In case you haven’t noticed, marketing technology (martech) has been growing like crazy.
According to Dan McGaw, CEO and Founder of martech consultancy Effin Amazing, there were about 150 marketing technology tools available in 2011. Two years later, there were 350 tools. One year after that, there were 1,000, then 3,000, 3,500, and 5,000.
Despite this rapid growth, marketing technology innovation is finally starting to slow down. This is partially due to the sheer saturation of tools on the market. If you’re shopping for a single CRM tool, you have hundreds of options—you even have a wide selection in your given vertical. There are CRMs built specifically for law firms, dentists, and even animal shelters.
This is making tool selection increasingly difficult. If you want your company to grow and scale, you need to identify the right tools for your marketing software stack.
What is an Agile Marketing Software Stack?
If you ask any business owner how many marketing tools they have onboard, they’ll probably undershoot their guess dramatically. The average enterprise uses 91 marketing cloud services, and that’s not counting the tools that aren’t cloud-enabled. Any tool that helps you in your marketing efforts, whether it’s Google Sheets or WordPress, counts as a part of your marketing software stack.
An agile marketing software stack is an integrated and optimized selection of marketing tools that facilities a clean and comprehensive data set which is updated across your systems in real time. Instead of disparate systems that don’t communicate, an agile marketing software stack creates a single source of truth an enables you to grow without the risk of your marketing apparatus faltering due to outages or other problems.
The “Stackpocalypse,” As Told by Dan McGaw
According to Dan McGaw, a “stackpocalypse” occurs when your marketing technology stack falls apart.
This can happen for a variety of reasons, some of which are out of your control. For example, let’s say you onboard a great tool from a martech startup. The tool becomes an important part of your business and you come to rely on its robust customer support system. But if that startup gets acquired by a larger company and the customer support you’ve come to rely on is all but liquidated, where are you to turn?
Suddenly, the tool that formed the backbone of your marketing operation is no longer supported.
Other problems, like employee mistakes or mistakes made by the vendor, can lead to the systemic breakdown of your marketing software stack. A poorly written script can bring down an entire cloud-based system for hours, even days.
The Ultimate Agile Marketing Stack
An agile marketing stack enables you to avoid common problems with marketing technology and adapt when necessary. That means choosing systems based on integration and connectivity—taking what McGaw refers to as “the platform approach” and utilizing a “data pipeline.”
Your data pipeline is a stream of integrations between tools which send data “downstream,” then recycle that data so each system serves as a record of truth.
Here’s what Effin Amazing’s ultimate agile marketing stack looks like, with the lines between tools representing the data stream:
(Source: Dan McGaw on Twitter)
Google Tag Manager (GTM), or any tool like it, is an essential solution for tracking customers. It enables you to roll out tracking code quickly without having to bother a developer. You can add that code to the client-facing side of your site, then send all that data to a single location, such as a customer data platform like Segment, which McGaw refers to as “the Rosetta Stone of API’s.”
This way, you never lose track of your data, even if one of your systems goes down.
Once Segment has that data, it can send it to Clearbit, which reveals demographic data about leads, prospects, and customers. It can take a single email address and give you all sorts of lead intelligence about that individual, such as the size of their company, the company’s size and income, and technological data, all of which can be used for prospecting and lead scoring.
According to McGaw, he can collect an average of 300 to 400 fields of information about a single person using this tool.
Autopilot, a marketing automation tool, can then take that information and use it to personalize emails, text messages, and other communications. You can also use it for workflow management, as Autopilot is integrated with several different CRMs and other marketing tools.
Next, data is delivered to Salesforce, one of the most popular CRMs in the world. McGaw chooses Salesforce because it has more integrations than any other CRM and because the brand’s app exchange has over 3,500 apps available. Almost every sales product available today is integrated with Salesforce.
Amplitude is an analytics platform which can parse data and analyze it so that it’s easy to understand:
Amplitude is excellent for cross-device attribution, so you can merge all your identities seamlessly. The platform also contains data science tools, so you can understand your data without needing to hire an analyst.
Finally, Dan McGaw recommends Zapier, a web-based service that enables you to integrate all your web applications. Simply put, Zapier just makes your life easier. It lets you connect all your apps, automate almost any type of task, and build workflows with just a few clicks.
Proven Use Case: Real Thread
Here’s an example of an agile marketing software stack in action.
Real Thread, a T-shirt printer that creates custom T-shirts for individuals and companies, was having trouble understanding they acquired new customers. Although all their revenue was being generated online, there were plenty of offline customer touchpoints involved in the sales process, including phone calls, emails, and form submissions.
Real Thread didn’t have the right tools to track their sales and attribute them to the correct channels.
They also had an abundance of inbound leads which they weren’t sure what to do with. Although they were excellent at SEO and lead generation, they couldn’t leverage their database full of emails.
Their original technology stack included Segment, Intercom, Kissmetrics, and Salesforce, although Salesforce wasn’t integrated correctly.
Thankfully, Real Thread was already using Segment. Because of this, McGaw and his team didn’t need to write a single line of code to help Real Thread.
How Effin Amazing Changed Real Thread’s Marketing Software to Fix Their Problems
McGaw’s team at Effin Amazing used Google Tag Manager, Segment, and Clearbit to track user behavior on Real Thread’s site and populate user data. With this new information, they turned to lead scoring and were able to establish a standard for identifying marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
With the tracking data, they created personalized journeys for users. They integrated Autopilot and connected Salesforce, using an automated lead scoring system to keep their data clean. Not only was their user data accurate, but Real Thread could use Salesforce to prioritize good leads over bad ones.
As a result, Real Thread saw a 51% increase in their total number of orders from 2017 to 2018. Their marketing became much more effective, and they were finally able to get clear analytics and attribute wins to the right channels.
This is just one example of how an agile marketing software stack can help you build a better customer experience. And by being agile with these different tools, you can accomplish much more than you would if you had to bother your developers for every little thing.
McGraw’s final word about your marketing software stack is the following: “Your stack is only as good as the people you hire to use it.” As long as you’re building cool stuff that will impress your customers, you’ll be able to generate real revenue.
*Bonus Resource: 55 Marketing Tools We Use to Grow Startups [UPDATED]