Stack ‘em up: Why a well-executed tech stack is vital for Regenerative Startups Posted on December 9, 2022 by Stephanos Why is a marketing tech stack vital to Regenerative Startups? In this article, we’ll look at how a well-executed marketing tech stack can help your business achieve regenerative growth. What we’ll cover; What is a marketing tech stack? Tech stacks: A Growth Hacking Fundamental Prioritising your tech stack to optimise growth How can a marketing tech stack help grow your business? Our favourite tools for Regenerative Startups Positive social impact is key to challenging the problems we face today and regenerative startups are at the forefront of creating real change. And the impacts of climate change, the pandemic, Brexit and the war in Ukraine have all highlighted the need for mindful, efficient growth. From our experience with the sector we believe that, for regenerative startups, understanding and utilising the correct tools to grow their business is vital to creating the most positive impact, bringing us one step closer to a regenerative economy. Don’t worry, we aren’t keeping all the cards to ourselves. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite tools at the end of this article, so you’re ready to start optimising your growth. What is a marketing tech stack? A marketing tech stack is the collection of tools, software and technologies that marketers use to optimise and augment their marketing processes. The aim here is to drive growth as quickly and efficiently as possible. Marketing technologies are ‘stacked’ to create an integrated series of tools that allow you to build and connect processes. Marketers and businesses use tech to optimise their marketing activities, but in order to take an agile and dynamic approach, it’s necessary to consider how you can integrate tools and tech rather than using them independently. Layering tools and technologies in this way allows for specific automations, giving businesses a much clearer understanding of how to reach and engage with their customers. It’s this layering of technologies that led to the term ‘marketing tech stack’. Tech stacks: A Growth Hacking Fundamental The tech stack sits at the very heart of Growth Hacking which is a proven and agile methodology that we use here at Zebra Growth. But growth hacking is much more than just a methodology. It’s a mindset. Growth hacking has changed the way in which we approach marketing. It challenges the traditional marketing model. Traditional marketing generally involves committing a large budget to advertising, email campaigns and other paid media. Growth hackers don’t tend to operate endless budgets so their focus is on how they can ‘move the needle’ the most with the leanest of resources. This is where a well-executed tech stack comes in; its one key purpose is to make sure you get the right message, to the right audience in as cost effective and efficient way possible. Growth hacking is an imperative methodology for regenerative startups. We know from experience that a fast growing startup is filled with shifting priorities and many tasks can fall by the wayside, things like marketing strategies and tactics just aren’t seen as a priority. In some cases the cost of running intensive marketing campaigns isn’t worth it as it’s labour intensive and it may take months or years to achieve growth. By employing a growth hacking mindset, an experimental approach with a carefully constructed tech stack, regenerative startups really can achieve channel/market fit much earlier than if they were to put all of their budget into siloed channels and traditional marketing strategies. With that in mind, how do you decide what tools to integrate into your stack? Not all Tech is created equal In 2020, it was estimated there were around 8000 solutions in the marketing landscape, compared to just 150 in 2010. So it’s safe to say that building your perfect tech stack takes time and consideration. And there isn’t a one-fits-all approach to tech stacks. The key to a successful tech stack is having the right tools for your business, market sector and your team’s needs. With so many options available, it’s about finding what is right for you. When integrating a new tool (remember: you’re introducing tech to build on what you have, not replace it) you need to consider how accessible it is for your team. If a system sounds great on paper but is causing communication issues everyday, or doesn’t meet your team’s skillset, it’s probably not for you. A marketing tech stack is there to make your job easier and put your team in the best position to maximise your growth. So before you decide to start bringing in complex tech, it’s important to have solid foundations to build upon. Laying the foundations: The importance of prioritising your tech stack We’re not suggesting that you drop all your current tools and strategies and spend your full year’s budget on the latest tech. Quite the opposite. The truth is, evaluating your current marketing activities and setting solid foundations will make the biggest difference in your growth in the long run. We know that building a tech stack can quickly become a daunting task, that’s why we’ve laid out the groundwork to get your growth on the right track. We like to think of the marketing tech stack hierarchy as a pyramid, and it’s a simple one at that. On the base you have the foundational layer of tools that, if you get right, can make the biggest difference for growth in your business. The second and top layer of the pyramid is the complex tools that help you gather data, insights and analytics or allow for automation of your processes. So, what is the foundational layer of tools when building your tech stack? At Zebra, we’ve found the most important things to get right first for maximum growth are Internal communication, Project management and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Systems. Internal Communications How does a new team member get up to speed on your latest projects? Where can they find information about your company culture and values? How do you communicate relevant news and updates across departments? The most effective way to do