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Joe Worrall Joe Worrall

I always put the audience first and believe the proper planning, creation and activation of content is the best way to engage with people. I’m a semi-rehabilitated writer, history enthusiast and a bit of nerd, I love food, brewing and DIY.

Stack overflow! How tall should you build your marketing stack?

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As digital marketers, we have a level of instant control and measurement over our marketing efforts that has never been possible before.

This is driven by digital marketing software designed to help with specific marketing tasks or acting as end-to-end(ish) productivity-boosting suites. The sum of the tools and software implemented is colloquially called ‘the stack’ i.e. ‘What does your stack look like?’, ‘Oh, just WordPress for website and Campaign Monitor for email’ etc.

With an ever-increasing list of solutions to choose from, and every man jack of them claiming to be the answer to all your marketing woes, what software should you add to your stack and how high should you…err…stack it?

Play it well and you’ll be able to prove conclusively the effectiveness of your digital marketing. Or not. All those KPI and ROI graphs will be easily filled and, even better, as you get the insight into your audience’s behaviour you’ll be able to respond more quickly and appropriately.

STOP!

Before you go ploughing budget into software, really, really think about what you want to achieve. Do you need a social publishing tool costing nearly £30 a month if you only have the resource to publish one update a day?

There is so much knowledge out there but how much of it will help your cause? Knowing who your audience are and where they live online will be key to building your stack.

Do you have everything you need?

Many of the software solutions in a stack make sense of, and use, data. To make your email marketing more effective, you need a decent-sized email list to start with.

Make sure you have the requisite data in place before committing to any monthly subscriptions.

Is it worth the money?

This is very important. An end-to-end stack, say featuring a social media management suite (for instance Hootsuite pro), a bunch of SEO optimisation tools (Moz, Screaming Frog, SEO Quake etc.), software for UX tweaks (Crazy Egg or Optimizely, perhaps?), something for CRM (you can’t go wrong with Salesforce) and then a tool which manages all your content campaigns and marketing activity, can be a serious monthly expense costing thousands of pounds.

Plus, you’re going to need an internal resource or an agency well versed in technical marketing to manage and use all your shiny new tools. In short, if you’re going to build the stack high, make sure you’re going to get a return to justify the time and expenditure.

Baby steps

If you’re completely new to marketing tech, start with the basics. Start with the cheapest too.

Get Google Analytics set up on your website. Download HootSuite and plug your personal social channels into it. Have a play. Learn to schedule and scrape social feeds. Assess the benefits. Once you’re comfortable with these tools, decide if you want to take them into the professional space.

Don’t forget that many expensive enterprise tools have a free personal version, too.

Get Started

Although often limited, the tools listed below can be used free of charge and they provide opportunities to learn while gaining some insight into your digital marketing efforts.

SEO

Google Keyword Planner – this tool can be used by anyone with an AdWords account. Primarily useful for paid search campaigns, you can also use it for general research into the popularity of keywords.

Analysis

HubSpot Website Grader – ostensibly for SEO analysis, this natty little online tool will also give you some insight into your digital marketing efforts in general.

Social listening

Social Mention – want to know how you’re being talked about online? This tool aggregates brand mentions from over 100+ social and media platforms.

Social management

HootSuite – you can’t do much better than HootSuite when it comes to free social platform management. Schedule, monitor and post – all free for up to five social accounts.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are tons of tools for a whole heap of online tasks, such as identifying influencers, finding content to curate or making sure Google is crawling your site properly.

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