The marketing technology stack landscape is booming but here’s why it fails

When was the last time you took a quick moment to count your marketing technology stack that you use for your business. 

Stack by G2 is a great website that shows you the marketing technology stack that companies are presently using. At Alpha Cube, we also use Builtwith to learn about the marketing technology stack of our clients.

In his LinkedIn Article – Norman Rohr, SVP of Marketing & Communications at Uberall, did a quick analysis. His’ napkin calculation shows how much your average small-to-mid-sized business could be spending, and it might surprise you:

  • Salesforce enterprise licenses can run up to $130 per month, and user
  • Sales productivity tools such as Cirrus Insight or Yesware cost $10 per month, and user
  • Reporting tools such as InsightSquared, Quip, or Analytics studio add another $50 – 100 per month and user
  • Electronic signature tools such as DocuSign cost $25 per month, and user
  • Sales productivity add-ons such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator or Sales Loft cost $100 per month, and user
  • And further industry-specific extensions will all have their fixed fees, not to mention data security, backup, maintenance, support, training fees, and charges

We’re talking around at least $500 per month per user. That’s a LOT.

But, if your marketing technology stack is saving you money overall, it must be worth the investment, right? After all, what’s $500 on top of a 6-figure salary?

It’s not as straightforward as that. How can you quantify the productivity gains provided by your tech stack when they’re so subtle and there’s a multitude of factors at play?

With so many SaaS companies out there, solutions are proliferating within businesses at an unsustainable rate.

Employees with corporate credit cards tend to use whatever tools they’ve gotten used to over the years, and startups’ culture of trust and empowerment (which we’re big proponents of, by the way) should shoulder some of the blame for these wasted resources.

In a hurry? Here’s how to find the right marketing technology stack for your business:

  1. Think big, start small, learn fast
  2. User experience trumps technology 
  3. New wine in old skins 
  4. Security and privacy are decision data
  5. Ecosystem and partnerships matter
  6. Optimize for scalability
  7. Future proof and avoid FOMO
  8. Is it cost-effective?
  9. Learn from your competitors
  10. Integrations are the core

Your tools don’t talk to each other.

Your tech stack is all the tools and technologies that allow your organization to do what it does best. But, when it comes to curating the optimal tech stack, it’s not a case of “the more, the merrier.” Having too many tools causes misalignment across departments, especially when they cannot talk to each other!

Often, you’ll find that each department has amassed a tech stack that functions fine in isolation, but these narrowly-framed stacks centered around department-specific tasks don’t interact well – the result: inefficiency and fragmentation.

Your money could be better spent elsewhere.

The amount of money spent on each tool per user is pretty low, so costs often fly under the radar.

But, when you take the stack as a whole, adding up all the subscriptions and fixed fees, it soon becomes clear that money is being squandered.

This is money that you could be spending on marketing, hiring, R&D, and generally growing your business, which is the aim of the game, after all.

There’s too much overlap between services

Employees tend to buy SaaS tools for one specific feature that they need at the time. But often, this task could be handled just as well by an existing tool.

This impulse buying contributes to a bloated stack, with loads of overlapping features, that’s crying out to be trimmed down into a cheaper, more streamlined configuration.

The prevalence of subscription pricing models doesn’t help either. Employees sign up for services they use once, forgetting to cancel contracts at the end of a project. And, managers regularly fail to amend user numbers when an employee leaves a company. The clock keeps running and more and more money flows down the drain.

(The Iceberg Marketing Technology Stack)

WHY choosing the right marketing technology stack matters

The benefits of building the optimal stack are clear:

  • Faster speed to market that’s focussed on customer segments
  • Scaling your marketing efforts
  • Running an all-in-one ecosystem rather than operating in silos
  • The ability to share data and collaborate effectively
  • The capability to offer your customers rich, personalized experiences

Yet, founders and CEOs are having a hard time picking the right tech stacks for their businesses. And it’s partly due to the vast array of solutions on the market. There are over 8,000 MarTech vendors alone!

HOW to choose the right marketing technology stack for you and your business

Here’s a 10-step process of choosing the right technology stack for your company:

Think big, start small, learn fast

It’s tempting to dive into the SaaS market and start picking out tools like a kid in a candy store. But you should start small and stay agile. Invest in the most stripped-back, basic suite of tools possible, using each one to its full capacity before layering anything else on top.

User experience trumps technology 

Your technology should work for your users, not the other way around. It doesn’t matter if a particular tool boasts a more impressive list of features if they’re not the features your employees want to use!

Think about how users operate:

  • Do they work more on a desktop or a phone?
  • Do they work in an office or remotely?
  • Do they serve a large number of small customers or a small number of large customers?

