ArticleAugust 31, 2023 · 4 min read time
The clock is ticking for marketing leaders as the world prepares for a cookieless future and the rise of emerging technologies around AI-driven marketing and hyper-personalisation. Yet, there is a big gap between aims and execution. Nitor’s Strategist, Eveliina Lakka, walks through different approaches to building your martech stack from a technology perspective.
According to Gartner (2022), organisations typically utilise only 42% of the breadth of their martech stack capabilities. In a market where there were 376 new martech product announcements in 2022 alone, it is easy to get lost in “all things shiny”. To bridge the gap between marketing strategy and execution, we first clarify why martech stack should be high on your agenda, and then walk you through three alternative approaches that can elevate your business.
What is a martech stack and why do you need one? Simply put, martech stack is a collection of marketing technologies used to manage and optimise marketing processes. Typically, this includes different tools, platforms and software applications that help you to automate, optimise and measure marketing efforts across different channels.
Unlike in a set of martech tools, in a martech stack the technologies and tools are connected and interact with each other, enabling cross-functional collaboration and linkage between different teams. A modern martech stack helps you to break down internal silos and build synergies while orchestrating customer journeys.
There are different approaches that you could consider while building your martech stack. Below, we have summarised three common approaches from technology point of view, and our notes for each:
1. The suite strategy – for peace of mind
The idea of one comprehensive stack that offers functionality for all possible marketing activities is undeniably attractive. The suite strategy is a good option for those who have selected it as their overall strategic approach, who lack development capabilities for a more composable approach, or who want to centralise their martech development. This approach works for those who don’t require differentiation in customer-related capabilities, but are well satisfied with the existing components that suites can offer.
This approach also comes with certain risks. First of all, this strategy includes a strong vendor lock-in. You tie your martech developments tightly with the vendor’s roadmap, losing some of the control for your own development. In addition, you typically get the most value for a suite strategy when using it as a cornerstone for the entire technology strategy. Thus, it might not be the best approach if you are just looking to build specific use cases for martech.
2. The composability strategy – for those who want to invest in differentiation and flexibility
Composability, named as one of the hottest martech trends at the moment by Scott Brinker “the Godfather of Martech”, unleashes exponential potential to mix and match different components in an infinite number of niche contexts thanks to rapidly advancing technology, such as generative AI.
At its heart, the composability strategy revolves around creating a modular marketing infrastructure by composing interoperable components. The aim is to create a unified, integrated environment where data can flow seamlessly across the different components. This requires a strong focus on interoperability, API connectivity and data standardisation. Thus, to succeed, you need to have the required development capability in place.
Yet, with flexibility comes liabilities. The composability approach requires strong know-how of whether a solution for a specific problem works with the other selected solutions. You should also have the readiness to build custom components if needed. The flexibility of selecting and building different components also means that you need to be able to manage their integrations and data flows. Thus, evaluating your resources and skills is crucial.
3. The point solution strategy – for deep functionality in specific use cases
The point of solution strategy focuses on adopting individual, specialised tools addressing specific martech use cases. The advantage of this strategy is its flexibility and agility. Point of solutions might enable you to quickly experiment with new technologies in specific use cases. It provides flexibility to customise your martech stack without locking yourself with one-size-fits-all solutions.
The biggest risk with the point of solution is the fragmentation it creates. Thus, this approach should not be the end point but more a short-term band-aid. There is especially a risk of data fragmentation, as data is scattered across different systems and platforms. This makes it challenging to build a holistic view of the customer and the overall marketing performance.
Technology is no silver bullet – we need a change in the culture too
No matter what your technological approach is, you need to develop a culture that supports the chosen strategy. The challenge marketing often faces is how to break down the silos between different business functions and units, as today’s marketing requires roles and touchpoints throughout the whole organisation. This dilemma often leads to a situation in which marketing execution, at its best, is only narrow-focused and campaign-centric, not looking at the overall business objectives and fully leveraging data to create personalised customer experiences.
How to get started? Focus on building martech stacks for your immediate business needs while making sure your selected technology is adaptable and scalable for the long term. And don’t forget to pay attention to your way of working. Overall, we need a culture of experimentation, continuous learning and building cognitive diversity, guided by a clear business vision – across the whole organisation.