Data driven marketing and understanding tech stacks

By Todd McPhee on Aug 23, 2017
Narrate this article

There’s a lot of talk in marketing circles about data, personalisation and data stacks. It can all feel pretty overwhelming and leave marketers unsure what the right solution is for them. I’ve seen stats that point to there being more than 3,500 marketing tech solution providers from which to chose. We’re a digital marketing and tech agency and it even makes our heads spin!

Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be writing a series of articles to try and help make some sense of it all and to guide you through the maze of terminology and options.

So, what is this Tech Stack thing?

A good definition I use is “a group of technologies that work together to drive efficient marketing activities”. There are two keys here, and the first is ‘work together’. You probably already have a series of technologies that you use for marketing tasks, such as a CMS, email and display advertising solutions, but do they ‘work together’? By ‘work together’ we mean can data flow seamlessly between them? The second key is ‘efficient marketing activities’. As a stack works together, it gives you a clearer overall picture of your marketing spend and influencers on conversion.

Why do I need a Tech Stack?

Well, there are a few reasons and one of them is mentioned above, efficiency. A tech stack should give you a feeling of ‘if we spend this much, we will make that much’. It will also help you understand where budgets should be assigned by giving you a full view of how each action (eg search, email, display, social) contributed to conversion.

Having a well engineered stack where data can flow between the technologies can mean you reduce the risk of potentially pissing off your audience by advertising to them 300 different times a day across display, social, email and search platforms. It also means you can avoid potentially risky situations like advertising a credit card offer to someone who has already been declined for that (or another) card, or advertising a travel destination to someone who just returned home from that destination after booking it with you.

Another reason for having a tech stack is to drive content personalisation. This next sentence now feels like a cliche, but here goes. Your stack will help you put the right message in front of the right person at the right time.

You will be able to test content and messaging that, over time will provide you with target audience profiling and interests. Then, generate content and messaging that is personalised for individuals to help increase conversion.

Here’s a simple illustration to explain that.

Test Messaging


Target Audience Messaging

                     Men’s Shoes                                                 Women’s Shoes


Personalised Messaging

      Business Shoes                                                         Running Shoes


Now, before you say ‘yeah, but the guy in the suit might want Running Shoes’, refer to my cliche sentence above, ‘right message, right person, right time’. That means our tech stack has told us the right personalised message for the guy in the suit right now is ‘Business Shoes’.

I hope that helps you understand what a Marketing Technology stack is. Now that you know a little more about a tech stack, keep your eyes out for the other articles in this series which will cover:

  1. Building your stack - what parts are required to have a tech stack
  2. Data & Reporting - what you should hope to get out of a tech stack
  3. Navigating the maze - What model is right for your and your business.


Todd’s been in the media industry for over 20 years. He founded Engaging in 2009 because he saw how digital was going to be able to deliver exciting and measurable returns for his clients. He still has the knack for identifying new and emerging tech that will impact the industry. He’s an honest man who really enjoys direct contact with his clients.

Get in touch, We love to talk