7,040. That’s how many marketing tech (or ‘MarTech’) companies exist according to the 2019 Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic from Chief Martech.
Believe it or not, that’s 2,040 more tech tools than we had in 2017 – barely two years ago.
Think about this: 7,040 tech tools at one per seat can fill forty Boeing 737 airplanes. Talk about a crowded space.
5,000 marketing tech (or ‘MarTech’) tools existed in 2017. Those 5,000 were known as the Marketing 5000, best represented by Scott Brinker’s famous graphic.
The Marketing 5000 graphic from Scott Brinker. Much like an airplane, every individual is squished together in a very crowded space.
Barely two years later, there are more tools than ever before – and they all want to be a part of your marketing stack.
Now all you have to do is pick the best of those 7,040 tech tools to fill your business’s marketing stack. No pressure, it’s only going to affect how well your business does.
Nervous? Don’t be. After you read this post, picking your ideal software tools will be easy.
The good news is, you actually already have a marketing stack. It’s all the tools you use to manage clients, send emails, and efficiently collaborate across company departments.
But if you answer a few questions you can probably get better results. After all…
- Have you given serious thought to how everything works together?
- Could you get better results from a different tool?
- Are you using all the features of the tools you already have?
If you haven’t thought about this yet, it’s time to get serious about building your marketing technology stack.
This video is a segment from “Growth Decoded” a show that investigates the relationship between the customer experience and business growth — one topic at a time. Register here and never miss an episode!
This post will teach you:
- What is a marketing stack
- The best tools to build your marketing tech stack
- How to build your marketing stack
What is a marketing stack?
A marketing stack is the group of technology-based tools you use to execute and improve marketing across multiple customer channels. A marketing stack creates efficient internal collaboration and better customer communication.
Why do you need a marketing stack? Because your business is different than every other business. There are 7,040 marketing tech tools because every business needs different ones to get results.
An Econsultancy report found that 51% of organizations use 21 or more digital marketing tools — a 42% increase from three years ago.
You need tech tools, no question. But…
- How do you choose the right tools?
- How can you hook them together?
- How do you make sure you’re getting a return on your marketing investment?
A marketer’s technology stack can include:
- An email marketing+automation platform like ActiveCampaign
- A social media scheduling tool – like Sprout Social or Buffer
- A content management system (CMS) that hosts a company blog – like WordPress or Ghost
- Analytics tools to track the success of marketing efforts – like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics
- CRM email marketing software – like ActiveCampaign
Now the question is, “what are the right tech tools?”
The 10 best tools to build your marketing tech stack
When you choose the tools that go in your growth marketing stack, there are two questions to ask:
- What they do
- How they connect to the rest of your marketing
There are so many great tools, and more are created all the time. It’s hard to stay on top of the latest and greatest. That’s why we made a top 10 list for you.
Before you can choose any tools, you have to ask yourself “What goals do I have?” Your answer will help you decide what tools you really need.
Goals can include things like:
- Have a faster response time to customer live chat questions
- Create a more personal, casual forum where customers can share experiences that you can learn from
- Help people find you organically with good, regularly published content focused on solving people’s problems
Your complete marketing stack is not going to look exactly like anyone else’s. To get you started, a marketing tech stack can include tools for:
- Customer support
- Creating forms
- Creating landing pages
- Social media management
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Email marketing + automation
- CMS (Content Management System)
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
Here are the top 10 tools we recommend for each marketing need.
1. For Advertising: Google Ads
Google Ads shows your ads to potential leads or current customers who are interested in your product. Advertisers bid on keywords, and the winner’s ads are placed:
- At the top of search results pages
- On YouTube videos
- On relevant websites
When someone searches for your keywords, your ad can appear first. (Source: Google Ads)
Google Ads is able to place ads when users search online for a product or anything else.
What does Google Ads cost?
That’s really up to you! When you buy your advertising services, you can set a budget limit for each campaign. You pay for each click that users give on each ad.
