Bloated marketing stacks are real.
Teams buy apps and other martech to solve problems, but having too many creates new problems. Context-switching drains productivity, and trapped data leads to missed revenue opportunities.
The rise of revenue operations, or revops, as a way to drive efficient, predictable revenue offers significant promise, but it doesn't solve the problem of bloat. Revops teams often buy even more software, adding to a fragmented, overly complicated stack.
Companies embracing revops would be wise to rethink the mindset that "there's an app for that."
The Growth of Data Silos
"Data silos" usually means data trapped in different departments of a company. Surprisingly, the adoption of SaaS has created data silos within the marketing department itself.
Marketers often view the CRM system as the heart of their stack—the "single source of truth"—but that's a misleading description. Plenty of valuable data is trapped in other tech across the company that revenue teams have no ownership of or even access to, so they miss out on valuable data in areas such as product usage.
Even tools within the martech stack itself such as social ad platforms and website analytics tools are notorious for trapping data.
For marketers, much of that data is a goldmine, especially when combined with CRM data. So how can marketers tackle stack bloat while still accessing the information they need?
Four Ways to Tackle Martech Stack Bloat
1. Embrace minimalism
To combat stack bloat, some have considered "Marie Kondo-ing" the stack itself. There are certainly many software solutions that do not spark joy, and there are also cost savings from reducing subscriptions.
If things have gotten out of hand, tech stack minimalism can be a great way to focus the team on what is most important. Fewer applications to log into means fewer data silos, which is always a good thing.
A core argument of minimalism is that having less enables a maximization and appreciation of what remains. Odds are that most applications in a typical stack are underused, and there may be redundant ones that can be consolidated into a single tool.
Tech stack minimalism is a valid response to stack bloat, but it's not the only response, because many solutions are truly are mission-critical.
2. Rethink data architecture
Nowhere has martech bloat caused more damage than data architecture. Internal "marketecture" slides were once readable, but the model today is made far more complex by data lakes, BI tools, analytics platforms, and more.
The real problem is that no company's tech stack was built overnight; everyone's is a collection of bolted-together tools and platforms acquired gradually. Each choice may have been strategic at the time, but priorities change.
Data architecture is rarely prioritized as it should be, especially in Marketing and Sales, where quick wins that drive revenue win out.
Reassessing the data model might lead you back to app minimalism: Maybe you'll find that some solutions are not a fit for your optimal architecture. Or it could push you to reconsider the integrations offered by vendors in your stack.
3. Reconsider native integrations
If you had to guess the No. 1 priority in marketing automation platform purchases, you would probably say performance or features, but you would be wrong. The No. 1 priority is integration with the rest of the marketing stack. I've seen marketing teams eliminate innovative, best-of-breed apps from the software evaluation process just because they didn't play nice with the rest of the stack.
Performance athletes don't compromise on their equipment, and performance marketers shouldn't , either. Settling for second best restricts revenue growth and holds marketers back from their full potential, but it is all too common.
If marketers really want to embrace high performance, they should reconsider their reliance on native integrations and take more control over the API connections between their tools.
I once heard a technology leader describe a bolted-together martech stack as "a house with no hallways or doors." His point was that most demand gen teams should be able to visualize leads walking in the front door of a social ad platform, such as LinkedIn, crawling through the window of a marketing automation platform, and sneaking through the air conditioning vents into the CRM.
It doesn't make sense, but this is the state of the typical revenue stack today: Each app manages the data for a time in a waterfall flow, from conversion point to marketing automation to data enrichment to lead router to Salesforce. The data changes at each point, the versions of it at the points before become outdated; any failure in the flow can have consequences later on.
Taking control of API connections and leaving native integrations behind not only gives marketers more control over their data but also empowers them to move beyond the "stack" view of martech and embrace a more modern approach.
4. Embrace composability
Forward-looking revenue teams are rethinking their revops stack. Rather than seeing their tools as a collection of Lego bricks in a rigid tower, they see the entirety of their data and applications as clay to be sculpted into something customized to fit their own processes.
Empowered by low-code tools, marketing teams are now empowered to customize the technology to fit their own process rather than the other way around.
Moving from processes that are shaped by your technology to shaping the technology to match your processes is an important step. It's a powerful source of differentiation, and something Gartner calls the composable enterprise.
What does that look like in practice? Perhaps it's a marketing team replacing a content delivery tool with something custom-built in Airtable, or a sales development team surfacing data from Salesforce at the right moment in Slack.
Any time marketers can reuse an app to build something custom or eliminate log-in steps, the stack bloat and the data silo problems shrink.
As marketers, we need to achieve harmony in the stack. Only when martech stack bloat is overcome can we fulfill the promise of revops, quickly orchestrating and optimizing customer experiences across revenue teams and tech stacks to unearth trapped revenue opportunities.
It takes speed, agility, and freedom from code for someone in revops to quickly update the lead flow or adapt to a new tool in the stack.
Ultimately, taming the stack empowers more people to bring creative ideas to life that benefit customers. The promise of no-code development is here, and innovative marketers should be prepared to take advantage of it.
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