Does the perfect B2B marketing technology stack exist?
According to the State of Marketing Technology 2018 report, 69% of respondents believe "the perfect marketing stack does not exist yet." And if you're waiting for it to happen, don't hold your breath. The "perfect stack" will never exist. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to B2B marketing technology. Each organization must build a solution that fits the specific needs its business.
It's not a matter of the biggest stack with all the bells and whistles; it's a matter of building the best architecture to align with your strategy and meet your marketing goals.
Savvy B2B marketers understand that customizing a smart technology infrastructure takes careful planning. Of the marketers surveyed for the State of Marketing Technology 2018 report, 73% say they "have either created or plan to create a formal methodology for accessing their stacks."
To build a best-of-breed solution, start by establishing a solid baseline. Understanding your organization’s needs and processes should be the foundation of your MarTech strategy.
How to Build the Best B2B Marketing Technology Stack for Your Business
Your ultimate B2B marketing technology stack supports and enhances your organization's processes. It's the backbone of operational efficiency and provides clear support to reach your objectives. With an understanding of the tech portfolio, needs and challenges, organizations can begin to research solutions.
While specific software and tools can vary dramatically, there are several MarTech categories to consider:
- Crucial software for any B2B marketing organization. From our view, there are four types of tools that fall into this category: CRM, marketing automation, website CMS and demand orchestration software.
- Tools that facilitate engagement at specific stages in your buyers' journey
- Technologies that are used by your internal teams for process and efficiency
- Broad capabilities important to most organizations
For a deeper understanding of how we view these categories, check out the 2nd Edition of the Marketing Tech Blueprint Workbook. It contains a framework you can apply to help your organization make sense of your current stack and guide future tech investments.
Step #1: Understand Strategic Goals
Software is a tool, not a band-aid. Before building your stack, it's essential to assess your organization's needs and strategic objectives.
Reckless tech investment on new software and solutions rarely ends well. Scott Vaughan, CMO of Integrate, participated in a MarTech evaluation which discovered just 11 out of 80 software investments were being used by employees. A strategy-led mindset is key to avoid wasted tech investments.
Scott encourages organizations to view their tech portfolios with an investor’s mindset, instead of just acting like a buyer. He writes:
“It’s not about acquiring more or the latest technology that determines our success; it’s about becoming a smart investor who can effectively manage a portfolio of marketing technology assets and liabilities that you can put to work.”
Building a MarTech stack that delivers ROI requires marketers to align their tech strategy with their organizational goals.
5 Examples of Strategic MarTech Objectives
- Increase revenue: Meet specific revenue growth targets and marketing-attributed pipeline benchmarks.
- Promote customer value: Increase brand value in the mind of the customer.
- Increase cross-sells and upsells: Adopt a full-lifecycle approach to marketing to create more revenue from existing customers.
- Enhance the customer experience: Improve customer satisfaction, including customer engagement, retention, referrals and advocacy.
- Improve operational efficiency: Reduce time investment and wasted budget.
By approaching MarTech investment and assessment with clear business cases, internal investors have a rubric to measure the value of potential solutions.
Step #2: Assess the Existing MarTech Portfolio
Before you can build a kick-ass MarTech stack, you need a thorough understanding of where you stand today. This should generally be a collaborative effort between marketing, sales and other stakeholders.
Comprehensively assessing your current state goes beyond compiling a list of the technology you use today. It requires asking questions about integrations and the value of existing software investments such as:
- Which technologies are used by which marketing team members?
- Which are used beyond marketing by sales, customer success and others within the organization?
- Is each technology internal or external facing?
- How does it align with your buyer's journey?
- Which systems are integrated?
- Is the software mission-critical, or complementary to a mission-critical technology?
- Does the technology automate a manual process?
These are just some of the questions to ask as you take stock of your current investments. The 2018 B2B Game Changers recommend some additional questions in the Real Revenue Marketing Strategies to Advance Your Game eBook. You can grab a copy of it here.
Step #3: Define Processes and Identify Needs
Mapping your existing technology portfolio to your current processes is one way to identify opportunities for improvement.
Mapping B2B Marketing Processes
Start by documenting all the actions required to generate demand. This likely includes: planning events, executing paid campaigns, content creation and lead generation. But it doesn't stop at the activities you use to capture prospect data.
It also includes all the steps involved with getting that data into your systems. For instance, if you're running lead generation campaigns on LinkedIn, how often does your team log into LinkedIn to download lead reports? Do they take any measures to ensure those leads are valid? How do you map them to individuals accounts or opportunities?
Then think through your mid-funnel activities like nurturing and lead routing. And be sure to document your processes for analysis and optimization.
Connecting MarTech to Process
Once you have a complete list of processes, you can begin aligning your technology to identify areas of redundancy and opportunities for improvement. For each identified process, answer the following:
- What software or technologies are used to support the process?
- Which integrations support automated data flow in and out of this process?
- Which individual or team owns the process?
