Book Summary | The Martech Handbook: “Build a Technology Stack to Attract and Retain Customers"

Alberto Sadde
CTO & Founder
Reading time:
14 min
Published on:
February 9, 2023
Updated on:
August 1, 2023

The Book in 3 Sentences

  • Marketing and tech teams need to coexist and cooperate
    Technology without creativity is like using an inefficient energy device

  • The north star of great marketing is customer obsession. Marketers need to be obsessed with providing the best user experience possible.

  • Martech, the combination of marketing and technology, is an omnichannel effort. While there is no one-size-fits-all Martech stack, an effective Martech implementation will help teams:

    - be more agile
    - continually test, compare and optimize new strategies
    - solidify and enhance a company's positioning by integrating sales, marketing, and customer success

Who Should Read It?

While the book screams marketing and growth hacking, I believe the best audience for this book are company executives who need to understand better how marketing + tech can help their company.

I recommend this book to programmers and tech folks who know nothing about marketing. The book will be eye-opening. Marketing, it turns out, is not just about creativity and design. Software and AI are eating the world and eating Marketing already. Without a good technology stack, marketing teams are sure to fail.

At Meaningful, we help companies understand their Martech needs and design and implement a Martech stack for them.

Summary and Notes

Darrell Alfonso

To understand the thesis of the book better, it helps to know about its author, Darrell Alfonso. Alfonso is a marketing strategy expert, instructor, and consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the area.

Before being "Director of Marketing Strategy and Operations" at Indeed, Alfonso was "Global Marketing Operations Leader" at AWS. No wonder that—as we will see—being customer-oriented and obsessed is at the core of the Martech practices he recommends throughout the book!

Follow him on Twitter for great marketing tips.

What Is Marketing Technology?

Marketing Technology or "Martech" combines technology and marketing practices.

With everything happening online and users bombarded with information from all angles (emails, photos, tweets, social media posts, and ads), marketing can't work alone as a creative endeavor. It needs to integrate with technology and leverage everything that it can offer.

This is not to say that now executives should think of marketing only as a technology problem:

“To only think about technology is also a trap because you'll miss out on all the strategic and creative value that humans bring to creating meaningful customer experiences.”

Martech becomes very powerful when we remember that its core objectives “are to attract, engage, convert, and delight customers.” Or, to paraphrase Jeff Bezos, Martech teams should be "customer-obsessed."

And there is no better way to improve the customer journey than combining marketing practices with the services and apps technology offers. In fact, the north star of a highly functioning Martech stack should be the complete automation of the customer journey, which, in turn, should improve the conversion rate and the overall revenue value of each customer.

Martech Tools & Effective Martech Design

​​Knowing what Martech is and what it can do for us is not enough.

Once we understand how Martech can help our business, we need to plan a smooth integration and ensure that whatever Martech stack we build is optimized to help us achieve our strategic goals.

“The biggest challenge in Martech today is too many tools and too little strategy”

With more than 9,000 Martech tools out there, Alfonso is right when he writes that “there is a tool for everything.”

So how can we choose the right tools for our Martech stack?

First, spend as much time as you need designing a "coherent strategy." A coherent Martech strategy will help keep track, automate and improve all the strategic metrics and goals of the business.

Second, do not make the mistake of being only “feature-driven” and buying tools just for the number of features and integrations they offer. Your team doesn't need the absolute best tool but the best tool for your actual needs.

Third, focus on these three fundamental tools of a great Martech platform:

  • The marketing automation platform (MAP). Traditional tools in this area include Marketo, HubSpot Marketing Automation, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement. But with automation becoming ever-more important, many email marketing tools also offer automation features. With integration services like Zapier, Make, and Pipedream, you can build powerful automations at a fraction of the cost of traditional tools.

  • The Customer Data Platform (CDP). With Marketing being an "omnichannel effort," it is imperative to centralize all your customers' data so you can provide a better and more personalized experience. Choosing a CPD is not easy and will depend on the number of channels you use, your budget, and your team's "tech-savviness." Our favorite CDPs include Segment, Amplitude CDP, and Posthog.

  • The customer relationship management system (CRM). You'll likely already have a CRM since sales teams depend on them. A functioning Martech stack should integrate with a new or existing CRM to provide the best possible experience to customers. Salesforce, Zoho CRM, HubSpot, Pipedrive, and many others are great players in this space.

Lastly, Alfonso suggests a "worst-case" scenario exercise before you commit to any new tool: “If everything goes wrong with this new technology, how can we back out?” Asking this question and discussing it with your Martech developers before buying anything will avoid many headaches down the line.

Martech Developers

Martech being a mix of disciplines, “requires a broad mix of business and technical skills,” according to Alfonso.

Martech professionals need a combination of technical and soft skills that other disciplines do not necessarily require.

Firstly, Martech developers and managers—the folks in charge of designing and implementing the Martech stack in your organization—need to know the basics of:

  • analytics and data science (relational databases and statistics)
  • web technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript)
  • technical SEO (structured data, meta tags, CDNs)

As Alfonso writes, “this does not mean that Martech professionals should have a degree in computer science, but since most of marketing technology involves the management and analysis of data, those lacking in this skill are at a severe disadvantage.”

As soft skills go, Martech professionals need to be great communicators, have excellent "cross-functional project management skills," and a disposition to continuously improve and learn  because, in the world of growth and technology, rapid change and evolution of tools are the only constants.

How To Get Started with Martech?

Finally, while there is no one-size-fits-all guide to getting started with Martech and implementing your  Martech stack, Alfonso recommends two things.

Firstly, to work with great Martech agencies:

“When you work with a first-rate agency, you will understand the problems you are facing better, and you will understand how they will use their expertise and resources to help you. A good agency relationship will be based on trust, authority, and expertise.”

Secondly, he provides a neat "Martech Discovery Questionnaire" that should guide your team through the decision-making process:

  • Would you define the people in your organization as tech-savvy?

  • Are the people in your organization using the latest software and programs? Are they primarily working online and in the cloud?

  • Are the people in your organization working collaboratively using online services in real-time and in a remote environment?

  • Is your marketing primarily performing data-entry-type tasks?
  • Is your team filling out forms all day?

  • Is much of their time spent on the phone or in meetings where they are asking other teams or vendors to implement campaigns for them?

If you are thinking of getting started with Martech or improving your current stack, contact us and subscribe to our newsletter. We'll be happy to help!

Alberto Sadde
CTO & Founder

Over 10 years in tech. Alberto has a diverse background including roles as the Lead Engineer at Akorda, an AI-powered contract management service for Fortune 100 companies,  Research Engineer and Manager at AiFi, a global provider of self-checkout technology for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Before startups Alberto focused on compiler optimization at Oxford and did research on genetic algorithms at BAE Systems.

He's known to have strong and sometimes esoteric opinions. Writes regularly on his blog at