Marketing technology — sometimes we use the term as if it represented a single, monolithic entity. But for modern B2B marketing teams, marketing technology (“martech”) represents a complex web of applications, also known as a stack, and it’s not small. Today’s martech stack encompasses a host of solutions designed to handle customer information, analytics, email marketing, and other functions.
When all the elements of your B2B martech stack integrate in a way that allows data to flow to where it’s needed, when it’s needed, your marketing hums along like a well-oiled machine. Ignore the integration factor (or address it too late) and the results could be time-consuming … and costly.
What is a Martech Stack?
Do a Google search for “martech stack definition” and you’ll likely come up with thousands of different explanations. Here’s a simple way to think about it:
Imagine you’re building a marketing department from scratch. In addition to a team of amazing individuals, you’ll want to set up a website and blogging platform. You’ll also need an email marketing tool. Oh, and a social media marketing platform. Think you’re done? Not yet: you also have also your CRM, analytics, lead generation, ABM, landing pages, event management, webinar, mobile marketing, marketing automation, content creation, and graphics solutions to consider. Put all those technologies together, and you’ve got yourself a martech stack, 2018-style.
Even though you’ll find vendors who cover more than one of these needs, it’s easy to see how even smaller businesses can build up a robust B2B martech stack. According to a recent survey, the average enterprise uses 91 marketing cloud services. (Granted, this survey defines “marketing cloud service” quite broadly, incorporating apps such as Skype, Outlook, and Google Drive, but it still bespeaks marketing’s heavy reliance on its tech resources.)
So when most organizations talk about “marketing technology,” they’re not talking about a single platform, or even four or five. Depending on the size of the business, they could be referring to a martech stack with dozens of layers … and if those layers aren’t integrated, it could be costing them.
The Benefits of Integration
If data flows smoothly between the various elements of your B2B martech stack, your marketing cruises like a finely tuned engine. If not, your marketing is like driving a Formula One race car that needs a pit stop every quarter mile — it has tons of potential, but no real chance to get up to speed.
In a recent survey, only 29 percent of marketers reported that their martech stacks were “very integrated,” with robust connections and data sharing among their platforms.
Integrating your martech stack offers tremendous benefits to your marketing team on several levels, including:
- Efficiency: Your marketing team has enough on their plate; they don’t have time to copy and paste data between martech platforms. When data flows automatically from the source platform to the target, it can save your team hours every week … and avoid the risk of human error.
- Automation: When your martech platforms “talk to each other” frequently and efficiently, you can set up campaigns and other functions to execute automatically, while your team remains focused on creative and strategy.
- Analytics and Reporting: When your martech platforms are integrated, data can flow automatically into your analytics and reporting system, enabling it to deliver the reports you need automatically, right when you need them.
Four Questions to Ask
Unless you have an IT department with the expertise, time, and resources to build a custom integration solution for your martech stack, you’ll want to look for solutions with integration capabilities built in.
That may sound easy, but it’s more complex than many marketers think. Before you spend your budget dollars on a new solution (not to mention the time and energy to implement and learn how to use the platform), make sure it can support the specific integrations your team needs.
Once you’ve determined your precise integration needs, be sure to ask the following questions:
- Do the platform’s “out-of-the-box” integrations support a broad range of uses cases, or just one or two?
- Do the use cases they support align with your team’s needs, or can they be easily customized to do so?
- Will the integrations be able to handle the volume and type of data that flows into and through your systems?
- Can the integrations scale as your data volumes grow?
Welcome to the era of the tech-savvy marketer, where the technology supporting the marketing mission is nearly as vital as the people using it. For B2B marketing organizations looking to take their results to a new level and make the most of their teams’ time and energy, a robust, high-performance martech stack is essential … but the tools only tell part of the story. By selecting platforms that can integrate seamlessly with your existing technologies, you can make the most of your tech investments today and focus on reaching new heights tomorrow.
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