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Building an effective martech stack: The missing dimensions

With close to 10,000 martech solutions available, marketers today are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing tools for their stack. You can buy any number of tools with a credit card, but do random tools make an effective stack? 

It is easy to go crazy building out a complex martech stack. With so many  tools to choose from, its a bit like a kid in a candy shop.

When you try to pick the best tool for each functionality and try to get them all working together, it quickly devolves into a project from hell. A whole lot  of the tools available are very powerful – fully loaded with bells and whistles, dials and switches. Learning how it all works can be a challenge. And all this just in a single tool. Now add a handful more in the stack and very soon the complexity rises exponentially.

With ‘The Great Resignation’ still in full force and no end in sight, you need to consider the implications of architecting a stack that needs deep expertise to maintain. Often when an expensive super-tool makes it into the stack, teams end up organizing their processes and tactics around what the tool can do well instead of getting the tool to work according to what they need. 

A year down the line, when executives start looking at utilization metrics and ROI, you might end up wondering what you were thinking when on the martech shopping binge.



Start (and evolve) with the Why


“All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year”. Simon Sinek


What Simon Sinek recommended about organizations applies to technology stacks as well. When deciding what to include in your marketing stack, start with the why. Why are you building this stack? What is the larger business objective that the marketing team is trying to achieve?

The strategy need not be anything complicated. Having a clear idea of the objectives is a great starting point. Build out from there.

If your organization has a dedicated team, go over their existing objectives, strategies and challenges. This will give you a fair idea of what processes and tactics could be automated.

Remember your why will keep evolving as you grow and are faced with new challenges. You will need to keep revisiting the “why” behind your martech stack architecture at regular intervals to keep it relevant to your business goals.


Consider your “capability stack” 

The technology you choose is an important part of the overall strategy, but it is just a part. The other, often overlooked, part is the capabilities in your organization to set up, maintain and build on the technology that you choose.

If you build out a solution so complex that you are dependent on specialized (and expensive) resources or external vendors to maintain it, it might eventually end up making your current problems worse.

With no-code technologies now becoming de riguer, the power that marketers wield is growing exponentially. Teams that have the required marketing skills can easily build complex and detailed solutions without having to wait for developers and technology teams to assist them. Gone are the days when you could afford to have teams that did not keep up with the rapidly changing technology landscape. It is critical that you assess your current capabilities and bridge the gap to be able to optimally implement and extract value from the martech stack.


Build your stack a couple of sizes too big

The third aspect that is often overlooked is how the asks from the stack will evolve in the short to medium term.

Nobody knows your business like you do. You know what you are looking to achieve in the next 2-4 quarters with a less clearly defined outlook for the next couple of years.

No technology vendor can claim that they know your processes and challenges better than you. Neither can they claim to know what is going to be happening in their own domain even five years from now.

In today’s rapidly evolving technology landscape, there is no ‘forever’ tool that you can commit to or build around. Look for tools that let you achieve your present objectives easily and can scale to meet your future requirements. Build your martech stack to be flexible and nimble.


Build that stack to delight your customers

We started this discussion with the Why. We will end with the biggest why the stack needs to be effective – your customer delight. The technology stack, the capabilities stack and the culture you create should all ultimately serve the purpose of driving customer delight – across every single touch point.

With the technologies that are already available today, you can choose tools that are easy to use and are powerful enough to get your teams on the same page around all customer interactions. When you build out a martech stack that lets your teams delight current and future customers, you grow faster, better and profitably.