Setting up a smooth flow of information is essential to any functioning team. All of the data in the world isn't useful in silos—you need that flow to make connections, draw conclusions, and move forward.
Flow in your business's processes means constant movement between different tools and different people. This is essential in your marketing funnel, where your goal is to communicate value to your customer and keep prospects moving forwards towards conversion. The best marketing stack will make sure that information flows easily and smoothly, so prospects can also move quickly and successfully through your funnel to become customers.
A great marketing stack is made up of strong individual components with a strong circulation system. Information flows through your stack, and so do customers—you need to keep both moving.
To build a stack with the best flow, you should ask:
While there are many different ways to organize your stack, organizing it by each stage of the buyer's journey helps you think about how each tool moves buyers forward through stages: Problem awareness, Solution research, Solution comparison and evaluation, Trial and sign up, and Purchase decision.
At each stage, you use different solutions to help information and buyers progress.
We'll walk through the components of an ideal marketing stack for a fictional SaaS company that sells a productivity app—BuzzWorks. At each stage of the buyer's journey, we'll show the best tools that your team can use to move information through the funnel and move the buyer forward.
BuzzWorks wants to create brand awareness and build brand authority to capture potential customers at the very top of the funnel. This means using paid advertising and curating their social media presence. Their goal is to get information about their app to a market that might be interested. By getting their brand in front of their potential customers, they'll make it easy for the potential buyer to know where to turn for a solution.
The information flow at this stage is:
Optimizing your paid advertisements is one of the best ways to make your marketing spend more efficient and get better leads. Well-targeted ads will help you stay at the forefront of your target audience's mind. When they have a problem, you're already imprinted as the solution.
Paid advertisements would be worth BuzzWork's investment. The online marketing company Capacitr achieved a 5,384% ROI on their Facebook ads by using AdEspresso, a Facebook ad optimization tool. This tool helps you target and optimize audience and store information about target demographics. You can create ad variations, optimize ads based on performance (with metrics like cost per click and conversion rate), and store marketing media to build out multiple campaigns.
The ease of creating ad variants and unique audience segments on AdEspresso makes it a strong tool for this stage of your funnel. BuzzWorks would be able to create several different types of ads with info about their product and get the information in front of several different types of audiences.
For example, BuzzWorks might find that ads for their mobile app (as opposed to their desktop app) had the highest click-through rates and lowest CPC for people aged 23-28 living in coastal cities and working in marketing and advertising fields. Then they could make more ads specifically about their app, and target more ads to that demographic. That's more info about their product in front of the market that is most interested.
Social media advertising helps you gain better brand awareness and recognition by targeting users in high-traffic spaces. Promotions from influencers can also add visibility and credibility for your brand. This makes you a more trusted solution in the eyes of your potential market.
BuzzWorks could create a unified social media presence with a platform like Mention. This management system helps marketers manage and attract potential customers on social media, as well as monitor social mentions.
Mention could help BuzzWorks connect with potential influencers, who would promote their app to their large audience. They'll get more social media shout-outs in places where their audience is likely to be.
BuzzWorks might want to connect with young professionals—so if they could connect to a thought leader with a large following on Twitter and get a mention from her, they could increase their visibility to the right audience.
Once potential BuzzWorks customers find out about the company's apps, they'll start researching the product and the company. BuzzWorks can use the information from their ad and social campaigns to learn about customers' interests. Then they can create content that answers those questions.
The information flow at this stage is:
For leads not coming in through ads or social, the best channel is search. Focusing on SEO will help organically attract customers who are interested in task management and productivity, in addition to the segments you're directly targeting in your paid advertising.
Moz is an SEO toolset that helps you with keyword research, link building, site audits, and page optimization. It would allow BuzzWorks to optimize content so that interested potential customers can easily find it.
