Sometimes, the thing behind great success is not what you expect. Take a big Hollywood blockbuster – when the accolades come out, it’s usually all about the movie stars and the director. But, when you think about it, so many other people and systems had to come together to bring the film to life. There were writers and camera people, digital artists and costume designers, and let’s not forget the marketing team ?
In a business setting, there’s a similar dynamic. The people and products in the limelight are only a small piece of the bigger picture. It’s often the underlying systems that make great achievements possible.
One such underlying system is your marketing tech stack. You can have the best product in the world, but that won’t make any difference if you don’t have an efficient and effective way to get it in front of your customers. Your marketing tech stack is the foundation and the engine behind all your marketing efforts. It’s also the bridge between marketing and sales.
And it doesn’t end there. More than just being a workhorse component of your business, your marketing tech stack has the potential to provide an important market advantage. When it’s built, integrated, and configured properly, your marketing tech stack can become a core differentiator – giving you the ability to adapt to market shifts, scale as your business grows, and quickly replicate successes to fully leverage every opportunity.
Understanding the Role of Your Marketing System
To build an effective marketing system, you first need to fully understand the role it plays in your company’s growth. Your marketing tech stack has to do more than manage your marketing efforts. It has to enable communication with the rest of your company, particularly sales.
My point? Don’t build your marketing tech stack in a vacuum. Sit down with your sales and marketing ops teams and walk through your process in as much detail as possible. Look at your lead sources, the assignment routes, your follow-up SLA, content frameworks and workflows, campaign structures, offers, and more. Look at every little piece and focus on the points of intersection and handoff between marketing and sales – these are the junctures your marketing systems need to be able to handle systematically.
The reality is that you can improvise in the beginning, but once your company starts to grow, you need a system that will scale with you. Because when you need to process thousands of leads each day, you need a marketing tech stack that can handle the volume, maintain the integrity of the data, and provide full context around each lead.
Building a Tech Stack that Supports Seamlessness and Scalability
One of the biggest mistakes a company can make when putting together a marketing tech stack is to start with the shiny objects. It’s an understandable misstep. Seems like every day a dozen more software solutions crop up, each one promising to do more for your business. But it’s important to avoid getting distracted and letting trends drive your technology decisions.
A better starting place is to identify where you have challenges between marketing and sales. What’s the biggest issue your teams face? What’s missing from your process? Where do things get murky? Take a look at your marketing funnel from the bottom up. Flag any places where there’s a disconnect or a lack of data or the potential to lose momentum on an opportunity. Where are the crucial handoffs from marketing to sales, and how smoothly are those happening?
Marketing operations is the execution arm that supports your strategy to address the challenges you uncover. And your marketing tech stack needs to be built in such a way that it gives your marketing ops team the tools they need to get the job done.
Here’s an example. Maybe your problem is that you have too many leads in the system. Doesn’t sound like a problem, right? Marketing thinks it’s great. But sales is overwhelmed because they don’t have the capacity or systems in place to process the leads effectively. In this scenario, part of the solution might be to look for a scoring model that will help prioritize the large volume of leads so that sales knows which ones need immediate follow-up and which can be handed back to marketing for nurturing.
From there – having identified the problem and a viable solution – you can start looking at how to build a marketing tech stack that will help you create the requisite scoring models. Having this problem/solution framework will help you make better decisions about which tools you choose – especially if you also remember to vet your choices through the lens of the three keys to marketing system scalability.
Scaling Your Marketing System – Three Keys
There is no one-size-fits-all marketing system solution. Each tech stack will be unique based on the type of organization, the makeup of the marketing team, the audience, the marketing strategy, the sales model, and many other variables.
What remains consistent across all marketing tech stacks, however, is the importance of a system’s ability to enable three key attributes. These attributes help ensure effectiveness and efficiency while also future-proofing your tech stack. This will, in turn, enable you to keep up with market shifts, the advent of new technologies, and company growth.
Ability to Enable a Test-Learn-Replicate Cycle
So I know you’re reading this post to learn about scaling your system, but it’s also important to understand how NOT to scale your system.
I am a big believer in scaling and automating all your marketing campaigns. You shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel for each new campaign. But before you go into mass production on a campaign or process, you need to establish that you’ve chosen the right campaign or process to scale your system. And the only way to do this is through experimentation.
Say you have a really cool idea that you want to roll out fast. Before going all-in on your idea, you should first test it with a small audience in a way that will get you results quickly. This means using the simplest setup possible so you don’t waste too much time getting every little detail perfect. Your goal is to develop a sort of minimum viable product in order to gauge the feasibility of your idea.
Only once your results have proven that your concept is highly effective should you even think about scaling. At that point, you can start coming up with a plan to scale across your process, lead attribution, integration, mass production.
