Technology overload: How to keep up with today’s martech must-haves

Matt Barton
4 January 2024

Guess how many martech solutions were available to industry professionals last year. More. More than that. Keep going. Down a bit. Yep. That’s right: 11,000 according to a global study.

A lot, isn’t it? Thank goodness we don’t need all of them. They can’t all be worthwhile, after all. Or can they? Do we need eleven thousand martech solutions?

This kind of doubt courses through many marketers when confronted with the industry’s tool pool. Or rather, the tool ocean. The tool deep-sea abyss. The kind you’d see a submarine descending into as David Attenborough somberly intones: “We know less about life here than we do the surface of the Moon.”

Any marketing agency worth their sea salt, however, makes it their business to chart those technological territories. To know all about the curious ecosystem of automation platforms, lead-forensic tools, CRM software and CMSs that reside in those murky depths. At Don’t be Shy, we know them well. So let’s explore what there is, what you need and what you can do to make managing them all more manageable.

 

Which martech solutions do I need?

We should start, as should you, with the staples. An adequate CRM system will give you precious clarity on the leads flowing through your business – and where that flow might be dropping off – but needs to suit the scale of your requirements. HubSpot is our weapon of choice – though we’re also a dab hand at Eloqua and Salesforce – and we can make it work for various use cases, even if you haven’t got the most enormous database.

A CRM is indispensable because of how much it can do. A triple-threat capable of lead visibility, generation and nurturing. You may find these systems cover multiple tools and databases you’re using, centralising them into a single go-to – and maybe even saving some subscription costs, too.

But that’s not to say there isn’t a place for specialist software – a CRM can’t do everything. A CMS such as WordPress will let you build and manage web content, with efficient frontend access saving more long-winded updates via the site’s backend. Google Analytics, meanwhile, will track all interactions, behaviours and sources in your digital marketing landscape, so you can say what’s working and what’s not.

Other tools are more niche and therefore won’t be viewed as vital to all businesses. Programmatic and lead-tracking/notification tools, for example, often get called “faddy”, but the truth is that any system can be used effectively if it serves your needs and you have proper workflow/processes around it. The real-time algorithms involved in programmatic advertising might not be for everyone, but if your strategy is based on closely targeting user trends and demographic data, it can be very valuable.

 

What can I do about all the change in tech?

All very well getting a grasp of the platforms, but maintaining that grasp can threaten your grasp on your own sanity. To revisit that sublime ocean metaphor, it can feel like every time you work out what all the different deep-sea species are, you find some have died out, a load more have spawned and the rest have evolved beyond recognition.

This was a common theme when we asked businesspeople across the country what’s bothering them the most. And there are few places that are harder to stay on top of than “fickle social media and ever-changing Meta platforms”, as one of our respondents put it. Slippery, shifting apps and trends make it hard to say with certainty what’s popular among your audience and what they’re actually using, to target them on.

But there’s no need to be across everything. If a new platform lends itself to the kind of content that’s most engaged your audience up to now – TikTok for zippy how-to videos and product demos; Threads or an X-equivalent for punchy posts and text-based content – it’s worth seeing what other brands are doing and testing it yourself. It can pay to be a little patient in seeing if the plucky new thing takes off, if you don’t have the resource to give it a go then pull out if it doesn’t return the nibbles you need. There’s no shame in letting competitors do all the risky reconnaissance work first, then plundering the treasure.

 

How do I sort out my tech stack?

Even if you’ve found the pieces, fitting them together can be a headache in itself. Another of our survey respondents faces a “technology overload” because “Our CRM, CMS SEO, email and automation aren’t integrated”.

To avoid this, the priority should be understanding the full flow of activity through your business, and then aligning your tech stack to it so it supports it effectively. You might find a tool that’s objectively the best on the market for serving a specific need, but if it can’t speak to your others – or without yet another tool, at least – it might not be right for your business.

This is why we recommend an adaptable CRM, a robust CMS and an accurate performance-monitoring tool (such as Google Analytics) should be your foundation that you build from. And who better to help build it than a digital marketing agency that’s racked up years and awards in implementing, auditing and optimising businesses’ tech stacks? One such success story is beloved high-street retailer, M&S, whose tech stack we tightened to enable full visibility and, ultimately, double their website conversion rate.

This means that, although there’s an overload of agencies as much as martech, there’s no need to trouble yourself with that either – we happen to know just the one…

Find out more about our approach or get in touch if this sounds like something you’d be interested in.

Matt

Matt Barton

Content Writer.
Wordplay. Playboy.