If you think of an ultimate MarTech guide, you would think of:
systems of records, systems of programs, apps, suites, super apps, platforms!
Oh, and ecosystems!
These are just some examples of MarTech jargon that one would encounter when trying to establish a decent marketing tech stack.
Marketing budgets have increased to 9.5% of overall company revenue in 2022.
Despite that, the number of available MarTech options has increased by 99% (from the original 5000 in 2017) to 9932 solutions in 2022!
How can teams navigate the jungle of MarTech options and compile a smart marTech stack that provides seamless access to their data and doesn’t burn a hole in their pockets?
At Spear Growth, we have noticed this problem far too often in our network of friends and partners. Everybody has an idea of what they want, but nobody knows exactly what they should choose.
They keep using the same old solutions that need upgrading.
Spear Growth’s founder Ishaan Shakunt hosts the Hack a Stack a podcast by Zluri, the SaaS management software. On this show, he gathers incredible insights from experts with decades of experience in SaaS tech stacks.
We decided to compile a running blog of Ishaan’s and other guests’ perspectives in this ultimate guide to MarTech stacks. This blog, called the Ultimate MarTech Guide, aims to help you decide easily and make the MarTech buying process less daunting by collecting insights from MarTech experts in one place. We will keep adding those insights to this blog as we record more episodes.
MarTech is a significant part of any B2B company’s marketing budget. Marketing leaders must be aware of how these tools are evolving.
Here’s how Ishaan puts it:
“MarTech companies start by solving a specific problem for a specific group of people. Then they grow by either adding more features to either serve their audience better or to expand to very closely-related audiences. And then they finally evolve into a platform or a suite.“
Scott Brinker, VP of Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot, made a poignant observation about this evolution:
“You don’t have to reinvent the wheel now. Most companies [today] buy these platforms and simply customize on top of that with a layer that is specialized for their particular business.“
If we are writing an ultimate MarTech guide, we must talk about what goes into buying MarTech stacks. According to Ishaan:
When budgeting for marketing, you need to consider 3 major components:
He clarifies that there’s no thumb rule or “magic ratio” we can use for distributing the budget across these categories. This distribution changes by the stage of the company, the industry, the market, the channels you want to use, the company’s goals, and even the stakeholders’ preferences.
He further adds that there will be no right answers. ”A company may do well even if you split this in very different ways, which is partly what makes marketing beautiful. Yes, it’s a science, but there’s also a component of art to it. Of course, you can mess this up. And when you do, it can hinder a company’s growth or even lead to it shutting down.”
When you have your first CRM and enter the world of marTech, you are also exposed to many other tools, such as revenue operations software that integrates data from multiple tools. But should you buy those tools?
Here’s what Victor Seca, CRM Manager at Olist (and Former Marketing Manager at OLX Brazil and L’Oreal), had to say about this:
“Different companies work [in] different ways. Maybe the CRM [could be used to] integrate different sources of information and be a source of truth. I wouldn’t advise that. I would say it’s better to have your source of truth somewhere easier to manage, like on your data lake, and you can connect that sort of tool to any other tools that you might be using within your company.“
Once you have narrowed down a few products you like, the next step is picking one. But it’s not a one-person decision. It is a decision that affects the entire marketing team because everyone on that team will use it. You don’t have to take approval from every employee, from associate to VP levels, but you do have to convince major stakeholders.
And when you share your choice with your stakeholders, they may have their thoughts. Or they might not agree with your choice. The best you can do is to thoroughly study all your shortlisted products and prepare a comprehensive and fair evaluation of all products considered.
Andreas Schneble, VP of Global Marketing & Communications at PPRO, shared a brilliant strategy for trying out new products before making the right purchase decisions:
“I think watching out for new players, playing with them, getting trial access, talking to the people behind it, so why did you do it this way? That’s a percent of time that a marketing team needs to spend on because otherwise you miss opportunities to reduce the cost.“
When you manage your data at a large scale, you might come across terms like a data lake or a data layer. Growing companies might have never heard that term before.
