Demystifying the Martech Stack, Part 1: The Evaluation Process

Dec 05, 2020

This is the first part in a series called “Demystifying the Martech Stack” designed to help marketeters choose martech solutions that are the right fit for their objectives.

Everyone knows that Baskin & Robbins has 31 flavors of ice cream, but no one walks into one of its stores determined to sample every single flavor before choosing a scoop. Most of us walk in with a few options in mind. Then we taste a couple of them and decide from there.

Martech is similar. It’s true that there are thousands of solutions out there. But depending on our company’s objectives, budget, vertical industry, personnel, and so on, our field of options narrows rapidly. This series will help you do just that.

Martech? What’s Martech?

Starting off the top -- what is “martech”, exactly?

Martech is a way to use technology to achieve marketing objectives – it’s a fundamental pillar in all digital marketing. However, a survey conducted by BDO shows that 56% of companies do not fully understand the marketing technologies available to them. Another 31% cited a lack of internal skills as the main barrier to making sound marketing technology investments.

Many companies seem to be either overinvesting or underutilizing the technologies they purchase. A survey conducted last year by Gartner Group found that marketing leaders believe they are using only 58% of their martech software’s capabilities.

People, Process and Technology

Understanding your company’s position and the type of technologies it needs requires some self-examination, which involves a three-step evaluation process: People, Process and Technology.

Step 1: People

We’ve identified three key skill sets every marketing team needs. But it all starts with leadership.

Every marketing team needs that pacesetting leader who sets clear business goals and objectives. This allows the team to simplify, clarify and focus its marketing efforts in order to align them with customer needs and the company’s overall growth plans.

Once it’s time to execute, the following skill sets are critical to success:

  1. The Creator”. These are the people who are amazing at creating content in all its forms -- videos, white papers, podcasts, digital ads, blog posts, infographics, social media posts, and so on.
  2. The Operator.” These are the people who dig into tools and become power users. It’s not unheard of to have a combination Creator and Operator embodied in the same person, but it is rare.
  3. The Analyst”. These are the people who dig into performance data to find the patterns that lead to better outcomes. Without the analyst, it’s impossible to make the adjustments needed to optimize campaign performance.

While it’s possible to have the Creator, Operator, and Analyst wrapped into one teammate, it’s uncommon. It’s more likely that anyone wearing all three hats only wears one or two of them well enough to make a demonstrable impact.

Step 2: Process

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is allowing a misalignment between the tools a company implements and its existing internal processes.
In our experience, we have found that these practices help avoid the classic mistake of misalignment.

Here is a process framework that we’ve found helps marketing teams make better martech technology decisions and achieve better overall results. We break it down into three steps:

  1. Clarify: Effective marketing teams know exactly what they want to achieve. And they create customer personas to clarify who their target audience is. Effective teams can also clearly articulate and communicate their value proposition to their customers. And finally, they know how to align with their company’s growth goals and objectives.
  2. Simplify: A marketing team’s overall strategy needs to be simple. And everyone on the team needs to understand it. If they cannot understand it, they cannot be effective stakeholders to ensure its success. Pick a strategy and avoid going off in too many directions.
  3. Focus: Finally, focus on the marketing technologies that would help you achieve your marketing goals and objectives.

Step 3: Technology

Now it’s time to make the technology decisions that will help you execute your strategy.

Before you evaluate specific marketing tools, you need to create sub-categories based on your marketing goals and objectives.

Begin by outlining your marketing objectives and then break them down into subcategories.

For example, if your goal is to use data to optimize your marketing, then you want to create a data and analytics software category.

If your goal is to have a centralized location to store and review the performance of all your marketing campaign data, then you want to create a data management (i.e., customer relationship management or customer data platform software) category.

And if you want to automate your marketing workflows, then create a marketing automation subcategory.

Once you have established these subcategories, it’s time to take a look at your current martech stack and find tools that fill any gaps in order to improve your existing workflow.

The average enterprise marketing team uses about 120 martech tools. Evaluate the tools that you already use and ask some key questions. Where are the gaps?

Where do you need new tools? And where can you stretch the capabilities of the tools you already have?

Our next article in this series breaks down the marketing stack into the major subcategories. 

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Isaac Adejuwon

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