Identifying Gaps in MarTech and Process
A marketing tech blueprint is a visual map of your marketing technology that can help you see the big picture of your tech stack. It gives stakeholders a common view to understand how your tools and processes work together. Here's an example of Integrate's MarTech blueprint.
3 Questions to Evaluate MarTech Needs
- Which processes are manual instead of automated?
- Where are the roadblocks, including time-consuming processes, areas where the program is struggling to scale or consistent delays?
- What could perform better, such as software which frustrates employees?
3 Types of Essential MarTech
Regardless of an organization's size or maturity, there are three types of software that are absolutely critical. At a bare minimum, any MarTech stack must include a marketing automation platform (MAP), customer relationship management (CRM) solution, and a website content management system (CMS). As marketing orgs work to get revenue focused, there's an additional that's rapidly becoming an essential component of a holistic tech stack that's built to drive revenue at scale - Demand Orchestration Software.
1. Marketing Automation Platforms
A MAP supports efficiency in B2B organizations by automating marketing tasks such as inbound marketing, email marketing, social media, etc. Providers in this category include Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, HubSpot, Pardot and dozens of others.
2. Customer Relationship Management Solutions
CRM is a comprehensive database for customer engagement and account management. While some MAPs, like HubSpot include a CRM, more robust solutions include Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.
3. Content Management Systems
A CMS provides the foundation for multiple collaborators to create and publish digital content and, in some cases, may also provide support for website marketing activities. Some CMS options include Drupal, WordPress and HubSpot.
10 Other Types of Commonly Adopted MarTech
Obviously, with over 6,000 tools available in the marketing technology landscape, the options span far beyond these four core tech categories. To help marketers make sense of the noise, we recently polled the Top 43 Revenue Marketing Game Changers to understand beyond the essentials, what tools fall on their must-have list.
While the individual tools varied, there were some common themes you should consider if you're building a revenue-focused organization.
1. AttributionAttribution software delivers advanced analytics capabilities that enable marketing to see which touch points are effective in creating new customers. There are numerous attribution models. Some companies measure first touch, while others look at last touch. The organizations that are most effective measure multi-touch attribution examining the various combinations of interactions that it takes to move a customer from discovery to closed-won business. Three solutions to consider in this category are Bizible, LeanData and BrightFunnel.
2. Account-Based Marketing
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) software supports the execution and success of ABM strategies by enabling marketers to identify target accounts, run targeted campaigns, engage account-specific buying committees and measure funnel performance at the account-level. Solutions that are built for ABM include Engagio, DemandBase, Triblio and Integrate.
3. Demand Orchestration Software
Demand orchestration software automates top-funnel marketing activities, connects top-funnel data directly to MAPs and pulls lower-funnel data directly from MAPs and CRMs so marketers can be smarter about their top-funnel marketing efforts. The B2B Game Changers choose Integrate for demand orchestration and top-funnel automation.
4. Predictive and Intent Data
Marketers use predictive analytics and intent data to predict customer behavior, select target accounts, forecast pipeline and optimize marketing campaigns. Solutions include Mintigo, 6Sense, Lattice, Radius and Bombora.
5. Business Intelligence
Business Intelligence (BI) software give marketers data dashboard to visualize and analyze data in myriad ways. Real-time access into analytics and insights is essential to building a high-performing marketing organizations. BI solutions include Domo and Tableau.
6. Digital and Web Analytics
Solutions for advanced web analytics provide insight into customer behavior on your website and other digital platforms. While Google Analytics tends to be the go-to digital analytics solution for most marketers, other options include Omniture and Adobe Analytics.
7. Budget & Performance Management
Budget management software enables marketers to analyze ROI, optimize campaign budgets, and better forecast marketing pipeline contributions. Allocadia is the number one budget management tool recommended by B2B Game Changers.
8. Project Management
While not traditionally considered a 'marketing technology,' project management software was repeatedly reported by B2B Game Changers to be a must-have component in their tech stack. After all, in order to drive revenue at scale, marketers must have disciplined processes to support efficiency and collaboration across all team members. Trello and Asana are two projects management tools worth considering.
9. Data Integrity
Quality data is vital to today's B2B marketing organizations. It's not enough to generate high volumes of prospect data. You likely need a data integrity solutions to cleanse, enrich and verify data before it goes into your MAP and CRM. Common data integrity software includes Synthio, RingLead and Integrate.
10. Engagement Tools
You likely need a variety of applications to support personalized customer engagement and outreach. The B2B Game Changers use tools like Outreach and DiscoverOrg to identify the right decision makers to target, support streamlined communications across sales and marketing, and create consistent engagement experiences.
What’s in your Ultimate MarTech Stack?
As you set out to create a best-of-breed MarTech ecosystem, remember to evaluate your strategic objectives, existing tech and current processes before looking at new solutions.
For step-by-step guidance and customizable worksheets and templates, download the “Marketing Tech Blueprint Workbook.”