You can take advantage of design and communication tools like modular email and landing page templates, scripts for common interactions (whether via email, telemarketing, chat, or sales presentations), and campaign frameworks.
Ultimately, combining this test-learn-replicate cycle with smart use of templates and automation will help you get to a point where you can easily create, assess, and then – when you find some success – clone and customize whole campaigns and programs, including creative assets, workflows, and engagement tactics.
Just remember that experimenting does not mean flying by the seat of your pants or shooting in the dark. Each test should be fully thought out and run with proper care and an understanding of the bigger context within your whole marketing strategy.
Ability to Facilitate Broad Integration
You shouldn’t have to handle repetitive tasks manually. As the saying goes, “there’s an app for that,” or – in many cases – a piece of software.
And if speed to market is important to you, the best way to achieve that is to automate tasks. This means not only being able to automate certain steps in the process, but also – and this is a crucial distinction – to perform tasks and make updates across systems.
Here are a few examples of how we integrate our systems at Drift:
Siftrock and Marketo – Email Send and Follow-up Life Cycle
We use Siftrock to organize our email replies and update our marketing automation platform so it can fulfill the end-to-end tracking. This gives us insight not only into email-send performance from Marketo, but also into response rates. This allows us to track and optimize our email campaign without having to log the reply numbers using an Excel spreadsheet or some other manual method.
Clearbit and Salesforce – Real-time Database Enrichment
To help us get full demographic and firmographic insights, we set our system up so that as soon as a lead syncs to Salesforce, it triggers Clearbit to enrich the lead with website, title, location, and other pertinent details.
Bizible and Salesforce – Multi-touch Attribution
It’s crucial to understand the buyer journey before you can understand how to best leverage different channels to move leads down the funnel. In the past, we always struggled to produce a single report view that effectively illustrated the entire buyer journey so our marketing team could understand how to best leverage different channels to move leads down the funnel. Our old process involved joining multiple reports manually built out the overview we needed in Excel. With Bizible, we are able to replace that arduous process with a simpler, faster solution that allows us to use Salesforce directly to view a comprehensive report that outlines all the key engagement points along our buyer journey.
Ability to Deliver Reliable Consistency
Do any of the following questions sound familiar?
“I don’t know which field to look at; there are so many other fields that look the same.”
“What’s the definition of this field?”
“How come the numbers on these two reports don’t match up?”
While there is no single right way to structure or configure your marketing system, there is one thing that’s non-negotiable for any system – the ability to maintain the integrity of output and the consistency of data. If the various teams within your organization are unable to align around your metrics or reports, they will be unable to interpret or analyze the output in a meaningful way (which is how you wind up with questions like the ones above). The bottom line: if people in your company can’t understand the information coming out of the system, then – I hate to break it to you – the system is useless.
To achieve consistency, you need to ensure proper documentation when you are configuring the system. For example, at Drift, we stamp the source of each lead as we import it into the system, documenting the full list of all the lead sources and what each source means, giving examples of which campaign is delivering which source, creating reports that find gaps of missing data for troubleshooting, and so forth. Together, these steps give us visibility into the process and clarity around exactly what’s working and what’s not.
Supporting a Scalable Marketing System
The above three attributes are hallmarks of an effective, adaptable, and scalable marketing tech stack. But wait – there’s more to it than that. There are other support structures and processes that can make all the difference.
To fully power your marketing system, you need centralized data access, tools to easily segment and manipulate data for multiple purposes, and the ability to pass pre-built audience lists from one platform to another both within your system and to third-party marketing channels like search engines and social media networks. In addition, you need to be able to apply detailed lead attribution and proper tagging to ensure accurate measurement and reporting. All of this requires adherence to database management best practices for input, output, and enrichment.
No marketing tech stack is a once-and-done proposition. As your organization and marketing needs evolve, so will your tech stack. Take care as you add and upgrade components to implement a consistent testing and monitoring protocol to help you stay on top of any compatibility issues, performance measurement, and any other red flag items. Each update you make to your marketing system should improve efficiency, efficacy, ease, or – in the best cases – all three. Keep an eye on changes to make sure they are doing what you hoped.
Technology only works if people use it. This is why educating your employees about the tools in your marketing tech stack is so important. Help them understand the value your marketing system can deliver so that they can reap all the benefits it offers. Getting your team members across different functional areas up to speed will also make your job easier since it will smooth collaboration and communication.
Giving Your Marketing Team Their Best Shot at Success
There is no question that marketing is becoming more complex. There are more channels, more ways to segment your audience, and more ways to personalize your message. Keeping pace with all these new touchpoints and tactics is challenging for even the most experienced marketer. That’s why building out your marketing tech stack in a strategic and scalable way is so important.
With an adaptable, scalable marketing system working behind the scenes, all kinds of opportunities will open up, and you’ll have everything you need to stay one step ahead of the competition.