The info from the ad campaigns and social media campaigns might have shown BuzzWorks that young professionals are very interested in using their productivity app—so BuzzWorks could be looking to target keywords like “workplace productivity” and “time tracking.” They'd create content around these topics, and then track traffic to these pages to see how traffic grows over time.
Organization of information is key to communication. When BuzzWorks's customers research the product, they want the most clear and accurate information. In order for this to happen, BuzzWorks's internal team has to be on the same page about the message they're communicating.
BuzzWorks could remove any confusion from internal communication by using Gliffy (hey—that's us!). Our tool allows team members to collaborate on flowcharts, org charts, UML, network diagrams, etc.
Visual communication can explain what would be very difficult to communicate with text. Buzzworks could use Gliffy to create visual aids for internal communication, and they could incorporate diagrams into their content to better explain interesting aspects of their product to potential customers.
For example, BuzzWorks's engineering team could create a diagram to explain to the marketing team how a new feature allows users to customize their to-do list. The marketing team could then better communicate the purpose and value of the feature to potential customers. Marketers could create a diagram in a blog piece showing the different customization pathway options for a user.
Once BuzzWorks's potential customers learn more about the app, they'll start thinking about how it stacks up with others. They'll compare features with competitors—which is a good time for BuzzWorks to start directly communicating with them, so they can engage these interested customers and show their app's unique value. BuzzWorks can see which leads have been interacting with their content, and then collect their contact information for more direct communication.
The information flow at this stage is:
Not all of the people clicking on content and reading BuzzWorks's blogs will be ideal customers. Only a select portion of leads will really be interested in the app itself. Lead qualification is very important for highlighting the great leads that will turn into great, high-lifetime-value customers.
Reaching out to potential customers takes time and effort, so BuzzWorks is going to want to be selective. Clearbit is a lead qualification tool that would help them learn more about their leads. BuzzWorks can use their content as a lead generator to get email addresses, and then use Clearbit to enrich those email addresses and build out full profiles on leads.
For example, BuzzWorks could collect email addresses with a CTA at the end of a blog post to sign up for their newsletter (which they'd send with an email platform like Campaign Monitor, below). Then they'd use Clearbit to enrich these email addresses and see that some of their leads are marketers at other productivity apps—not people who would be interested in buying their product. They won't reach out to them. But if BuzzWorks sees that a lead is a CEO at a small business, they could send a personalized email and explain how their productivity in the app is the best in the market for small teams.
Communication with potential customers through email at this stage has to be personal to be impactful. BuzzWorks won't stand out from competitors with a generic form email mass-blasted to the mailing list. Customers can see right through that and are more likely to be annoyed than inspired to learn more about the company.
To design and efficiently send personalized emails to the leads that they've determined are most qualified, BuzzWorks can use Campaign Monitor. This is an email automation tool that helps you design emails, create customized messages to communicate specific value to customers, and create email funnels to target different types of customers with different buying interests.
BuzzWorks can use Campaign Monitor to send segmented emails to different qualified leads, based on what they've learned from lead enrichment. This will encourage the most engagement and best return on their email campaigns.
BuzzWorks could use Campaign Monitor to design one email specifically for young people living in cities who want to use their app to manage their personal and social lives—in the email, they'd explain the calendar, different activity filters, and integrations with your Instagram and Snapchat contact lists. In another email segmented to leaders at small businesses, they'd explain the time-tracking features and the personalized insight reporting.
BuzzWorks knows that it exists in a competitive market, so it has to be aware of and proactive about its online reputation. Potential customers don't just care about the product—they care about the experience of working with the company, too. A strong online reputation can convince customers to choose BuzzWorks over competitors.
BuzzWorks can track and manage their reputation with a tool like Reputatology. It aggregates customer reviews and allows you to respond quickly to customer feedback and complaints.
For example, if BuzzWorks finds a review complaining about a bug in the app, they can quickly and publicly respond to that review and let the user know that they've since fixed the bug, and that they've also added an update to that feature. Any potential users reading the reviews will understand that BuzzWorks is committed to improvement and customer happiness.
