Buyer's Handbook:

How to choose marketing automation software

A martech stack is vital for successful marketing operations

When building a marketing tech stack, project stakeholders should consider what tools the organization needs, the level of automation it's trying to achieve and the overall budget.

A martech stack comprises a collection of marketing technology -- martech, for short -- and tools an enterprise acquires to support its digital marketing operations. These can include CRM software, social media tools, email marketing tools, customer service support software, and integration and conversion utilities for passing data between martech components.

The number of martech tools an organization needs depends on the depth and breadth of its marketing strategy and how automated the organization is trying to become. Most companies that already have CRM have some rudimentary social media and email marketing capabilities. And the majority of organizations that are considering marketing automation have already implemented automation in customer service. Companies that don't have a CRM system should consider implementing one. But for those organizations that do have CRM, the next step is deciding which marketing channels are most important.

Building a martech stack

The CRM system and the marketing automation software that works with it form the core of the stack. Marketing automation may or may not include a content management system for deployment of online campaign artifacts.

Tools to handle automation of marketing channels -- including email, social media and online content -- exist on the periphery of the CRM and marketing automation core, drawing data from it and passing data back, with integration and conversion components positioned between them. Integration components will often also exist between the martech stack and other enterprise systems, such as financial systems and inventory.

Depending on the enterprise's lines of business, there could be more than one stack, and it's conceivable that the sales department might have its own independent stack, which would need to interface with martech.

Getting cross-team feedback

The number of martech tools an organization needs depends on the depth and breadth of its marketing strategy and how automated the organization is trying to become.

Who is in charge of all this? The design and deployment of a martech stack should include stakeholders from sales and marketing, as well as IT to advise on desirable data consolidations -- such as a common customer data repository -- and to manage the enterprise schemas the stack will use. There should also be representation from customer service and the C-level. Generally, hands-on management will be distributed but overseen by marketing, with strong IT advisory support.

Should an organization's martech stack be designed and implemented before it selects marketing automation software? Not necessarily. It depends on the business's strategy, budget and how ingrained their legacy systems already are in the business.

Generally, if an organization has the time and budget to build a stack around its marketing automation system of choice, that will pay off in the end, efficiency-wise, due to savings and simplified integration and conversion.

Having all of your data in one place is optimal, but if this isn't practical, most marketing automation products are mature enough to be readily integrated into existing systems.

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Buyer's Handbook: How to choose marketing automation software

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What tools are in your organization's marketing technology stack?