Here's Why Your Marketing Tech Stack Is (Probably) Letting You Down

Have you ever taken the time to count up the cost of all the different SaaS solutions your business uses?

Norman Rohr, SVP of Marketing & Communications at Uberall, did. His ‘back of an envelope’ 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 tech 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?

That’s the sales pitch from your typical SaaS provider, but it’s not as straightforward as that. How can you really 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 a rate that’s unsustainable.

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. Start small, think big
  2. Prioritize users over technology
  3. Will your new tools play nicely with your old ones
  4. Will your tech stack be secure
  5. Consider your ecosystem as a whole
  6. Optimize for scalability
  7. Is it future-proof?
  8. Is it affordable?
  9. Reverse engineer your competitor's stack
  10. How integratable are the tools in your stack?
Download this guide as a PDF

 

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 definitely not a case of “the more, the merrier.” Having too many tools causes misalignment across departments, especially when they’re unable to 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 of Marketing Technology Stack

(The Iceberg Marketing Technology Stack)

 

WHY choosing the right tech stack matters

The benefits of building the optimal stack are clear:

  • Faster speed to market
  • 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 7,000 MarTech vendors alone!

Marketing Technology Stack Landscape

 

HOW to choose the right tech stack for you and your business

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

How to choose the right website technology stack

1. Start small, think big

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.

2. Prioritize users over 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?

 

3. Will your new tools play nicely with your old ones

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.

4. Will your tech stack be secure

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.

 

5. Consider your ecosystem as a whole

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?

6. 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.

7. Is it future-proof?

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

8. Is it affordable?

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

9. Reverse engineer 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.

10. How integratable are the tools in your stack?

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 Core dna

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 Core dna, along with a few other tools we like...

What do we use for sales?

1. Talkroute

For making business calls from desktops and phones.

2. Sharpspring

Marketing tech stack that we use: Sharpspring

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

3. LinkedIn Sales Navigator

For research and email outreach.

4. GSuite

For email and organizing data.

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

 

What do we use for marketing?

1. Ahrefs

Marketing Technology Stack That We Use: Ahrefs

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

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

2. Drift

For chatbot.

  • Price: $400 - $1,500 a month
  • Website: Drift

3. Frase

For AI chat; it searches our whole site to answer queries.

  • Price: $39.99 - $199.99 a month
  • Website: Frase.io

Marketing Technology Stack That We Use: Frase.io

4. Google Search Console

For measuring our site’s performance.

5. Google Analytics

Also, for measuring the site’s performance

6. Core dna

For an all-in-one content hub, obviously. We can easily change our landing pages by simply choosing which template we want to use and the order of each content block.

Marketing Technology Stack That We Use: Core dna as our CMS


The order:

Marketing tech stack that we use: Core dna as our CMS

7. Google Data Studio

For pulling together data from Sharpspring, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Core dna to track our website engagements (e.g., blog posts conversion rates, landing page conversion rates, blog posts that are under 100 pageviews, pages that are ranking between 7-15 for their search terms, etc.). We then use this data to provide insights to the marketing team.

 

What do we use for front-end development?

1. DocRaptor

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

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

2. 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?

1. Dyn 

Our dynamic DNS provider.

  • Price: $55 a year
  • Website: Dyn

2. Tideways

For insights into PHP application performance.

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

3. Opsgenie

For incident management

  • Price: $9 - $29 per user a month
  • Website: Opsgenie

4. Bitbucket

For version control hosting and reviewing code.

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

5. Status.io

For incident tracking.

7. Kraken.io

For compressing and optimizing images.

8. Vultr

For cloud servers.

  • Price: $2.50 - $640 a month
  • Website: Vultr

9. Amazon Web Service (AWS)

For various cloud-computing services.

10. APNIC

For administering IP addresses.

  • Price: $1,180 - $1,994 a month + $500 sign-up fee
  • Website: APNIC

11. Stackpath

For CDN (Content Delivery Network) and WAF (Web Application Firewall).

  • Price: $20 - $2,000 a month
  • Website: Stackpath

12. Graylog

For event logging.

  • Price: Free for the open source version
  • Website: Graylog

 

What do we use for management?

1. Core Teams

For storing and collaborating on content ideas, and tracking projects and tasks (part of the Core dna platform)

Marketing tech stack that we use: Core Teams

2. PandaDoc

For user agreements and contracts.

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

 

What do we use for communication and collaboration?

1. Slack

For tracking our lead activities. Every time someone submits a demo inquiry or downloads a content upgrade, our CMS (Core dna) sends a “hook trigger” to Slack

The hook trigger:

Marketing tech stack that we use: Hook trigger

The Slack notification:

Marketing tech stack that we use: Hook to Slack

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

2. Zoom

For video conferencing.

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

3. Bonusly

For employee recognition and awards.

Marketing tech stack that we use: Bonusly

  • Price: $3+ per user
  • Website: Bonusly
Download this guide as a PDF
Sam Saltis
Sam Saltis
Founder/CEO

An entrepreneur at heart with over 20+ years of experience in building internet software, growing online companies and managing product development.

Loves all things SaaS, technology, and startups.

You can find him feeding his beloved fish when he's back in Australia.

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