The Martech Stack: Build It & They Will Come

While few marketers today would dispute the importance of marketing technology (MarTech), many still lack the knowledge and ability to fuse the tools in their toolbox into an effective and efficient stack. A good MarTech stack is more than the sum of its parts: it can enable brands to grow customer lifetime value, automate mundane tasks, save time, decrease costs, and boost return on marketing investment. But integration is essential: a bloated stack is of little use if the tools in it do not complement each other. On average, marketers possess a staggering 91 MarTech tools

In their efforts to build a stack, marketers need to be aware of a number of challenges.

Common Mistakes

When it comes to the MarTech, taxonomy is an oft-ignored consideration. A taxonomy, or classification system, is the basis for building a well-fitting MarTech toolkit. With thousands of solutions in the market, a reference structure helps provide clarity on what a brand needs and on how different MarTech fit together. Having a taxonomy is less about putting together a shopping list than about mapping the overall MarTech landscape. A useful taxonomy should include the major MarTech categories and vendors, as well as indicate their role in the customer journey. Such a list allows marketers to check for overlap, to reduce the risks of overspending, and to increase the likelihood that solutions will be interoperable.

A graph of the MarTech Mall

With more than 7,000 MarTech tools available covering any need a marketer could have, it’s easy to buy more tools than necessary. But brands will not benefit from acquiring the latest and greatest technology if they don’t have a solid plan, or a team in place, to deliver tangible outcomes with the tools at their disposal. As it stands, brands appear to be using less than 60% of their stack’s full potential. 

In addition, brands have become too reliant on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software as their primary reporting tool. Instead of centralising data into a CRM, brands may see better results from leveraging on Customer Data Platforms (CDP), an emerging MarTech that’s akin to a headquarters for marketing data. CDPs consolidate customer data across touchpoints and package them into useful insights. Without a CDP layer, customer information tends to become siloed and forces marketers to fumble through troves of data. 

How to Build It So They Will Come

Just one in five marketers have a strategy to optimise their MarTech stack, making for some low-hanging fruit. Marketers can adopt the following framework to build a stack that’s fit-for-purpose: 

1. Identify business goals

Assembling a MarTech stack without clearly defined goals and objectives will lead to wasted resources. Before purchasing any tools, it’s crucial for brands to understand their desired impact. For example, if the goal is to increase organic traffic, then it may be necessary to map out the following strategy: 

  • Goal: Improve organic traffic
  • Strategy: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Tools: To be determined

2. Identify business challenges

A graph of critical challenge for B2B digital marketing strategies
Source(s): Intentsify

Marketers can conduct brainstorming sessions with the team to understand their daily challenges and pain points, as well as to find out what they need for better productivity. Using the previous example of improving organic traffic, some questions that may be asked include if the keyword search is taking too long, or if page load time is a challenge. After understanding the issues, the strategic framework evolves to the following: 

  • Goal: Improve organic traffic
  • Strategy: SEO
  • Challenge: Keyword research too tedious
  • Tools: Automated keyword research tool 

3. Allocate a budget

By deciding beforehand how much they can afford, brands obtain a first-mover advantage in selecting the tools that fit their budget. Marketers also need to remember that the total cost of ownership may include miscellaneous subscription, maintenance, and other add-on costs.

4. Research tools

Once the groundwork is done, marketers can start looking at curated lists by industry professionals or groups. Criteria such as pricing, product reviews, and general fit with the team should be included when considering which MarTech solutions to buy.

5. Test and learn

Some buffer time will be needed before the team is comfortable with using a newly-acquired tool and before it can add value to the business. To ease into that process, brands should adopt a test-and-learn mindset to find out what works best for the team and iterate until the tool begins delivering on its desired outcome.

Full-Stack Marketer

The deluge of MarTech solutions available in the market today means brands can no longer fall back on having the latest technology to gain a competitive edge. Indeed, the brands that win will combine the best of their people, process, technology, and data with the power of an integrated stack. 


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Yih Cheng Yak

Head of Consulting,
Marketing Technology