A few months back, I wrote a post on why getting started with B2B marketing doesn’t cost as much as you think. The same applies to building a marketing tech stack as well.
If you are a very mature organization and want to have a highly customized set of tools at your disposal. then you need to invest a few tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars on your marketing tech. On the other hand, if you are starting up or do not want to burn your hands with expensive tools, that’s when you need to consider building a LEAN MARTECH STACK.
In this article, I take you through the different types of tools you need to do this, and how much would it exactly cost to have all the basic marketing tools you need to run a full-fledged marketing engine.
Note: Since B2B marketing is very vast, today we will try to focus on what is needed for you to start with your demand generation efforts.
So, here we go.
Building a lean B2B martech stack for demand generation
Before we look at the tools and their cost, we need to first decide what is needed to get started with demand generation. So, let’s first list down the activities involved in setting up a demand gen engine (we will be sticking to the basics here and won’t be aiming to create a fully mature demand gen engine):
- Website, hosting, and database
- Email marketing/marketing automation
- Website analytics and tracking
- Content writing
- Graphic design and video editing
- Social media
- Video hosting and distribution
- B2B contacts database
Next, let us look at each of these items in detail.
1. Website, hosting, and database – the heart of a B2B martech stack
This is one of the areas where you can’t get away without spending some money. But interestingly, you can find a lot of affordable (and sometimes free) options when it comes to building and hosting a website.
Let’s start with hosting.
There are numerous options including GoDaddy, DreamHost, BlueHost, etc. Out of the myriad of choices, Hostinger has evolved as a low-cost option with many small businesses using it. With Hostinger, you get website hosting, domain, and SSL – all for as little as $2 per month (or roughly $25 per year).
Next is building a website.
You can get this done with the help of a developer. Depending on what kind of resource you deploy, building a website can cost anywhere between $200 to even a few thousands of dollars.
But if you are building a simple website with not many complex custom integrations, you can go with a low-code tool like WordPress. Webflow is another no-code website builder that many solopreneurs and small-sized companies use. You can build a website with a custom domain using Webflow for $168 a year.
Now let us come to database.
A database is required to store any kind of information. This is especially required for B2B e-commerce websites or websites that need to add a lot of product or item listings. Airtable is a tool you can use for this purpose. To use custom branding with Airtable, you only need to spend $120 per year.
Total cost of the category; $313 ($25 for hosting. $168 for building, and $120 for the database).
2. B2B email marketing/marketing automation
An email tool is a must for any B2B business (as they say, the money is in the list). You need to use an email marketing tool to consistently engage and nurture your customers, prospects, and subscribers. Whether you are promoting your products or services or sending out newsletters, an email marketing tool is necessary.
And if you need some more additional features like lead scoring, advanced segmentation, third-party integrations, etc., you need a complete marketing automation suite.
Most email marketing tools today offer features of a full-fledged marketing automation tool. But what makes it challenging to pick a tool is the never-ending list of choices available. From HubSpot to Mailchimp to ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit, the list is endless.
Each platform comes with its own pros and cons. If you are looking to build an integrated martech stack, consider going with HubSpot’s free plan. The only thing to keep here in mind is that if you have to later upgrade to the premium version, HubSpot doesn’t come cheap. However, the free plan offers most of the basic features you would need in a marketing automation tool. After all, HubSpot built its business on this freemium model.
You could also consider going with MailChimp or ConvertKit. The paid version of Mailchimp starts at about $10 per month and that of ConvertKit starts at $9 per month. Both tools offer the ability to manage lists, create landing pages, embed website forms, etc.
So if at all you are going for paid options, we can take the yearly spend as $120 for this category.
Total cost of the category: $120
3. CRM for B2B demand generation
A CRM is a must for enabling demand generation in modern B2B businesses. I have seen some companies using a marketing automation tool as their only leads database. But this could later lead to problems as your business gets bigger and bigger.
For instance, marketing automation tools don’t offer advanced leads management features like opportunity tracking, lead reporting & analytics, pipeline value estimation, etc.
So, I would recommend that you start using a CRM right from the beginning.
Just like in the case of marketing automation, if you are looking for an integrated B2B martech stack, you could consider going with HubSpot. It helps to have both the automation platform and the CRM from the same vendor. It makes data exchange, integration, and reporting easier.
HubSpot offers the CRM also for free and it comes with most of the features you need for B2B leads and opportunity management.
You could also evaluate – the free version of the – Zoho CRM, especially if you have to upgrade to a premium version later. Zoho’s paid plans start at about $10 per month or $120 per year.
Total cost of the category: $120
4. Website analytics and tracking
Website analytics and tracking is one area where you shouldn’t spend any money initially. Not because it is a bad idea to invest in it. It’s just that most of the tools you need are available for free.
