21 marketing technology stacks shared in The Stackies

The Stackies: June 2015 — 21 Marketing Technology Stacks

I’m pleased to announce the results of our first-ever “Stackies” awards. As a quick recap, we invited marketers to send in a single-slide diagram of their marketing technology stack, the different marketing software products that they use in their work, organized in a way that makes the most sense to them. The four “best” stacks entered would split $1,876 to be allocated to charities they could choose.

The Stackies: Marketing Technology Stack Awards

Before I reveal the winners, let me first say a big thank you to everyone who participated. 21 marketers sketched out their marketing stacks and agreed to share them publicly. Although it wasn’t a requirement for entry, most of them identified the specific products that they were using, which serves to make these stacks more real and less abstract.

Kudos to them. It takes courage to share this level of operational design. Those who did are helping the rest of us understand different ways to organize our own marketing technology capabilities. I am very grateful for these contributions, and I’m sure many other readers are too.

The magic of The Stackies, at least for me, was leaving it completely up to the participants to decide how to organize and visualize their stack. There was no “template.” After all, there is no universally right or wrong marketing stack — all that matters is that your stack works for you. But by seeing the wide range of approaches that participants took in conceptualizing their stacks in this exercise, we all benefit by learning new ways to think about our own.

Generally speaking, there were four approaches to visualizing these stacks:

  • Clustered by marketing function (e.g., lead management, analytics, content, PR)
  • Organized by flow in the buyer’s journey (e.g., awareness, lead conversion, nurturing, sales conversion)
  • Organized as a “layer cake” architecture, with platforms as foundation and specialized components added on top
  • Diagrammed as a “circuit board” of how components are connected together, mostly around data flow

Many combined two or more of these approaches, and of course, there were also a few wildcard designs. To choose the winners — which was extremely difficult — I subjectively picked those that I thought did the best job of representing an approach that others could learn from.

And the winners are…

First place: Datapipe

Datapipe Marketing Technology Stack

This is a beautifully thought out marketing stack. It’s organized primarily by flow across the buyer’s journey, which keeps the customer in mind throughout its architecture. “How does this particular piece of software move buyers forward?” is a great question to ask for every component in a stack.

Under that umbrella, it also clusters components for different marketing functions — SEO, conversion, email marketing, remarketing, CRM, etc. — which acknowledges the different kinds of specialized capabilities required into well-known marketing technology categories. And to boot, it also maps out some of the data flow between these components. The synthesis of these different lenses into a cohesive design is remarkable.

By identifying the specific products that they’re using, this also makes their diagram concrete and pragmatic. Thank you, Datapipe, for sharing this.

Second place: IntelligenceBank

IntelligenceBank Marketing Technology Stack

This is a terrific example of a “circuit board” approach to mapping out the relationships between the different components in a marketing technology stack. Not all of the products in this stack are identified by name — which we can appreciate for confidentiality reasons — but enough are to make this diagram very tangible.

It’s fascinating to see which components have the most “wires” connected to them, such as Salesforce (CRM) and Drupal (CMS). You get a sense of which components are effectively platforms based on their degree of interconnectivity. The fact that there’s not simply one platform at the heart of this is evidence of these maturing multi-platform architectures that I wrote about last month. Here, we have a CRM, a MAP, a CMS, a DAM, an SRP, and a TMS all working together.

I also like that the social media platforms (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) were explicitly called out, as I believe it’s worth appreciating them as independent components in the marketing technology environment. And by including things like Google Alerts, this also demonstrates that even simple services can play a useful role in a marketing stack. Thank you, IntelligenceBank.

Third Place: Uberflip

Uberflip Marketing Technology Stack

I love the clean and simple design of this stack. It is structured around three “stages” of capabilities — content, nurture, and sell — that also gives it the feel of a multi-platform architecture. Each of these stages has a primary component — Uberflip, HubSpot, and Salesforce, respectively — with other products designated as plugging in on top of them. A layer of analytics sits below all three stages, as does a set of collaboration and productivity tools.