this is with a Company Wiki. This is a collaborative tool for storing and sharing internal information. It aims to be the single source of truth for everyone on your team. Each member can access internal information for reference, collaboration and to update as needed. At Zebra, our single source of truth is Notion. Notion gives every team member access to our processes, client information, our culture and values. Having a company wiki allows team members, new and old, to access all relevant files and information on projects, your business and ongoing strategies. The benefit here is that nothing is lost in translation; by making all your important information easily accessible and giving every team member the chance to share their knowledge, you’ll improve communication across your business. Project Management While it’s important to have all your relevant project information on a company wiki, having a dedicated tool for Project Management is a necessity. Whether you’re working across multiple teams or to a strict deadline, having a solid project management tool will allow you to coordinate effectively with your team and ensure you complete your project efficiently. We use Monday.com for our Project Management. Monday.com allows you to create boards for your projects and seamlessly track its progress, set the owner of tasks and the level of priorities and allows you to post updates on the project, tasks and subtasks all within one system. Another key benefit of Monday.com is that it allows for integration with other tools. We’ve linked ours to Slack (our internal communications app) so that our team is always in the loop. And this is a great example of what a tech stack should do – integrate with your other tools to optimise your processes. CRM Systems Taking the time to consider how you store customer data is crucial to any business. It’s one thing to keep a note of prospects and potential leads – but how do you effectively prioritise your workload and make sure valuable information isn’t lost, all while ensuring all the relevant teams and departments are clued in? The solution, as you might’ve guessed, is with a CRM system. A CRM system helps your business keep customer details up to date, tracks your interactions with them and manage their accounts. With regenerative startups, the adoption curve can be slow. Sales cycles can be long, and, in some cases, average order value high. All of these friction points can make it difficult for the sales team to maintain growth and strengthen the sales pipeline. CRM Systems like Salesforce offer a solution to this. They integrate into one system that gives all departments (like sales, marketing, commerce and service) a single shared view of every customer. This is essential to building a cohesive business and allows you to improve your customer experience. Having a really robust CRM, and a clear view of who is engaging with your business and what stage they are at in your sales funnel is a critical factor in the success of innovative regenerative startups. And CRM tools, when properly set up by professionals, will allow for advanced tracking such as engagement scoring, which allows field representatives to be notified when a prospect engages with a piece of content, providing triggers to begin outreach. This allows your team to make the best decisions for growing your business. Optimising your Tech Stack Once you have evaluated your current systems and worked to integrate these foundations, you can start to target some of the more complex tools to nurture growth; Research Tools Business Intelligence Analytics Reporting Data Management Email & Marketing Automation Design System Tools Advertising & Paid Media Social Media Management It’s important to research different options and find the tool that works best for you. If you’re unsure of which one works best for your business, seek advice. Zebra Growth has extensive experience working with these systems ourselves and helping to integrate them for our clients. We’d be love to collaborate with you and find the best tech stack for creating regenerative growth for your business. How can a marketing tech stack help to grow your business? As we’ve mentioned, a tech stack is a collection of tools, so they’re only useful when they’re fit for the right purpose. Tech stacks aren’t a marketing strategy, they form part of one. A tech stack is only effective with a clearly defined marketing strategy. So it’s important to clearly define what you want to achieve with your marketing strategy. Start by looking at your current marketing activities. The key here is evaluating how you are currently communicating against how you want to grow your business going forward. Looking at your current tech and IT infrastructure, consider what is working well and what can be improved. This is where building your tech stack comes in. The stacks above encapsulate all the main categories that go into a marketing tech stack. Of course, we only want to focus on the tools that will benefit your marketing strategy. Do you want to reach a specific segment through social media? If so, consider what you need to execute your campaign and how you’ll measure the results. Tools like Buffer can help to grow your audience organically. Are you trying to increase your organic traffic to your website and rank higher on search engines? Then maybe you want to consider SEO software, like Semrush, to discover how your content can be more accessible to your customers. The main idea here is to hone your strategy and find the right tools to integrate into your processes that will help you achieve regenerative growth. As you grow, maintaining a solid tech stack will allow your business to maintain strong communications with your customers and across teams. Let’s talk tech – our recommended tools for your marketing tech stack As promised, here is a list of our top tools for each category for building the best Regenerative Startup Marketing Tech Stack. Remember to take your time going through these tools and consider what’s best for your business, team and marketing strategy! Research tools Google Trends Google Trends is a useful search trends feature that shows