The marketing technology landscape continues to grow rapidly. These tools enrich data-driven content distribution, personalized experiences— you name it. But, how can we tell which tools are key strategic assets and which aren’t worthy of your marketing stack?
Ask several different organizations what they’re using in their marketing technology stacks and you could possibly get just as many unique answers. The ideal stack depends on the skill sets, budgets, and contexts of each organization.
However, there are a handful of martech strategies that many organizations use similarly.
For a quick refresher on how many different marketing technology tools are out there, check out the Growthverse. It’s one way to define and classify the volume of marketing technology tools and services that are out there.
Organizations continuously experiment with different combinations of marketing tools and services into their strategic tech stacks. Scott Brinker, author of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, follows this evolving space, and even maps it out annually.
It’s a large, confusing thing, but it definitely illustrates the growing space.
He explores four disctinct marketing technology stacks within this article. He talks about how entrepreneurial history shows us that platforms are a sustainable means of building strong businesses upon.
Platforms are also the most profitable and sustainable strategy as entire ecosystems can be built upon a single platform, rather than banking solely upon the performance, efficacy, and relevance of one single solution. Microsoft, Apple, Salesforce— these are all platforms that bank on the growth and popularity of their specific ecosystems, innovations within, and professionals (or evangelists) who swear upon them.
Let’s take a look at each of Brinker’s four platform types, or topologies, and identify their pros and cons, as these aren’t too prevalent within Brinker’s platform discussion. We’ll also take a look at opportunity gaps within each model in order to illustrate what future upgrades or improvements may be possible or extensible with each stack style.
Use our exploration to shed some light on which type of stack your organization uses and whether or not it’s the right fit.
Marketing Suites are often pitched as “the one tool to rule them all.” These single-solution approaches package key functions together that any marketer would want in their tool kit.
Pros: Marketing teams only need the knowledge of the one tool to create, deploy, and measure marketing campaigns.
Cons: Practitioners are stuck using the tools of that suite. There's no access to emerging technologies or best-of-breed tools due to this exclusivity. Any custom functions require heavy consultation and implementation costs due to the proprietary nature of these marketing suites.
Closing the Gap: As Customer Data Platforms (CDP) and data management tools become more accessible and sophisticated, marketers can discover ways to mobilize their once-stuck customer data in order to gain new insights and actions via integration with best-in-class tools. If they can't do this, these marketers will continue to be at the whim of whatever the proprietary ecosystems offer. As slow as some of these tools move, these offerings can be limited.
These hubs are the tactical commmand centers for marketers. API connectivity gives the hub access to various marketing channels, like email, social networks, and website conversion points. It’s the mission control for any savvy digital marketer.
Pros: Connect all your organization's marketing tools together for tactical management from one place.
Cons: Many of these hubs are B2B-focused (and priced) while having challenging means of exporting marketing data. Juggling multiple tactical tools into one single hub is often done at higher maintenance and operational costs.
Closing the Gap: The more tools that are added, the more complex the customer data and profiling becomes. The marketing tech industry remains saturated with new shiny tools that everyone wants to migrate their data over to try out. Marketers will want to seek the means of building a clean, consistent "golden record" for customers using something like a CDP to maintain customer data integrity.
If you’re working with multiple hubs, then the Multi-Channel Hub is your answer to wrangling them all into one place. Third-party API’s manage the data between each respective hub and typically polished user interfaces keep cross-channel marketing manageable.
Best-in-class marketers often use these tools to combine customer data from other operations (like sales or support) to create more cohesion with their brand messaging.
Pros: Share data between multiple channels and various plugins by third-party APIs. In other words, access data from your sales CRM with your marketing tools.
Cons: It's already expensive in operational costs to maintain integrated hubs— it's a lot costlier to manage multi-channel ones. It's also very difficult to transfer data between hubs or export them. Implementation of these hubs and their execution tools requires specialized consultation and help.
Closing the Gap: Once again, consistent, clean customer data management, or the creation of a "golden record" with the use of a CDP, will be necessary for digital marketers who want to build a truly personalized experience. Marketers will get the most mileage from their customer and user data by finding the means to unify disparate data into universal profiles for use with all their connected tools.
This solution is for the organization that prioritizes a data-first customer approach. CDPs focus on the unification and merging of user data to yield behavior-driven customer and user insights.
It’s a selection of tools that allows marketers to have more empathy with their customers and users. The marketing tools might change, but how customer and user data comes together to bring new discoveries and insights to the marketing team remain consistent with a CDP.
Pros: CDPs focus on data unification and merging, with integrations into any best-of-breed marketing tools. Certain CDPs include layers of data science to imbue insights a predictive edge. Machine learning merges identities and profiles into one place, doing all that data heavy lifting so marketers can focus on, well, great marketing.
Cons: CDPs focus on customer and user data collection, management, and unification. They typically don't feature marketing execution abilities.
Closing the Gap: Now that customer and user data are unified and actionable by interaction and behavior, it's up to CDP users to continue to invest in best-in-class tools and run web standard, trackable campaigns to ensure their data is up-to-date and that behavioral scoring and segmentation are accurate. Over time, this brings digital marketers much closer to relevant, truly one-to-one marketing.
Of these four marketing technology stack types, the Customer Data Platform is one we strongly believe in. Not just because we all work hard on building and improving Lytics for digital marketers to succeed with, but because CDPs are focused on something just as sustainable as platform thinking: truly understanding customers beyond what demographic surveys and declarative data can tell us.
If the marketing technology landscape over the last decade has told us anything, it’s that marketing tools will come and go. Our understanding of customers and users only gets better with the amount of effort and quality of tools that we use.
CDPs allow us to collect, merge, and maintain customer and user data to play well with a multitude of marketing tools, whether it’s a best-in-class suite for a large organization, or a smaller, nimbler suite for a brick-and-mortar shop.
CDPs are a platform that can help empower marketing tactical decisions, such as how to better define audiences to target and which channels best reach those people. They are also a means to imbuing and inspiring marketing strategy by using machine learning and data science to determine what kind of content or creative work influences users most.
In the competition for relevancy and context, CDPs give marketers a data-first edge to build better customer experiences.