The two most commonly used tools for website analytics are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Both are offered by Google for free.
Another type of website analytics tool you might want to use is a heatmap analyzer. There too you got a free option in Microsoft Clarity.
If you want to go for in-depth analyses with respect to your website data, you could consider implementing paid tools like the following:
Website analytics and tracking
- Visitor tracking (like LeadForensics, Factors AI, Kickfire, ZoomInfo, etc).
- An attribution software like Matomo.
- Paid heatmap analytics tools like Hotjar or Smartlook
- Paid website analytics tools like Adobe Analytics, Mixpanel, or Heap.
But since our objective is to keep it thin, let us take website analytics and tracking as a zero-cost category.
Total cost of the category: $0
5. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – a key element of your B2B martech stack
SEO can be done completely for free – at least in the early days of a business. Here as well, a couple of free tools offered by Google come to the rescue:
- Google Search Console (for impressions, clicks, coverage, etc.).
- Google keyword planner (for keyword volume and competition).
The above tools are good enough for you to get started. But most often in SEO, you need to do detailed and comprehensive analyses (for keywords, backlinks, competitive intelligence, etc.) to make the best out of your efforts. And this is where you might want to look at end-to-end SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz, SEMRush, etc.
But these tools are expensive and most of them don’t offer a handy free version. An alternative here is Ubersuggest. You can access many features of the tool without spending a penny. It offers up to 3 searches per day for free. If you wish to do more, you can go for the premium plan where you get lifetime access for just $120.
However, I have observed that Ubersuggest is less accurate when it comes to some of the leaders in the SEO tools space. But the platform is constantly improving and getting in early with lifetime access could be a good idea. The tool also offers a monthly plan starting at $12 per month as well, in which case your yearly cost would be $144.
Total cost of the category: $144
Check out this article: Getting Started With SEO-led Content In 3 Days
6. Content writing for B2B demand generation
Content writers need to use the following types of tools for producing quality work;
- A grammar checker
- A writing assistant (either for creating new content or rephrasing)
- A plagiarism checker
For checking and correcting grammar, Grammarly is the most popular option. Its free version is usually enough for most cases. The free version offers basic checks and corrections. But if you want to use advanced features like sentence rewrites, word & tone suggestions, citations, etc, you need to go for its premium plan.
A rephrasing tool – according to me – is not a must-have but rather a good-to-have. So, we don’t have to make it a part of the lean martech stack.
However, a plagiarism checker helps to avoid copyright breaches and other content violations. And free plans of plagiarism checkers come with limited word counts. Hence, it might be a good idea to invest in a good plagiarism checker like Grammarly, Duplichecker, or Scribbr.
As of today, the basic plan of Duplichecker is available for $77 per year.
Total cost of the category: $77
7. Graphic design and video editing
When it comes to graphic design and video editing, depending on the kind of content you create, the choice of tools will also change. If you don’t have a designer internally and want to create simple designs, something like a Canva or Figma should do the job. Canva also helps you edit videos, create documents, and build presentations.
For creating more complex designs and videos, you will have to go for tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro. But for the purpose of building a lean tech stack, let us stick with Canva.
The free version of Canva gives you a lot of features with the ability to create custom designs and a vast library of images, videos, elements, illustrations, etc. But if you are looking for more flexibility and access to the tool’s premium features, you can go for the Pro plan which costs around $50 per year.
Total cost of the category: $50
8. B2B social media marketing
With access to the right content and design tools, social media costs you nothing (unless you want to use a paid social media management and listening tool).
All social media platforms offer free access to post organic content. And the native analytics offered by the platforms themselves give enough insights to make improvements to your social media efforts. But if you want to go for additional features such as scheduling, you need to use tools like Hootsuite or Buffer. Both tools offer scheduling up to a certain number of posts for free. Their basic analytics module also comes without cost.
Given all these, using social media to get organic reach is a zero-cost endeavor.
Total cost of the category: $0
9. Video hosting and distribution
YouTube comes to all of our minds when we hear the term video. You can use it for free to host and distribute videos on your channel as well as your website. You could also consider alternatives like Vimeo or Wistia. They also allow hosting for free (of course with limited features). But video hosting and distribution is something you should do at no cost unless you need some advanced features.
Total cost of the category: $0
10. B2B contacts database
A B2B contacts database is required for you to build a contact and account list for targeting and promotion purposes. These tools are very handy especially when you are starting without an email list.
Again, the choice of tools determines the actual amount you would need to spend.
For instance. Hunter.io offers a free plan with 25 searches and 50 verifications per month. Similarly. Lusha’s free plan comes with 5 free credits (or contacts) per month.
