What does every small business, start-up, and mega-corporation have in common?

They all need to build and execute a killer marketing stack to be successful. 

Every. Single. One. 

Even Apple, Amazon, and Google advertise their products. That means that if you are running a business and don’t already have a marketing plan in place to help you amplify your sales, then it’s time to start prioritizing your marketing efforts.

Before you panic and start Googling, “Online Marketing Degree Programs,” know that regardless of your experience and knowledge of marketing, you can be successful if you gear-up and get strategic. 

That means building your marketing stack. 

What is a marketing stack, you ask?

Read on to learn what a marketing stack is, why it’s essential for every business, and what to put in yours.  

It’s time to start generating more leads, boosting sales, driving revenue, and basically achieving global brand domination.

What is a Marketing Stack?

A marketing stack is a group of technology solutions that marketers use to create, execute, analyze, and amplify their marketing activities. 

Think of your marketing stack as your “get out of a marketing degree free” card. 

Yes, you will still need to understand marketing strategy best practices, but if you’ve gotten this far in building your brand, you likely know a thing or two about product positioning, messaging, sales, and service. 

A marketing stack will help you fill in the gaps that a full-blown marketing support team or agency would fill. Think all the detailed tasks and skills that one person (you) simply can’t produce. By strategically building and managing a comprehensive marketing stack, you can expertly target prospects and build your brand, no matter your business size, industry, product, solution, team resources, or marketing skill set. 

When you have a solid marketing stack in place, these variables become much less important to your impact, reach and revenue potential.

Here are 15 components you need to add to your marketing stack now to set yourself up for success. 

#1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Think of a CRM software as the foundation of your marketing and sales strategy. It allows you to document and manage individual customer data sets. Not only that, but you can also build and execute personalized, targeted, and impactful marketing activities based on the information you have about those contacts.

For example, it allows you to send your promotional email to sales prospects, or even send a satisfaction survey to customers.

CRM systems typically require a significant investment in money, time, and implementation effort from you and your team, so do your research to determine which software is right for you. 

Consider these components when deciding on a CRM system: 

  • Integration with other critical components of your marketing stack that we’ll get to later, such as your email marketing tool, online course platform, customer engagement platform, and more.
  • Integrated marketing execution functionality (which means less disparate software stack items to implement and manage), like the ability to email contacts
  • Insightful reporting
  • Contact management
  • Social customer service
  • Order management
  • Transaction history documentation
  • Lead scoring set up and management
  • Contact segmentation

CRM Platforms to Know: ActiveCampaign, Kajabi, HubSpot, Keap (formerly known as Infusionsoft), Microsoft Dynamics, Pipedrive, Salesforce

#2. Content Management System (CMS)

Your CMS should be the hub of your digital strategy. Today’s CMS solutions allow marketers to build a website, manage hosted content, and integrate or manage other forms of digital marketing, such as email and social.

You may only need a CMS that will allow you to build your website (no hardcore coding experience required), or a more robust option with additional marketing channel automation functionality. 

CMS solution functionality to consider:

  • Multi-language translation capabilities
  • An integrated media library
  • Blogging
  • Building a website using pre-established themes
  • Building landing pages

Names to Know: Adobe Experience Manager, Contentful, Expression Engine, HubSpot, Leadpages, WordPress, SquareSpace, Kajabi

#3. Marketing Automation

This is another foundational tool in your marketing stack.  

Marketing automation software allows you to effectively build and manage marketing activity across communication channels, such as email, social media, and web, all from a single platform. 

It also fosters team collaboration and process automation, allowing you to interact with your customers and leads in deeply intentional (and evergreen) ways. 

You set up a process once, and it runs in your sleep! 

Depending on the size of your team, and the scope of your efforts, you may want to consider the following marketing automation types:

  • Automation of marketing processes
  • Campaign personalization
  • Identifying top prospects
  • Creating custom campaigns (leveraging email, SMS, and more)
  • Building customer personas
  • Analyzing campaign results

Names to Know: ActiveCampaign, Autopilot, Customer.io, Oracle Eloqua, HubSpot, Marketo, Wishpond, Keap, Kajabi, Zapier 

#4. Email Marketing

Every business needs an email marketing strategy. In fact, this communication modality is still one of the most impactful in your toolkit and in your marketing stack! 

You simply won’t come across as reputable and sophisticated if all your promotional emails are sent from your personal Microsoft Outlook account, in plain text, to a group list. *Shudders.* 

Email marketing software allows you to build gorgeous graphics-based emails, manage complex customer and prospect lists, review analytics, and optimize subject lines.  No need to be technical, and no need to identify as a programmer or a web developer. 

Here is some email marketing solution functionality to consider rolling out:

  • List segmentation
  • SMS/Text messaging
  • Building graphic-based emails using pre-established templates
  • Personalization
  • Building workflows around email interactions
  • Sending emails based on time zone
  • Creating engaging newsletters
  • Automatically creating emails to subscribers when you add a new blog post to your website
  • Auto-responses

Names to Know: ActiveCampaign, Aweber, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, Customer.io, Emma, Get Response, MailChimp, MadMiMi, Vero, Kajabi

#5. Social Media Management Tools

If you’re like many novice marketers, every time you have news to share with the social sphere, you create a post on Facebook. 

