Stay Agile Blog

I write about the need for transparency, efficiency, equity, and diversification - in contracts, in tech stack development, in content pipelines, in media placement, in investment and revenue streams, in team and channel development, in attribution methods, and more. Read all posts. >>


Four Ways to Optimize Your Tech Stack to Improve Your Bottom Line

tech stack Nov 17, 2022

If your tech stack isn’t the first thing that occurs to you as an optimization point for improving your marketing programs, I get it. Tech stacks are for IT teams to worry about; the costs are already sunk; and digging in is a lot of disjointed work, yeah? Yeah.

The truth, though, is that your best creative concepts might as well stay in the idea phase if you don’t have a solid operational answer to tracking and scaling response. As a marketer, you are as much a stakeholder in your tech stack as anyone.

First things first: What’s a tech stack? It’s the collection of systems you’re using to build and run your program. Why do you care about that as a marketer? If you don’t have a clear handle on which technology systems you have in place and how they’re being used, you’re likely not optimizing them to the fullest extent.

That means you’re likely paying for disparate systems that are collecting information about your audiences but aren’t communicating that information back to one customer relationship management system (CRM). This robs you of the ability to personalize your audience’s experience, understand where your message is resonating, and make choices about where to allocate your staff and monetary resources – and the impacts of that are wide-ranging.

Four Ways to Optimize

Make a Map

The good news is that if you can work backwards to create a map of how your data is flowing, you can also work to correct it. And the better news is that the map doesn’t even need to be pretty.

 What you’re looking for: Do all systems sync back to the same ultimate source of truth? If not, is there a logical reason why, or a manual process for getting the information into your system of record? How often does your data sync occur? Is it fast enough for you to have updated information every time you’re deploying a marketing effort? The answers to these questions will point you in the right direction for asking deeper questions.

Understand Your Wild World of Email Collection

Understanding how your teams (there are likely a few of them engaging in this work) are collecting and ingesting email information about your constituents is a good place to start. That's because the answer to this is usually a Wild West-y hot mess. That’s okay. Perfect isn’t the goal here. The goal is to implement a few operational rules that will make things cleaner.

With an in-house working group, navigate this question: When a person visits your website, where are the main places they can sign-up to receive emails from your organization? Be sure to look at the places you’re directly asking them to sign up for a newsletter or something of the sort, but also, and especially, the places where they’re going to be opted in if they take other action – such as signing a petition, donating, or signing up to volunteer. What systems ingest the email addresses collected from these actions? Do all of those systems sync back to your primary CRM? If not, this is an optimization point.

Repeat this process for all of the other places you might be collecting email addresses, online or offline. Think: Event attendees; petition signers; rogue microsites no one checks on anymore; and places where your audience may be signing up for communication in-platform on social media. These are the places where you likely need a process to ensure your staff is getting these names updated manually or via an API that you need to create.

Track Advertising Information

Digital advertising is a place that allows you a huge amount of top-down control over what’s going to end up in your database of record. With the right infrastructure in place, it’s the venue best built for scale, one that dives deepest into understanding your core audience and helps you reach the fringe – the newest audiences who could drive your next successes and the ones you determine aren't going to do that at all. Data infrastructure helps you understand all of that.

What tracking parameters are you putting in place when you run digital ads? Make sure you have infrastructure set up in such a way that you can tell at least a few key things: which channel drove a person to your site, which audience segment the user belonged to, and which piece of creative and/or campaign drove their action.

You’ll likely find that some optimization of your ads set-up format is required to get everything you want out of the data. Ask a few pointed questions on whether you can more tightly organize your Google Ads keywords or Facebook ad campaigns to ensure that content and campaign parameters reflect the values most important to you.

Address The Systems

 Your tech stack map is likely to point you in the direction of further optimization. You might find, for example, that you could achieve with one system what’s currently being done with two. You might have new thoughts about how frequently you should run your data sync, or how often contact records are merged and what field determines that contacts are the same person.

You might decide you’re not collecting nearly enough data about your constituents and opt to put a data append process in place to secure additional information like physical addresses, birthdays, and more. You might find that you need a new answer to your analytics platform is the right next step for you.

This is the point at which it’s a good idea to pull in consultant help or assign work to a dedicated staffer who can address those areas for optimization. Small tweaks will get you to improved results, but assistance from someone who can ensure that the full depth of technical projects are scoped, buy-in and adoption are achieved, and changes are documented for posterity is a win for all future iterations of your team. 

Done well, tech stack optimization will yield you significant improvements in your costs to acquire and retain audiences. You’ll see that in the form of improved abilities to target your donors and find more of them based on what you now know about their path to conversion and their topics of interest. You’ll see it in decreased time to conversion and upgrading on your email file. And you’ll see it in your ability to put your staff ’s attention on the marketing tactics that are yielding the highest gains, leaving room for them to invest time on innovation that will help you diversify your revenue streams.

Let’s talk about how I can help you ensure your stack is up to snuff.


Stay ahead of change.

Sign up for tips to help you feel in control and in command of your audience reach.