The aphorism a place for everything, everything in its place comes to mind when I look at this. It’s a rich collection of tools, but it’s not complex. The company’s VP of marketing, Hana Abaza, noted with their entry: “At Uberflip, process comes first. We figure out what we need to do, establish the right process, and then find the tech that will help execute and/or enhance that process.” Thanks for sharing this, Uberflip.

Fourth Place: John Wiley & Sons

Wiley Marketing Technology Stack

The previous three winners all sell technology that is represented within their own marketing stacks — so that’s one incentive for them to share their stacks, as a way of demonstrating how their products fit into such architectures. John Wiley & Sons, however, comes from a completely different industry, publishing. And as a larger, public company, I have special appreciation for their willingness to share their marketing stack.

Their design clusters functional capabilities (e.g., lead gen, social, marketing automation), but also illustrates some of the data flow between components. Again, we see a multi-platform architecture that largely revolves around Oracle Eloqua and Salesforce. It’s also interesting to see where they currently use a manual process to bridge a couple of capabilities with Aprimo (now Teradata Applications) and Allegiance (a voice-of-the-customer platform). Such manual processes actually abound in most marketing departments, and so it’s nice to have them acknowledge it — it helps make this a very authentic marketing stack.

Thanks for sharing this, Wiley!

Honorable Mentions

Those four winners get to direct $1,876 that I will donate to charities on their behalf — $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, $250 for third place, and $126 for fourth place. I’m still waiting to hear back from one, but the other three have chosen charity: water, Springboard Enterprises, and the Penn State IFC Dance Marathon, which raises money to find a cure for pediatric cancer.

There were many other great marketing stacks from Acquia, Acrolinx, Bizible, BloomReach, Boundless Agency, a Canadian law firm, CB Insights, Fox Service Company, Huify, Lattice Engines, Lyons CG, PSMJ Resources, Schneider Electric, ShowHope, Sitrion, Terminus, and an anonymous firm.

I’m grateful to all of them for contributing, but I did want to call out a few for honorable mentions:

Law Firm Marketing Technology Stack

The above stack by a Canadian law firm (they asked me to reference them that way, semi-anonymously) is an epic martech architecture. Its breadth and depth made it a strong candidate for one of the winning slots. They’ve clearly got a very definite idea of how each piece of their marketing tech ecosystem fits together. Incredibly impressive.

BloomReach Marketing Technology Stack

I like the above stack from BloomReach because of the way it divides their ecosystem into three layers — platform, optimization, and application — that blends a technical layer diagram and with a marketing purpose layering. I know, I’m a broken record on this, but again, note the multiple vendors in the platform layer.

Acquia Marketing Technology Stack

The above stack from Acquia is a nice, clean layout — mostly organized around functional marketing capabilities, but with a bit of an implied pyramid hierarchy. As with a number of entries, I’m glad that team collaboration and management tools were recognized as part of the marketing tech ecosystem. I also thought that Acquia’s collection of “prospecting” tools was a good example of software at the intersection of marketing and sales.

Terminus Marketing Technology Stack

I thought the above stack from Terminus was helpful to see how even a relatively small startup can assemble a robust set of marketing technology tools. Note that five of the components are identified as being related to their blog.

Lattice Engines Marketing Technology Stack

Lattice Engines was one of the inspirations behind The Stackies, as they had run a similar content marketing campaign around marketing stacks, so I wanted to acknowledge them with an honorable mention as well. (I’d also like to acknowledge Demandbase for being a source of inspiration as well, from the marketing stack panel they had me moderate at their B2B marketing innovation conference.)

LyonsCG Marketing Technology Stack

LyonsCG deserves, um, a nod for the above stack metaphor. Not that I would recommend that as a reference design for your presentation to the board. But having a weak spot in my heart for cheesy (get it?) puns, I figured it warranted a shout-out.

Finally, as I anticipated, at least one entrant (Huify) submitted a marketing tech “stack” with a single logo (HubSpot). Since that wasn’t against the rules — in fact, you could say I invited it — I’ve kept it in as a valid point on the curve. However, I will note that all of the other HubSpot customers who entered The Stackies revealed a richer view of their ecosystem.

