Harvest Guide to Growth Marketing

3. How Do You Build Your Growth Marketing Tech Stack?

Understand all the growth marketing technology available, and how to select the right ones

Kailey Belsher, Head of Performance Marketing

Marketing technology is overwhelming because companies start their decision-making journey with technology. Instead, they should be looking at their marketing problems first.


Learning Objectives
By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

The release of chiefmartech.com’s marketing technology supergraphic has become an annual event in the martech world. This Where’s Waldo-esque graphic displays all the marketing technology solutions available each year. In 2020, the supergraphic squeezed in 8,000 marketing tools, up 13.6% from 2019.

For martech nerds, it’s a delightful visual. 

For early-stage companies, it’s a frightening sight.

Marketing technology landscape
Figure 1: Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2020) from chiefmartech.com

To add to the overwhelm, business owners are bombarded with messages about the importance of a solid tech marketing stack. Without the right tools, they’re warned their business will fall behind, fail to execute on its strategies, and get mired in manual activities that distract from bigger strategic initiatives. 

This isn’t a lie. It’s just a little misleading and alarmist. Here’s how to lighten the load. 

Start with the marketing problem you want to solve, not the marketing technology

Marketing technology is overwhelming because companies start their decision-making journey with technology. Instead, they should be looking at their marketing problems first. 

You know what they say: “A problem well stated, is a problem half solved.” The same idea applies to purchasing marketing technology. 

Here are some examples of common marketing operations problems experienced by early-stage companies:

  1. We spend too many hours each week on manual tasks (e.g. email distribution, lead scoring) critical to our marketing strategy.
  2. We spend too many hours each week planning PPC campaigns across different platforms (e.g. Google, LinkedIn, Facebook) and ensuring the right messages are displayed to the right audiences at the right times.
  3. We can’t get visibility over the data from all of our different marketing channels (e.g. email, social media, blog posts) and this prevents us from discovering cross-channel insights and trends.
  4. We struggle to project manage and organize the initiation, development, production, and distribution of content. 
  5. We don’t have visibility over all interactions and engagements with our customers or a single source of truth for accessing customer profiles.

Rank your problems by order of importance and develop S.M.A.R.T. goals

Gathered your problems? Well done. Now rank them by order of importance. Not every problem is worthy of an investment, so focus on the solutions that will generate the most business value. 

Again, the best way to determine value is to look at the growth marketing approach you identified in Chapter 1. If you’re adopting a “virality” strategy, then you need social media listening and measurement tools. If you’re adopting a “performance” strategy, then you need to find marketing technology that allows you to embrace programmatic advertising to get the right ad content in front of the right audiences at the right time. 

Once you’ve identified the most pressing problems, develop S.M.A.R.T. goals. Keep in mind that narrowing down your category of marketing technology is not enough. Even within specific categories like email marketing or programmatic advertising, there are several options on the market. If you know exactly what goals you want to accomplish, you can ask vendors specific questions. 

Understanding your desired business outcomes also helps you make trade-offs. Suppose you’ve adopted the virality strategy. If you find a tool that has both social media marketing and CRM capabilities, you can be selective about which upgraded features you choose. In this case, you’d invest money in richer social media marketing functionalities and settle for standard CRM capabilities. 

Using Marketing Technology to Solve Marketing Problems

Business Problem #1: Too many hours spent planning and managing PPC campaigns.
What’s the growth marketing strategy?
Performance
What’s the S.M.A.R.T. goal?
Increase bookings in our marketplace app by 25% over 3 months and with $5,000 in PPC spend.
What’s a potentially suitable marketing tool?
Keyword planning tools and paid search management software
Business Problem #2: No visibility into interactions and engagement with our brand, social posts, and blog content.
What’s the growth marketing strategy?
Virality
What’s the S.M.A.R.T. goal?
Increase our social engagement by 50% over 4 months.
What’s a potentially suitable marketing tool?
Social listening tools, content management tools, Google Analytics
Business Problem #3: Too many hours spent on content planning, research, and distribution
What’s the growth marketing strategy?
Content
What’s the S.M.A.R.T. goal?
Increase frequency of SEO-optimized content production to 3x per week 
What’s a potentially suitable marketing tool?
Keyword research and planning tools, content management system

Measure the performance of your marketing technology

Use your S.M.A.R.T. goals to evaluate the cost and benefit of your marketing technology on a monthly or quarterly basis. If your marketing technology dramatically and consistently underperforms, you need to either re-evaluate your S.M.A.R.T. goals or look for a better solution on the market. 

Most importantly, do not let your underperforming marketing technology subscriptions keep renewing. Unused technology is a money drain for many companies, but it’s an especially persistent problem for marketing departments. The marketing technology stack takes up a quarter of CMO budgets, but approximately 40% of that investment goes to waste.

Protect your customer experience

Finally, ensure your technology supports your customer experience. If your chosen technology solution introduces friction (e.g. a frustrating chatbot) or discomfort (e.g. lack of transparency about data usage), then the negative impact on your brand and customer experience will outweigh any efficiencies gained.

Key Takeaways
When you’re choosing marketing technology, start with the business problem. A clear understanding of your business problem will help you pick tools that support your growth marketing efforts and generate a return on investment. 
Kailey Belsher, Head of Performance Marketing
Chapter 4 - How Do You Build a Growth Marketing Team
© 2021 Harvest Builders | All rights reserved.