Building a Tech Stack that Supports a Predictable Pipeline
Every marketer needs to ask themselves a few questions when it comes to building a tech stack. These can include:
- How can you identify the tech and tools that are actually helpful when reviewing a long list of options?
- How do you choose the best tech to track revenue generation?
- How can you integrate your tech stack into your marketing strategy?
- How can you measure and generate predictable revenue?
So what does an effective tech stack look like if you want a strong, predictable pipeline?
Why A Tech Stack Is Important for Predictable Pipeline
An effective tech stack built for predictable pipeline is made up of tools that help drive your business objectives, automate your campaigns and fuel your data flows. It should be a connector between your B2B sales and marketing teams. And it should enable, not complicate, your marketing strategy.
With so much technology available today, it can feel overwhelming to wade through the options and feel confident that you’ve built the right solution for your business, brand and team. When the wrong tools (or too many tools) are in place, workflows can be disrupted, and goals can become convoluted.
Building the Right Tech Stack to Support Predictable Pipeline
Too often, companies get trigger-happy with technology and invest in a suite of tools promising to fix, optimize or boost a marketing strategy. Unfortunately, this “shiny object syndrome” often leads marketers to see tech as a silver bullet that’ll solve all of their problems.
Understand this: before you invest in marketing technology, you must have a clear marketing strategy to support its implementation. When you put the tech before the strategy, you’re opening the door to mismatched solutions, overinvestment, misusage and wasted time.
So what should you look for in a tech solution? Let’s first consider the many functions of a tech stack built to support predictable pipeline:
- Foundations: Foundational tools are at the heart of your business operations. Nothing works without them and everything (including your marketing and sales teams) connects to them. These can include tools like CRMs and MAPs like Salesforce and Marketo.
- Orchestrators: Orchestration tools help marketing and sales teams better integrate their efforts. These include tools that coordinate data from multiple platforms that you already use and tie that data to your user data. Examples of marketing orchestration tools include SharpSpring and ActiveCampaign.
- Identifiers: Identification tools locate prospects that fit your ideal audience profile. These tools include LinkedIn Sales Navigator and LeadGenius.
- Attention-Getters: Attention tools amplify SEO, social media, and other inbound marketing tactics to grab prospects’ attention. There are an abundance of these platforms including SEO tools like Yoast SEO, influencer marketing platforms like Influencity, and social media management software like Hootsuite.
- Engagers: Engagement tools let people engage with your business via your website and outbound activities. Poptin and ConvertKit are especially known for the engagement features that these tools add to any website.
- Optimizers: Optimization tools help you analyze your data and gather insights so that you can improve business operations. Data analysis and predictive sentiment analysis tools including Google Analytics, SproutSocial, and Pulse are optimizers.
So how do you ensure that your tech stack fulfills all of these crucial functions without spending your entire operating budget or ending up with 12 disparate tools that don’t integrate with each other?
First, take inventory of what you have.
You already have some pieces of a tech stack in place. Maybe those tools are invaluable, maybe they’re a nightmare. Maybe there are so many, you’ve lost count. Take the time to assess what’s working in your current stack.
Once you know what’s working and what’s not, take inventory of the gaps in function. Do you need a tool to identify prospects? Or a tool to grab their attention? Maybe orchestration is what you’re lacking.
Only when you have an overall marketing strategy and you’ve identified gaps in tech function, should you begin to add (or subtract) tools to your stack.
How to Avoid Random Acts of Marketing
By taking the time to perform a tech audit and articulate an overall strategy, you’re more likely to avoid building a tech stack that prompts Random Acts of Marketing. RAM is like throwing a plate of spaghetti at the wall and holding your breath to see what sticks.
If you want to avoid this approach to marketing, you need your tech stack to gather data to help streamline your marketing efforts, optimize revenue generation through your sales pipeline and support that pipeline every quarter like clockwork.
When choosing tools for your stack, the right platform will help with these three insights:
- Identifying target audience
- Tracking intent and engagement
- Measuring key performance metrics
Identifying Target Audience
Your tech stack must help identify prospects that match your ideal customer profile. If it doesn’t, you risk spending precious time and wasting valuable resources focusing on the wrong audience.
When you find a tool that helps you refine your lead generation efforts and culls leads that do not match your ICP, you’ll not only save time, you’ll be able to optimize the performance of your marketing strategy.
With the right technology, you’ll also lay the foundations for predictable prospecting, a topic Heinz Marketing covers in detail here.
A tighter, more targeted approach to ICP prospects means that you’ll be able to confidently build thoughtful content, messaging, and campaigns to go after the right people with the right message at the right time.
By the way, do you have an ICP?
