UA managers of DTC brands know all too well—the marketing tech stack options seem pretty much endless. It’s like software platforms, plug-ins, and tools galore, yet there’s barely enough time to sift through the pros and cons of each.
What we’re saying here about endless options is no exaggeration—check out this infographic of nearly 7,000 martech solutions (don’t let the “5,000” name throw you off, it’s actually 6,829 as of 2020!)
Marketing tech stacks are hardly one-size-fits all. The combination of services used should be personal and unique to each brand, and team members should be able to use them in the way that makes the most sense for them. There are many elements to growth marketing that have become optimized with the addition of tech counterparts. From advertising, to promotions, to LTV predictive solutions, to data visualization/management and more—there’s much that growth teams need to consider to ensure they are equipped with everything needed to achieve maximum success.
How to figure out the right growth marketing tech stack
As with any other objective, teams must first zero in on their priorities and goals for the tech stack. Would they be used to optimize campaigns across major ad networks? Would they be needed to identify users with high LTV? Would they be needed for A/B testing purposes with different creatives or signals sent to networks? Increase organic traffic? Get more visitors to convert? What about retention efforts?
It will also be a real timesaver for the team to establish (early on) who the top tech wiz’s are that will take the lead on all the busywork. That includes research, organization, and rollout of the tech stack. It can get time-consuming, so you might wanna cut them some slack. After all, there are many needs that would need to be addressed, but one of the biggest priorities would be which tools would bring the greatest ROI.
Everything also needs to check out with existing systems and processes smoothly. In one of our previous blog posts on questions to ask before onboarding a new predictive solution for user-acquisition, one of the questions is, “Is the new solution made for your business model and martech stack?” The principle behind it applies across the board with any type of solution. It’s important to double-check that the solutions being considered can support your business model and integrate with the rest of your martech stack.
The types of tools used by “the modern” growth team
It goes without saying that the business landscape changed a great deal since the onset of the pandemic, and those changes trickled down to many elements of growth marketing and user acquisition. In the post-pandemic world, growth teams are keeping a more refined set of tools and solutions in their arsenal, that essentially kill two birds with one stone. These tools are being used to enhance the results stemming from content marketing, performance marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, data analysis, and more.
Additionally, marketing teams are beginning to migrate from siloed tools, to all-in-one solutions that can help facilitate the alignment of cross-functional teams, like marketing and product—to work together in harmony with greater speed and efficiency. They are also gearing towards plug-and-play solutions with AI and ML components, which help them achieve their UA goals without the need to constantly turn to R&D or engineering teams for assistance.
On that note, as marketing becomes more omnichannel driven, channels and software islands need to be connected through API integrations and data warehouses. This is why growth teams are looking into API-centric tools, for greater empowerment within the free-flowing exchange of data between tools, systems, and channels. They are also investing in tools that use historical data for LTV UA optimization, and to better understand the customer and their journey, to deliver more tailored content and experiences to the right customers at the right time.
Foundational UA and martech solutions
Of course, a post like this cannot be written without shining light on some of the most trusted tools that UA managers like you turn to, to make life a helluva lot easier.
For your performance marketing needs
Before diving into the list of tools for performance marketing, let’s talk a little about the context behind pull, and push marketing.
Pull Marketing (basically search) involves naturally accruing traffic. Today, every channel that uses search has an algorithm that you can learn and leverage for success. Here, the reasoning is to create high-value content that is suited for your target audiences, and let them come to you. Pull marketing is typically the primary business strategy for companies looking to:
- maintain dominance in a specific niche or industry
- understand the competitor’s landscape and make actions
- promote brand recognition with customer engagement and visibility
- gain new valuable users while maintaining revenue affordably.
To use keywords correctly, they should be integrated into the content, headlines, meta tags, and search descriptions in a way that feels natural to the reader, not forced. Additionally, search marketing teams should analyze lesser-used search terms that they may be able to monopolize. On that note, finding the right keywords is not easy and understanding the entire market can be immensely challenging. Therefore UA managers tend to use tools like SEMrush or Similarweb, as they can expand market opportunities for finding the most valued keywords, in addition to the need of finding the top valued users who are in the stage of an action or looking for information.