Victor Seca, CRM Manager at OLX, gave us a brief overview of what data lakes are and why you should use them:
“[Data lake is] a place where you can store all the data that you have in the cloud. If you are a digital company, [it’s] usually more natural for you to have a data lake because all the events, [and] actions that users are performing on your website or on your application are stored there. You will know the behaviors that they are doing and all the paths that they are [taking] within your, your product. And that’s really, really important for you to understand [the customer] behavior [to] identify when something is not going as it should be. [For example,] when someone is losing track [or] losing the habit of coming back to use your solution. So you can use that as a trigger that this user is likely to churn. So I need to understand why he’s not using our solution as often as he or she was and what should I do to bring back his attention. [To be able to do that] is huge for retention!“
Victor went on to add that, besides a data lake, you would also need:
Typically, companies in the growing phase need a dedicated ops team. When you have achieved a decent level of growth, it’s easier to scale further with a data intelligence and operations setup. So, the responsibility of managing the CRM in a growing company typically falls to a core functional team like the performance marketing team.
But having a CRM specialist who helps you build your tech stack is crucial because you need that support while growing. You cannot grow without an organized tech stack; it’s almost like a rite of passage for all companies wanting to be an enterprise someday.
Here’s what Victor Seca, CRM Manager at Olist had to say about this:
“We need to understand the user journey and how to communicate with each user and how to cross sell, how to make all these ecosystems work in an integrated way. I think that’s why it makes sense to have a CRM team. [It is important] to build a tech stack that will enable this team to do a great job in understanding the user journey, all the touch points, and managing all the touch points together to provide great experiences, cross sell [more], and drive retention.“
There may not be a fixed point. It would help if you had an ecosystem of people and processes around the tech stack to take advantage of it first.
So that begs the question, “at what moment in our growth journey should you start building your tech stack?”
Victor expands on this further:
“Different stages [in] different companies will have a different stack [and] a different size of the CRM team, and that’s okay. Not everybody will start with Salesforce or HubSpot; they probably will start small with less expensive tools, less integration among each channel. But later on, once you start growing and money comes kicking in, you can go to the market and bring in more money to the company. Of course that makes easier for you to understand that it’s the right time to change things and to go to the next level and hire a more professional team.”
Your conversion funnel is your core asset if your company sells to enterprise businesses.
The most traditional form of conversion funnel entry are forms. But forms are outdated.
For a better start to your conversion funnel, think:
You can optimize more of your funnel by optimizing the following:
Optimizing these factors ensures you go beyond the funnel entry and optimize the entire funnel.
If you have more data, segment them by
If you want to give your conversion funnel a royal treatment, gather your marketing team and sketch out your entire customer journey in a flowchart. Save it in a shared document and make it part of the onboarding journey for every new marketer in your team.
This ultimate MarTech guide is incomplete without talking about customer-centricity. Business-centric operations are the bane of modern businesses. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of marketing your products and services the way you want. What does that look like?
Victor Seca, CRM Manager at Olist, described it this way:
“For the company, that means fast results in a short term, but usually for that for the user that means annoying communications that, in long term, drives to loss in satisfaction and churn. There’s a huge challenge for most companies on how [to] avoid that and how [to] drive business results without compromising user satisfaction.“
Victor advocated for a user-first mindset. He added:
“I know that sounds obvious; everybody talks about it. But if you put the user needs first, you understand the user needs, you try to communicate with the user to drive him to the next step knowing exactly what he needs [so] you will support him. That gets him to the moment where he thinks ‘this company is for me, this company has a solution that will help me’ and that’s what drives the retention and a healthy growth for the company.“
But that’s not it. Victor cautioned against the “too many cooks spoil the broth” scenario. He added that:
“[In] the ecosystem mindset, usually when companies have huge structures, they have people managing different business units, and everybody wants to talk to every user at all times. So, it’s important to have someone that is in charge of the user journey and that will say no to those people or yes, whenever it makes sense. [This person must show] how we manage [the communication around] all the solutions, features, and products that that a company offers. [They must also help in] creating a journey where you know exactly when to offer each solution to each user. This way you can drive the results for every part of your business without creating bad experiences for the user.“