frequency of keyword search and and to discover event-triggered spikes in keyword search volumeHotjarHotjar is a product experience insights tool that gives you behaviour analytics and feedback data to help you empathise with and understand your customersBrandwatchUnderstand and engage with your customers at the speed of social with Brandwatch, the social suite built for our fast-moving world.TypeformForms that perform: get feedback and leads with ease Using stylish forms that make data collection a walk in the park Business Intelligence CanddiTurns your website visitors into customers. Find out who is visiting your website, and which of them are ready to buyDun and Bradstreet Business insights on over 40 million companies to manage risk and increase supply chain resiliency Analytics tools Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is a web analytics service that provides statistics and basic analytical tools for search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing purposeOribiStunning AI to automatically track all your key conversions, discover what actions sites like yours should focus on, and increase results Reporting Tools Dash this An automated marketing reporting tool created to help marketers save hours of work and create their reports in the blink of an eye. Data management Google Data StudioGoogle Data Studio (GDS) is a great, free data visualisation tool (note my use of the phrase data visualisation tool, as opposed to business intelligence tool here) that lets you build interactive dashboards, and customised, beautiful reporting.Supermetrics Picks up all the marketing data you need and brings it to your go-to reporting, analytics, or storage platform — whether that’s a BI tool, a spreadsheet, a data visualisation tool, a data lake, or a data warehouse. Project Management Monday.com Monday.com offers 5 end-to-end products to choose from to run the core of your business. Our products are dedicated solutions built on top of our Work OS and designed to answer the needs of specific industries and verticalsClickupAll of your work in one place. Tasks, chat, docs, goals and more – Plan, track, and manage any type of work with project management that flexes to your team’s needs. Company Wiki NotionYour single source of truth for documentation, access to all the information relevant to a project including links, files and strategies. Email marketing and automation MailChimpMarketing and sales tool – No matter the size of your business, these tools are here to help you launch, build, and grow. SEO, content and referral tools SEM RushAn all in one SEO swiss army knife helping you to grow organic traﬃc with a complete and easy bank of search tools and workflowMOZSearch engine optimization at its best! Design System tools MiroVisual collaboration tool that takes physical ideation, brainstorming and workshop sessions and marketing strategy and gathers insights into powerful visual boardsFigmaOnline design tool with features that make feedback, and collaboration super easy, resulting in better cross functional working with designers, and faster turnaround times. Advertising and paid media Meta AdsMeta Ads Manager is the control room for all advertisements across all Meta platforms. It’s a tool used by top marketers to create, manage, change, and analyse all aspects of their digital advertising on Facebook and InstagramLinkedin AdsAn ad platform has ad types to meet all your marketing objectives with a reach of over 750 million professionals on the world’s largest professional network. Landing Page and CMS UnbounceCapture way more leads with high-converting landing pages that you can optimise on the fly, all without a developer.ClickfunnelsGenerate New LEADS That You Can Connect With… Create simple funnels that quickly capture your visitors’ contact information, so you can generate new leads to follow-up CRM systems HubspotHubSpot’s CRM platform has all the tools and integrations you need for marketing, sales, content management, and customer service. Each product in the platform is powerful alone, but the real magic happens when you use them together.SalesforceSalesforce is a customer relationship management solution that brings companies and customers together. It’s one integrated CRM platform that gives all your departments — including marketing, sales, commerce, and service — a single, shared view of every customer. Social Media management HootsuiteTool for planning out social media posts and it’s great if you run multiple social media accounts for your business.Loom.lyLoom.ly is the built-in URL shortener of Loomly, your simple social media calendar tool!BufferBuffer helps you build an audience organically. We’re a values-driven company that provides affordable, intuitive, marketing tools for ambitious people and teams. Ready to build your stack? Before we send you off to build the most well-executed tech stack startups have ever seen, we want to leave you with some of our top tips when building your tech stack: It’s a complex task – be prepared! – huge amount of tools and tech are available Keep it simple – the more tools and integration, the more complex your tech stack becomes Choose tools that align with your strategy, budget, your team’s capabilities Research all the options – don’t rush to buy until you have the full picture Triage existing tools and IT infrastructure to inform integration of new technologies Tools need to contain features that can allow marketers to personalise content Consider your team set up – tools need to support efficient working practices for onsite teams and remote workers Don’t be tempted into reinventing the wheel – choose a solution that will help you reach your goals without too much effort Thinks integration – not all tech works seamlessly Be prepared to iterate – technology changes frequently! Consider your team’s capability and skill set when choosing tech And most importantly, if you are not sure how to build the right tech stack, seek advice. Is your marketing strategy not creating the growth you expect? Why not book a call with our Managing Director, Lee for some insights into how you can find the right tech stack for your business.