provided during this lesson to conduct the interview.



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Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

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Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

Through deals and coupons, Instacart has saved consumers more than $700 million in 2022. As we dive into 2023, the leading grocery technology company in North America has big plans to help consumers save even more while also helping CPGs generate sales. Instacart recently announced an advertising solution that helps both sellers and consumers called Instacart Promotions. This exciting feature is designed to help drive conversions, boost sales, and generate overall engagement on the app.

Interested in this feature and how it can help your business on Instacart? Read on as we dive into everything you need to know about this ad solution including benefits, how to get started, and more.

 

What are Instacart Promotions?

 

Instacart Promotions is an advertising feature that’s now available to all brand partners, including emerging brands, within their open beta program. Promotions give CPGs the opportunity to offer new deal structures, promotions, and incentives with Instacart Ad campaigns. With this feature in place, consumers will have access to more promotions, coupons, and deals that are tailored to them within the Instacart Marketplace.

“With the launch of our new Instacart Promotions, all of our brand partners now have the ability to set up coupons and promotions that can drive meaningful business results while also passing on more savings opportunities to consumers. We’re proud to continue expanding our portfolio with additional self-service capabilities, ad formats that drive results, and measurement that brands need to understand the true impact of their campaigns on Instacart.”

 

– Ali Miller, VP of Ads Product at Instacart

 

Source: Instacart

 

How Do Instacart Promotions Work?

 

Promotions, now available in Ads Manager, gives consumers the ability to discover more promotions and savings opportunities within the Instacart app. These promotions now show up directly on product item cards before checkout for easy accessibility. Promotions allow advertisers to customize their campaigns to sync with their goals and objectives whether that be driving sales, building baskets, or boosting trials.

Instacart shared a recent example of a brand successfully utilizing Promotions… 

Athletic Brewing, General Mills, Sola Company, and Wells Enterprises (maker of Halo Top) are strengthening campaign performance by pairing Instacart Promotions with ad formats such as Sponsored Product and Display. Instacart Promotions include two new flexible and customizable structures: Coupons (“buy X units, save $Y”) and Stock Up & Save (“Spend $X, Save $Y”). 

According to Instacart, in the coming months, the company “will work to further enhance the new offering with new deal structures such as Free Gifts and Buy One, Get One (“BOGO”). The new deal structures will help brand partners run “Free Sample” programs that can win new customers and serve personalized discounts for different customer segments, such as “new to brand” and “new to category.”  

 

Example of Instacart Promotions

Source: Instacart

 

Instacart Promotions Benefits

 

Deliver Value and Savings to Consumers

 

With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to deliver value and savings that will have consumers coming back for more. With this savings feature, your brand can stand out among the competition and offer a variety of deals to shoppers ie: “Buy X units, Save $Y”.

 

Hot tip: Ensure you are selecting products for your promotion that are well-stocked and widely available.  

 

Tailor Your Campaigns to Specific Objectives

 

With a variety of savings options available, your brand can structure deals to fit specific business goals and objectives. 

 

Hot tip: If you’re looking to drive visibility and awareness, try pairing promotions with Sponsored Product campaigns. 

 

Access Real-Time Performance Insights 

 

The Promotions beta program is live and can be accessed within Instacart Ads Manager. Within Ads Manager, advertisers can access real-time insights to maximize performance and adjust campaigns as needed.

 

Hot tip: Make sure your budget matches your discount and objectives.

 

“As an advertiser, Instacart’s unique offering to self-manage promotions is so exciting! Historically, making adjustments to offer values and other promotion parameters was a more manual process, but now we’ll be able to easily make optimizations in real-time based on redemption performance.”

Emily Choate

Emily Choate, Senior Specialist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti

 

Interested in Instacart Promotions?

 

With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to reach new customers, build bigger baskets, and drive sales. Interested in testing out the beta program or looking to get started with advertising on the app? Drop us a line – we’d love to help elevate your CPG brand on Instacart.

 

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