June 15, 2023

How to Choose the Right Marketing Tech Stack in 2023

There has never been a more exciting yet overwhelming time to choose the right marketing technology. Advances in AI, automation, personalization, and data have produced powerful marketing tools and applications. However, picking the wrong marketing tech stack in 2023 could severely limit your growth and ROI.

So how do you navigate this complex landscape and build an effective tech stack that moves the needle? This article covers ten essential factors to consider when choosing the right tools and applications for your marketing objectives and budget.

Define Your Marketing Goals and Objectives

Every effective marketing tech stack starts with clearly defining your specific goals and objectives. Your goals could include the following:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Growing new leads
  • Improving conversion rates
  • Generating more online sales
  • Reducing costs per acquisition
  • Personalizing experiences at scale

Once you know your desired outcomes, you can identify the tools that best support achieving those goals. Without clear goals, you risk buying technology just because it’s “cool” rather than what’s most effective.

So take the time upfront to document:

  • What you want to accomplish over the next 6, 12, and 24 months.
  • Specific metrics you need to move (leads, conversions, ROI, etc.)
  • Key initiatives that require tech enablement

With objectives crystalized, you’ll have a framework for evaluating potential marketing applications and tools. Stay focused on how each technology specifically helps you achieve your goals.

Budget and Resource Constraints

Understanding your budgetary constraints and defining goals is crucial for building an effective tech stack. You need to have a realistic sense of the following:

  • Total funds available for marketing technology - the initial investment and ongoing costs.
  • How much can you reasonably spend on various tools: paid ads, CRM, analytics, social, etc.?
  • Whether you’ll primarily use free and open source options vs. paid applications.

You’ll also need to account for the following:

  • Internal resources to implement, manage and optimize the technology over time. This includes IT support, data analysts, marketing specialists, and more.
  • Costs for training, consultants, and agencies to help get systems up and running if your internal team is limited.

Being aware of these budget realities upfront helps ensure you choose the “right” number of tools - not too many to manage, but enough to move the needle on your goals. Your cash and personnel constraints effectively create “guardrails” to guide your tech stack selections.

Determine realistic numbers for your marketing technology budget and the human capital available to support it. Then use those numbers as North Stars throughout the tech stack-building process.

Assess Internal Capabilities and Skill Sets

Closely related to budgets are your internal capabilities in terms of technical skills, data expertise, and change management abilities. Before choosing marketing tools, take stock of the following:

  • Data and analytics skills within your team - Do you have data scientists, analysts, or basic reporting abilities?
  • Technical expertise in implementing, customizing, and troubleshooting new systems and integrations.
  • Digital skills related to social media, content, paid ads, SEO, and more.
  • Ability to adopt new processes, learn new systems, and manage organizational change. Does your culture embrace technology and innovation?

The tools you select should align with your current skill sets while pushing you slightly beyond your comfort zone. Aim for:

  • Leveraging 80-90% of existing capabilities.
  • Only 10-20% require learning and upskilling to fully optimize.

This balance helps ensure your technology investment translates into actual results instead of frustrations and disappointments. You’ll be more successful implementing tools your teams already understand somewhat vs. those requiring a massive learning curve.

So analyze the digital marketing, technical and data skills within your organization. Then choose technologies that play to your strengths while stretching you a bit and creating growth opportunities.

Evaluate Existing Systems and Infrastructure

Before adding new tools to the mix, take inventory of your current marketing technology stack. Audit what systems and applications you already utilize for:

  • CRM and customer data
  • Marketing automation
  • Advertising and paid media
  • Content management
  • Analytics and measurement
  • Social media management
  • Website experience

Map out how these existing technologies integrate and where redundancy, inefficiencies, or gaps may exist. Ask questions like:

  • Do we have multiple solutions for similar needs?
  • How well do systems share data and connect?
  • Are there areas not covered by current applications?

Then determine whether:

  • You should improve/optimize existing technologies before adding more.
  • New tools can integrate smoothly and fill true gaps.
  • Redundancies exist where consolidation could simplify your stack.
  • Infrastructure constraints limit what new systems you can realistically implement.

Auditing your current marketing technology ecosystem helps ensure any additions:

  • Truly complement what’s already in place.
  • Integrate and share data seamlessly.
  • Don’t just create more complexity without value.

So thoroughly inventory all systems supporting your marketing before purchasing anything new. Focus on how potential technologies complement - rather than just pile on top of - your existing stack.

Manage Integrations and Data Flows

Once you’ve identified goals, budget, skills, and existing systems, the next crucial consideration is integration capabilities, and data flows. This involves:

  • Evaluating how well potential new tools integrate and share data with your current technologies. Look for systems with robust, bi-directional APIs.
  • Determining whether you must utilize integration platforms and data meshes to connect disparate applications.
  • Mapping the customer and marketing data that needs to flow between tools - from CRM to ads to marketing automation and beyond.
  • Understanding how much data transformation, cleansing, and normalization will be required between systems.
  • Planning for governance and security of customer information moving between applications.

