A strong strategy should always come before building out a complex marketing technology stack for your organization. But once you’ve got that down, it definitely makes sense to look at how technology can help enhance and streamline your marketing programs.
But where should you start? There are thousands of software options out there to build out a marketing technology stack. In this episode of The Demand Gen Fix podcast, we walk through the four marketing technology options we most commonly get asked about.
[00:24] There are thousands of options
[01:31] The MarTech landscape
[04:45] Marketing automation
[11:03] Intent data tools
[15:44] Account-based marketing platforms
[21:04] Analytics tools
[26:51] Have a strategy
[32:49] Wrap up
Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You are listening to The Demand Gen Fix the podcast where our team of GrowthModers and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long-term sustainable growth, especially in major tech industry.
Hello, welcome to The Demand Podcast from GrowthMode Marketing about demand generation. Today’s topic we’re talking about is building a marketing technology to support demand generation. Deanna, Erica, and I will get into a little bit more about MarTech. If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re interested in marketing, so you probably know about MarTech. So we’ll just quickly talk about what that is and what it means. Simply, the term refers to tools and technologies like software, online platforms, SaaS products, that companies use to plan and implement and measure their marketing. So you put all that stuff together and we call it a MarTech stack. There are thousands and thousands of options out there and we’re going to break it down into a few different categories and talk about each one today. If you’re wondering what pieces you might need to build your demand generation engine, we’re going to let you know what we know. Starting with the MarTech landscape.
The marketing technology landscape is massive. I remember eight years ago looking at it and new technologies were coming out and back then, like marketing automation was the primary one, but there were all these ancillary type of technologies that started plugging into marketing automation. Companies started innovating and coming up with new ways and new things that could become marketing technology. Back then there were about 5,000 different technologies. That’s a lot today. I did some research for this conversation to see where we are at now, and I found a couple different articles where numbers varied between 10,000 marketing technology options and 15,000 marketing technology options. So it’s massive market. There are so many different things you can do out there, I think it’s overwhelming for a lot of people. And obviously if you’re building out a marketing technology stack, you’re not going to go implement 15,000 different technologies.
Some of them do the exact same things, but even if you narrow it down to the different categories, there are so many different types of marketing technology and I think it’s everything from digital ad management to website management to marketing automation, the list goes on and on and on. And from my perspective, if you look at the different types of marketing technology, this is a very, very simplified categorization. There’s tools for content creation, there’s tools for program management, there’s tools for program execution, and there’s tools for program measurement. Now I am sure there are lots of smart marketing technologists out there that could come in and say, that list is too simplified and ridiculous. Here’s the 40 categories that there actually are.
Any tech pros out there who want to come and be a podcast guest?
Send us a message, we’d love to have you on and talk about it.
I think that’s a good way of simplifying it and like you said, maybe oversimplifying, but I think those are the categories that we think about when we come across most often. So let’s talk a little bit about different types of marketing technology that we feel like we’re asked most about. I think from my perspective, there’s four specific types of technology that we’re most often in conversation with clients about. And that would be marketing automation like you mentioned, which is a big one. Intent data tools, ABM platforms, and then analytics tools. So those fit into those four categories that you just mentioned. I think you can align the types of technology with those categories. And we’re going to get into each of these a little bit more in detail. So the first one, let’s talk about marketing automation and kind of what it is and then what roles does it play within demand generation?
We could probably conclude this entire episode on marketing automation alone. So, we will summarize and put a little bit of background or color to what roles it plays in demand generation. Just keep in mind that this is again, a simplified version, but marketing automation ultimately the simplest term, that it is a technology that will manage your processes and campaigns in an automated way. It’s technically a software that will handle routine marketing tasks without the need for, let’s say manual or human intervention in a lot of ways. It’s a way to set up and build this platform around your CRM and around these contacts and prospects that you have and customer data and actually start to build campaigns and automate some of that so that you have engagement type activities going on at all times.
And that’s not something that the marketing team is sending out one-off emails or the sales team is entering someone into a program or things like that. It’s really a way to build and automate some of those routine tasks. So some roles that marketing automation plays within demand generation. We have this conversation with clients constantly, and I would say marketing automation is typically a lot of the more mid-size or smaller businesses that we work with. Marketing automation is one of the first conversations we have because a lot of times clients come in with either a marketing automation platform that they have, but they aren’t utilizing to its potential or they just don’t have marketing automation. So this is a conversation we have very early on in our engagements with demand gen strategy. But there’s a lot of ways that this plays into or plays a role in demand generation.
