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Building a martech stack: the why and how

The marketing technology landscape is massive and rapidly expanding. In fact, over 1,100 applications were added to the Marketing Technology supergraphic in just one year between 2022 and 2023—and for good reason. Brands are awash in more messaging channels and data than ever, making it increasingly complicated to connect with customers. They need tools that allow teams to work efficiently, measure results, and optimize their impact. That’s where a marketing technology stack (or martech stack, for short) comes in. 

By building a martech stack aligned with your brand’s goals, you can automate tasks, remove workflow obstacles, and more effectively leverage data. And that frees up your teams to focus on the strategic work that impacts your brand’s bottom line. 

Here’s what you’ll get in this piece:

What is a martech stack—and why do you need one?

First, let’s get clear on what martech means. Quite simply, the term refers to the tools and technologies (like software, online platforms, and SaaS products) brands use to plan, implement, and measure their marketing tactics. For example, Alex MacCaw, co-founder of Clearbit, recently shared his company’s stack on X (formerly Twitter): 

Building a martech stack: Alex MacCaw, founder of Clearbit's tool picks

From using for marketing automation to leveraging Equals, Missive, and Retool for more team-based operations, MacCaw highlights various tools that brands might use to grow their businesses.

The problem is that many brands find themselves with various martech tools they’ve cobbled together over time without a clear strategy. That can lead to inefficiency, missed opportunities, and sub-optimal performance.  

Building an integrated martech stack can transform your operations and deliver outcomes such as:

  • Efficient processes. Automating processes, cutting down on stakeholder back-and-forth, eliminating duplication of efforts—a system of martech tools that talk to each other saves time and money. 
  • Smoother collaboration. Your martech stack isn’t just important to your marketing department! Effective customer engagement calls for close collaboration across multiple departments, including sales, product, and customer success. Your ecosystem of tools should enable all teams to work together seamlessly.
  • Data-driven marketing. Brands are swimming in data these days, and they need to harness it to optimize marketing efforts. Your stack should make it easy to act on it—whether through personalized messages, hyper-segmented campaigns, analyzing A/B tests, or optimizing your strategies. 

Recommended reading: The ins and outs of message personalization with customer data

7 key components of a martech stack

7 key components of a martech stack

There are at least seven types of martech tools that should comprise the core of any stack:

1. Customer data platform (CDP). At the center of your martech stack sits your customer data. A CDP will help you send real-time data to every tool in your stack for a complete view of your customer.

  • Our pick: Data Pipelines. Build personalized experiences across every marketing channel by ensuring your real-time customer data is where you need it. Bonus? Data Pipelines is free for the first one million monthly API calls. 

2. Content management system (CMS). Manage and update your website content, including blog posts, landing pages, product pages, and more.

  • Our pick: Webflow. A modern CMS that helps companies of all sizes build custom websites without code in a user-friendly interface. Webflow generates semantic code based on your design, so you don’t have to.

3. Customer relationship management (CRM). Track and manage interactions you have with your customers, from initial engagement to long-term nurturing through the customer lifecycle.

  • Our pick: Salesforce. A CRM that enables cross-functional collaboration across teams of any size. Bonus? Their AppExchange features over 7,000 third-party apps built to integrate seamlessly with the CRM.

4. Marketing automation platform (MAP). Build, send, and track messaging campaigns, including web and mobile messaging (such as email, SMS, push notifications, and in-app messages). 

  • Our pick: Journeys. A data-driven MAP, Journeys makes it easy to send personalized messages to your customers. Highlights include a powerful segmentation engine, flexible data integrations, and a sophisticated workflow builder. 

5. Customer analytics. Analyze campaign and strategy performance to refine marketing techniques based on real insight.

  • Our pick: Mixpanel. An advanced analytics platform, Mixpanel helps businesses track, analyze, and visualize user interactions with their digital products in real time.

6. Social media management. Create and schedule posts across social media platforms and measure performance. 

  • Our pick: Buffer. With just enough features to enact a sophisticated social strategy and track meaningful metrics, Buffer makes social media management easy.  

7. Search engine optimization (SEO). Research keywords, analyze your website’s SEO performance, and optimize performance in organic search.

  • Our pick: Semrush. An all-in-one SEO platform for conducting keyword research, competitor analysis, content optimization, link building, and much more.

