A cost effective Sales & Marketing tech stack for early stage SaaS companies
May 21, 2020
Your marketing “tech stack” is the set of technologies your organization uses to execute and analyze marketing across the customer lifecycle, and scale your business. The key goal of your marketing tech stack is to measure the impact of your marketing activities - making difficult processes easier.
What we call a marketing “tech stack” is the set of technologies/platforms an organization uses to execute and analyze their marketing across the customer lifecycle, and scale their business. The key goal of your marketing tech stack is to measure the impact of your marketing activities - making difficult processes significantly easier along the way.
The process of deciding which tools will make it into your tech stack can seem daunting when the marketing technology landscape is growing at such a rapid pace. As of 2020, there are over 8,000 Martech solutions available -- up 13.6% from 2019, (source: Scott Brinker).
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Before deciding which marketing technologies are right for your organization, one key component you should have in place is a solid customer relationship management software, also known as a CRM. The purpose of the CRM is to manage a company’s interaction with current and potential customers, and help companies stay connected to customers while streamlining processes and improving profitability. Your prospects and customers may be contacting you via a multitude of platforms including email, phone, or social media. Without a common platform to house all of the data surrounding customer and prospect interactions, communications can be missed or lost in the flood of information.
You will need a solid CRM that can integrate seamlessly with the rest of your marketing stack. The most popular choice is Salesforce CRM, however this depends on the size of your organization and the technical experience of your team. If you are not in a position where paying for Salesforce makes sense yet for your company, we recommend using HubSpot’s free CRM tools. With their free version you can store up to a million contacts in your HubSpot database with an unlimited number of users on your team that can access that data. You also have access to some of the main tools you need to manage your database:
All features of HubSpot CRM
Email tracking & notifications
The next most important portion of your Sales and Marketing tech stack is your marketing automation software. Marketing automation software is a type of platform designed to help marketers capture leads, nurture them as they move down the funnel, and analyze lead behavior and campaign performance. Several key functionalities are: marketing emails, social media, web marketing, multi-channel marketing, and analytics. This software is often compared to the CRM as the two can have overlapping functions, but the main difference is that the CRM is often the main platform for Sales departments, while marketing automation platforms are made to scale and accelerate marketing efforts while making them still feel personalized and focused.
While Marketo is one of the most widely used marketing automation tools, it’s not very “startup friendly” as you would need to spend a minimum of $15K/year - and that’s without many of their functionalities. We recommend HubSpot Marketing Hub, as their pricing starts at $50/mo.
Email Marketing + Automation
Another marketing automation alternative that we recommend is focused mainly on email marketing, called ActiveCampaign. We connected it to our DemandGen Club website, so that we can automate the sending of newsletters and welcome emails. You can make every campaign feel personal by sending messages targeted to each contact’s interests, and you can also set up a series with email automation. Segment your contacts, or use simple workflows to automate the marketing day-to-day no one has time for. On the right is an example of a B2C workflow of which emails to send when a customer a) places an order, or b) abandons their cart.
If your company is at the phase where you are just looking to nurture leads via email and engage them with content on dedicated landing pages, we recommend using ActiveCampaign email marketing and automation with a landing page solution, such as the ones below.
Website and Landing Pages
Our main SaaSMQL website is hosted on Webflow, which allows us to quickly create new landing pages when needed for only $16/mo. There are other cheap options to consider such as Wordpress, but we have found these to be less user-friendly than Webflow, where you can build production-ready experiences without coding. If your team ends up investing in the paid version of HubSpot, you can take advantage of their landing page builder. If not, another great option we recommend is Leadpages. Their platform can be used to easily build websites, landing pages, pop-ups, alert bars, and more for $48/mo.
For more advanced data management and manipulation, we use AirTable to segment accounts and contacts, and to keep track of campaign records and responses via a system integration (such as Zapier). With AirTable, we are able to house all target accounts and link contacts/accounts to specific data such as location, account tier, revenue, and more. Moreover, we can integrate it with other systems such as our CRM, marketing automation software, and others to keep all data accurate and up to date on all platforms, and build real-time reports and dashboards..
The key to integrating all of these systems into our ABM Engine (shown below) is Zapier. This tool allows us to create “Zaps” that connect our apps to automate repetitive tasks, saving hours of work. It starts with a trigger ( i.e. someone registers for your event), and then a series of actions, such as send a welcome email, wait one week, send a reminder email, etc. You can also create more complicated workflows with custom UTM fields, such as:
LinkedIn Lead → Send to HubSpot (with UTMs) → Send to ActiveCampaign → Enroll in Nurture Sequence
Each time your Zap runs, it will automatically (and securely) send the information from one app to another. There is no coding required, making it a user-friendly tool for all levels of sales and marketing users. There is a free plan for up to 5 zaps, and then $19.99 for the Starter plan with 20 zaps.
There are thousands of tools and systems out there that could help you grow your business. However, instead of selecting tools based on just price or features, marketers must now consider all kinds of factors when building your “stack”. The first step is to ensure your team is working off of a solid CRM. Next, take a look at which stage of growth your organization is in, and decide on the right marketing automation, email marketing, and web/landing page softwares for your company. Finally, you will want a system that can tie all your other tools together, solidifying your marketing engine.
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SaaSMQL is a B2B growth agency that helps SaaS startups scaling revenue with highly-targeted campaigns.