How To Design and Build the Ideal Martech Stack

Assemble and implement a powerful suite of tools for your business

Nicolás Vargas
Oct 31 · 7 min read
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Nowadays, there isn’t a single industry that hasn’t been transformed or influenced by technology, and marketing is not the exception.

Technology Adoption in US households — Our World In Data

According to Gartner's CMO Spend Survey for 2018–2019, nearly 30% of the overall marketing budget will be allocated to technology. When organizations use marketing technologies systematically to address data and business needs at each stage of the customer journey, we normally refer to this integration between marketing and technology tools as a martech stack.

But with so many new technologies being developed every year it can be difficult to decide which ones have the most potential for your business. In this article, we’re sharing how to design and build a sustainable martech stack that fosters customer relationships across multiple channels.

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

What Is a Martech Stack and Why Is It Important?

A marketing stack is a set of technologies and tools businesses normally use to build relationships with users at different stages of their customer journey across multiple digital channels (CMS, CRM, Web Analytics, Advertising Platforms, etc.)

To stay top of mind and maintain a competitive advantage, marketers must rely only on technological solutions that provide value to their users.

Martech Landscape —

While these tools can be effective to some degree on their own, their power and potential multiply when they’re stacked together in a logical and functional format.

Stacking technologies creates a seamless user experience and improves marketing operations efficiency. Your role as a marketer is to make sure all these tools speak to one another in a logical and efficient way.

Ed Fry’s Quote on Customer Data

Designing and Building Your Stack, Step by Step

Your martech stack should be laid out in a format that makes sense, works intuitively, and facilitates an improved customer experience.

That said, let’s take a look at some of the major steps you should take to design and build the right one for your company.

1. Define Your Needs

Identify what data your business really needs. Use the framework below to define the data points your team will use to profile your users across their customer journey.

Stranger NOT Visitor NOT User NOT Client NOT Referrer NOT Evangelist

Basic framework to define your needs in terms of customer/user data:

2. Run an Audit

Before you can start stacking marketing tools, it’s important to run an audit of the martech solutions you already have.

While compiling this list, be sure to include any piece of software used by any employee on your marketing team. From email applications to social media schedulers and CRM platforms, don’t leave anything out. At this point, you’re less concerned with duplication or any other issues, focusing rather on the solution itself.

Make sure to check with other stakeholders to see if they’re using any technologies that relate to marketing needs. You might find it easiest to conduct interviews or submit worksheets to help them uncover all of these solutions.

A few of the most common types of tools include:

Use the table below to visualize your current martech stack.

Martech stack auditing table

When your audit is over, you should have created a solid list of all the technologies that various groups in your organization use on a regular basis.

3. Develop a List of Requirements

To help pare down and organize your list, consider both the current status of your business, as well as where you’d like to be in the medium term. How big is the gap between your present and your desired future state?

Use the table below to visualize your martech requirements for the next three to years.

Martech requirements visualization — 3 to 5 years

You’ll need these answers to determine which vendor, features, and services are the most valuable and useful to your organization.

Remember: A potential vendor could provide a dazzling display of bells and whistles, but if you don’t need them, they could render your entire stack ineffective.

When you take the time to define your unique business challenges and opportunities, it helps you recognize the martech solutions that can pose the greatest benefits.

4. Plan Your Technology Needs

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all martech stack.

Based on your list of requirements and a bit of research, you’ll be able to determine which technologies are the most important to you.

List of tech requirements — Inspired by: Brian Balfour: Traction vs Growth, Ed Fry: MarTech napkin

For instance, a B2B company will use different channels and strategies to attract customers than a B2C one would.

Consider the level of business growth that you expect over the next three to five years. Then, determine which technologies you’ll need to continue, adopt or cease during this timeline to meet your goals.

A few of the core competencies you might require include:

Ask yourself the following questions.

5. Perform a Gap Analysis

During your vendor evaluation, you might find that there are myriad technologies that are overlapping or underutilized.

At the same time, you could find that there are major gaps in your current martech setup. For instance, you might have multiple vendors that provide data analysis but none that enable lead nurturing.

You should be able to match every vendor solution to a discrete marketing goal. If you can’t verify its usefulness within your organization, reconsider its place in your stack.

During this time, research new technologies that you might need to add to round out your approach and fill in any incomplete sections.

Use the table below to identify gaps on your martech stack.

Martech gap analysis

Tools like BuiltWith or will help you identify patterns in your industry.

6. Implement

After you’ve completed the above five steps, your martech list should be complete. The vendor technologies that you retained or the ones you added are those that you believe can help you reach your short-term and future goals.

Now, you’re ready to take action.

To make the process easier to understand, create a visual diagram that depicts how each martech solution will feed into the other, as well as how each feeds into your overarching vision. This can be a critical part of securing the buy-in and executive approval you need to drive change.

Microsoft martech stack

Once that’s achieved, you’re ready to start implementing your new (or improved) martech stack.

Tag management tools like Google Tag Manager or Tealium will help to simplify the implementation process

Building a Martech Stack That Delivers — Bonus Template

A successful marketing technology stack hinges on multiple moving parts working in concert with one another, so we have built a simple framework to guide you on your own journey.

Martech stack design framework — Inspired by: Brian Balfour: Traction vs Growth, Ed Fry: MarTech napkin & Intercom: Ultimate Marketing Technology Stack

If you can layer your software solutions in a coherent way, you’ll be that much closer to achieving the unique business goals that drive and define your company.

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

Thanks to Niklas Göke

Nicolás Vargas

Written by

Director of R&D @OMG — I develop Growth Marketing Strategies Using Online Channels. Co-founder at #growth-marketing #creativity #data

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

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