And the biggest one, and I think we’re constantly sharing this with clients, is that marketing automation is kind of the center or the core of your demand generation activity. And it’s a way to again, manage the activity that’s going on in the background from marketing and activity that’s going on with sales in order to really implement and target and build more targeted marketing campaigns. So just keeping that in mind that we really kind of consider this the core of your demand gen engine. Some common marketing automation workflows that I think we could talk about today are things like email marketing, of course nurture or engagement type campaigns, whether it’s a drip campaign or it’s a multi-touch nurture campaign. Behavioral targeting. So looking at engagement that people are taking on your website and the different activities that people are doing and targeting groups of prospects or customers based on their behavior that you’re seeing. Another one is lead scoring and lead prioritization. Where a technology like this, the intent is that all of this activity you’re doing in this activity that you’re able to automate, you’re also able to start scoring and watching that activity and monitoring levels of engagement people’s intent, you know, conversion rates, things like that. And start to see what does that buyer’s journey really look like. And in turn you’re able to actually prioritize those leads and better align with marketing and sales.
One thing to think about with marketing automation, a lot of companies think of it as it’s an email platform today is marketing automation. There are certainly platforms out there that still are very email centric, but when you’re looking at some of the options that are out there, a lot of them actually have a much more robust set of capabilities and modules you can add in to help build out that tech stack so that it can do more than just emails. You can manage your social media from it, you can manage ad campaigns from it depending on the platform. You can manage your website and your blogs from it. You can do ABM marketing, there’s so much that centers around marketing automation these days. Even as we talk about the other three types of technology that we commonly get asked about, those features and functionality might actually be part of a marketing automation system depending on what you select.
We at GrowthMode Marketing actually use HubSpot for our own internal marketing. And so that’s the one that I’m most familiar with. And let me tell you, it does a ton of stuff and it’s really nice to be able to get our emails and our social media and our landing pages and all of that kind of stuff all automated. It really does help my day-to-day workload to just be able to have all of that ready to go. So we’re familiar with HubSpot, that’s a big one. We also have worked with Marketo. That’s one that a lot of different companies use. And then of course Salesforce is out there, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, which a lot of companies use and there are other ones too, but I think those are probably the top that you really hear about.
Those are the four that the clients we’ve worked with typically bring to the table. We’re a HubSpot certified partner, so we work with HubSpot a lot, but we also see a lot of the other three as well. There are probably hundreds of different options out there from a standpoint of marketing automation systems for sure. The next category that we often get asked about in the marketing technology stack is intent data tools. If you’re not familiar with what intent data is, it’s basically technology that helps you look at data sets that show what a prospect is interested in. So a lot of times that intent data tool will use IP addresses and browser cookies to track activity. So you can start to see what webpages are people looking at, what searches are they doing, what is showing up in the news about them, like different things where you can set triggers to say, I want to know this type of information on these accounts.
By knowing this type of data, in theory, we can identify what that prospect or company is actually interested in. Intent data really can enable you to identify companies that are more likely in market to make a purchase. And it also gives you the ability to create more personalized campaigns. I think intent data can be a great tool, especially if you’re going to be looking at doing account-based marketing programs because you can start to kind of track the activities and what seems to be popping up from a data perspective for specific accounts that you’re trying to target. And then you can take a step back and if you’re doing that one-to-one ABM where you’re creating content and outreach and programs specifically customized to that account, you can start to get a little more personal and a little more customized because you’ve got data that’s giving you some background to kind of make that justification for the personalization and, and the approach that you’re going to take.
So that can be pretty powerful. But that being said, a lot of times companies will come to us, and they’ll be like, we need to build out our Demand Generation engine. We are really interested in intent data, we know who our ideal customer profile is, let’s figure this out. And we’ve had to say, whoa, let’s take a step back. You don’t even have marketing automation yet. Let’s make sure we get that implemented and that you can wrap your arms around that before we start to plug in additional things into your marketing technology stack to make sure that at the end of the day you guys are going to use what you have and you’re going to optimize the programs to support that. People think they need intent data, but you may not be mature enough on your marketing buildout and your demand gen engine to incorporate it quite yet simply because you don’t have the more foundational marketing automation in place. And it’s not always easy to put that technology in and run with it. There’s a learning curve to using marketing automation. You’ve got to be able to build out all of the programs around it and get it humming before you start to plug in all these other tools that can certainly add value and improve the programs you’re doing, but only if you know how to use it and you consistently use it.