Recommended reading: Our favorite tools to integrate with our customer data platform

Other martech tools to consider

Depending on your product, industry, and business goals, you may need additional categories in your stack. And don’t forget about operational tools; software not explicitly devoted to executing marketing strategies is still a crucial part of your ecosystem. A few you might consider: 

  • Search engine marketing (SEM): ConversionIQ, WordStream 
  • Product analytics: Amplitude, Heap
  • Digital advertising: Google Ads, Quokka
  • Online events: Eventbrite, Livestorm
  • Customer support: Help Scout, Zendesk 
  • Automation: Zapier, n8n
  • Databases and data warehouses: Snowflake, PostgreSQL
  • Communication: Slack, WhatsApp
  • Project management: Asana, Trello

How to build a martech stack in 6 steps

The ideal martech stack for your brand will be unique, reflecting the nuances of your business goals, audience, and operational structure. Before exploring different software options, you’ll need to ask yourself some important questions to zero in on the right components for your marketing stack. After all, technology is only as good as the business value it delivers. 

1. Define your strategy

Take a look at the big picture. How do marketing, sales, and customer success departments work together? What outcomes are you aiming for, and what tactics will support them? How do you intend to transform your marketing in the next few years? What data silos currently exist between teams? How well do your current processes support your KPIs?

Poll your teams for insights; the people using martech tools daily—or creating manual workarounds—can give you vital information about current challenges and opportunities. These considerations will help you define the strategy behind the martech stack you’re building: what you’re trying to achieve and how you’ll get there. 

2. Understand your audience

If you still need to map out your customer lifecycle, now’s the time. When you know your audience and how they behave, you’ll have a clear picture of the tools you need in your stack. 

Leverage your market research to determine the channels where your potential customers spend their time. Mine your data to see which campaigns get the most engagement. Look for the holes in your messaging throughout the customer journey.

3. Identify the types of martech tools you need

With your strategy and audience insights in mind, you can begin to identify the types of tools you need, as well as how they interact. For example, if you’re highly focused on lead generation, you might need to add search engine marketing (SEM) and advertising tools to your stack. If your audience engages most on their phones, you’ll want robust mobile messaging capabilities in your MAP. 

Based on your analysis, sketch a martech stack diagram that captures the types of tools you need and the capabilities you must cover within each category. 

Recommended reading: The secret to successful omnichannel marketing? Personalization

4. Audit your current martech stack

Before you start building from scratch, Take a careful look at what you’re already using, including tools you’ve built internally and third-party tools. Are teams using different tools that have the same primary functionality? Which tools have features you’re not currently leveraging? Are you using any legacy technology that might be less effective than new options?

Remember to look at your operations as well. Where do you see a lot of friction in your workflows? Is there duplication of effort across roles or teams? What data is siloed within one department that others could use? Do you have manual processes to compensate for martech tools that don’t integrate with each other? Are all stakeholders’ needs met effectively?

Use this intel to flesh out your martech stack diagram with more specifics about the kinds of tools you need in each category. Then, draw up a list of the things you need to replace or add to your stack.

5. Assess your options

Now, you’re ready to start researching martech tools to add to your stack. These considerations can help you evaluate how well each option aligns with your strategy: 

  • Features. What is the core functionality you need, and how well does the tool perform? Does it have additional features; if so, do they actually provide value to your specific use case? Will this tool scale when your business does?
  • Technical specs. What are the tool’s technical requirements? Does it work seamlessly with your existing infrastructure (including hardware and core operational software)? How much tech expertise or training will your teams need to use it?
  • Security. Does the tool have strong security features? Does it comply with GDPR and other privacy laws? Does it comply with any security and privacy concerns specific to your industry?
  • Integrations. Your martech stack should function as a well-oiled machine, meaning all your tools must work together. Assess how the tool integrates with your existing systems and the other tools you’re considering, and ensure it has a secure API to transfer data. 

6. Test the waters

Implementing any new tool, not to mention an entire martech stack, can represent a significant time investment. Before you dive into a full commitment, do a pilot with each new component. Take advantage of a free trial if that’s an option, and put the tool through its paces with a single campaign or initiative. 

Review the results with your teams to ensure it actually solves the problems you have and gets the results you’re after. 