What people love about it:
“The Google Ads platform or website is quite fast, and stable. It has instructions and descriptions, it also has the option of frequently asked questions and advanced resources. You access all these tools with Gmail.” – G2 review
“Google Ads are affordable for anyone on any budget. Google Ads gives you the ability to control your budget and set daily spending limits, so you don’t have to worry about spending more than you’ve allotted for advertising.” – G2 review
“What I like most about Google Ads is that you can get tons of segmented traffic for any type of market. The configuration of the campaigns is really simple and the same platform offers the best options of keywords to reach the public that really looks for your service or product, which increases the percentage of success of each campaign.” – G2 review
Alternative Tool: Facebook Ads
2. For customer support: Zendesk
Let’s face it – making people happy can be hard. You don’t need to handle all of the manual work for handling customer requests. A customer support tool like Zendesk completely changes how you run support in your company.
Zendesk is a customer service platform designed to help businesses create customer relationships that are more meaningful, personal, and productive. Zendesk helps you deal with inbound ticket requests from any channel — including:
The chat feature in Zendesk suite. (Source: Zendesk)
Zendesk makes it easy to respond to customers and helps you to create a stress-free customer experience. The features in the entire Zendesk Suite include (but not limited to):
- Ticketing system
- Reports and analytics
- Call center software
What does Zendesk cost?
Nothing (before the free trial is over).
After that, Zendesk offers multiple pricing plans based on the features you want. For the entire Zendesk suite of tools, the price is $89 per agent/per month for Professional membership and $189 for an Enterprise membership. Learn more about their pricing here, and how to integrate with ActiveCampaign here.
What people love about it:
“Zendesk Support is extremely simple, flexible, affordable, and has a ton of add ons. It can support our customers through multiple platforms, phone, email, social media, & both us and customers have unified records of all their support interactions with us no matter how they choose to contact.” – G2 review
“I love the flexibility of Zendesk the most. There really hasn’t been something that we haven’t been able to do yet. Essentially, the tool allows us to stay ahead of business needs in supporting our customers. This is done with things like multi-tenant and multi-lingual support inside of a single platform. The workflow options are sophisticated and with the proper planning you can support a wide array of ticket flows.
We’ve been able to go from a single team of less than five people to 75+ people using Zendesk at the company. The investment they make in the product is visible and has allowed us to “enjoy” the tool over time as it keeps growing with the times so to speak.” –G2 review
Alternative Tool: Freshdesk
3. For creating forms: Typeform
You want to build your email contacts list, and for that you need email contacts. How do you get them? There are many ways to collect email addresses, but forms are one of the simplest. And you can make them with Typeform.
Typeform lets you use a variety of opt-in techniques to collect feedback and build email lists, including;
Typeform is easy to learn and user-friendly, and makes forms (which could be complicated) into a really simple, interactive tool. It has straightforward controls to create forms and surveys, and you can easily organize all of your different forms into folders.
The results view of a filled-out custom form in Typeform. (Source: G2)
It doesn’t take long to learn how to use Typeform. Typeform clearly walks you through each step of setting up your forms.
There are plenty of customization options, so you can add different types of fields. You can create and edit forms to suit the needs of specific events, promotions, and topics.
(Bonus – it integrates with ActiveCampaign).
What does Typeform cost?
Free! Or if you want more advanced features, it can be anywhere from $30-59 per month for either Pro or Pro+.
What people love about it:
“The standard format of the forms allow users to focus in on each question as if it were a one-on-one conversation. The overall feeling keeps users more engaged than a standard survey with a list of questions. There are many different types of question formats we can add and have the ability to use skip logic to make the user experience more pleasant and efficient. Typeform gives us user data that helps us to analyze the effectiveness of our forms.” – G2 review
“I love referring to previous answers, connecting my data to external services, showing questions one-by-one, using beautiful templates (which are customizable), having a clear, WYSIWYG editing interface, and getting simple but also more advanced features, like variables, seamless website embeds, or Google Analytics integration.” – G2 review
Alternative Tool: Gravity Forms
4. For creating landing pages: Unbounce
A landing page can serve multiple purposes:
- Housing gated content
- Launching a new product
- Talking in-depth about a specific feature
Odds are if you have forms, you’ll need landing pages. That’s where Unbounce can help.
Unbounce lets you create and publish your own landing pages, without needing a developer to code them for you. It’s an easier and faster way to get more conversions from your traffic.
