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10 Do’s and Don'ts of Building a Martech Stack

Jul 28, 2022

Building a martech stack isn’t easy because let’s face it, few people get the chance to do it from scratch. 

In an ideal world, you’d be able to take all the time you need to look for tools, test them extensively, get the numbers straight, and pick the best ones to automate your marketing processes.

But in real life, most managers and professionals already have a number of martech tools in place, and the prospect of replacing them (and adding new ones as well) can be enough to stress anyone out. 

However, this is no excuse for allowing chaos to ensue. 

The fact is that martech tools can work wonders for all kinds of marketing teams, and building the best possible stack remains a need to be addressed in most companies.

The problem is how to do it on the run and not break anything. 

In this article, we’ll help you sort this out by highlighting the pain points you need to look at in a way that is easy to remember and apply.

Ready? Let’s not waste another minute.

Top 5 do’s of building a martech stack

1. Do map out your marketing processes

Processes are the lifeblood of organizations, and you have to understand them before improving them. 

An easy way to start mapping processes is by asking the following questions:

  • What’s the goal of the process? 

  • What are the stages of the process?

  • Who’s involved at each stage?

  • What tools are we using at each stage? 

Answering these will help you understand which tools may be missing to improve the process. 

Let’s take a basic content creation process as an example. 

  • Goals of the content creation process: Generate eyeballs, increase brand awareness and conversions.

  • Stages of the process: Researching topics, writing articles, editing content, on-page SEO optimization, publishing, tracking analytics, managing the content calendar.

  • Who’s involved: Content writers, editors, project managers, marketing analysts. 

  • Tools involved: Google Docs, Google Drive, Airtable, Slack, email, Ahrefs, Google Analytics.

This is where process mapping begins, but you get the point: Understanding the process will help you identify the parts that can be fully or partially automated as well.

For instance, in the example above you could improve the on-page SEO optimization step by switching from Ahrefs to Semrush, as the latter features an on-page SEO checker that accelerates the completion of the task by leaps and bounds. 

The advice here is clear: Get a full understanding of how processes work before even considering new martech tools!

2. Do identify your needs

Naturally, you’ll have a much clearer view of what’s needed after mapping out the processes. 

It’s important to stop here for a bit and get the needs right. 

For instance, let’s say that your company blog ranks high on Google, gets lots of traffic, and people stay on its pages for a healthy amount of time - but conversions remain low. 

This could be happening for different reasons, such as:

  • Your team writes great content but targets the wrong keywords (meaning there’s no customer fit in your audience).

  • Your team writes great content and there is customer fit, but readers have no options to convert. 

The first problem can be solved by changing the research focus and adding a content research tool to the stack. 

The second one can be solved by implementing smart pop-ups that allow eager readers to convert more easily. 

For content research, you could use BuzzSumo, or even something free like Google’s Keyword Planner (which is available in your Google Ads account). 

For pop-ups, there’s Poptin (and other products as well).

As you can see, different needs call for different tools - but you need to know the needs in detail to pick the right tools.

3. Do evaluate options for each need

Once you have a full view of processes and needs, it’s time to start looking at tool options. 

There are many ways to go at this; just make sure you do your research based on the specific needs you’re trying to solve. 

For example, let’s say that you need a tool to manage leads from paid LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms campaigns. 

Assuming that everything turns out right, you’ll be dealing with hundreds, maybe thousands of form submissions that need to be processed, qualified, and sent to sales in a short window of time. 

To gather and process form data, you could use tools ranging from Airtable and Google Sheets to CRMs like HubSpot and Pipedrive. 

Since we’re trying to get leads to sales fast in this example, a CRM would be more appropriate than a spreadsheet - and so the evaluation process begins. 

At this point, you need to find a tool that fits your needs, so don’t just stop at a Google search. Dig into customer review sites, check which options match your current and future use cases, and evaluate pricing, features, and types of customer support.

Remember, you’re not looking for the ultimate product, but for one that fits your needs. 

If you find it fast, even better!

4. Do try out before purchasing

With processes, needs, and options on the table, you’re now a step closer to making the final decision. 

At this point, all you have to do is shortlist the best alternatives, subscribe for the corresponding free trials, and see if the tools live up to your needs and the team’s expectations.

Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t, but thank the decision-making process instead. 

Spending some extra time before purchasing will get you out of more serious trouble in the future.

5. Do think about your stack in a holistic way

If you’re asking what this even means, you’re not alone: Lots of companies forget to take into account integration capabilities when onboarding new martech tools. 

This is a huge mistake, as integrations are among the most important capabilities a martech tool can offer. 

When they don’t, you’re looking at the perfect recipe for creating data silos.

To avoid this from happening, you must ensure that the tools on your shortlist are able to work holistically and connect with each other seamlessly. 

In our view, the best way to check this is to see if it’s available on Make

If it is, it means that it can be easily connected to thousands of other apps, allowing you to automate processes and workflows on the spot.

In case it is not, you can check if the app you’re looking at features an API. If it does, you’ll be able to create integrations in one way or another down the road. 

Now that we’ve covered how to build a martech stack, let’s take a look at the red flags.

Top 5 don'ts of building a martech stack

1. Don’t onboard new tools based on isolated factors

Temptation comes in many different forms: Excellent pricing, unique features, fast customer support, you name it.

All of these are great when together, but not so much when isolated from the rest of the picture. 

As we mentioned above, the wise choice is to go for a tool that fits your exact needs and use cases. 

If you put any isolated factor above these, you’ll end up with a lesser product in the long run.

2. Don’t wait for no one

If a key feature you need is lacking, don’t fall for the promise that it’ll be released soon. 

Address your marketing team’s needs on the spot, because tech companies - in disregard of size and prestige - aren’t the best at fulfilling their product update and delivery promises

As the old saying goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. 

3. Don’t replace what you can upgrade

If one of your tools in your stack addresses your current pain points in a higher plan, consider transitioning to that offering.

Doing that will be faster and produce less friction than switching to an entirely different product. 

4. Don’t be afraid of migrating to a new product

Is a known evil better than an unknown good? Not when it comes to your martech stack. 

We get it, migrating from one tool to another takes time, everyone needs to get accustomed to the new product, and so on. 

But when the benefits outweigh the costs of migrating, there’s no real reason not to do so. 

Our advice here is pretty simple: Instead of thinking of product migration as something cumbersome, take it as a new adventure. The sooner you start, the faster you’ll get the rewards.

5. Don’t forget to read the fine print

Going through several pages riddled with legal and financial jargon is excruciating, but also utterly important. 

When the moment of picking a new tool arrives, this is the last and most important step to complete. 

Horror stories about companies getting stuck in long-term contracts are too common to reproduce here, so we encourage you to pay attention to the fine print.

Ultimately, this can mark the difference between a great decision and a bundle of legal, financial, and operational issues. 

Conclusion: Start with the fundamentals, and back up your choices with data

Our final piece of advice is to back up your decisions with data. 

At this point, you’ll have to motivate and educate. People don’t like change. You have to build solid, data-driven arguments to explain why it’s happening, and why it’ll be a good thing. 

Aside from this, we’re confident that by following the 10 do’s and don’ts of building a martech stack, you’ll end up making the right decisions, and ready to automate more marketing processes than you’ve ever dreamed of.


Martin Etchegaray

Content Manager and Senior Editor at Make. I enjoy writing and reading about history, science, and tech.

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