To anyone working outside of marketing or the tech world in general, the term ‘martech’ might sound like just another sales and marketing portmanteau in a long line of technologies, which include fintech, medtech, edtech and more. But this rapidly expanding area of technology is creating a huge impact on businesses – including those here in the Middle East. Why? Because it enables those seeking to harness the potential of big data to run ever-more sophisticated marketing campaigns that bring in the right leads, faster and in greater numbers, at the wide end of the funnel.
Over the last ten years or so, martech has fundamentally changed the way marketers optimise their campaigns and interact with other teams, such as sales and customer acquisition. In the Middle East, events such as Vibe MarTech Fest are a strong indicator of the region’s growing maturity in this sector.
For entrepreneurs and business owners alike, it’s important to understand what martech is, what it does, and how it can benefit your bottom line.
What is a martech stack?
A martech stack – marketing technology stack – is the collective noun for a group of technologies, many of them software-as-a-service (SaaS) or no code or low code tools, which enable marketers to streamline, automate, accelerate and analyse their marketing efforts. With almost 10,000 different marketing technologies on the market as of 2022, this rapidly expanding market coincides with the dawn of ‘big data’ which is growing exponentially in ever greater volumes and variety.
Using data-driven insights, marketing teams can optimise their efforts throughout the customer journey, making communication ever-more personalised and effective at channelling leads into prospects. A martech stack is assembled from a wide range of software and systems which may be cloud based, on-premise, SaaS, or internally developed.
A martech stack contains the tools that marketers use to execute and analyse campaigns, so it covers a broad spectrum of marketing approaches, from social management platforms to search engine optimisation (SEO). Here are some examples:
- Email marketers might use a no-code email creation platform to ideate and execute email marketing campaigns more collaboratively and quickly.
- Content marketing platforms help content marketing professionals with the process of creating and analysing content (assets) that engage customers and prospects.
- Social media marketers use social management platforms to manage multiple social media accounts, including posting, monitoring, and tracking.
- SEO and search engine marketing require tools to research keywords, measure the performance of optimised content, and analyse competitors.
Why do you need a martech stack?
Like any technology stack, your martech stack contains all the technologies and services needed to streamline day-to-day workflows. Put simply, with the right martech stack, your marketing team can do more with their day.
Here are five benefits to creating an effective martech stack:
- Automation: Marketing automation platforms can save time and costs by automating tasks and freeing up time for optimisation and innovation.
- Efficiency: When a process can be templated, it enables you to repeat, share, and roll out the best strategies to improve efficiency.
- Insight: With every marketing and customer action essentially generating new data, you can build a much clearer picture of customer needs, and drive sales success.
- Innovation: As a steady stream of innovative martech comes to market, your company has an opportunity to absorb new techniques and gain a competitive advantage.
- Analytics: Software can provide oversight over campaigns, allowing you to evaluate their effectiveness, and continuously improve efforts to attract and engage customers.
It’s important to note that the tech itself won’t solve your marketing problems, it’s how your teams use its potential that will give your business the competitive edge.
What are the core components of a martech stack?
There are several core components required for an effective martech stack. But when it comes to choosing the right pieces, the choice can be overwhelming. To give you an idea of the scale and rate of growth of the martech market, according to Scott Brinker, a leading figure in the martech space, co-founder of Ion Interactive, current VP Platforms Eco-systems at Hubspot and bestselling author, one in five martech solutions didn’t exist in 2019.
And whilst ‘all-in-one’ solutions are available, they don’t necessarily include all the functionality that your marketing team needs. So let’s take a look at the core components.
- Marketing automation platform: A tool which provides oversight and control over multichannel marketing processes. Popular examples are Marketo, Salesforce Pardot, and ActiveCampaign.
- Content management system: Software such as WordPress, Squarespace and Drupal enables users to create, manage, and edit website content.
- Digital asset management: If you’re handling thousands of digital assets, repositories such as Adobe’s Experience Manager and Bynder can help to centralise them, enabling you to control versions and access.
- Customer database and analytics: This intelligent and interactive database records all your relevant customer data. Analytics tools, from the likes of HubSpot and Salesforce, leverage actionable insights from this data.
- Search engine optimisation: SEO is a strategy for growing organic traffic to your website by ranking for higher on the search engine results page (SERP) for specific keywords. Related tools include SEMrush and Moz.
- Web analytics: Tools such as Google Analytics and Optimizely enable digital marketers to understand user activity, web traffic and the quality of user experience in relation to campaigns.
- Social media: Smart tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social can now manage and monitor social posts, measuring things like brand sentiment and customer engagement.
How do you build a martech stack?
Building the best martech stack for your business requires a well-thought-out strategy. Without a proper strategy, things can quickly get complicated. Your budget will also be a key consideration. SaaS usually offers a monthly subscription model, which means you’re not locked in, and it’s much easier to switch or drop a service if it’s not right for your business.
Sometimes, it’s possible to purchase a single ‘seat’ and share the log-in with an entire team, making it much more cost-effective.
- The first step in building your martech stack is to ensure your marketing team knows their primary marketing strategies. This will help determine the tools they need to get their day-to-day duties done more efficiently.
- Secondly, listen to the challenges that marketing needs to overcome. How do these challenges relate to your overarching marketing goals? If you can connect the two, it becomes much easier to ascertain what kind of tool is required.
- The third and final step is to research the products or services which meet your marketing needs. Your marketing team is best placed to do this as they’re the ones using the tools on a daily basis. And don’t forget about non-marketing tools to complement your stack, things like project management platforms and collaborative software.
Overall, due to the ever-increasing volume of martech on the market, it’s important to retain a strategic approach to your stack, only incorporating new pieces that complement existing tools and offer value across the organisation, so that workflows remain uncluttered and everyone is aligned with the same goals.
How big is the martech industry?
Within the past decade, there has been phenomenal growth in the martech industry. Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic has been charting the rise of martech since 2011. In 2022, there were nearly 10,000 martech solutions, compared with 150 in 2011. With the government firmly committed to digital transformation in the UAE, we’re starting to see a growing number of martech solution providers firmly establishing themselves in the region.
As martech continues to see year-on-year growth at an exponential rate, it’s important that entrepreneurs and business owners in the MENA region build smart martech stacks which have the ability and agility to keep up with the latest innovations and keep their marketing efforts ahead of the competition.
Anisha Sagar is the head of marketing and communication at Meydan Free Zone