The Unbounce landing page template library, categorized by need. (Source: G2)
The easy drag-and-drop platform (which boasts over 100 templates) makes it easy to create the exact custom page you want. Plus the ability to A/B test your pages to see exactly what’s working makes a good ROI go from dream to reality.
Other features include:
- A/B Testing
- Conversion Goal
- Percentage of Traffic
- Confidence Level
- Multivariate Testing
- WYSIWYG Editor
Experiment with messaging, design, and forms to find out what makes more visitors convert, more often.
What does Unbounce cost?
Some of your free time to complete a 14-day free trial. After that, Unbounce offers three paid plans – Essential, Premium, and Enterprise – ranging from $79–$159 per month.
What people love about it:
“Unbounce makes it super easy to create landing pages. Everyone from marketer to an experienced web designer can make exactly what they want. If you need more advanced control you can add your own custom CSS and scripts.” – G2 review
“I was using Pardot and canceled the renewal and switched to Unbounce for landing pages. The new landers looked much better and were far easier to create than in Pardot. The result? We set 5 lead production records in 6 months. We have fewer people opening a landing page and then bouncing out without completing the form and submitting it.” – G2 review
“The ability for someone like me with very little coding skills, to build a landing page, drag, resize, re-colour, re-adjust and tweak everything to my liking (and not have everything else delete itself in the process) and look at it at the end with a satisfaction of my job.” – G2 review
Alternative Tool: LeadPages
5. For social media management: Sprout Social
How often should you post on social media per day? Most people agree that 1-2 is optimal, but you need content for different social channels. And they all have to go out at different times. A social media management tool like Sprout Social can help with all of it.
Sprout Social is a leading social media management software that helps you easily publish to social media and connect with users in a collaborative team platform.
The calendar schedule view in Sprout Social. Every feature from publishing to reporting is at your fingertips in one view. (Source: Sprout Social)
You can create and schedule social media content to publish automatically. At the same time, you get insight into what content people want to see on social media from analytic reports.
What does Sprout Social cost?
You’re in luck again – you can opt for a no-commitment free trial (for 30 days). After that, there are 3 tiers of paid plans:
- Standard for $99 per user/month
- Professional for $149 per user/month
- Advanced for $249 per user/month
What people love about it:
“It used to take me days to schedule all of the social content for the 3 brands I manage, but being able to put it all in one place (and set up recurring posts) has been a huge time-saver for me.” – G2 review
“I love the appearance of the interface, and the granular user control. The publishing tools are fun to use, and I love the content inspiration library. The reports are also sound and reliable data’s updated regularly. I also really like the messenger bot for Facebook, we’ve got one activated and it works well.” – G2 review
“Scheduling Social Media posts is easier than ever before. Once everything is scheduled, I have a clear overview what goes live where and when through the calendar. It’s nicely structured and very clean.
The reports on performance of certain accounts and posts are great and proofed to be very helpful in the past.
When you have questions, Sprout Social is easy to contact and you have a response within 24 hours!” – G2 review
Alternative Tool: Buffer
6. For analytics: Google Analytics
When it comes to getting user insights, Google Analytics is your ultimate companion for a successful business. If you want to know how to make the right decisions for your customers, this tool is here for you.
Google Analytics is brilliant when you want to know:
- Where your website visitors are coming from
- How they found you
- What content they viewed
- How long they stayed on parts of your site
A master view in Google Analytics. (Source: G2)
How do you learn all of this and then some? 7 different types of reporting.
- Audience Reporting: Looking at individual behaviors and customer lifetime value.
- Advertising Reporting: Get post-click performance metrics for users who clicked on your Ads campaigns and then came through to your website or used your mobile app.
- Acquisition Reporting: Understand how search and social impact the way you get customers.
- Behavior Reporting: Understand exactly how people are using your site.
- Conversion Reporting: See the paths your users travel across multiple channels, and how advertising and organic search influence customer purchase behavior.
- Real-time Reporting: Watch everything that happens with your customers in real-time
- User-flow Reporting: Use content groupings to explore how people move through your website.
