What Is a Tech Stack?

What Is a Tech Stack?
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What is a tech stack? A tech stack is a combination of applications and platforms selected by a business to streamline its operations, marketing, and ultimately, sales effectiveness and efficiency.

In the marketing sector alone, more than 8,000 options exist for technology-driven solutions. Marketing technology is often called martech, and content and conferences now abound for both large and small companies. Using technology to run your marketing operations is no longer an option. It’s a necessity.

Just as building a comfortable home requires putting together a combination of appliances, furniture, floor coverings, and systems, building a tech stack that works for your company can take time and effort. You have many choices and need to ensure that what you’re buying or subscribing to is a good “fit” with your needs, business operating style, and budget.

Get to know the five parts of the martech stack.

With so many choices available to you, the decision-making process can be confusing and overwhelming. One marketer organizes the tech stack by benefit, rather than the type of technology.

  1. Discover: Tools that will help marketers find and organize information, conduct research, and ultimately know more about the prospects and customers we serve (see No. 5.) Keyword analytics and research platforms fall into this category.
  2. Manage: The days of spreadsheets are long gone. CRMs (Customer Relationship Management Systems) that bring customer data together into useable and easy-to-access databases are standard these days. Salesforce is one example of a CRM that enables marketers to manage their customer and prospect database.
  3. Create: An example of this is ClearVoice, a platform that uses technology to help marketers source high-quality content. Graphic design tools also fall into this category.
  4. Connect: Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Automated systems that send content out to prospects and consumers at the right time, using the most appropriate media, are critical tools for efficient and effective marketing. Cloud-based video platforms, social media tools, and other means of pushing out messages are part of the “connection” slice of your stack. Don’t forget tools that streamline internal communications, like ZOOM and Slack. Conversational intelligence apps (tools that record sales conversations and improve performance) are also critically important for larger organizations.
  5. Analyze: As AI and machine learning find their way into the marketing industry, we’ll all be able to fine-tune strategies and campaigns within minutes, discovering new high-potential segments and making changes on the fly to optimize performance and deliver better ROI.

As you’re deciding what tools to subscribe to, think carefully about your needs in each area. The most effective stacks are those that are fully integrated with each other, contain technologies that are easy and quick to learn, and come from service providers that offer the right kind of support.

Here’s how to build a tech stack for your business.

Once you’ve assessed your business needs and established a technology budget, speak to multiple vendors in each category, talk to people who are using each technology, take demos, read reviews, attend (virtual) conferences, and include the user groups (marketing and sales) in the decision-making process.

Do not invest in more than you need. Small businesses can start with simpler technologies and can “trade up” as their marketing operation becomes more complex. Avoid the “shiny object” syndrome. In other words, don’t buy a system because it has state-of-the-art bells and whistles, only to discover you only use a couple of its functions.

Look for technology partners that invest time and resources in training and are continually updating their functionality, based on user feedback.

Every year, take stock of your stack and add/delete tools based on performance. Building the ideal stack takes time and trial.

Using technology to run your marketing operations is no longer an option — it's a necessity. Learn more about #teckstacks. Click To Tweet

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About the author

Nancy Shenker

Nancy A. Shenker has been an independent consultant, writer, and speaker for more than 15 years, following a career as a C-level marketing executive. Her company theONswitch provides virtual CMO services. A content strategist and writer, she is the author of four books and publisher of five business and lifestyle websites. Her passions are humanistic tech, food, gadgets, and travel.