Marketing Tech Stack, Research and Guidance For High-Growth Results
The marketing technology stack supports every marketer’s strategy for how their organization goes to market. It is the collection of software tools that help marketers develop, enable, implement, and manage marketing programs that resonate with prospects and customers. Organizations often purchase technology as they need it, however, a tech stack should be built according to a plan with every component designed to serve a specific purpose. The tools interact with each other in ways that provide maximum efficiency.
TOPO studied marketing, sales, and sales development teams to understand how they build and manage their technology stacks. We sought to answer the question of how the best marketing teams use technology today, considering both account based and volume/velocity approaches.
TOPO fielded a series of online surveys to marketing, sales, and sales development leaders to understand their technology usage. The survey was completed by 297 respondents at 273 high-growth companies, composed of a mix of TOPO clients and other high-performing companies.
Technology, along with people and process, is responsible for delivering marketing results. Many of the technologies studied also serve sales and sales development teams, and implementation and management of these software tools can encourage alignment across all three functions.
The Technology Stack is Organized into Five Categories
The marketing technology stack is organized into five master categories that interact with each other in specific ways. Each vendor category reviewed is part of one master category. This view of the stack standardizes the approach marketers take when investing in and implementing technology in their organizations.
- Infrastructure: The foundation of the tech stack, which contains the contact database and serves as the central repository of information for the organization
- Data: External sources of information about accounts, contacts, and prospect intent that provide, update, and enrich existing records in other systems
- Application: Core and shared systems that enable the processing of information in support of marketing programs
- Execution: The digital, media/advertising, and offline systems that implement marketing programs
- Measurement: Tools that track the success of marketing programs in meeting organizational goals
Technology Usage Divides Vendor Categories into Two Groupings
We surveyed high-growth companies on the usage of 16 technology categories in the marketing tech stack. The usage patterns revealed aligns these technologies into two groups: commonly used technologies and emerging technologies.
The most common technologies are the categories with usage rates above 50%. These include the tools that nearly every modern organization uses, but especially high-growth companies. These are CRM and marketing automation, which are the single source of information for contacts and accounts and the basis for digital tracking of all marketing and sales activities. Webinar tools are used by 88% of marketers, indicating that this demand generation tactic is still widely used.
Account data and contact data solutions are ubiquitous, because every go-to-market organization needs up-to-date account and contact information to connect with prospects. The rest of this grouping is very tactical with advertising solutions, event technology, and chat and messaging. Even though account based advertising has a strong showing in our high-growth dataset—which shows a high adoption of at least initial account based activities—this is not essential for all marketing tech stacks if account based has not been adopted.
The group of emerging technologies with usage rates of 50% and below are a mix of truly emerging categories and ones that will only be widely used in specific market segments. The fastest growing category, intent data, is nearing 50% usage and will continue rapid growth until usage is on par with account data. Account based platforms will see higher adoption as more organizations embark on significant account based strategies.
Thirty Percent of Marketers Will Spend the Same or Less on Martech
Nearly half of marketers surveyed expect their martech spend to grow slightly or not at all in the next 12 months. Four percent plan to spend less over the next year. We could see organizations actually remove some vendors and focus on the categories that make the biggest difference in achieving their marketing results. Just over a quarter of high-tech companies plan to significantly increase their technology spend by more than 20%.
The median martech spend growth is an 11-20% increase, and there is no difference between small (under $100 million in revenue) and large (over $100 million in revenue) organizations. This means that smaller, likely faster growing, companies aren’t increasing spend significantly faster than larger companies.
Guidance for Building or Expanding a Marketing Technology Stack
As the market for marketing technology continues to expand and evolve, organizations should bear in mind the following for building or expanding a marketing technology stack:
- Start by defining the strategy and the process, then match technology solutions to different components that can be improved or automated.
- Marketers should take a page from their own marketing playbook and focus on the technology that helps them solve their biggest challenges.
- Be judicious when adding new solutions to the technology stack, as unnecessary complexity often outweighs the benefits of individual tools.
- Prioritize ease of use and integration when evaluating new technologies. The more technology is integrated within the workflow, the more likely it is that the marketing team will adopt it.
To learn more about TOPO’s latest research into the Marketing Technology Stack, register for our Marketing Technology Report webinar on Tuesday, January 14, at 10 a.m. PST.