Google Analytics makes it simple to understand how your site and app users get your content, so you know what’s working and what’s not. You can even connect other systems (like CRM and point of sale) for a more complete view.
What does Google Analytics cost?
Google Analytics is free. Google also offers the premium Google Analytics 360, which costs around $150,000. But the free version is enough for most businesses.
Luckily for marketers at small and medium-sized businesses, the standard, free version of Google Analytics can provide more than enough insight to successfully guide their marketing efforts.
What people love about it:
“Google Analytics is FREE, unlike other PAID analytic tools in the market that does not even come on par with Google Analytics features. The default data given by Google Analytics in front of you is already extremely informational. With the default data like, Visitor Location, Browser Used, Direct or Website Referrer Stats, Bounce Rate, and Device Used by the visitor, you are already handed extremely useful information you can implement for your campaigns…” – G2 review
“Google Analytics literally helps you out making the right decisions with its comprehensive data analytics. It is all plain simple and easy to use and with just the basic data features it presents, you can already have massive data to analyze.” – G2 review
Alternative Tool: Adobe Analytics
7. For SEO: Moz Pro
Moz is one of the top SEO toolsets around. It helps you get found by potential customers – and get more qualified website traffic.
Ranking for the right keywords can make or break website success. Moz helps foster this success with 500 million keyword suggestions and 7 million SERPs analyzed daily.
Moz Pro is the SEO toolset that has it all: keyword research, link research, site audits, and page optimization insights.
The Keyword Explorer tool in Moz. (Source: Moz)
Features across Moz subscriptions include:
- Keyword research with the Keyword Explorer tool (a favorite resource of ours)
- Site audits
- Rank tracking
- Backlink analysis
- Site crawl
- On-page optimization
- Custom reports
- Link research
What does Moz Pro cost?
Moz Pro starts at $99/month with the option of a 30-day free trial. There’s also a Moz Local option for more basic features.
What people love about it:
“Moz is one of the best SEO tools for link exploring, checking backlinks of your competitor sites and keyword analysis.
The newly added features of Moz pro such as on-demand crawl and one-page grader are also amazing. It helps in analyzing your website problems and solve it for better ranking.
Moreover, we can also check for our competitors backlinks and thus improve our SEO strategy.” – G2 review
“Moz’s Keyword Explorer neatly ties together keyword research metrics and makes complex analysis easy so we can spend less time in spreadsheets and more time generating qualified website traffic.” – Sean McVey, Director, Demand Generation & Customer Acquisition at Virtru
8. For email marketing + automation: ActiveCampaign
According to the Annuitas Group, businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.
ActiveCampaign is a software platform specializing in marketing automation, email marketing, and sales CRM to create the perfect customer experience. We help small and mid-sized businesses build meaningful connections with their customers.
Other ActiveCampaign features include:
- Site Tracking
- Event Tracking
- Automation Map
- Split Action
- Split Testing
- Email Segmentation
- Easy integration with your other tools
Plus, you can use it all alongside our automated sales CRM. We’ll get to that a bit later.
What does ActiveCampaign cost?
You decide! The number of contacts you have and the extent of the features you need determines your price. We have four plans ranging from $9-249 per month:
Plus, we migrate all of your info to our platform for free.
What people love about it:
“ActiveCampaign is our main email marketing automation and CRM tool – mostly because it covers both tasks so well.” — Aaron Brooks, Venture Harbor
“First of all, the ActiveCampaign program is a truly complete software and is also among the cheapest compared to the multiple functions it has.
Then the assistance, which is essential especially for people who like me had no experience, has always been present and quick to answer my questions and solve my problems.
Thank you so much everyone! Emails are sent in a very timely and dynamic manner and do not end up in spam. This is very important because it assures me that all my contacts receive them on time.
I like how the control panel was created because it’s very intuitive.” – G2 review
“ActiveCampaign is very user-friendly, making automations very visual and comprehensive. It has so many features, and that for a fraction of the price of some competitors out there. Compared to our previous marketing automation platform, ActiveCampaign definitely stands out in their customer service. The personal onboarding sessions proved to be very useful, they offer monthly 1-on-1 sessions, and there is a vast library of educational resources. Their support is fast and friendly. With ActiveCampaign you’ll quickly become a BOSS in marketing automation.” – G2 review
9. For CMS (Content Management System): WordPress.org
WordPress powers more than 34% of the web — a number that grows every day. Everything you need to do from simple websites, to blogs, to complex portals and enterprise websites, and even applications, you can do with WordPress.
