3 Steps to Choose the Right Tools for your Marketing Stack

MarTech tool evaluation
James Holder @advalyze
James Holder

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Your company has recently chosen a new email marketing tool, you’re six months into using it, you’ve built your email campaigns, and now you realise, “Creating that multi step customer journey isn’t as easy as it seemed.” Does this sound familiar?

In today’s ever-changing landscape of marketing tools, selecting the right one can be a difficult task. Either you create an extensive list and get lost in the similar but confusing tool features, or you choose the first one you find because their website made it sound like the perfect fit for your business. Only to end up with a financial commitment and a realisation that there are things you wish you knew before getting started.

It’s not about the tool, it’s about what you want to achieve

The thing is, there’s no perfect tool or marketing tech stack combination that guarantees smooth sailing. Choosing the right tool, whether it is a CRM or a video conferencing tool, can often be overlooked or rushed causing various problems or limitations in the future. There will be bumps along the road but there are actions which will drastically improve your ability to identify and integrate the right tool for your marketing tech stack. This article will give you an overview of why having a thorough process will benefit your next tool selection.

What is a Marketing Tech stack?

A marketing technology stack, known as MarTech stack, is a collection of digital tools that are used to support or deliver marketing capabilities for a business. The size, scale and complexity of the stack can be derived by business needs, expertise and ability to select the right tool.

What are typical MarTech tools?

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Customer Data Platform (CDP). Find out why you should invest in a CDP from advalyze’s dashingly handsome MarTech Product Manager, Adam Griffiths.
  • Automation and integration software (Integromat/Zapier)

What kinds of MarTech tools need careful consideration?

This process can be applied to all kinds of tools based on any business goal. The way to decide if this process is right for you is by asking a few questions:

  1. Is this tool going to help achieve a business goal or functionality?
  2. Will it be used by multiple people in the business?
  3. Will it need to be integrated with other multiple systems?

If the answer to any of these is yes then you will benefit from a thorough tool selection process.

The MarTech tool evaluation process at a glance

martech tool evaluation process

In order to choose the right marketing tool you need the correct preparation. This process is comprehensive but when investing in a tool that is costly and crucial for your business, this process is critical in reducing the likelihood of future problems. Below are detailed steps for a successful MarTech tool evaluation.

Gather your tool’s requirements

This is by far the most important step as this dictates the direction you will go and is used to ultimately decide which tool should be selected. Our CEO and advalyze co-founder Oliver Moser is right: “It’s not about the tool, it’s about what you want to achieve.”

The way to define your requirements can vary depending on your business. Keep in mind the objective is to find out as much as possible about the direction and goals of your business or department. This could be in the format of a workshop, a series of meetings or based on existing knowledge. You want to have input from the right people, including the CTO, Product Managers, Marketers or Process Owners.

Questions you need to ask when defining your tool requirements:

  • Who will be using the tool?
  • Who is responsible for the output of the tool?
  • Does it require a process or integration with other tools?

Creating use cases for your MarTech tool

Once there is some clarity around business direction and goals, you need to create use cases. If we use our marketing tool example, then a use case could be, “We want to send product recommendations to previous customers based on their purchase history.” From here you will need to identify the requirements an email marketing tool would need in order to implement the use case. For example, it needs to be capable of:

  • Segmentation
  • Data transformation
  • Email personalization
  • Integration of purchase data from the sales system via API or prebuilt integration

As you add more use cases, ideally around three to five, you will have more requirements for the tool and will have your final list to evaluate tools against.

Research and assess existing Marketing Technology tools

To begin, you want to create a long list with anywhere from ten to twenty tools. Depending on your experience with the tools or the category it may be difficult to find many options.

Tool evaluation is our bread & butter

How to find available tools for your needs

  • Use people in your network, friends, colleagues, ex-colleagues
  • Use your social media accounts for posing or finding groups who discuss these sorts of topics. “Can anyone recommend a marketing automation tool that allows me to …?” etc.
  • Google these results, their competitors will come up in paid ads. Comparison websites will come up such as hubspot vs. salesforce, hubspot vs. active campaign.

Once you have your long list, research them. Visit their website, read documentation, talk to their sales teams. While doing this you should be checking against your requirements. If they don’t match the requirements, then remove them from your list.

After you’ve gone through this, you will have a shortlist of three to five tools. You should contact these teams and arrange a demo or a trial account. That way you can start testing them out.

Requirements to consider when choosing any digital marketing tool

In general, each project will have different requirements based on your business, your goals and the type of tool(s) you are implementing. However, there are some important requirements you want to consider as they are often consistent across digital marketing tools

  • GDPR compliance – The location of the company can impact how you interact with the tool and which data you provide. Check to see how they handle data and if they meet your GDPR requirements.
  • Tool Integration and API – Often our tools need to be integrated into an existing tech stack. Check if there are integrations available with your tools or if there is an easy way to use API.
  • Customer Support – Everything’s amazing until something doesn’t work as expected. Having access to timely support can be the difference between a business critical initiative launching or not. Try using their support during the demo or trial phase and gauge how helpful they are.
  • Feature releases – Is the tool growing? As time goes on you’ll want to push the limits of the tool. Having visibility and the option to request new features is always beneficial. An example of this is from automation and integration tool, integromat. They have a great feature request portal and a feature release view.
  • Price – Companies big and small adhere to budgets and with each new tool comes a new pricing structure. Make sure to understand how each tool’s pricing works and what exactly you are being charged for. Check the different plans, taking into consideration what may happen if you need to upgrade the plan in the future.
  • Use previous knowledge – maybe you or someone in your network has experience with certain tools. Find out their thoughts and experiences. One way of collating previous knowledge is this cool view from Zalando.

Demo the tools using your use cases

Once you’re able to demo the tool you should showcase these with the initial group of colleagues who helped to create the use cases. Create a scorecard and let them give feedback on the tools. Everything has its pros and cons and you won’t always find a tool that meets all the requirements but with these demo sessions you can work out solutions together.

This should provide you with a good overview of how to confidently evaluate your next digital marketing tool. With the right preparation, this is a powerful way to ensure you select the right tool for your needs. Your choice of a MarTech stack can make a positive impact on the business or can become a pain in the long term. At advalyze we’ve used this process to help many companies to align the capabilities of their marketing tech stack with their business objectives. If you have any thoughts or questions about selecting the right tool, please reach out to us, we’d love to discuss how it can benefit your business.

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