As VCs Push Founders to Do More with Less, ‘Hiring’ The Right Martech Stack Can Make Or Break Your Startup

By Grant McDougall, CEO and Co-Founder, BlueOcean

Growth at all costs is being replaced by cost-cutting for many startups right now.

As the foreshadowing of an economic downturn intensifies, startup founders are feeling renewed focus, and pressure from VCs to extend runway and double down on serving and scaling up customer count.

Even in this shaky time, startups will be well-served to balance cost-cutting measures with a focus on building an agile brand that can engage customers and outperform competitors in today’s market and in the future. To achieve this balance, startups should take a look at smart martech investments that enable a lean organization to still be lively and responsive.

A survey commissioned in 2020 by the Robert Half staffing firm revealed an ugly truth about hiring: A little over three-fourths of senior managers admit they’ve hired the wrong candidate for a job. This can be a costly mistake for employers, especially startups, which already face a mountain of obstacles.

But I’d argue that just as costly for a startup is “hiring” the wrong martech platform. From a marketing perspective, startups differ from established businesses—they don’t have an established brand position, and they have limited personnel and smaller budgets. Therefore, I strongly believe that startups should choose their martech stack (all of the digital marketing tools in a company’s toolkit) as wisely as they make the hires on their marketing team.

The Importance Of Martech For Startups

These days, marketing automation is a key requirement for startups. I’ve seen how it improves customer satisfaction, maximizes the return on investment and helps lean teams work more efficiently. Simply put, automation takes manual tasks out of the hands of humans, freeing them up to spend more time on executing a startup’s marketing strategy, responding to changing market conditions, and increasing a startup’s revenue.

Automation can give a startup a big advantage when it comes to building your brand footprint across all touchpoints, including email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, paid search and other digital marketing campaigns. Benefits of marketing automation for startups include:

  • Workflow automation.
  • Better email optimization.
  • Improved nurturing of leads.
  • Increased lead conversions.
  • Better collaboration between sales and marketing teams.
  • Improved tracking and analysis of customer data.
  • Faster optimization of growth strategies.

More broadly speaking, the right martech stack can make a startup while the wrong martech stack (or no stack at all) can break a startup. What do I mean by that?

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One statistic helps underscore the make-or-break proposition of robust martech. By one account, organizations that embrace marketing automation see a bump in revenue of more than 7%. Given that only 40% of startups turn a profit, a 7% rise in revenue can mean the difference between a startup staying in business and shutting down.

Startup Grind sums it up the need for marketing automation this way:

Automated marketing can do a lot to reduce growing pains for startups while letting them compete on the same level as their larger counterparts. By providing the ability to accurately target audiences and convey brand messaging with less effort, the sales process can be made far more consistent and effective.

To put it succinctly, the right martech platform can help a startup compete with rivals of all sizes, build their brand, make more money and keep the lights on during these challenging times. Investing in marketing automation is a small price to pay to ensure your startup stays alive and thrives in the longer term.

Being SMART About Picking A Platform

Since startups and other businesses spend around one-fourth of their marketing budgets on marketing technology, I maintain that choosing the right platform is critical. Startups can’t afford to waste their precious resources on the wrong martech—martech that could wind up losing money.

Before selecting the right marketing automation software, a startup must assess its marketing objectives. I recommend asking questions like these five when you’re undertaking this assessment:

  1. How easily does this software integrate into my organization?
  2. Can both the sales and marketing team use it?
  3. Can I customize the marketing automation software as per my needs?
  4. Can I track registered lead and consumer behavior on our website and landing page?
  5. Does this platform have the potential to scale sufficiently as my business grows?

I encourage you to set marketing objectives that are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Adopting this approach can lead to smarter decisions about your marketing objectives and ultimately can set you up for greater success. Considering that 90% of startups fail, and 10% fail within the first year, you certainly want to be smart about your marketing objectives.

At the end of the day, choosing the right martech stack can make or break a startup. So, do you want your startup to be among the 10% that stay in business or the 90% that fail? If you answered the former rather than the latter, it’s vital to ensure the martech platform you embrace won’t be a decision that you eventually regret.

As you contemplate your martech needs, let me leave you with this article for suggestions on marketing automation software to consider for your startup.

What other martech tools have you found to be helpful when building your startup?

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