The WordPress.org dashboard gives you a full view of content management. (Source: G2)
You have two options: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Ideally, you want to have control over what your website looks like (and what tools you can connect to it), which means WordPress.org is the one for you. This option lets you self-host, which gives you more control to customize and monetize your site. WordPress.com has more limitations, and whatever site you create might be limited by their future changes .
Some WordPress.org features include:
- Content Authoring
- Content Repository
- Pre-built Templates
- Rich Text Editor
- Content Queue
- Dashboard and Reports
- Mobile Optimization
WordPress.org sites also get access to over 54,000 plugins – so your website does what you need it to. Add things like an online store, galleries, mailing lists, forums, spam filters, and analytics.
What does WordPress cost?
WordPress.com’s basic package is free but the premium package is $99/year. If you use WordPress.org, you can download it for free – but you’ll need a domain and hosting which costs a few dollars per month.
What people love about it:
“Wordpress is the most popular CMS in the market, compared to runner ups Joomla and Drupal. It has so many features compared to other CMS, and there are a lot of plugins and themes that makes it even more easy to use even for beginners”. – G2 review
“I love that Word Press is set up in an easy way, with templates that my mind finds easy to navigate. I have no web designing experience, but I’ve been able to make web posts look great, thanks to the fact that Word Press is set up in an easy, user-friendly way.” – G2 review
10. For CRM (Customer Relationship Management): Salesforce and ActiveCampaign
Do you have difficulty keeping your sales organized? There’s a lot of client info to keep track of, and you also have to remember who has already been called or emailed and when. Without a system to keep everything organized in one place, the volume of leads can get overwhelming.
You need a CRM – or customer relationship management – to make sure no leads slip through the cracks.
Lucky for you, we have two great CRM options for you.
CRM Option 1: Salesforce Sales Cloud
CRM Option 2: ActiveCampaign sales CRM with automation
Salesforce Sales Cloud
The Salesforce CRM integrates all of your marketing, sales, and commerce with a single, shared view of every customer’s information. It helps you:
- Get more leads
- Close more deals
- Boost productivity
- Make insightful decisions
Salesforce CRM is easy to navigate for everyone from small businesses to large enterprises. Its many features help you grow your business faster with the help of features like:
- Lead & Contact Management
- Sales Opportunity Management
- Workflow Rules & Automation
- Customizable Reports & Dashboards
- Mobile Application
The deals pipeline view in Salesforce Sales Cloud. (Source: Salesforce)
Salesforce CRM lets you track all sales activity—every lead, opportunity, and customer—and take action from anywhere. This means you get more time to sell to the people who are interested, armed with their personal marketing data and social insights.
This CRM Cloud can connect with the other 7 clouds that Salesforce offers and it’s easy to customize and make changes – it grows with your business.
What does Salesforce cost?
In addition to a 30-day free trial, Salesforce CRM has a pay-as-you-go model with 4 plans.
- Sales Essentials for $25 per user/month: Out-of-the-box CRM for up to 5 users
- Professional for $75 per user/month: Complete CRM for any size team
- Enterprise for $150 per user/month: Deeply customizable CRM for your business
- Unlimited for $300 per user/month: Unlimited CRM power and support
Bonus: You can integrate Salesforce Essentials with ActiveCampaign (all plans) to align your sales and marketing. Learn more here.