New wine in old skins

Consider ease of migration if you have large databases that may need to be moved over to a new solution, as well as compatibility with on-premise solutions.

Security and privacy are decision data.

Security is a big issue when it comes to SaaS tools. After all, you’re effectively ‘sharing’ your company’s most sensitive information with a third party. Consider SSO (Single Sign-On), which lets users log into several related systems with a single ID and password. And, check for CCPA and GDPR compliance.

Lead with ecosystem and partnerships 

Your company is an ecosystem composed of people and tools. How does your tech stack integrate with the other tools you’re running? And, how are employees interacting with the tools and their wider communities?

Optimize for scalability

Will it scale? Can you bail? These are the questions you need to ask. It’s no use training everyone up on a tool that you’ll outgrow within a year. Conversely, make sure you can make a swift exit from any solution that’s no longer effective or affordable.

Future-proof and avoid FOMO

Your tech stack needs to be flexible and customizable if your business is to keep up with the competition. You want to take advantage of technology trends as they happen, which means using tools that offer regular updates.

Is it cost-effective

Check the pricing structure of your solutions. Costs that seem cheap initially can ramp up massively as your organization grows.

Learn from your competitor’s stack

Before committing to any solution, you need to do your due diligence, and that means finding out what your competition is using. We use Builtwith to track our competitors’ and prospects’ tech.

Integrations are the core

The tools in your stack should integrate perfectly with one another. And with all the other systems within your organization. Pick solutions developed with an API-first approach. These can easily be replaced if a better (or more economical) solution hits the market.

The tech stack we use at Alpha Cube

As you can imagine, being a technology company, we’re obsessed with the plethora of tools on the market. It’s our job, after all!

Our tech stack has been carefully curated and refined over the past 20 years, and we’re delighted to share with you the stack that currently powers Alpha Cube, along with a few other tools we like…

What do we use for sales?

Call Hippo

For making business calls from desktops and phones.

Hubspot

For CRM, tracking pipelines and opportunities, and nurturing lead.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

For research and email outreach.

GSuite

For email and organizing data.

  • Price: $12 per user a month
  • Website: GSuite

What do we use for marketing?

Ahrefs

For site audits, to find new keywords and topics, and to track page ranks.

  • Price: $99 – $999 a month
  • Website: Ahrefs

Hubspot Marketing

For chatbot.

  • Price: $600
  • Website: Hubpost

Google Search Console

For measuring our site’s performance.

Google Analytics

Also, for measuring the site’s performance

WordPress

For CMS 

  • Price: Free
  • Website: WordPress

Elastic Email

For Email marketing 

  • Price: $30 – $1450
  • Website: Elastic Email 

Rollworks

For ABM

  • Price: $975
  • Website: RollWorks

Hubspot

for Marketing Automation

  • Price: $600
  • Website: Hubspot

What do we use for front-end development?

DocRaptor

For converting HTML, JS, and CSS into PDFs and Excel files.

  • Price: $15 – $1,000+ a month
  • Website: DocRaptor

JetBrains

For software development tools used by our developers.

  • Price: $349 – $649 per license a year
  • Website: JetBrains

What do we use for back-end development?

Dyn 

Our dynamic DNS provider.

  • Price: $55 a year
  • Website: Dyn

Tideways

For insights into PHP application performance.

  • Price: $89 – $429 per application a month
  • Website: Tideways

Bitbucket

For version control hosting and reviewing code.

  • Price: $0 – $6 per user a month
  • Website: Bitbucket

Status.io

For incident tracking.

  • Price: $79 – $349 a month
  • Website: Status.io

resmush it

For compressing and optimizing images.

  • Price: $5 – $39 a month
  • Website: Resmush

Flywheel 

For WordPress Hosting

  • Price: $100
  • Website: Flywheel

Digital Ocean

For Cloud Servers

  • Price: $5 – $2000
  • Website: Digital Ocean

Amazon Web Service (AWS)

For various cloud-computing services.

Fastly

For CDN (Content Delivery Network) 

  • Price: Starts at $50
  • Website: Fastly 

What do we use for management?

Clickup

For project management and tasks

  • Price: $7 per user a month
  • Website: Clickup

PandaDoc

For user agreements and contracts.

  • Price: $49 per user a month
  • Website: PandaDoc

What do we use for communication and collaboration?

Slack

For internal communication and tracking of our lead activities. 

  • Price: $6+ per user a month
  • Website: Slack

Zoom

For video conferencing.

  • Price: $14.99 – $19.99 per user a month
  • Website: Zoom

Mural

For online collaboration and Design Thinking Workshops

  • Price: $12 per use

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