Different from a buyer persona, which describes an ideal prospect at the individual level, an ICP describes an ideal audience profile at the account level. Developing an ICP means articulating characteristics such as industry, company size, company values, and product releases.
Once you have a complete picture of the ideal account audience, you’ll capitalize on acquisition opportunities by enhancing the buyer’s journey with messaging speaking to their needs.
What Happened to the Buyer’s Journey?
It’s worth taking a moment to address the buyer’s journey since it’s no longer what it used to be. The world was a simpler place when we were gently moving prospects from left to right through distinct stages or top to bottom through a conversion funnel.
Gone are the days of linear, sequential conversion movement. Prospects are no longer passively waiting for us to move them from awareness to consideration to decision. 70% of buying decisions are now made before the initial discovery call takes place.
Buyers are buying on their timeline; they’re designing their own journey.
To keep your predictable pipeline filled with these wandering and warm prospects, make sure your tech stack helps weed out non-ICP matches. It should also help decipher how buyers are engaging with your content on their self-designed journey.
Tracking Engagement and Intent Data
We don’t have a time machine to return to the golden days of the linear buyer’s journey, but intent and engagement data provides stellar insights to help echolocate hot prospects wherever they happen to be.
Intent and engagement data is all about understanding and leveraging the specific buyer behaviors and actions prospects take with your website, event and campaign channels.
When you’re able to monitor content-based activities by specific users, you’re able to glean valuable information about their interests, needs, buying persona, content preferences, and solution-seeking stage.
The right tool in your stack can help you track:
- The content types and topics that your buyers are downloading and consuming from your website
- The amount of time that they’re spending on each piece of content
- Metrics such as open and click-through rates on a specific campaign, frequency of engagement, webinar attendance, and online subscriptions, all of which will help you understand who is engaging with your product or service.
These types of strategic engagement data can now become invaluable contributions to your marketing and sales pipeline not only for understanding intent signals but more importantly, for acting on them.
To act on intent signals revealed from intent and engagement data, use a four-step process for turning specific buyer behavior into appropriate responses:
Step 1. Identify a type of buyer in relation to your ICP
Step 2. Watch and listen for buyer behavior that constitutes an intent signal (e.g., white paper download, webinar attendance)
Step 3. Analyze and understand the touchpoint tendencies and common behaviors of the buyer type
Step 4. Respond (reach out) accordingly based on the buyer type and intent signal
B2B marketers may no longer be needed to lead a prospect down a funnel, but we should still be helpful guides to enhance a buyer’s experience as they make their way towards a solution; ideally, in our direction.
Measuring Key Programmatic and Revenue Metrics
If your tech stack falls short at helping you consistently track and optimize campaign activities and outcomes, your marketing and sales teams will be operating in (separate) dark rooms.
While the specific metrics that you’re measuring will depend on the campaign, there is a framework for measuring success no matter the context. You can measure success in five cyclical stages:
- Goal setting: identify goals and outcomes that align with the greater goals of the organization
- Selection: identify the most valuable performance metrics of the campaign that will lead to actionable insight for optimization
- Analysis: analyze campaign performance based on the selected metrics
- Benchmarking: benchmark campaign performance to industry averages and historical performance to see where opportunities for improvement lie
- Optimization: act on insights to improve future campaigns
Your tech stack should help you measure selected performance metrics. We could also call these programmatic metrics because they are associated with campaign activities/actions.
In addition to campaign activities, an effective tech stack will also help you track campaign outcomes, which are measured by revenue metrics.
What’s the difference between programmatic and revenue metrics?
Programmatic metrics are associated with campaign performance. They tell you how well your team executed their functions and how well your content was received and acted on. Programmatic metrics are valuable for optimizing the performance of your next campaign.
Revenue metrics are what your C-suite cares about: the amount of predictable revenue that can be directly attributed to your campaigns and overall marketing efforts.
Your tech stack should help you select, analyze, track and optimize both types of metrics. When building your stack, consider these three questions in relation to measuring key programmatic and predictable revenue metrics:
- Do your platforms gather relevant data to support your business objectives?
- Can your platforms integrate between systems so that all teams are working from a single source of truth for complete information?
- Can your tools be used across sales and marketing teams to streamline data and prospect handoff?
True sales and marketing conversions occur when your tech stack helps you track sales-qualified leads and direct pipeline contribution. As long as marketing and sales teams act in tandem on the insights you uncover, your efforts will yield favorable metrics for activities and outcomes.
Build A Better Predictable Pipeline
The wrong tech stack will dictate the terms of your marketing strategy, misalign marketing and sales efforts, and glean only superficial insights from campaign activities and outcomes.
The right stack coheres marketing and sales efforts, tracks a variety of activity and outcome metrics, yields actionable intent data, and streamlines workflow within your organization.