Why You Have a Marketing Stack — And How We Arrived at Ours

Photo credit: *sax via Flickr.

The world of marketing stacks can be a confusing one. In 2016 the marketing technology landscape grew to more than 3,500 companies, according to ChiefMarTec.

That’s not just a huge number; this figure gives us insight into how marketers think. We don’t use one big software provider for every marketing function — we actually use the best point solutions available to address specific marketing problems. The sum total of all these point solutions is called a marketing stack. Read on to learn more about why marketing stacks are important and how we arrived at ours.

What is a marketing stack?

A marketing stack is a group of technologies that marketers use to execute, analyze and improve their marketing activities.

This includes all technologies that marketing teams use, from marketing automation to data enrichment and analytics.

I don’t have a marketing stack. Why should I care?

Whether you’ve heard the term or not, you have a stack of your own; it’s the collection of services you use to improve your marketing. And since marketing increasingly involves more technical skills — like sophisticated and impactful data connections — you need to know whether your stack is too complex to work right. That means it’s vital to not only understand which technologies you are using, but also how your data flows between them.

What does a marketing stack look like?

Marketers visualize their marketing stacks in a bunch of different ways. This is how we’ve visualized AdRoll’s own marketing tech stack:

We still go back and forth on how to diagram out our own marketing stack. We’ve settled on this one (for now) because it does a good job of highlighting not only how we use different technologies, but also how data flows between systems.

The who’s-who of AdRoll’s marketing stack.

What goes into a marketing stack? It’ll be different for every company, and changes over time, but we don’t want to leave you hanging. Following our core value to be open and authentic, we’ve decided to share ours.

There are over 50 technologies in our marketing stack. I know, that’s a lot, but they all solve critical problems. Here’s how:

Awareness

Paid Media

Paid Search is a huge part of every digital marketing strategy and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We’ve also found great success with AdRoll’s own Prospecting tool. Not only does it reach new potential customers, it also boosts our retargeting campaigns. It’s like having display and social ad campaigns on steroids.

Social

Social media is an essential component of marketing strategies. Besides the usual suspects — Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin — we’ve also been surprised with our performance on Instagram. To wrangle it all together, Sprout Social is our go-to social platform.

Webinars

Webinars have been a critical part of our marketing mix. Whether we are partnering with another company or producing it solo, On24 has been a great platform because of their native integration with Marketo, and their unique presentation “widgets”. (Here’s a link if you want to check out a few.)

Website

Infrastructure

A lot goes into making a website tick. From content delivery networks — we’ve chosenFastly — to hosting — Pantheon’s got this one covered — and development — hard to beatGitHub — we could probably build a mini-stack here alone.

Localization

Global companies need global websites, and that means localization. We’ve partnered with Smartling to ensure that our site works for our target regions, from the US to Germany or Japan (and beyond).

SEO

SEO is a huge part of any successful marketing initiative. Besides webmaster tools, tools like Moz and Screaming Frog are crucial to crawl, measure and audit our website, highlight technical issues and inform content strategy.

UX

Usability, experience and testing should be integral in every facet of marketing, not just the website. For A/B testing, look no further than Optimizely. If you’re in need of more predictive UX tools, Crazy Egg and EyeQuant are great for predicting how users may interact with your pages.

Data Management

CRM

Salesforce is the lifeblood of our sales team, and the heartbeat of our lead routing systems. Even Salesforce’s stock ticker is “CRM.”

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is key to keep all of our marketing programs flowing efficiently, from webinar and whitepaper programs to emails and landing pages. Marketo is the foundation of our marketing technology stack. Almost every technology either connects in or out of Marketo.

Data Enrichment

Email addresses alone don’t provide enough info for sales reps to close deals. That’s where data enrichment comes in. We could write (several) blog posts on this topic, but to keep it short, vendors such as Clearbit, Datanyze, Infer and Alexa allow us to strengthen our leads with the vital descriptive and predictive data that our sales team craves. Strong data enrichment partners help us increase conversion rates across our website, allowing us to ask for our visitors to fill out fewer fields up front (fewer fields = higher conversion rate), then enrich on the back end.

(Re) Engagement

Retargeting

We eat our own dogfood so often that you’d think we’re all, well, dogs. Seriously, our house retargeting campaigns are a huge part of our marketing mix and deliver some serious ROI.

Email

Our email solutions serve as the perfect example of marketers choosing point solutions. For emails to our lead database, Marketo is king. Our SDR and outbound teams useOutreach.io while our growth marketing team has had great success with Customer.iofor marketing to customers directly. SendRoll for email retargeting has increasingly become a huge part of our email strategy.

Interoperability

Making all of these systems speak to each other in a timely fashion is tough. Like, real tough. Tools like Marketo’s LaunchPoint, Zapier and Segment help marketers connect complex solutions without code, but nothing will solve all of your problems right out of the box. We’ve had to build some internal webhooks and APIs on top of these to get everything where it needs to go.

Interaction

Customer Support

Answering support tickets? Check. Hosting AdRoll’s (new and improved) Help Center? Check. Our friends over at Zendesk have been incredibly helpful for all of our support teams around the globe.

Elevio, a recent addition to our stack, helps tie our support systems together with our customer communication tools. Speaking of which:

Customer Communication

Open channels of communication with your customers is as necessary to a business as water is to fish. If you’re anything like me, though, you hate picking up the phone. Chats are my go-to for live support, and Olark makes it easy to implement. Intercom andAppcues allow us to interact with customers when they’re most engaged; logged into our platform.

Internal Communication

Making sure the whole team is informed and aligned can be a challenge. Luckily, we’ve found Slack to be a tremendous tool for improving communication across the entire company. Chatter is also useful, especially when you need to be sure to get your point across in Salesforce.

Project Management solutions are varied, however, as each department works differently. Our team has found a good balance with Atlassian’s JIRA + Confluence andAsana.

Customer Feedback

Ensuring a customer feedback loop is vital for every business. SatisMeter allows our customers to provide Net Promoter Scores right in our app. The feedback not only helps our marketers, but AdRoll as a whole — from engineering to sales and product.

Analytics and Measurement

Site Analytics

It’s hard to beat Google Analytics in terms of flexibility and value. If set up correctly, it’s an invaluable tool for any marketer, but the devil is in the details. There’s so much packed into the tool that understanding what really matters becomes a question in itself.

Business Analytics

As I always (never) say, “if you can’t measure it, it didn’t happen.” Business analytics are a huge part of every marketer’s job. At the end of the day, we need to impact the bottom line. Our analysts and business intelligence team utilize a host of tools to wrangle our data together. Tableau then helps us turn the numbers into more easily consumable dashboards, which form the lifeblood of a sophisticated performance marketer.

The marketing technology stack is vital to the success of any business in today’s age, new or old. The earlier you build it and the more thought you put into it, the better. Start with a strong foundation and build towards your current and future needs so it will scale with your company.

Do you have a marketing technology stack or strategy? Share it with us @adroll, we love to geek out over marketing technology.

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