As Deanna mentioned, there are so many things that you want to have other things built out before and be prepared with some of these campaigns in place within your marketing automation platform before you look to something like intent data, which is going to start to feed the activity you’re doing within your marketing automation platforms. And not to mention you need to have content in order to build these campaigns. I think the moral of the story is just remember, all of these platforms don’t need to be in place at once. Look at the broader picture and think about your strategy and figure out a way to start to go in the direction you want to go, but don’t bite off more than you can chew.
If you want to dig in a little deeper on intent data tools, some of the places you could look are at 6sense, Demand Base, I’m sure people have heard of ZoomInfo or Bombora. Those are a few different ones if you wanted to do a little bit more of research on your own to get an idea of what those kinds of tools can do.
Some of these examples actually are more than just an intent at a platform, and you’ll find that when you’re looking at the marketing technology stack, a lot of times there are tools out there that will do one thing and it plugs into other things and specializes in that one area. But a lot of the technologies out there actually overlap quite a bit. For example, 6sence and Demand Base, those also fall under the ABM platform category because intent data and ABM go together really well. So it makes sense for them to be coupled together. There’s also overlap with Marketo and HubSpot. As you look at the different technologies, it’s overwhelming and it’s confusing, and you’re not going to find anybody out there that is an expert in all technologies because there are up to 15,000 technologies out there. But you can certainly get a sense if you just go out and Google it to see what the options are and how these different technologies are positioning themselves and what the capabilities are in the features and functionality within each of these platforms.
Just as a reminder, account-based marketing or ABM is really a hyper-focused approach to target and engage with your best fit accounts. So you’ve identified these accounts, or you’re in the process of identifying these accounts using intent data to identify who these best fit accounts are. It’s a way to hyper-focus your approach or your campaigns on these accounts and the accounts that are going to be a best fit for your products or services. Deanna made a good point in the fact that there’s a lot of crossovers in these platforms, and quite frankly, the most effective ABM strategies or ABM programs are going to be driven by intent data and have intent data that’s helping drive your strategy and your program. Hence why there’s a lot of crossover in these platforms because that data is helping drive the way that you’re targeting these accounts. An ABM platform is a tool that is going to support your marketing strategy and a strategy that is structured to really aim at those high value accounts and those accounts that have a higher chance of converting.
Number of accounts you’d focus on will vary, but it’s an exercise of narrowing down and choosing those highest value accounts and identifying who they are and building your strategy around them and around what you’re seeing in that data and the information you know about those accounts. But the platform itself is really a tool that will support that strategy and help you to do this. So talking about the role that an ABM platform will play in demand generation. So there’s a lot of ways ABM platforms tie into your demand generation strategy, and if account-based marketing is a big piece of your strategy, I would recommend, again, you need to have other pieces in place such as marketing automation and things like that as a foundation. But I would recommend that an account-based marketing tool is on your mind and that you’re doing that research as far as what types of tools might help you execute.
When it comes to ABM and the ABM platforms, it’s important to talk about when it makes sense to have an ABM platform because I think some people assume if they want to do ABM programs, they have to have a platform. You can do ABM without having the platform. I think it’s a difference between doing an enterprise level type of ABM program versus a smaller scale ABM program. Those platforms can do some really cool things, but they’re also very expensive. An example of how to use an ABM platform would be, let’s say you’re selling your HR technology and 3M is on your shortlist. That is a company that you’ve determined is a very good fit, they meet your ideal customer profile, you’re going to be doing some one-to-one marketing with them.
With a platform like ABM, you can actually build out content on your website that is customized for 3M. Anytime anyone from 3M that has the 3M IP addresses comes to your site website that they see is different than someone from a different company will see where it’s very customized to them. That’s the type of things, at a really high level you can do with an ABM platform. There’s a lot more functionality that goes into pulling an intent data and targeting these individuals. But I think that’s an example that people can kind of understand is, hey, the entire like content that pops up on my website is specific to this account. Now do you need that to be able to do an ABM program? No, I think there’s a lot of marketers out there that will tell you, you need to get your strategy right and you need to walk before you run, before you really go out and purchase one of these ABM platforms and put it to play. I think you’ve also got to be ready to do ABM at a much higher volume if you’re going to have an ABM platform because it is very expensive to put these into play and they’re, quite frankly, there’s a lot of heavy lifting to build out audiences and segmentation and custom content and all those things in the system as well. And, and you’ve got to have the ability to do that if you’re going to make an investment in this technology.
We do ABM campaigns with HubSpot. A lot of the automation platforms also have an ABM platform built in or you can add i, depending upon what level you have.
The specialized ABM platforms might be a bit more sophisticated depending on which marketing automation you have and the modules you get. But to Jenni’s point, you can absolutely execute on ABM with other tools out there besides a dedicated ABM.