Push Marketing revolves around what you offer to customers through your marketing. For instance, you can push your products via marketing ads on social media, as commonly seen on Facebook. User acquisition managers use direct marketing to explore target audiences for their brand products or services while using the likes of video ads, banners, and email campaigns.
Here are some examples of tools that will assist with tasks that fall under the performance marketing umbrella:
There isn’t one single way to describe what UA optimization is, considering the many branches of it. But as we like to say when we talk about our own signal optimization technology—UA optimization refers to adding in some growth superpowers. This is due to the fact that UA optimization is otherwise solely done on the ad platforms themselves (within their constraints,) such as FB, Google, Snap, and more. There are many solutions that help a great deal with UA campaign optimization by helping to automate Facebook campaign bidding and management, such as Nanigans, and Smartly.
Experimentation and incrementality
Okay, so we’re gonna put these two terms together, cause they kinda go hand-in-hand in practice.
Experimentation refers to A/B testing, and incrementality (in terms of growth marketing) refers to the incremental benefit generated per unit of action taken. More specifically, it places focus on the lift in desired outcome (events such as web visits, conversion, revenue, etc.) that is provided by marketing activity (activities such as ads run and campaigns launched.)
The Optimizely Full Stack is used by the likes of IBM and Atlassian for its A/B testing capabilities, and the way its marketing automation features help nurture prospects with personalized content that will help convert them to customers. The VWO testing platform is oftentimes compared to Optimizely. What can we say? Different strokes for different folks! VWO is particularly awesome because of the speedy element. With it, both non-technical and technical users can design and launch new experiments quickly. Similar alternatives include Google Optimize, and Crazy Egg.
Omniconvert is primarily known as being a conversion rate optimization tool, which by extension can be used for things that branch out of it. This includes A/B testing, traffic segmentation, online surveys, incrementality, and more. You might want to put a gold star next to this one, because these guys won awards for their tools.
As its name indicates—AB Tasty is about A/B testing, but it also offers feature management, experimentation, and personalization solutions. This is kind of where market, product, and tech teams intersect, to be able to quickly kickstart campaigns in a matter of days. With over 900 enterprise clients, and running for over 10 years, it’s safe to say that they are pretty solid.
Convert is known for its simplicity, and can be used by DTC brands, and mobile apps alike. It’s an affordable option that offers A/B testing, split testing, multivariate testing, multipage experiments, and more. It’s a good value, and they have a very responsive support team.
When it comes to measuring your marketing channels and your digital assets, there are a few other tools worth keeping in your arsenal. You can measure your website and understand user’s journey in your site by using tools such as Hotjar. You can also test your websites efficiency with and understand user behavior with tools such as good ol’ Google analytics, Amplitude Analytics, and Mixpanel.
Tools that fall under the customer retention umbrella
It’s not always about charming over new customers, because you also need to keep the existing ones interested and wanting more! And as with any other romance, communication is key. It is the first step in developing strategies to keep existing customers on board, and happens to cost way less than gaining new customers.
Outreach: Email Marketing, Surveys, Social Media Marketing
There are multiple ways to obtain feedback from existing customers. Three of the methods that reign supreme on this front are email marketing, surveys, and social media marketing,
If you choose to take the email route, you might enjoy using a standard favorite service for many UA managers: MailChimp. Once your customers are on your email list, you can market to them for life… or at least until they unsubscribe. So don’t overwhelm them with emails. 😉
One of the most foolproof ways to manage and measure social media channels is by using Hootsuite, which is widely used by brands of all sizes for its many features and functionalities.
When it comes to survey tools, you can’t go wrong with the classics: Typeform; Google forms; and the super customizable SurveyMonkey. You can use Unbounce to quickly and easily create beautiful custom landing pages for your surveys, and in general they can help convert more website visitors into customers.
To add some branded pizzazz to your digital assets, both emails, surveys, and beyond, there is Canva, which offers a wide range of helpful templates to help create assets for anything. Canva alternatives (for more advanced designers) include Visme, Snappa, and Adobe Creative Cloud.
