Dear marketing experts, what will your marketing team be like in six months? Or in a year? How many people will you add? What new tools, systems and data do you need?
There are many potential questions to ponder about the future of your business, but there is one certainty that you will be dealing with: more. More data, more people, more processes, more complex problems and more questions about security and data protection.
As you scale your team and your business, it is important to incorporate marketing technology into your daily processes. You want to use tools that simplify your processes today and help you grow your business.
What is Marketing Technology?
Marketing technology, sometimes referred to as MarTech, is the software and technology used by marketing teams to attract and retain customers. These tools are time-saving as they typically streamline and automate red processes. These tools also provide return on investment (ROI) data and help marketers analyze the success of their efforts.
The software that a particular marketing team uses to run their marketing campaigns is known as the marketing tech stack.
How is technology used in marketing?
Technology is used by marketers to run their marketing campaigns. Marketers use software that helps automate tasks and collect data so they can gain insight into campaign activity and its impact on customers.
For example, let’s say your team spends a lot of time emailing customers. The action repeats itself and keeps people away from more pressing tasks. You can use email automation software to save time sending emails. You also want the software that you use to track data about these emails so you can understand how your users interact with them.
In short, marketers use technology to make their jobs easier and understand its success. The technology that marketers use to successfully run their marketing campaigns is known as the marketing tech stack.
What is a Marketing Tech Stack?
As discussed above, a marketing tech stack is the tool marketers use to execute elements of their marketing campaigns, from lead generation to customer satisfaction. When building your marketing tech stack, there are hundreds of different tools to choose from – 8,000 to be precise.
At HubSpot, our Marketing Hub is an all-in-one platform that marketers can use to run their campaigns. While this isn’t the only feature, the software offers a variety of tools to choose from, including search engine optimization. The SEO tools bundle supports you in optimizing your website for SEO rankings with keyword research tools and in creating content.
Ultimately, the technology you choose should help you run your campaigns from start to finish.
Your Marketing Technology Roadmap
The reality is that there is no out-of-the-box method that you can use to prepare for more. Your company is unique, and your perfect marketing stack won’t look exactly like anyone else’s. This is the time to choose the right technical tools for your team and set them up so that your future team can use and understand them.
All of this while ensuring a positive return on your marketing investment. (What could go wrong right?)
We were there too. HubSpot’s marketing operations team is all too familiar with the challenge of more as they tripled the size of our marketing team in just three years.
We learned a lot along the way – so we gathered six insights from HubSpot’s resident ops experts to ask what they would have liked to know if they’d added HubSpot’s own marketing tech stack.
1. Keep the systems simple.
Have you heard of the “keep it simple, silly” (KISS) principle? The term, originally coined by an aerospace engineer in the US Navy, says that simplicity guarantees the highest level of user acceptance and interaction.
The term is often used in software design where, for example, the creeping of features and instructions can lead to products becoming unmanageable over time.
How do you prevent this from happening in your own business as it continues to grow? Write down your current strategy on paper and review the value of each phase of your process with your leadership team. Think about which processes could be carried out more efficiently and which ones could be eliminated altogether.
“The main driver of complex business systems is complex business rules,” said Mark Metcoff, HubSpot’s marketing operations manager. “If you can simplify your go-to-market strategy as much as possible, no matter how your systems are structured, you will be going in the right direction.”
2. Strive for medium-term solutions.
In an ideal world, every decision you make today about your tech stack will work seamlessly for your team for years.
In reality, as you continue to scale, you will likely switch systems a dozen times over the next several years. You shouldn’t worry about choosing your technology forever, just settle for a tool that will be out of date in 6 months.
“Aim in the medium term,” suggests Metcoff. “The cost of switching systems has never been lower thanks to the emergence of more persistent data stores like customer data platforms that can underpin front office systems and iPaaS solutions that let you integrate front office providers for easy data transfer.”
