Imagine how uncomfortable it would be to buy a new car and then drive it for the next several years without adjusting the seats, the air conditioning, or the mirrors, and with static constantly blaring from the radio.
Now imagine how uncomfortable it would be to start using new business software without adjusting it to suit your specific business needs. Yet, according to our recent GetApp “Marketing Technology Survey” of more than 200 startup leaders (you can find our survey methodology at the end of this article), 41% of marketing leaders don’t have a plan for their marketing technology (or martech).
This is a big problem, because the same survey revealed that startups that don’t have a plan for their martech stack are four times as likely as those who do to say that their martech stack doesn’t meet their business goals.
Just like you wouldn’t drive a car that you hadn’t configured to your liking, you shouldn’t use marketing technology that isn't configured for your startup’s unique marketing strategy. By nature, startups have less of an infrastructure in place to help build out their martech stack and less room for error. About a third of new businesses fail in the first two years, according to the SBA, so in this article we’ll look at four tips to help you quickly and effectively build your martech stack.
Before we get started, let’s define the terms we’ll be using. A marketing tech stack is a group of marketing technology tools that work together (as a stack) to help you and your business plan, coordinate, automate, execute, and track marketing efforts across multiple channels.
According to our recent GetApp “Marketing Technology Survey”, these are some of the marketing tools that startup leaders consider to be most effective in reaching their marketing goals:
Social media marketing
Customer data platform
You may be thinking, “that’s a lot of tools!” But every business will have different needs for their individual martech stack. Some businesses choose to bundle many of these tools together in a single platform, while others go for more of an a la carte approach. You’ll need to determine which tools your business really needs and which you can do without, but in this article, we’ll look at several tips for making sure your martech stack is working as efficiently as it can be.
According to our recent survey, 35% of startups are challenged by too many overlapping features in their marketing tech stack, and 30% are challenged by too many unused features.
In other words, you can make your marketing efforts as efficient and productive as possible compared to a significant portion of your competition simply by properly integrating and configuring your marketing software.
Let’s look at just how you can do that.
Marketing software developers know that startups want their marketing tech to work with the other software they’re already using, so these tools are developed with integration in mind.
For example, many of the most popular marketing automation tools offer hundreds of integrations, with everything from Google Workspace to Slack. These integrations may be something as simple as turning a Slack conversation into a marketing task, but anything that saves you and your team as little as a few minutes of clicking each day can add up to hundreds of hours over the course of a year.
On this same note, don’t overlook the integrations that you may already have but aren’t taking full advantage of. For example, you might already have an integration that can pull YouTube viewer data into your marketing analytics tool. But if your marketing analytics team isn’t using this integration, it’s not doing you any good.
If you already have a marketing tool that you’re happy with, perform an internal audit to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the integrations available to you. This audit can be as simple as browsing the integrations library on your vendor’s website and finding the tools there that you are already using.
Here are three tips to help make sure your team is taking full advantage of the martech integrations you identify:
Empower superusers to champion your best integrations. Team members who are most adept at using an integration can help educate their coworkers on how it can make their job easier and answer questions about it.
Track usage and issues with your integrations. Whether you use an informal spreadsheet or an internal issue tracking tool, keeping track of how a new integration is being used and what issues users are having with it can reveal helpful insights to increase adoption.
Communicate the why. Your busy team is probably using a lot of different tools as it is, and asking them to add something without explaining why is a good way to get them to ignore the new integration. To improve adoption, be clear about how the integration can help them and the team.
Business software seems to become more and more versatile every year. Your CRM probably includes some sort of collaboration tool, while your accounting software likely has some light project management features. It’s no wonder that 35% of startups struggle with overlapping features.
This can be especially challenging for team productivity when tasks are being managed across multiple tools and conversations become fragmented across several channels.
As a manager, it’s important to streamline these processes, and one way to do so is by making sure that your team isn’t using more features than they need. For example, if your CRM has a collaboration tool that you use to communicate about CRM tasks, but your team prefers to use your project management tool for communication, check to see if there’s an integration that will allow you to streamline communication and task management across those two systems.