The easier new tools integrate and the smoother relevant data flows, the more effective your tech stack will be. On the other hand:

  • Poor integrations lead to data silos and redundant information.
  • Limited data sharing prevents personalization across channels.
  • Manual data uploads quickly become unsustainable.

So before committing to specific marketing technologies:

  • Research their integration capabilities and partner ecosystem.
  • Understand what customer and marketing data they need to share.
  • Plan for how you’ll transform, govern and secure that information.

With a clear picture of how new tools will truly “plug and play,” you’ll enjoy the benefits of a cohesive, end-to-end tech stack.

Consider The Customer Journey and Touchpoints

Another crucial factor when choosing marketing technologies is aligning them with your customer’s journey and key touchpoints.

Start by mapping out the following:

  • The stages your customers typically progress through - from awareness to purchase to advocacy.
  • The many channels and moments of interaction where you can influence and engage them - website, ads, emails, calls, stores, etc.

Then evaluate how potential technologies can:

  • Deliver tailored, relevant experiences at each stage and touchpoint.
  • Provide a seamless, unified brand experience across channels.
  • Personalize communications based on customer behaviors and preferences.

With a customer journey lens:

  • You’ll avoid tools that only optimize one channel in isolation.
  • Instead, you’ll prioritize systems integrating data and intelligence across the full gamut of interactions.

For example, a CRM that combines with:

  • Marketing automation for personalized emails
  • Ad platform for targeted paid media
  • CMS for customized web pages
  • Social media management tools

Ensures you can deliver a consistent brand experience and value proposition no matter how customers engage your business.

So map your customer journey and touchpoints first. Then select marketing technologies that optimize - and integrate - across that entire ecosystem of interactions. This provides the glue that unifies your customer experiences.

Think About Scalability and Futureproofing

As you choose marketing tools, considering their scalability and “futureproofing” can prevent growing pains and buyer’s remorse down the line. Look for technologies that:

  • Grow and perform efficiently as your business expands in size and complexity. This includes their ability to handle higher traffic, larger data volumes, more customers, and more features.
  • Regularly release new capabilities and integrations that keep pace with evolving industry trends - like advances in AI, personalization, and automation.
  • Invest in further development so they don’t become outdated too quickly. Look for a consistent roadmap and growth trajectory.
  • Provide options to cost-effectively expand their use and deployments as needed - without major overhaul or replacement.

By prioritizing scalability and futureproofing:

  • You avoid outgrowing tools too soon and need to “rip and replace.”
  • You secure investments that will continue delivering value for years to come.
  • You position yourself to quickly adopt and benefit from emerging technologies.

So, in addition to evaluating marketing applications based on your current needs:

  • Project how large and sophisticated your business may become over time.
  • Research vendors’ growth strategies and development roadmaps.
  • Consider options that scale from small to medium to enterprise deployments.

This enhances your technology stack’s long-term value and lifetime - ensuring it can grow with your marketing and business.

Prioritize Essential Core Tools

When choosing your initial marketing tech stack, focus on implementing a streamlined set of essential “core” tools before expanding outward. These foundational applications likely include:

  • CRM system to manage all customer data and profiles.
  • Marketing automation platform to power personalized, automated campaigns.
  • Analytics and reporting solutions to measure KPIs and optimize performance.
  • Tool to manage your website and digital content.
  • A platform for paid and organic social media.

These core technologies provide the fundamental capabilities required to execute most marketing strategies. They give you the following:

  • Comprehensive customer insights
  • Automated engagement capabilities
  • Real-time performance data
  • Control over your Digital brand assets
  • Presence and tools across major social networks.

Getting a strong base of core tools and using them to their full potential will be far more effective than spreading resources too thin among many niche applications.

You can then expand your tech stack “outward” by identifying where the core systems have gaps and what specialized solutions can integrate and augment them.

But start with the basics, and ensure you’ve mastered the essential foundation before moving on to more specialized and less impactful technologies. Focus on fully leveraging your most important tools before proliferating your stack too fast.

Optimize for Simplicity and Usability

While many powerful marketing technologies exist, the most effective tech stacks share two common traits: simplicity and usability.

In terms of simplicity, aim for a stack that:

  • Uses the fewest possible tools to accomplish your key objectives. Avoid proliferation just for the sake of having the “latest and greatest.”
  • Integrates systems seamlessly to reduce manual data entry, exports/imports, and duplicate information.
  • Eliminates redundant tools where possible in favor of consolidation and “one version of the truth.”