And then re-create it on Twitter. And then re-create it on LinkedIn. And then re-create it on Instagram. And then re-create it on Snapchat. 

Sound familiar? 

Social media management software allows you to streamline the building and sharing of content across multiple channels, and serves as one of today’s most important aspects of your marketing stack. 

Here are some social media management software feature considerations:

  • Monitoring and managing post responses, retweets, likes, shares, and mentions
  • Reviewing detailed interaction reports
  • Identifying trends in ad performance
  • Pre-scheduling posts in advance
  • Managing organic and paid ads
  • Identifying influencers and subject matter experts relevant to your brand
  • Team collaboration

Names to Know: Buffer, CoSchedule, Hootsuite, Meet Edgar, Mention, Sprout Social

Bonus Ninja Strategy: Learn how to choose the best social media platform for your personal brand.

#6. Project Management Software

This piece may seem like a surprising marketing stack requirement. However, it’s a key pillar in making sure processes, collaborations and workflows are moving along effectively and at an appropriate pace!

Think of this software category as your tool to digitize your to-do list. 

Project management software helps you manage deadlines, collaborate with team members, assign tasks, track progress, identify project benchmarks and stakeholders,  plan campaigns and so much more.

Marketing project management software feature possibilities include:

  • Viewing real-time project status
  • Collaborating across teams, departments and even 
  • Managing privacy at the task level
  • Viewing tasks in list or calendar format
  • Allowing team members to comment on projects

Names to Know: Asana, Basecamp, CoSchedule, Trello, Wrike, Slack 

#7. Video Tools

54 percent of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support, and 64 percent are more likely to buy a product online after watching a related video. 

You don’t need to hire a videographer or film editor in order to leverage this trend and to include it in your market stack.

However, will need to invest in video equipment and software in order to stand out.

Here are some video solution functionality considerations:

  • Edit video content and add professional looking transitions and filter
  • Add graphics and title screens
  • View a heatmap to understand engagement patterns
  • Add closed captions (this is imperative for social media!)
  • Share, upload, and host videos
  • Customize thumbnails
  • Customize video galleries
  • Embed videos on your landing pages (sales videos, thank you videos, etc)
  • Analyze performance results
  • Create voice overs
  • Use templated storyboards
  • Live stream content (as part of a paid service for your customers, or even as complimentary value on social media platforms for your audience)

Names to Know: Youtube, Animoto, Brightcove, Vidyard, Vimeo, Wistia

Bonus Ninja Tip: Learn how to reach ten times more people with high-performing video memes.

#8. Marketing Analytics Software

Time and ad dollars will always be finite resources. 

That means you have to make informed decisions about your marketing efforts (an essential requirement in creating a strong marketing stack). 

An insightful marketing analytics tool can help you aggregate data from email marketing, website traffic, social media, and other communication channels to help you understand where your most valuable customers typically come from. 

Once you have that information, you can intentionally reallocate resources to those channels, and discontinue strategies or platforms that aren’t converting or performing as well.

Here are marketing analytics solution features to consider:

  • Real-time insights
  • Quantitative and qualitative data management
  • Website click and scroll interaction analytics
  • Custom reports based on key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Social media referral traffic identification and analysis
  • Customizable dashboards
  • Goal conversion tracking
  • Content tracking
  • Site search analytics
  • Activity maps
  • Customer fallout visibility
  • Tracking customers through your lead nurturing cycle

Names to Know: Adobe Analytics, Clicky, CrazyEgg, Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, Matomo (formerly Piwik), Spiffy

#9. Brand Reputation Monitoring Tools

Want to know what your prospects, customers, and competitors are saying about you without scouring the web 24/7? 

Your marketing stack is powered UP (and remains healthy) when this element is in place. 

Let these tools be your eyes and ears on the ground. 

You can choose a comprehensive brand monitoring tool or a niche social listening tool, but either way, consider the following brand reputation monitoring software functionality:

  • Monitor discussions that involve your brand on social and the web
  • Receive mention alerts at a custom frequency
  • Receive alerts related to your brand name, industry keywords, team member names, or competitors’ brands
  • Pull custom reports
  • Identify demographic trends

Names to Know: Brandwatch, Buzzsumo, Google Alerts, Mention, Talkwalker

#10. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Software

SEO is a complex science.

It is also an element of marketing that some focus on exclusively to become an expert in execution. For the rest of us, SEO software can help shed some light on the complexities of SEO trends so we can make informed decisions about keywords, paid Google AdWords campaigns, and H1 tags.

Here are some SEO software functionality considerations:

  • Compare rankings across desktop and mobile
  • Identify longtail keywords of relevance in your industry
  • Monitor your competitors’ keyword relevancy and inbound links
  • Track rankings
  • Monitor inbound traffic
  • Gather backlink data
  • Assess keyword difficulty
  • Crawl your website
  • Manage links

Names to Know: Ahrefs, MozPro, Raven Tools, SEMrush, SERPs.com

#11. Customer Reward Programs

Yes. There’s an app for that. And by app… we mean software. 