Marketo also has that capability, but if you’re looking at some of those high-level ones, maybe you could look at Engagio or Terminus, there’s a bunch of them out there. It just depends on your level of how much you can put into it, how much you want to put into it, how much you want to spend.
The fourth type of tool that we often get asked about is analytics tools. It’s the ability to collect data, process it, analyze it, and look at reports and personalize dashboards to be able to see the data. And as marketers, we are very often asked to demonstrate the ROI of the programs we’re doing and to show attribution to which programs are actually delivering on that ROI. I think measurement of marketing programs is tricky. You can put a tool in place and it can measure certain things. You can’t measure everything in marketing. And so as you’re looking at these different tools, my recommendation don’t get stuck in a box where it’s like we can only do programs that we can easily measure. So we can only do digital advertising and measure how that converts to sales.
We can only do emails and measure how that converts to sales. We can only do X, Y, Z because it’s measurable. That being said, as you look at the analytics tools that are out there, many, many, many of the marketing technology tools that you can purchase have an analytics component built into it. So, if you’re buying marketing automation, if you’re buying an ABM platform, if you’re buying a digital ad management platform, they’re going to have some level of metrics that you have the ability to collect and analyze and adjust your programs. If you’re looking at taking things to the next level, there are tools specifically out there that are like aggregate analytics tools where you actually can feed the results from all your different technology into one to build out a dashboard. We’ve used Google tools where we’ve worked with clients where they were trying to pull in their Google Analytics and their HubSpot and Google ads and all these different things into one view and one dashboard.
You can absolutely do that, but before you make that investment in that, you need to look at what are the metrics that are important for us to measure? What are we trying to accomplish with it and do we need it all in one place or are we over complicating it? Because it is expensive to pull in a separate analytics tool. You’ve already got that information in the other tools that you’ve probably bought. But certainly if you want a standalone reporting tool, you should be able to integrate it into the other programs that you have that are already measuring that data for.
That’s a good point, Deanna, that it doesn’t necessarily all need to be in one place unless that’s how you prefer to see it. But keep in mind too, that a lot of the marketing automation platforms and specifically HubSpot, we’ve found that because all of these other platforms are integrated into HubSpot or into your marketing automation, you’re able to create dashboards and reports right there to look at the broader picture of all this marketing activity versus having to export HubSpot data into Google Data Studio, which also houses your Google Analytics and your web metrics and your X, Y, and Z. All of these different things. Typically we’ve found, and we’ve worked with clients to find this as well, is there’s typically a simpler way to do it. We just kind of have to take a step back and look at the platforms you have and the integrations you can make. You’ll find things like that where HubSpot’s dashboard can build a report on all of these different areas.
Looking at numbers and everything is so interesting. One of my favorite things about marketing is that you can measure stuff, but to Deanna’s point, remember that there are a lot of things that are not trackable. There’s a lot of things that people are doing, especially online these days, that people may be engaging with your content a lot more than you ever thought they may not be. There are certain things that just can’t be measured. I love the numbers and everything, but you do have to take a grain salt, be wary of investing a lot in those analytics tools. To Erica’s point too, if you already have an automation tool or something like that, you most likely have something like this that you can use already.
What are some quick examples of some of these analytics softwares that are out there?
Google Analytics is of course one that everybody probably already uses and knows about. There’s also Supermetrics, Tableau is one that we’ve heard of and Looker is one that we’ve heard of. Again, we use a lot of HubSpot, Google Analytics, the more common ones, but there are other ones out there that probably dig deeper into the numbers.
One little piece of advice for marketers out there who are thinking about finding a separate platform to build a dashboard and then integrating all these tools Deanna had mentioned there’s typically a cost associated with that. So just something to keep in mind is that if you decide to move forward with a platform like Google Data Studio where you’re going to house all of this data, I would highly recommend you do some research on what plugins or integrations are needed to pull in all of your other platforms because there are plugins required for some things like pulling HubSpot data into Google Data Studio or pulling the Google Analytics data pulls directly, but other platforms and social platforms there can be a cost associated with additional plugins. So, it can add up.
That’s a great point and I think we’ve talked about four different technologies that we commonly get asphalt. Like we said, there’s up to 15,000 different marketing technology options out there and I think as you are looking to build out your marketing technology stack, there are absolutely some things to consider as you dive into it. The number one, I would say have a plan on how the tech will be used because the strategy is really important. Don’t just go buy marketing automation or an ABM platform or any of the other options out there because it seems like everybody else is buying it and someone told you that’s what you need if you don’t have a plan going into it. We’ve seen organizations that have purchased things and then didn’t know how to use them and had to figure out once they already had the money there, what they were going to do with it.