As promised, here is a slide deck with all 21 marketing technology stacks:

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17 thoughts on “21 marketing technology stacks shared in The Stackies”

  1. Fascinating, Scott. A quick count suggests that most of these companies have about 20 products in their stack. Just in case anyone thought this stuff was simple. I’d still argue that multi-platforms are a hellacious mess but such is reality.

  2. strategyaudit

    In my patch, small and medium enterprises, much of the technology is both unnecessary and out of reach, so it is good to see the entrant by Terminus.
    Most of the elements in that stack are the ones that my clients end up using, in a range of configurations that suits their circumstances.

  3. Looking at these stacks I wonder 2 things…

    1.) How effectively are all these tools actually used? It’s one thing to have the application installed, it’s an entirely different thing to actually maximize benefit and usage from them.

    2.) How in the world do companies with so many tools maintain/manage them? There is no way they can have a system administrator for each tool in their stack, can they?I realize some tools don’t require much to maintain, but alot of these tools do (e.g. SFDC).

    1. Vanessa Bright

      The actual use of a tool is a very interesting point. I worked in a few large organizations and heard about the same experiences from friends in the industry – the use of the tools may be different from expectation. A few years ago I actually assumed it was normal.

      The company would buy a tool, for example an analytics software, on the corporate level. The tool is managed by IT, not quite setup correctly, not upgraded in time, and marketing does not have access to admin functions (and nobody knows how to use the tool, while the training from the vendor is expensive). So, on the local level, Google Analytics is added to marketing sites, and used extensively as marketers have admin access and everybody knows how to use it.

      My guess, smaller organizations do not have this problem, but many larger organizations might.

      1. Great observation Vanessa and more akin to what I’ve seen in all sizes of organization. My personal opinion is that the CMO should drive the strategy and have ownership and budget to deploy whatever tools are needed to run the business. Of course I assume they would also pull together a cross functional team of all the stakeholders into a steering committee.

  4. Awesome! I would love to know how/who manages the different technologies. We also have a marketing stack of sorts but for us the greatest challenge is to manage it all. The thing I immediately wanted to know was who manages it all (departments, in-house/outsourced etc).

  5. Thanks, Scott. This is an inspired idea. It is interesting to me that no one included any marketing operations technology in their stack. There is channel specific tools (HootSuite, Google Analytics) – even media like Linked IN and Facebook -but I didn’t see anyone include any budgeting, workflow or DAM tools outside of the CMS. Are those operational tools not perceived to be important components of making the Stack work?


    1. Excellent point Sam. I wondered the same. Perhaps individuals are less willing to share what’s behind the curtain?

  6. Very interesting Scott, thank you. There seemed to be a notable absence of DMPs in all of these stacks. Is this because DMPs are considered ad tech, not martech and weren’t part of this exercise? Or is an indication that DMPs are yet to make it to the mainstream do you think? ..Nick

  7. Omer Yarkowich

    Lots of great insights here, thank you very much. I wonder about how these stack looked like 1-2 years ago and how will they look like in 1-2 years from now. The level of complexity is constantly increasing.Time and again I’m amazed to learn how many companies are lacking the know-how and resources required to successfully deal with this challenge. I believe there is a more elegant approach to this problem, and hope to crack it soon.

  8. Thanks for sharing. You can tell a lot about the DNA of the marketing team based on their diagrams – the creatives vs. the engineers, the powerpointers vs. the keynoters, the young marketers vs. the older ones, the budget conscious vs. the spenders, & the sales AND marketing teams vs. marketing only teams. Would love to see the process flows towards automated reporting from all of these stacks – that’s the secret sauce stuff IMO.

  9. Very interesting insight. It looks like all the entrants were B2B companies – would be interesting to see the stack of a B2C company, especially in retail.

  10. You mentioned the following TLA’s above: MAP, DAM, SRP and TMS, I could guess what they mean but could you point me to an article where you list these. I assume, maybe incorrectly, that you have them defined somewhere?

  11. Something else that I noticed when looking at the other stacks is there is a lack of a data warehouse. Are companies not aggregating their data so they can use related data for reporting, analytics, segmentation, etc?

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