7 Must-Dos for a Successful Tech Stack
A technology stack – or, in developer speak, a “tech stack” – is the technological foundation of a website. It’s the combination of software and language that brands use to serve their site’s main purpose. Each layer must function efficiently both individually and with the rest of the stack, meaning that there’s not a lot of room for error during the initial construction.
An individual website is typically built upon a few tech stacks – the back end (think operation system, web server, programming language), the front end (frameworks, task runners, editors/IDEs), and the stack that we’re going to be focusing on: the marketing technology stack (a.k.a. the martech stack).
A marketing tech stack is a combination of marketing-based tools, including SaaS platforms and social media, email outreach, ad, and content management technologies, that together help brands execute their marketing strategies. And like traditional tech stacks, the layers of the marketing tech stack have to be chosen carefully to best achieve the ultimate goals of the brand.
Every brand has a unique set of needs and objectives that determines the best combination of tools for their martech stack. But just having the tools in place isn’t enough to guarantee success – you need to know how to make the best use of them too and be able to identify what is and isn’t working. Often, clients come to us with marketing tech stacks that aren’t serving their purpose. Sometimes it’s because the layers aren’t structured in such a way that they work optimally together, sometimes it’s due to holes in the stack where necessary tools are missing, but often it’s just because the client isn’t optimizing their martech strategy. Below, we outline the seven things all digital marketers should do to make the most out of their marketing tech stack.
1. Integrate your tools
We’ve said it a few times already, but it’s worth repeating: each tool in your tech stack has to function individually and as part of the whole. Instead of thinking of your marketing tech stack like a totem pole, each layer sitting atop another, think of it like an infinity loop, each layer continuously affecting and being affected by the others. When selecting applications for your martech stack, look for tools that can be seamlessly integrated together instead of standalone tools that primarily function alone.
There are big benefits to integrating the tools of your marketing tech stack, the major ones among them being ease of use and ease of analysis. Your marketing tech stack should also be integrated with your website’s more traditional tech stack for greater efficiency, especially when it comes to any necessary troubleshooting that has to be done (your IT team will thank you).
2. Get the most out of your data
Each tool in your marketing tech stack collects data. From audience demographics and behaviors to content popularity to specific days and times when your marketing efforts are most successful, each piece of data has a wealth of value when it comes to your overall marketing goals. You should be data mining across your martech stack, pulling out relevant information from each application and using the data to fine tune your strategy. Don’t consider each data point individually; analyze them as a group to look for patterns and insights. Information on the success of particular pieces of content can be helpful for designing social media campaigns. Data on the behaviors of your email outreach audience can help you make better informed decisions about running offers and calls to action.
The best way to get the most out of your martech data is to ask broad questions and then look for information across the stack that can provide you with answers. For example, ask yourself: What does my current user base look like? Then combine data from various tools – social media, email, web page analytics – to answer that question. The more you mine and analyze, the more you know about the who, what, when, where, how, and why of your individual marketing efforts.
3. Understand your consumer’s journey
Each user that visits your site takes a journey through the digital funnel. A complete iteration of this journey starts with brand awareness, follows through to consideration and the all-important conversion, and finally, hopefully, heads on to loyalty and retention. Not every customer makes it through the complete cycle – in fact, most of them don’t – but even though conversion and retention are obviously the ultimate end goals, you have to focus your resources on all stages of the consumer journey.
Some marketers make the mistake of assuming that marketing starts and ends with brand awareness, but the goal of effective digital marketing isn’t just to get a user on the page, it’s to carry them through the entire digital funnel. As such, your marketing tech stack needs to be complete with tools that function at each stage of the journey – awareness, sales, and retention.
4. Don’t neglect A/B testing and don’t be afraid to adapt when necessary
We know, it can be a pain to A/B test each component of your marketing strategy, but skipping this step isn’t really an option if you want to build the most effective web presence that you can. And this definitely applies to your marketing tech stack. Never choose an application to add to your stack based solely on reviews – do the necessary work to determine just how an application will work for you and for your particular objectives. To best optimize your martech stack, experiment with different applications right in the beginning and compare how they do or don’t help you achieve your goals.
If you already have a fully functioning martech stack, you can still A/B test within the different components. Always be on the lookout for how you can make the most of each function, and never settle for a tool that isn’t providing you with value. Don’t be afraid to swap out one tool in the stack for something that performs better. As long as you continue to integrate across platforms you shouldn’t have a problem making a change when something isn’t working.
5. Build your stack with focus
The primary goal of every business is to make money, but simply approaching your marketing strategy with that objective in mind isn’t going to prove very helpful. The best marketing tech stacks help achieve smaller goals that eventually lead to the bigger goals. Manufacture the best product or service and there’s still no such thing as guaranteed revenue. Strategy lies in the minutiae; in the clear, dedicated tasks that serve to support the entire system.
So ask yourself: What kinds of specific goals can my marketing tech stack achieve? Perhaps you want to get more of your social media followers to click on your website. Maybe you want to rank higher in the search listings or have more email opens. Hone in on specific, easier achievable goals with the technologies in your martech stack, and eventually you’ll find that increased revenue just comes along as part of the package.
6. Never underestimate the power of good content
From your ad platforms to your social media platforms to your outreach platforms, each tool within your marketing tech stack needs to be supported with high-quality content. After all, what’s the point in building a well-designed, well-integrated system if you’re not going to put in the work to keep it strong and effective?
When crafting content for your various tech stack applications, make sure you’re:
- Keeping a consistent voice. Though some platforms are inherently more or less formal than others, the individual voice of your brand should be present throughout. Work on generating a clear voice and make sure everyone on your marketing team knows it well.
- Keeping a consistent message. All of your various technological tools should be working together toward a set of goals. Create content that furthers these specific, focused objectives.
Don’t relegate yourself to purely written content. Some of your martech tools will be better served with audio, video, or visual content, rather than text alone. When coming up with a content marketing strategy, think of what types of content work for each layer of the stack, and then organize your efforts around that information.
7. Think big, but also manageable
There is no designation regarding how big your marketing tech stack should be. Build on what works, adding functions that further your objectives in the most effective way possible. But avoid the trap of adding too much. When you consider your stack as a whole, it should be designed to function as efficiently as possible, meaning it has all the tools that you need to best execute your marketing strategies, but no tools are redundant and there’s not so much going on that you’re overwhelmed when trying to make sense of all the data.
We get it, it can be tempting to add on every tool that promises some sort of additional useful function. Resist the urge to add, and embrace the tools that promise the most bang for your buck.