What people love about it:
“Thanks to this software we can manage our productivity in internet marketing until the end of the sales process, process contacts, provide a better customer service among other benefits very useful for our company. We mainly like to do internet marketing with Salesforce CRM since we can send very powerful and attractive messages to keep our audience happy and create new subscribers and more potential customers. ” – G2 review
“Packs a punch in features that can be turned on and turned off as needed when business trends and sales need change. Worth the price as a stand-alone sales CRM and sales tool for a small business with just a handful of reps while at the same time being equally effective as a platform for a company with 1000+ salespeople that want integration between multiple departments. Excellent security against both outside and inside threats and manipulation. User definition fields so numerously that it allows for unique user roles for every employee on the system if desired.” – G2 review
“The best thing about Salesforce is the raw power; the platform can do anything. The possibilities for customization, integration, and handling of data are limitless. Further, between online training (trailhead), documentation, and support forums and communities, Salesforce provides a vast volume of support to help users fully use the powers of the platform.” – G2 review
ActiveCampaign sales CRM with automation
The ActiveCampaign sales CRM with automation lets you:
- Manage your contacts in a central platform
- Automatically update contact details
- View an entire lead’s history with a contact record
Know exactly where each lead is in the sales process with detailed records in order to send targeted messages.
The ActiveCampaign sales CRM with automation keeps leads organized in the sales pipeline.
What does ActiveCampaign cost?
What people love about it:
“There are SO many CRM options available, and after trying literally dozens of them over the course of my career… ActiveCampaign has blown everyone else out of the water.”
The best part? This program is both user friendly & SMART! The ability to smart target your audience for certain email campaigns/ automations is amazing. We can send out specific emails to contacts based on their history with us. The system allows you to really keep a detailed record of how your database is interacting with your marketing efforts.
On top of that, the customer service is comparable to none. Our on-boarding specialist, went above and beyond for us and by the end of our sessions, we really felt we were fully embracing the system for all it could do.
ActiveCampaign was exactly what we needed in a tech-driven industry. All other CRM’s feel like as good as excel spreadsheets in comparison.” – G2 review
How businesses like yours use marketing stacks successfully – and help others make their own
“New technology can be scary, and you don’t want to struggle with a tool that has a steep learning curve. Unfortunately, this means companies are missing out on some great products that can make life and business so much easier,” – Travis Wright, Chief Marketing Technologist at CCP Global
Is the idea of creating your own marketing stack still intimidating?
If you’re feeling stuck with your stack, learn from others. Following the examples of businesses with successful marketing stacks can give you ideas you didn’t even know you needed.
87% of marketers believe MarTech improves marketing performance at their companies.
Learn how these businesses prove this right using marketing stacks.
Earth Networks Marketing Tech Stack
Earth Networks, a meteorological data and weather intelligence company has a top-tier marketing stack – and it’s clever (they won the award for “best brand metaphor” with their marketing stack in the 2018 Stackies).
Their stack-as-a-weather-system graphic shows a solid, efficient (and pretty advanced) structure:
Color coding of tools categorizes each one by capability: content creation (blue), distribution (orange), customer experience (green), website (yellow), and data management (magenta)
What you see here is:
- Opportunity and revenue are both “highs”
- Churn is a “low”
- The whole thing is called a “marketological forecasting stack”
- A “jet stream” of core platforms runs throughout the entire marketing process
- Three “fronts” of marketing efforts and the function of tools in each: attract, engage, and analyze
The stack covers specific areas of need – like content creation and data management – with multiple tools.
Note: If this marketing stack looks intimidating, don’t worry! This is an advanced marketing stack, and you can use something simpler to get started.
How CustomerBloom thinks you should build a marketing stack
How do you choose the right tools? How can you hook them together? How do you make sure you’re getting return on your marketing investment?
CustomerBloom helps businesses do just that.
CustomerBloom not only has their own marketing tech stack, but helps other businesses build theirs with tools they trust to get better results from their marketing.
- Chooses the best martech platforms based on their niche
- Integrates marketing platforms into a stack their clients can use
- Sets up automations and marketing systems that have been tested and proven with other similar clients
The impact of their marketing stack expertise is substantial.
Conclusion: How to choose the best marketing stack tools
To choose the best marketing tools, you should:
- Map out your marketing goals and identify process gaps – for your business and your clients
- Research reviews to hear the pros and cons of different tools straight from user veterans
- Look at which tech options connect better with your other existing tools. Do you already use ActiveCampaign for automated email marketing? Check out our Typeform integration to help you build forms that collect more email addresses.
Remember: a collection of tools is not a marketing strategy. Software tools work best with goals behind them. Find gaps where you can improve, create a strategy, then choose tools that will help.