It’s important that you try to be creative with the way you create surveys. After all, a unique user experience will help you with your answer rate. It will also assist you, as an advertiser, understand your valued users better, and reach out to them with better offers and deals that are tailor-made for them.
...which brings us to our next point—personalization.
Personalization is naturally about creating customized experiences for each customer or prospect. This is practiced when personalizing a landing page to reflect a customer's location or using dynamic ads.
Smartlook offers analytics for both websites and mobile apps, and offers features that allow teams to find useful information (even in thousands of recordings) in no time. Cxense and Qwardo are both optimized for lead capture, and scan how users behave on your site (and at which point they hit snooze.)
Data Visualization and Analysis
The suite of tools that developers use to visualize their data and parse through KPIs is vast.
Google Analytics is an excellent way to measure overall website performance, and most marketing teams use it for marketing analysis.
Oribi is a newer analytics tool that is dedicated to marketing teams, and focused on easy automated insights. Despite its newer status, reviews show that many marketing teams find it to be more insightful than Google Analytics, due to the UX being more user-friendly, seamless interface, and guided step-by-steps. Funnels, events, and journeys can be created within a matter of minutes. If you’re looking for simplicity, you definitely should check Oribi out.
Now let’s talk a little bit about privacy changes. Significant privacy changes have occurred lately, shifting how advertisers act and think of gaining new customers. Even mid-level marketers who were collecting data mostly from ad networks can’t rely on third-party data anymore and are willing to collect data differently and expand their efforts to manage their user’s raw data. Today, advertisers need to collect data from different data sources. They need to combine - user’s website behavior, ad networks’ raw data, zero-party data, user’s raw data all in one place. Free tools such as GA4 can help you collect this data from all different sources, and therefore connect BigQuery which enables you to manage and analyze your data with built-in features like machine learning, geospatial analysis, and business intelligence.
Data modeling is all about making data sets easier to understand through the marketing lens. Or, formally speaking, it refers to the process of identifying, analyzing, displaying, and communicating data sets, allowing them to be more easily understood so that you can use them to make marketing decisions.
The following tools will help your team make sense of data, and determine how to harness it for marketing purposes.
First off, there is Looker, which is a part of Google Cloud, and supports multiple data sources. The service prides itself in “delivering data experiences that support all the ways modern organizations make decisions.” It does so by turning business intelligence into workflows. Tableau also works in a similar fashion in terms of simple manipulation. Amplitude is recommended for heavier analysis. There are also developers that choose to build this layer of the stack in-house with a simple web-based dashboard interface using a graphical library such as D3.js.
There are also additional tools out there that can help you understand your audience better by analyzing your brand’s data, along with that of customers. You can save your raw data in one place by using services such as BigQuery and Snowflake. If you’re looking to analyze (with SQL) your audience and their activity in your digital assets, My SQL would be the way to go.
There is also Metabase, which is an open source business intelligence tool. It lets you ask questions about your data, and displays answers in formats that make sense, whether that’s a bar graph or a detailed table. It only takes about five mins to install, and may initially look plain, but the experience gets better the more you use it and add to your dashboard.
For the non-technical among us, there is Holistics. This service enables (the rest of us) users to get access to analytics without having to bother data teams. Once raw data is stored in a data warehouse, data teams use Holistics to transform, model the data and prepare well-defined datasets and reports for key data consumers. Time saver!
If your DTC brand also has a mobile app that users can shop from, you’ll find the “Big Four” attribution platforms for apps particularly helpful.
The “Big Four'' apps are Tune, AppsFlyer, Kochava, and Adjust. FYI—these services are awesome, but you need to bear in mind that they solely cater to mobile, and are not built to accommodate other forms of advertising.
When it comes to traffic acquisition, there are companies that connect publishers and advertisers, such as Vungle, AdColony, etc.), and Mobile Exchanges (such as Smaato, Applift, AOL’s ONE, and Twitter’s MoPub.
Building a marketing tech stack for any company is all about integrating the right technologies together so they’re working cooperatively instead of independently. Bear in mind however, that while it is important to have the right tools, it is also crucial to have the right team set in place, to gain value from these tools.
Gone are the days of solely relying on legacy tools, as we are now in the age of options for growth teams that combine power with versatility and ease of use.