After BuzzWorks has nurtured their leads and shown the strength of their tool, potential customers might sign up for a free trial to test out the product themselves. They need to quickly and easily see the value in BuzzWorks's app so that they convert to a paying subscription. Based on their communication with these potential customers, BuzzWorks can tailor user onboarding to include the experiences that will be most valuable to specific users.
The information flow at this stage is:
BuzzWorks will use these tools to engage users, so they quickly see the product's value.
By tracking user behavior, BuzzWorks can get a direct look at what behaviors are correlated with customers staying and with customers churning. Then they can tailor customer experiences to optimize retention.
BuzzWorks can use Amplitude, the mobile analytics tracking tool, to understand the patterns that lead to better user retention. Amplitude lets you view and analyze user behavior in charts and dashboards for different segmentations of users.
BuzzWorks might find that users who make a customized to-do list within 3 days of their first login have 70% retention, while the average 3-day retention rate for mobile apps is 23%. BuzzWorks can then add a prompt for users to create their to-do list when they first sign in, so that more trial users can find that value and retain.
A trial is the time when BuzzWorks needs to make a strong—and customized—impression on a potential customer. Personalized user onboarding is essential to show users how the product will be valuable to them specifically.
BuzzWorks can use Appcues, a user onboarding tool, to give users these personalized experiences. The tool provides product walkthroughs that help demonstrate value clearly. It also lets you create in-app messages to guide users through a successful experience from the very first time that they use your product.
For example, if the data from lead enrichment and email campaigns indicates that a trial user on BuzzWorks is interested in BuzzWork's social time management features, their onboarding can be focused on these features. When they first login they'll be shown how to manage the social calendar and set reminders for personal events.
The trial customers that quickly found the value in BuzzWorks's app will want to convert to a paid subscription so they don't lose that value. This process has to be smooth for both the customers and the BuzzWorks team to offer the best value to the customer that will most inspire them to convert. BuzzWorks has to understand the customer's needs throughout and after the conversion process to make sure they're making the best offer.
The information flow at this stage is:
BuzzWorks needs to stay on top of all communication surrounding conversion. The line between sales and marketing is not exact, especially for conversion, so sales tools are valuable at this stage of your stack.
Since BuzzWorks is a small startup, they can manage their sales communication in Close.io. It's a CRM tool specifically for startups and SMB. Close.io allows you to communicate with customers through calls, text, and emails, and records all interactions so that you can track the history of the customer's interaction with your company.
For example, a trial customer might really like the product, but they're wondering which plan is right for their small team of 10 people. BuzzWorks can use Close.io to set up a time to talk about the different plans. Once the trial customer has all of their questions answered, they'll feel more confident to purchase.
Marketing doesn't stop at signup. A good marketing strategy encourages customer retention and upgrades. As trial customers convert to paid subscriptions, BuzzWorks will want to be sure that they're offering the best value at the right price to get customers to stay. This is how BuzzWorks will see revenue growth from month to month.
BuzzWorks can easily track revenue on a customer-by-customer basis with ProfitWell, a financial metrics tool. With ProfitWell, you can see how much the customer is paying each month and how it is affecting their MRR. You'll also be able to monitor upgrades, expand plans, and address customer churn.
If BuzzWorks finds that a lot of customers on their $15/month plan are upgrading to the $25/month plan, they can look at what value is in the $25/month plan and communicate that value better to customers who are looking to sign up. Then BuzzWorks can increase the ARPU of those converting customers immediately, and see their revenue growth month to month.
Your marketing stack is the toolkit you use to communicate your product's value. Each tool plays an important role individually and within the context of your entire funnel.
The right marketing stack is crucial for a successful business. Without cohesive tools and a smooth flow of information, you won't properly understand the customer journey or actively help your customer move through your funnel. You'd miss key opportunities—so make sure you're building your best stack.