This part of your marketing stack allows you to incentivize and empower your passionate audience to help you make a bigger impact, reach more people and get your services out there! It’s a win-win dynamic.

Customer reward program tools allow you to build, execute, and monitor customer loyalty and reward programs, helping to eliminate all of the manual data management that would otherwise be required. 

They can also help you optimize and maximize sales and revenue from these efforts.

Customer reward program functionality to consider includes:

  • Create and execute points programs integrated within your checkout pages
  • Reward shoppers for sharing products and information on social media
  • Allow customers to redeem prizes
  • Gamify the purchase process

Names to Know: Loyalis, Social Annex

#12. Content Marketing Optimization

Content marketing is a strategy that involves creating and distributing valuable and relevant educational content to attract and retain customers. 

If you’re not executing a content marketing strategy yet, you should be. Your marketing stack is way more effective with it. 

If you are, then make your life easier with content marketing management and optimization software.

Content marketing software functionality considerations include:

  • Content calendar creation
  • Content performance analysis across social networks
  • Content engagement alerts
  • Brand mention alerts

Names to Know: Buzzsumo, CoSchedule, Notifier

#13. Customer Support Software

“I thought we were talking about marketing software,” you say? 

We are. 76 percent of shoppers consider customer service a test of a brand’s value, making it a sales and retention strategy.

This means that customer support should be considered and strategically built out when developing your essential marketing stack components—especially if you don’t yet have the capabilities to staff a fully autonomous on-site call center. 

Customer support software functionality to consider includes:

  • Customer call routing, ticketing, and response automation
  • A centralized and collaborative inbox for service staff
  • Resolution follow-up automation
  • Trend reporting
  • Case management
  • Mobile support

Names to Know: Desk.com Freshdesk, HappyFox, Intercom, TeamSupport, Zendesk, HelpScout

#14. Customer Onboarding Software

Yep, still marketing. 

Just like customer support, successful customer onboarding is a make-it-or-break-it aspect of building your brand.

Whether your client buys an online course, joins your monthly coaching program, or even purchases your software, the experience you guide them through upon purchase is KEY in the scheme of your marketing stack.

Consider these customer onboarding concepts:

  • Build custom onboarding workflows with targetable milestones
  • Personalize the onboarding experience (a phone call, welcome email, etc)
  • Create on-screen guides for new users

Names to Know: Appcues, WalkMe

#15. Order Form Software

We’re kind of an expert in this area.  

If you’re in business, then you need to be able to accommodate payment transactions. 80 percent of business-to-business brands accept payments online via their website—and that number is only expected to grow. 

That means you need a professional, safe, and fast way to build checkout pages. You also need a solution that allows you to increase the average purchase cost through integrated marketing elements. 

Increase that cart value using effective software! 

Look for order form software with the following functionality:

  • Quick setup
  • Mobile optimized!
  • CRM integrations
  • Fast site speeds
  • API integrations
  • Payment plan and subscription management capabilities
  • One-click upsell and offer bump functionality
  • Integrated, robust analytics and reporting (are you measuring what matters MOST?)

Names to know: Spiffy. Yep. Just us. We’re that good. 

Launching Your Marketing Stack: Where to Begin

We just provided you with a long list of software solutions and functionality components for your marketing stack. No need to go straight to overwhelm, though!

If you’re seeing dollar signs and sleepless nights circling your head, know that we don’t recommend implementing all of these solutions at once. Start by assessing your current needs and building your stack slowly, at a manageable pace to support healthy scaling. 

With each addition of a solution, ensure your marketing stack components are compatible and can integrate with one another (or at least share data without extraneous manual intervention). Third party platforms like Zapier are key in integrating your different systems, in these situations.

Perhaps you have a significant need to up your email game, or you want to start taking online payments using sophisticated checkout pages.

Maybe your prospect and customer lists are outgrowing Excel (which is a great problem to have)!

Start with the foundational elements you need now, and build off of each implementation’s success with your new free time (or with the necessity of business-scaling). 

You probably also noticed that some software systems cross categories. You may be able to identify some efficiencies by choosing a multi-purpose solution (which is strongly recommended). 

For example, find a marketing automation software that also offers contact management and segmentation, email marketing (broadcast and automated emails), as well as customer engagement management functionality (like Kajabi!).

Final Thoughts

Here’s the bottom line: make sure you’re leveraging technology to help you achieve your goals better and faster. You’re out there making your impact (which is vital and top priority). 

Allow your marketing stack to reduce overwhelm and shore up your energy and time for innovating and iterating. 

Make sure to choose and implement software that works just as hard as you do, so you can keep growing, scaling, and all around crushing it. 

For help deciding where to begin, click here for expert advice on knowing where to focus and how to navigate decision-making in the face of opportunity overload.