For a marketer, change is not only the constant but also a great adversary.

But, more about that later. For now, picture this.

Circa 35 A.D. Pompeii. Umbricius Scaurus, a fish sauce manufacturer, has the atrium of his house decorated with mosaics. Each mosaic carries a picture of a vessel. Carved on that image is the personal brand of Scaurus along with quality claims for his famous garum, aka fish sauce.

This fleeting, unassuming moment in the era of the Roman Empire is possibly the oldest example of marketing. Since then, not only the trend but the definition of the term itself has changed drastically. The buyer’s expectations, their needs, their tendencies, the seller’s strategies- everything has metamorphosed to serve the objective of successful sales.

A digital marketing growth stack is the next practical stage in the evolution of the trade. The idea of creating a set of tools, connected to serve dynamic strategies most effectively, is indeed the need of modern-day marketing.

A Product Creep- the Reason Why You Would Eventually Need a Marketing Stack

One word: over-complication.

For every task inside your company, there exists a tool in the market that can help. They come free of cost or with a fee, in different models, and have one job- to simplify a particular process and make your job easier to execute.

However, how long until the number of tools you use and the time and attention they require surpasses the original time taken to complete the task?

It’s a classic example of the white elephant problem. The means established to improve efficiency becomes the reason for lag. A HubSpot research states that around 88% of marketers regularly use at least ten tools. That ought to be considered a critical number, only because as it increases, so does the time spent in subsequent managing, integrating, and reporting.

The Problems:

  • Lots of tools will need heavy integration
  • If even a single tool isn’t connected to the others, you’ll have to move a significant amount of data around
  • The overall combination of all your tools could end up creating a system that can sustain a company ten times your current size, and hence, will use up more resources than required, causing ultimate inefficiency
  • When different teams use different tools, it can lead to discontinuation in the conversation between the teams, leading to several confused customers

The Solution:

Before you get swept off by the exploding choices out there, make sure they’re essential to your marketing strategy.

  • How to Go about Building Your Growth Stack
  • Here is the thing- Too many tools are bound to cause friction.

52% of all marketing teams which participated in a HubSpot survey admitted to spending 30 minutes a day connecting data and reports from different systems. 61% of the sales team complained about manual data entering which would take over thirty minutes of their day as well.

Losing thirty minutes that could have been utilized in a much better way is a problem. That doesn’t need to be said!

But, acting in haste shouldn’t be the obvious route you take. Instead, here is the plan of action I propose:

  • Figure out the need
  • Choose the tools appropriate to your context
  • Establish a connected rhythm between the users and usage

Do remember, your two ultimate goals remain

  • Meeting the requirements and wishes of the customers
  • Meeting your organizational objectives

And, while you may wish to achieve both in a go, miracles of that nature seldom happen. Instead, focus on aligning the two such that you get the best possible output. Since every organization carries a unique growth requirement, you must work to break down what you have in order to craft a sales technology stack that facilitates your progress.

  1. Evaluate Your Strengths and Loopholes

The chances are you already work with a few tools. Take a good look at them. Separate the ones who work correctly and offer valid results from the ones that don’t. Analyze what’s wrong and why.

Look at the rate of usage of all the tools. Mark the ones that you consider to be highly influential and yet which aren’t being used by many marketers. Again, look behind the curtains to gauge the reason for such behavior.

Figure out the following:

  • The number of tools you have
  • Their capabilities
  • Their results
  • Data quality
  • Integration and connection issues
  • The scope up to which they can be scaled to meet your immediate and short-term growth targets

This phase ends when you have an accurate idea of where your current marketing stack stands. You must separate the good from the bad, leaving you with only those tools which have in the past given you room to grow and which possess the possibility to support your growth over the next few years.

  1. Find the Driver of Your Marketing Ecosystem

Most growth stacks follow the hub-and-spoke model. The CRM, HCM, etc. could act as the hub. The tools and marketing platforms you pick ultimately make up the ecosystem by serving as primary and secondary spokes.

The issues, however, begin arising when you scale and the hub you chose starts to come up with a new constriction now and then.

Considering how the present-day CRM drives accounting, marketing, sales, customer service, and operations, you can’t afford to cheap out on it for the sake of long-term growth of the enterprise. Before you finalize the central force of your marketing ecosystem, make sure it can help you achieve simultaneous goals, like:

  • Enhancing customer service
  • Growing your market share value
  • Facilitating customer acquisition

  1. Get Rid of Bad Data

The right information is paramount to creating a tech stack that works in your favor.

You are not merely dealing with data on a regular basis; you’re also sharing it with different systems, updating it at various points, and integrating all components to receive the latest image of the updated data.

Let the stack work on unprocessed or wrong inputs, and you risk corrupting the entire hub-and-spoke system. If it flows outside the system, your problems will multiply manifold.

  1. Curate the Perfect Set of Tools for You

But, keep in mind that while the options may feel unlimited, the resources you pay for aren’t.

Define a goal. Be prepared, for the investment required by different kinds of marketing tools will vary. The market has both, single-functional and all-in-one tools to offer. Keep the size of your company and its scaling needs in mind before taking a final call.

Of course, the actual option which you may consider will be considerably affected by the operating financials of your company. But, money shouldn’t be the only influencer in this case.

As a business, figure out what the immediate needs of the company are, what objective they serve, and what kind of help do they need. If an acquisition is the apparent next requirement, or if its retention, determine a sequence. Then, detail a plan to buy and use tools need-wise.

Most importantly, do not fall for the ‘I’ll be using those features someday’ trap. It’s terribly easy to get convinced to buy an all-functional suite that way. You’d end up tying resources in a tool that you can’t use comprehensively at the moment. The objective is to keep moving, and adding new tools and functionalities to your tech stack as and when needed.

Ultimately, you must determine where you want to settle and where you just wouldn’t budge. You may choose to invest in a deluxe but easier-to-use suite. Or, you may save some bucks by creating a custom tool-soup which may be useful for now but not after you scale to a certain point.

The Challenges in Your Way

For starters, if every team that interacts with the customers in any capacity begins building a stack, connecting all of them will eventually become a gargantuan task not worth the time it’d take.

Then, while you need a scalable system, you must also be aware of the consequences of the strategies you choose.

Your data may be best. And yet, establishing thorough interconnectivity between its sources, storage, cleaning, ingestion, processing, computing, and delivery is just as vital. If these connections aren’t efficient enough, they will limit the possibilities that your data would’ve produced otherwise.

Also, when you scale up, you must take the entire data pipeline under consideration to ensure that any new functionalities in one module don’t end up stressing another. Similarly, whichever solution you buy, make sure it doesn’t meddle with the core functionality of the system.

Of course, create a feedback loop to monitor how things are going and what nodes need improvement. Avoid over-and-under investing. When bringing in new technology tools to the mix, keep a close eye on how they affect your workforce. And, document your marketing tech stack from an early age, only so that the future developers and users can build on the existing system without anything getting lost in transition.