Martech stack examples by industry

When in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to look to your peers for martech stack options! Let’s look at how companies in different industries build their stacks based on their unique business needs and goals.


Riding the wave of innovation in financial services, FinTech companies demand a unique set of tools in their marketing technology stack. Whether streamlining financial transactions, enhancing customer engagement, or staying ahead of regulatory changes, the right technology helps move the FinTech industry forward.

Company: Klar

Klar is revolutionizing Mexico’s personal finance industry. They provide a secure, free digital platform for customers to receive credit decisions in three minutes or less. We looked at their martech stack to understand what tools are helping power their growth. Here are four key components:

  • Marketing automation platform:
  • Behavioral analytics: Hotjar
  • Content management system: Webflow
  • Media buying: The Trade Desk

IoT (Internet of Things)

When the digital and physical worlds combine, data-driven marketing becomes all the more essential. Ingesting data from customer devices and translating it rapidly into insight enables personalized, real-time communication for Internet of Things (IoT) businesses.

Company: Mysa

Mysa is a creator of smart thermostats that help people save energy. Their customers trust them with one of the most important aspects of their lives: the safety and comfort of their homes. Beth Saunders, Mysa’s Data and Analytics Manager, shared four of the company’s favorite martech tools: 

  • Marketing automation platform: 
  • Customer analytics platform: Amplitude
  • Customer data platform: Segment 
  • Workflow automation platform: Zapier 


As marketplaces strive to connect buyers and sellers online, they need a technology stack that can power personalized experiences.

Company: Wedio

Wedio connects folks in the film industry with video equipment for rent. Segmentation plays a critical role in their marketing strategy; they need a powerful set of marketing technology to make every interaction count. Here are four key tools they rely on for personalized marketing:

  • Marketing automation platform:
  • Live chat:
  • E-commerce: Shopify
  • Payments: Stripe


In the fast-paced world of Software as a Service (SaaS), harnessing insights from user interactions and swiftly translating them into meaningful outcomes is critical. As a result, SaaS companies understand the value of a tailored martech stack.

Company: Zipchat

Zipchat provides e-commerce companies an AI-driven sales chatbot to power sales conversations with customers. Their CMO, Luca Borreani, shared a few examples of martech tools he recommends. Here are a few examples:

  • Marketing automation platform:
  • Productivity: Notion
  • Content management system: Webflow
  • Customer analytics: Mixpanel


From schools offering online classes to apps that teach new skills, EdTech companies need tools that help them engage learners throughout their journey. 

Company: HeyLama

HeyLama is an e-learning provider that helps you master languages through hands-on learning powered by AI. Here’s a selection of tools they have in their martech stack:

  • Marketing automation platform:
  • Customer data platform: Segment
  • Productivity: Notion
  • Workflow automation: Make
Building a martech stack: HeyLama


In the Healthcare industry, bringing in new patients and nurturing long-term relationships calls for tools that personalize interactions—while maintaining strict HIPAA compliance.


HealthMatch is a digital health company revolutionizing how patients connect to clinical trials. They need scalable technology solutions to drive revenue and support targeted messaging campaigns. Here are a few of the tools in their martech stack:

  • Marketing automation platform:
  • Customer data platform: Rudderstack
  • Customer analytics: Amplitude
  • Customer relationship management: Hubspot

Building a martech stack that delivers results

Even with a clear strategy, it’s easy to get off track, both when initially building a martech stack and maintaining it over the long term. A few handy tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid “shiny object syndrome.” Evaluate whether the features actually add value to your needs—and can integrate well with your current tech stack.
  • Invest in onboarding and training. Devote time to training all team members, not just on using new tools but also on updated workflows and collaboration processes.
  • Institute annual audits. Tweak your strategy according to your evolving business goals, review your tools to make sure they’re still delivering the best value, and gather your teams’ insights about what may need to be optimized. 

At the end of the day, any technology you use is only as good as the strategy behind it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the massive number of tools available or intrigued by the latest cool features. So remember that building a martech stack is ultimately about understanding your brand’s entire landscape.

Using a single vendor for both your CDP and marketing automation is a great place to start when building your martech stack—and it can help keep costs down. For example, Journeys includes free use of the Data Pipelines Starter plan. You can try them both with a free 14-day trial today!