However, in reality, if you want to do email and direct call outreach at scale, the free version is not going to suffice.
Hunter’s paid plan starts at $34 per year while Lusha’s starts at $348.
Now, the thing with contacts databases is that most businesses use more than 1 tool in combination for reasons such as data accuracy and availability. Hence, if you want to actively prospect, that too at scale, you will have to spend around $350 to $400 per year.
Podcasting is getting popular nowadays among B2B buyers and sellers. This is something you can do by spending a lot or being frugal about the budget. Non-negotiables when it comes to podcasting are good audio and video equipment.
Since that doesn’t come under a martech stack, let us skip that and come to the marketing elements that contribute to the cost of creating and publishing a podcast. They include:
- Podcast hosting
- Remote recording
- Audio/video editing
For podcast hosting, some of the most commonly used tools include Simplecast. Anchor.fm, and Libsyn. In terms of pricing, the paid version of Simplecast starts at $15 per month while Libsyn’s starts at $5 per month.
At the same time, Anchor.fm is a completely free platform, giving podcast publishers the ability to host and distribute content at no cost.
Let’s now move to remote recording.
As the term suggests, remote recording tools are used for recording podcast episodes. Whether you are a solo speaker or have other guests on the show, this is a must-have. Some widely used options include SquadCast.fm, Riverside.fm, and Zencastr.
While Riverside and Zencastr offer free plans with paid plans starting at $15 and $18 per month respectively. SquadCast’s basic plan starts at $20 per month.
In most cases, when you start creating a podcast, you would only need limited features, and hence a free version would do the job.
The last item in the podcasting tech stack is audio and video editing (video editing is required if you are recording videos).
When it comes to audio editing, Podcastle is a widely used tool. If you are okay with the output audio having the Podcaslte watermark, you can use the free version. Or else, the paid version is available for $3 per month or $36 per year.
For editing videos, you can use either Canva or any other video editing tool if you have access to one. But a tool like Descript will make the job easier for you with the ability to do a whole bunch of things (like editing, subtitling, transcription, noise cancellation, etc) in one place, especially if you don’t have a design/editing background (an alternative to Descript is veed.io).
Descript’s free plan comes with transcription up to 1 hour per month. The premium plan starts at $12 per month. Since this is not a must-have, let us strike this off from the lean marketing tech stack.
Assuming that you want to focus on the quality of your podcast. let me take Podcastle subscription as the only expense in this category.
Total cost of the category: $36
Total cost of the lean B2B martech stack
We looked at the 11 different areas of a lean marketing tech stack for B2B demand generation. With a mix of free and paid tools, this is what the cost of the tech stack looks like for a year:
It would only cost you $1260per year to build a martech stack required to get started with your demand generation efforts. So if you are not marketing your product or service because you think it requires expensive tools and tech, this is the time to change that mindset.
Final words about B2B martech stack
It is very important to note that every business has its own unique marketing needs. All the tools I mentioned in the article need not be the best for your business. I am in no way endorsing them either. Since the options are plenty in each category, I would recommend that you do your research and thorough evaluation before picking any tool.
Also, the pricing details I gave might vary based on your region or country (I took the prices for India). So be sure to check the pricing for every tool before you make a purchase decision.
Skalegrow – B2B marketing agency
Skalegrow is a B2B marketing agency aimed at making life better for marketing leaders and founders in the B2B space. It was founded to address two key challenges in the B2B world:
- The lack of quality of services offered by marketing agencies
- The misalignment of marketing activities with organizational level goals
By introducing a consultative approach to offering marketing services, Skalegrow strives to make growth simpler and predictable for B2B companies. From SEO-led content and video marketing to LinkedIn organic marketing and email marketing, we offer a complete suite of marketing services to the IT, SaaS, tech, and embedded systems industries. If you are looking for help in implementing marketing tactics that work, please write to us at email@example.com.
About the author
Naseef KPO is the Founder and CEO of Skalegrow. He comes with rich experience across multiple areas of B2B marketing including content marketing, demand generation, SEO, account-based marketing, marketing analytics, revenue attribution, marketing technology, etc. He writes thought-provoking and relevant articles on The Skalegrow Blog and his weekly LinkedIn newsletter Elevate Your Marketing.
Prior to starting Skalegrow, Naseef led large marketing teams in multi-million dollar B2B organizations where he made significant contributions to the topline growth of the business. He has also appeared on numerous podcasts where he shared his thoughts on trending marketing topics such as the application of AI in marketing, startup marketing, ABM, and B2B content marketing, just to name a few. Being the founder of Skalegrow, he is currently focusing on helping its clients stay ahead of their competition by using innovative yet practical marketing tactics.
You can connect with Naseef KPO on LinkedIn.