Five by Five: The Top 5 Marketing Ops Tech Stack Categories & Tools

The MarTech landscape is bigger than ever in 2023 – standing at 11,000+ solutions (an 11% increase from last year). Yet, this doesn’t necessarily mean marketing operations teams are eager to continue adding tools to their stack.

In fact, we’ve seen the opposite. Marketing operations teams are starting to reconsider the tools in their MarTech stack and cut back where possible. Not to mention, all the effort it takes for marketing operations teams to manage integrations and systems architecture.

Whether that’s due to teams trying to cut budget or coming to the realization that a bigger tech stack doesn’t always mean a better tech stack, it can be challenging to know which tools are providing value and which tools are just adding more noise and stress to your team’s workload.

In an effort to help your marketing operations teams navigate the complexities of a tech stack, we’ve compiled a list of the top categories of MarTech, along with several callouts of our favorite tools in each category.

Use these categories as a way to consider what tools you should have in your stack (relative to the market trends) and as a reminder to audit for some other tools in your stack too. It’s hard to keep up with all the products in your tech stack, we hope this helps you create your checklist!

#1 – Marketing Automation Platforms

The 2022 State of the Marketing Ops Professional report revealed that the most popular marketing automation platform was Marketo Engage.

Since most marketing operations teams are content with their marketing automation platforms (not to mention, most have been using theirs for 3+ years), this explains the need for products that seamlessly integrate with their existing systems. We all know that migrating data and changing software systems can be a pain, which is why many teams avoid this unless it’s absolutely necessary. 

So, if you are part of the rare group that is looking for a new marketing automation platform, here are our preferred platforms:

  1. Marketo Engage
  2. Hubspot
  3. Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  4. Salesforce Pardot 
  5. MailChimp

#2 – iPaaS

As defined by IBM, iPaaS, or Integration-Platform-as-a-Service, is a self-service cloud-based solution that standardizes how applications are integrated. 

iPaas tools allow your team to seamlessly and programmatically move data from one system to another without breaking a sweat. iPaas enables your marketing operations team to identify inefficiencies, automate manual tasks, and ultimately do more with less. 

iPaas enables your team to automate tedious tasks such as list uploads, manual deduplication, data cleansing and normalization, campaign creation, and much more. 

MERGE’s Marketo User Study report revealed that iPaas continues to be the hottest emerging technology in the marketing operations space, with the number of survey respondents who integrate iPaas with Marketo Engage doubling from 2022 to 2023. It was also revealed that 34.8% of respondents reported iPaas as important or extremely important! 

Here are the leading iPaas platforms: 

  1. Workato
  2. Informatica
  3. Oracle Integration Cloud
  4. MuleSoft 
  5. Zapier 

# 3 – BI and Reporting Tools

As a marketing operations team, you’ve got to be able to demonstrate your team’s accomplishments through reporting and data visualizations. It’s known that organizations with advanced analytics capabilities are 2x more likely to be in the top quartile of financial performance within their industries, yet marketing operations professionals have long struggled to prove the impact of their work. 

So, what tools will help your team get ahead and prove the impact of your work? Here are our preferred BI and reporting tools: 

  1. Domo 
  2. Tableau 
  3. Zoho Analytics 
  4. Microsoft Power BI
  5. QlikView 

It’s also worth noting that Marketo’s native reporting functionality is growing in popularity. The 2023 Marketo User Study revealed that the number of respondents who leverage Marketo Engage for a majority of their reporting nearly doubled from 2022 to 2023. 

💡 Want to break down reporting silos? MERGE’s Marketo reporting dashboards, developed by MERGE’s BI experts, aim to empower marketing operations teams with actionable data on campaign and database performance. Learn more here!

# 4 – Project Management Software 

Project management platforms save the average employee 498 hours per year (SaaS List). It goes without saying that project management platforms are a crucial component of any tech stack. Since most marketing operations teams are already operating at capacity, project management tools help your team manage deadlines and ensure projects are running on time and within budget.

Project management platforms ensure your team is held accountable for a project’s success and on track with the defined milestones and objectives. Most importantly, it helps ensure alignment with key stakeholders and business requirements. 

So, what are the leading project management tools for marketing operations teams? Here are our preferred platforms:

  1. Jira
  2. Trello
  4. Asana
  5. Smartsheet

# 5 – Customer Relationship Management Software

CRMs enable your team to effectively manage relationships and touchpoints with both existing and potential customers. If your team wants to gain real-time insights into how relationships are progressing, leveraging a CRM will equip your team with insights into customer behavior, preferences, and touchpoints. 

The 2022 State of the Marketing Ops Professional revealed that Salesforce was the most popular CRM tool amongst marketing operations professionals. Check out the remaining four CRMs below:

  1. Salesforce
  2. Marketo Engage 
  3. Microsoft Dynamics 
  4. Pardot
  5. HubSpot

# 7 – Conversational Marketing Platform

Conversational marketing platforms enable your marketing operations team to build stronger relationships with potential customers. With 90% of respondents from a HubSpot survey reporting that an immediate response is important or very important, there’s never been a better time to experiment with conversational marketing. 

Here are the leading conversational marketing platforms: 

  1. Drift 
  2. Birdeye 
  3. Intercom
  4. ActiveCampaign
  5. Qualified 

We couldn’t conclude this article without mentioning AI platforms. We’ve all heard of ChatGPT by now – here are some additional tools you may want to explore:

  1. Jasper
  2. Adobe Sensei
  3. Acquisio
  4. Pictory 

At the end of the day, there’s no one-shoe-fit-all when it comes to your team’s MarTech stack. Want to learn how to select the tools that matter to your team, and how to detect your tech stack is bloated? Take a look at this article, where we dive into how to audit your tech stack.

Curious to learn more insights from the marketing operations experts at MERGE? Sign up here.

About The Author — Lindsay DiLemmo
Lindsay DiLemmo

Content Manager @ Perkuto + MERGE

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