Regarding usability, choose applications that:

  • Require minimal training and technical expertise to implement and operate daily.
  • Maintain an intuitive, consumer-grade user interface instead of being overly complex.
  • Provide quick and obvious value without needing major customization
  • Optimize routine tasks through automation rather than manual work.

The result is a tech stack that:

  • Your teams use it to their full advantage instead of workarounds.
  • Doesn’t require a large support structure to manage and maintain.
  • Automates repetitive tasks so marketers can focus on higher-value work.
  • Scales efficiently without massive training or additional personnel.

So while power-user features have their place, prioritize simplicity, intuitiveness, and ease of use as you choose marketing technologies.

Optimize for technologies your teams will truly embrace - not just those with the most bells and whistles.

Pick tools that make your life and work easier - not more complicated - while enabling you to accomplish your marketing goals.

Experiment, Iterate, and Continually Improve

The final advice for choosing an effective marketing tech stack is to adopt an experimental mindset and continuously improve your systems over time.

Start by:

  • Testing new tools on a small scale before committing to an Enterprise-wide rollout. This lets you validate their effectiveness for your specific use cases.
  • Gradually expanding the scope and integration of technologies that prove their value - while sunsetting those that underperform.
  • Measuring key metrics and goals to assess whether applications translate to business results. Avoid using “seat time” or feature adoption as proxies.
  • Gathering user feedback about what’s working well and where tools fall short.

Then as your stack evolves:

  • Identify processes, workflows, and capabilities that require new technologies to become more effective.
  • Leverage insights from data and metrics to determine where current tools are lacking.
  • Stay abreast of emerging applications that solve problems you’re currently facing.
  • Integrate best-of-breed solutions from various vendors versus betting on a single Suite.

This allows you to:

  • Identify and remedy gaps in your marketing technologies over time.
  • Continuously improve performance by replacing underperforming tools.
  • Respond quickly to shifting needs and new opportunities as they emerge.
  • Optimize your overall tech stack as marketing and business conditions evolve.

So while research and planning certainly help, don’t treat your marketing technology stack as a “set it and forget it” initiative.

Experiment intelligently. Measure rigorously. And iterate continuously to keep refining your systems and maximizing their value over the long haul.

Note: Product Demo Tool is Essential for Generating Demand

In today’s highly competitive environment, product demo tools have become essential for generating demand, converting prospects, and closing deals. Yet many marketing teams overlook this crucial category of technology.

Product demo tools like Folio allow you to:

  • Demonstrate your solution and showcase key features in an interactive, self-guided format. This helps prospects “see and feel” the value of your product.
  • Capture prospects’ information and qualifying details while engaged in the demo. You can then seamlessly pass warm leads to sales.
  • Automate demo delivery at scale. Videos and interactive demos can be embedded on your website and shared via email - exposing large audiences to your product.
  • Track usage to gain insights into what’s resonating and where prospects are hitting roadblocks. This enables you to optimize the demo over time.

Whether prospects hesitate to schedule a demo, prefer self-guided formats, or simply need initial exposure - product demos provide a “try before you buy” experience that sales alone can’t replicate.

By effectively showing - not just telling - prospects what’s possible with your solution, product demo tools have become a “must-have” for any comprehensive marketing tech stack. So evaluate solutions that align with your desired interactivity, personalization, and automation level.


In conclusion, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right marketing tech stack in 2023 and beyond. A holistic, thoughtful approach is key, from goals and budgets to skills, systems, data, customer journeys, and more.

While the influx of new tools can feel overwhelming, focusing on the fundamentals will serve you best:

  • Start with a laser focus on achieving your specific marketing objectives. Let those goals guide your selections.
  • Understand your budget realities and how many tools you can reasonably implement, integrate and manage.
  • Assess the capabilities of your internal teams to ensure new technologies align with - and slightly stretch - existing skill sets.
  • Evaluate existing systems to determine where technologies can integrate, consolidate, or fill gaps.
  • Consider how new tools share data and feed relevant intelligence into your full stack.
  • Prioritize essential core technologies before expanding to niche applications. Ensure you’re maximizing the value of your most important platforms.

With these factors in mind, strive to build a stack that is:

  • Aligned with your customers’ journeys and touchpoints
  • Scalable to grow along with your business over time
  • Futureproof to continue delivering value for years to come
  • Simple and usable and truly embraced by your teams

And regardless of what tools you start with, continually experiment, collect feedback and iterate your systems over time. Technology alone cannot transform your marketing - only actionable insights, clear execution, and continuous improvement move the needle.

A dynamic, evolving approach to your tech stack will serve you better than any set of “perfect” applications. To begin with a solid foundation, then learn, adapt, and improve along the way.

Cover Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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