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Martech for CMOs: The Why and How for Your Marketing Technology Stack

waffles coverd in berry sauce

So you’ve got a C in your title and find yourself leading an entire marketing department in these digital times we live in. Probably took a hot minute to get there, and in that time, marketing to all the humans changed in a big way. And then SaaS took off, and over 5+ years marketing technology is now bigger than the Beatles.

I realize this is a bit much, but the explosion of marketing technology and its growing complexity is why I have this job at Element Three. Based on the most recent census of the martech landscape, there are 3.00717E+100 possible permutations of software usage (assuming all systems magically work together [which they don’t] and you had one platform per sub category [which would also be crazy {but if true, call me}]).

Total Possible MarTech Software Combinations

There are 3.007 octovigintillion different combos (that’s a real number by the way, no clue how to pronounce it).

So with that being the case, how do you know that your stack is the most efficient? That it’s the right size or price for your organization? Or that you’re getting the most out of all that activity and data that’s being generated?

Now no person on Earth can claim that they know every system out there.

  • The stack is sitting at 6241 total systems currently.
  • If it takes 10,000 hours to master something…
  • It would take a person 7,124 years of nonstop work to become the MarTech Alpha (even a Buddhist would say no thanks).

But understanding a software platform, its data structure, setup, and the benefits of use for your marketing objectives is a little simpler than attempting to become the world’s preeminent cellist seven thousand times over.

With Element Three’s context of dozens of different stacks across different software, deployments, verticals, products, and audiences, allow me to give you the broad rundown of the martech landscape and how to flex your own stack to its maximum potential.

First, an obligatory prequel:

Why stack it?

Most organizations are already rolling with multiple software packages and using them to their potential. If yours fits that description, you can graduate to the next section.

So why build out a marketing stack? Well, that mostly depends on the processes you’re executing within your marketing department. Overall though, all 6,000+ software platforms out there are tailor-made to a marketing task—to speed up delivery, automate actions, boost reach, generate data, and so much more. Anything that’s currently being handled manually, like putting numbers into a spreadsheet or purchasing ads directly with a publication, can most likely be simplified using one of these software providers.

The benefits of building a stack out are immense, including improving communication between teams, providing data and insights into profitable initiatives, and simply saving your team members (or you) more time to do Chief-y things.

Choosing the right stack, though, is critical to achieving your goals. Which leads us to…

How to build the right stack for my organization

There are so many options out there, but your business and marketing tactics are also completely unique to who you and your customers are. As such, when building your stack, a key mantra to follow is “Know Thyself.” At the start you need to understand what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing tactics, how they’re currently being executed, improvements that need to be made, and any KPIs you would like to track through the process.

When consulting on martech, Element Three follows a phased approach so we understand the landscape completely from the get-go. This stage of discovery provides the groundwork for determining what systems need to be deployed and what customization is required for each system. A technology integration strategy then serves as the framework for systems, data collection, and usage across departments, roles, and execution tactics.

When vetting various software providers, we always consider the 3 P’s: price, performance, and play-niceiness (yes, we may have made that last one up). The first two are obvious, but the third P has to take into account your stack as a whole. Will your marketing automation system integrate with your CRM and reporting solution? If not, maybe we should find something else, otherwise custom development will need to expand core functionality.

If you’re in the market to vet software, you can check out this handy tool made with all the info you’d ever need on all 6,241 martech SaaS platforms from 2018. Click into each section of the chart to see segmented data on each company, and info on what the softwars does as well as links to pricing from G2 Crowd.

Data validation for marketing money spent

Working with marketing department leaders, over here we understand the primary concern is almost always revenue. Whether it’s driving marketing attributable sales, lowering cost per action (conversion, click, etc.), or just getting more eyeballs on your brand, it all boils down to business performance and money in the door. A slick martech stack (strategically implemented) will certainly help with that.

Each platform is a tool in its own right to help with your marketing efforts, and the use of each generates valuable data that can correlate to traffic, leads, and purchases. Closed loop reporting works to analyze all the data points across your stack to determine revenue attribution and marketing ROI. Manual processes can’t keep pace with the sheer volume of data automatically collected from software providers, all of which can be meticulously analyzed and made to work to your benefit.

Add it all up, and the marketing technology stack is the future you’ve been waiting for. Think it all the way through before deploying yours, and do your research to ensure your platforms sell and profits go up and to the right. It’s the only way to intelligently navigate the constantly shifting and deepening sea of martech solutions.

Grady Neff Team Photo at Element Three

When asked to sum up himself with just a single sentence, Grady responded with the following, "Commander of the resistance, unrelenting leader in the defense of organic life, chocolate lover."