Conduct an internal software audit of your marketing tech stack to identify overlapping features.
Here are some common overlapping features to look out for:
Once you’ve identified feature overlap, determine which features are necessary and which can be disabled. For example, if you find that your team is managing tasks in two different systems, pick one that will be considered the source of truth and communicate to your team that the other will no longer be used for task management.
You might also want to consider using iPaaS (integration platform as a service) tools such as Zapier, Anypoint, and Boomi that can help automate integrations and workflows, and transfer data between different apps in your ecosystem. To learn more about how iPaaS tools work, check out this brief explainer video:
Businesses spend a significant portion of their budget on marketing technology, with almost 65% of startups spending more than $1,000 per month, and marketing software vendors are eager to keep those customers happy. Yet a recent Gartner survey of marketing leaders found that, on average, marketing teams are using less than 60% of their martech stack’s full capabilities.
Most marketing tech vendors have some type of client success or coaching team that can help your business more effectively use their product, including helping businesses take advantage of available integrations.
Poll your team, especially those team members who use your marketing software everyday, to ask them about their biggest pain points and needs with your marketing technology. Take that information to your software provider and ask them how you can better use their tool to address those needs.
It’s also important to continue consulting your team after implementing a new integration. Some integrations work better than others, and your team can tell you if your new integration is working the way it’s supposed to, or causing more work than it’s worth.
Here are a few sample questions to ask:
Is the new integration making your job easier? If not, what makes it difficult to use?
How much time does it take to accomplish this task now as compared to before the integration?
What changes would you make to this integration if you could?
If an integration really isn’t working, you might need to abandon it. But if it could be improved with a few tweaks, give this feedback to your vendor. They may be able to help you configure it or roll out an update that strengthens the integration for your team and other clients.
It’s also important to train your team up on software adoption and implementation best practices. Even the most powerful software is ineffective if it’s not fully adopted, and the same can be said of software integrations.
We talked earlier in this article about how 41% of marketing leaders don’t have a plan in place for their martech stack, and how that lack in planning can be detrimental to reaching organizational marketing goals.
Rather than taking a reactionary approach, spending a little time planning upfront can go a long way toward making your martech stack as effective as possible in the long run.
First, decide whether you want to build around a marketing software suite, or assemble your own martech stack with best-in-breed components. The single platform approach can be much lower maintenance, while the “a la carte” approach offers much greater customization.
Next, assemble a team to oversee your martech stack and integrations. This team can identify useful integrations and help foster their adoption.
Establish a timeline to implement these integrations and track progress with your project management tool. It’s helpful to visualize this plan with a chart and use it to share updates with stakeholders.
As new integrations are implemented, remember to collect feedback, review effectiveness, and make changes as needed.
While it may be tempting to just take your new marketing software off the shelf and start using it as is, a little extra work now to configure and integrate your marketing tech can save you a lot of time in the future.
GetApp, an online resource that helps businesses find the best apps and software for their needs, has tools to help, including side-by-side comparisons, detailed product data, validated user reviews, and more.
Check out our resources on Integrations Leaders for Project Management and CRM to discover which tools best integrate with your existing systems, based on analysis of the highest rated products on the market.
If you’re interested in learning more about making the most of your martech stack, check out our recent research report, “Startups Are Adopting Marketing Technology in Droves—But How Effective Are Their Stacks?”
GetApp’s 2021 Marketing Technology Survey was conducted February 18-25, 2021 among 238 respondents to learn more about the use of marketing technology tools by startups. Respondents were screened for leadership positions at startups in healthcare, IT services, marketing/CRM, retail/eCommerce, software/web development, or AI/ML.
GetApp’s marketing technology stack effectiveness question included all of the following choices (listed here in order of effectiveness according to weighted scores): A/B or multivariate testing, web analytics, customer relationship management (CRM), multi-touch attribution, social media marketing, content marketing platform, mobile marketing platform, website builder tools, customer data platform (CDP), search marketing (SEO/SEM), personalization platform, consent and preference management, marketing automation software, survey/customer experience platform, content management system (CMS). multichannel marketing platform, email marketing platform, online video advertising, employee advocacy tools.