3. Strategy first, technology second.
As businesses grow, it can be tempting to rely on technology to support processes that are still evolving. Typically, this happens when a team uses powerful tools with great potential and tries to tailor their systems to them.
HubSpot’s marketing operations team made this mistake, too, with one important aspect: What really makes high-performing tech stacks stand out is not just technology.
“It’s not how you use the tools that makes you successful,” said Kerri Harrington, HubSpot Marketing Ops Analyst.
Harrington has worked closely with HubSpot Partners, advising many who were in the process of building their tech stacks. She taught them to view their tech stack not as the powerhouse behind their systems, but as a means to efficiently and effectively execute their strategy.
If you’re still developing your strategy, try drawing and visualizing your tech stack. This gives you a chance to think critically about each tool, what its purpose is and where there is any overlap or overlap in your tools. Get inspiration from the Stackies competition.
4. Document everything and document it well.
Imagine opening your spice cabinet and being ready to make a chicken curry to find that nothing is labeled in the cabinet. Each spice and herb is in a jar of the same color without an ingredient label or expiration date.
Without a remarkable sense of smell, this project wouldn’t be very easy or enjoyable.
So it is to take on a new role, only to find that your new team’s processes and database have not been properly documented over the years. This is often the case with growing businesses as your database grows and your systems evolve, and clutter, data integrity issues, and confusion are easy to find.
Many will skip this directly – who likes to document? Who has the time to waste a day of innovation doing what appears to be administrative work? We get it – but in the interests of your future team (and your future health), take the time to lay the foundation for the data architecture right.
“I can’t tell you how many times we have to review the history of a change or go over the past few years on a topic,” says Maggie Butler, senior marketing enablement manager. “It becomes really, really difficult when nobody has documented anything.”
An incredibly valuable resource that HubSpot had during one of its growth spurts was the documentation our engineers produced, which described in simple language in detail how logic and code worked. The goal is to make this level of documentation comprehensive for all applications and easily accessible to everyone on your team.
In terms of marketing, our lead management tool embodies the mantra “Document everything”. The tool allows you to create a database of all customer information where you can view the chronological schedules of all interactions customers have had with you.
5. Point solutions serve a purpose.
A point solution is a product or service that meets a very specific need in a marketing organization. Sometimes all you need is software to do a certain thing really, really well. It’s not a shame.
PieSync is a good example of this. When you use several different apps to run your marketing strategy, keeping track of customer data from each app can be a tedious process. PieSync can be integrated with your CRM to streamline this process by synchronizing customer data from your favorite apps in an up-to-date database.
Be aware, however, that every element you add to your infrastructure comes with its own compliance risks, technical challenges, servicing and maintenance, and general administration.
“Also, take a close look at whether or not it needs to be integrated into your tech stack,” explains Metcoff. “Sometimes point solutions work perfectly in a silo.”
If your current stack has point solutions, consider how it fits into the bigger picture: how does it interact with the rest of your technology, and what do you need to do to keep it going?
6. Strive for ease of use, but don’t sacrifice the necessities.
There are many options, so don’t settle for less than you need. Ultimately, you need to choose a system that is easy for your team to learn and use, but still has the power and flexibility you need to get things done.
The challenge with today’s marketing automation tools is that they offer either business performance or consumer ease of use, but never both. As a result, many are still choosing the safe bet – overpriced, overly complicated, and underutilized tools – which means more time is being spent on systems than your customers.
With all of the tools available today, there is no need to use cumbersome, complex, and time-consuming legacy software. We believe that you don’t have to sacrifice productivity to get power as the best tools combine both performance and ease of use. If you focus on engaging your customers and creating great experiences instead of managing your software, you will get better.
More can be a good thing.
Adding more can be terrifying, but more means more that you will grow. And there has never been a better time to be a marketer. With the abundance of powerful technologies available now, it’s easier than ever to grow your tech stack with a Smart Ops leader and the right strategy.
We believe this is of paramount importance for any growing business. That’s why you should expect more from your marketing software and the tech stack you build with it – your future team will thank you for it.