Here at GrowthMode when we see that we cringe because the reality is you’re paying for that platform and if you don’t get it up and running within a short period of time, you’re now paying for it to sit there and six months, nine months, 12 months down the road, you still don’t have it up and running. That’s a lot of wasted money that could have been spent on programs that will actually drive results for your organization. And that’s just such a shame and not what, as a marketing team, you want to see happen.
And on that same note, we have had clients who have invested in an automation program and then only use it for one thing and don’t even realize all of the different things that they could be doing with it. If you’re just sending emails with it and you could be doing all of these broad different marketing things, you should be doing them. So, make sure you know what you’re buying and all of the different things that it can do.
I think on that same note, another thing to consider is just the fact that implementation and the use of these tools requires a lot of time and money. If you don’t have that time or a resource internally to put a champion of that platform or somebody who’s going to help your team understand and utilize those tools, then technology is really only going to be as good as you make it. I think it’s something to consider as well because a lot of times it’s like marketing automation, there’s automation in the name, that doesn’t mean that there’s no work to get it built out or to use it. Yes, the intention is to automate some of those marketing tasks, but you still need to have someone managing and obviously continuing to fuel that platform and fuel your campaigns. So it will only be as good as you make it.
Yeah, that’s a great point. I think that leads me to the next point, which is walk before you run because you don’t need everything right away. And quite frankly, too many technologies may be over-engineering your stack and setting you up for failure. We’ve run into companies where we’re talking to them and it’s a one person marketing department and they’re like, we have Marketo, we have Demand Base, we have X, Y, Z where they’ve got like six technology tools and it’s like, okay, how are you using it? And they’re like, well, you know, we’re trying to figure that out. And it’s like, holy smokes, you spent a lot of money to build out a beautiful tech stack that you are using 5% of it, you are sending out basic email campaigns. You didn’t even need the enterprise level of Marketo that you purchased. That is something that I think people with really good intentions do because they want a really good marketing technology stack. But again, you don’t need to over-engineer it and until you get to a point where you can truly invest the time in building it out and using it right, it’s a total waste of money.
To that same point, the more you over-engineer the tech stack, the harder it’s going to be to actually accomplish your goals because you’re going to run into issues where, oh, I thought that data was integrating correctly or I thought this was, and it’s going to become somebody’s nightmare. I think that’s really good advice, Deanna. The other thing, is that integrations are really important and we have these conversations with clients all of the time when it comes to the technology, but keep in mind when we talk MarTech stack, there’s also so many ways to integrate what we would consider more just your tech stack in general. So integrating things like your outlook or your email, your calendar, your anything, you know, your teams, your messenger, slack, things like that. There are so many other ways to put integrations in place to create additional efficiencies between your sales and marketing teams that it’s really important to just remember the fact that integrations are important and the more disjointed if you have all these technologies in place, the more disjointed your systems are, the more challenges you’re going to have with data and specifically marketing automation.
And let’s say your marketing automation is in one platform and your sales CRM is somewhere else. Without integrating the two of those things, you’re completely losing a whole aspect of transparency between marketing and sales and that alignment to the marketing activity and the engagement that’s going on and the data we’re collecting on all of these prospects back to sales. If you’re not integrating that data back and forth and vice versa when sales is putting information in regarding a prospect or a client that marketing should know about in order to nurture or engage with that prospect. And none of that is communicated back and forth. That’s just one very easy example to kind of pick out, I think is the importance of integrations.
I think technology on the marketing front can be a beautiful thing if you’re able to build it out and integrate it and make it all work and, and truly optimize it. It can also be a very frustrating thing for marketers if you’ve tried to integrate systems and pull together disparate data. The key takeaway as you’re thinking about building out a marketing technology stack for your HR technology company and how that fits into building out a demand generation engine in general is that a strong strategy should always come before building out a complex marketing technology stack for your organization. But once you’ve got that down, it definitely makes sense to look at how the technology can help enhance and streamline your marketing programs. And if it isn’t enhancing and it isn’t streamlining and you don’t have the ability to make the time investment in making that happen, you’re probably not ready for those technologies and, get that strategy there and then let’s have that conversation.
Thanks for joining us on The Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe from more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus give us a like, tell your friends. We’ll see you next time.
At GrowthMode, we combine the unique discipline of growth marketing and the evergreen principles of traditional marketing to develop integrated strategies and measurable programs that help businesses drive growth where it matters most to their vision. We help our B2B clients focus on their specific goals and ensure that their investment is aligned with their broader strategic vision.