Photo Credit: JeffreyW from Flickr CC license

Hey, how’s your stack?  No, I’m not talking about your latest trip to IHOP.  I’m talking about your marketing stack. What, you don’t have a stack? Oh, if you’re marketing, you have a stack!
What exactly is a marketing stack?  I like Adroll’s Definition:
A marketing stack is a group of technologies that marketers leverage to execute, analyze and improve their marketing activities. This includes all technologies that marketing teams use, from marketing automation to data enrichment and analytics.
Messy toolbox Photo Credit: Words on a Page Blog
Your stack is like a carpenter’s tool chest.  It can have everything you need, well maintained, including specialty tools to make sure you’re über productive.  It should have unique gadgets depending on whether you are framing houses or creating handmade reproductions.  Your toolbox could be a total mess, with tools borrowed and never returned, pieces missing, dull or broken. Or it can be a beautiful orderly masterpiece with every tool needed, organized, in the right order and ready to be used at the proper time.
So what does your stack look like?
Whether you have a marketing team of one or a hundred and one, it’s important to take stock of your stack!

acronix marketing stack

An Elegant Marketing Stack – 2016 Stackies Winner from Chiefmartech

In the olden days, like only 5 years ago, things were pretty simple. The choices in marketing technologies were few, but the explosion of marketing tools and the ease of acquiring them has created complexities and challenges for CMOs of both large and small marketing teams.
If you haven’t seen it,  here’s Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape from early 2016.  It shows about 3,500 company logos representing over 3,800 different marketing technologies.  The first version of this slide in 2011 had only 150 companies listed.
Marketing Technology Landscape
Add to this technology jungle the fact that your IT department has written all kinds of custom code and scripts to try to get your systems somewhat talking to each other.  And now you may have a disaster looming.  You could be locking yourself into current versions of software, severely limiting your current and future productivity. Or worse, your IT guru skips town to work for another SaaS and you’re up that creek without a paddle!
Many issues can result from improper management of your stack including the potential for duplication of software within the organization. This can amount to $10,000’s of wasted spending plus duplication of administration, poor communication and branding issues.   Other problems include security, opening your site up to potential hacking, multiple teams or members simultaneously evaluating the same software and erroneous data due to poor use or integration of software. Clearly ignoring the marketing stack is not a good strategy.
So what do you do?
First, don’t panic!
There is help.  Take stock of what you have.  Complete a marketing software audit.  If you haven’t taken stock of your stack before or it has been awhile, this may take some time to complete.  And once you document your stack you will want to keep it current.   Since today’s marketing software can be inexpensive or free, easy to download and install, they can easily find their way into your ecosystem at any time without you ever knowing.
You could document your technology the old-fashioned way, on a spreadsheet.  But this is cumbersome to update, not very portable and prone to errors. (And probably obsolete as soon as you finish your audit!) Fortunately, there is an easier way. CabinetM  is a site that allows you to easily document and annotate your marketing stack.  It has over 5,000 products listed that you can drag and drop to create your company stack(s).  You can sort your technologies by layers in whatever way makes sense to you.  And the price?  Free. There is much more functionality than that.  Check it out at
Next, you need to analyze your stack.  Did you find any tools you were no longer using?  Are there any gaps in your stack?  Are there troublesome integrations?  Are some software products out of revision?  How do these tools fit with your organization’s strategy and tactics for the year, for the quarter, for the current sprint?  Is additional training required? Did you find some expertise in your organization that you didn’t know existed?
Next, assess holes in your stack.  Do you have the appropriate analytics?  What tools can improve advocacy?  Do you need dashboard tools to keep track of your KPI’s in one place? How well is your team using your technology?  Many teams use only a fraction of the capabilities of their technology.
Lastly, once documented, it’s a good idea to review and update your stacks at least bi-annually if not quarterly to align with your current goals and strategies.
I know, this sounds like a lot of work.  Do you have a resource that could be responsible for auditing, maintaining and improving utilization of your stack?  If you can’t free a resource to focus on this, you may want to partner with a someone to help you to maintain your stack.
Once you’ve aligned your technology with your strategies and your goals, identified and filled the gaps, documented your integrations and started your training programs, you can expect an increase in performance.  Your highly tuned technology stack to improve your marketing (and sales) results and provide you with a competitive advantage.  How much? I’m not aware of any studies completed to date. But I recommend that before you begin to make changes, identify some KPI’s that you believe will improve as a result.  Analyze before and after your stack renovation. Document your ROI and KPI’s after one month, three months and six months.
To inspire you to get working on documenting and analyzing your stack, here are a couple more “award winning” stacks.  These stacks were submitted to for their 2015 and 2016 Stackies contests.  Judging was subjective. As Scott Brinker, Editor of, commented, “If your company stack works for you, it’s and A+ Stack!”
Here is one the simplest stacks – only 12 technologies.
Terminus Marketing Stack

A Simple Marketing Stack – Honorable Mention in the 2015 ChiefMartec Stackies

Here is a beautiful stack by uberflip, based on their four pillars system
uberflip four pillar marketing stack
So, as you finalize your goals for 2017, add taking stock of your stack to your list of operational improvements to make in your marketing organization. Who knows? You too could win a Stackie and more importantly set yourself up for greater success in 2017.
What is your greatest to challenge with your marketing stack?  Take this one question poll. Include your email and I will send you the results of this poll.
One Question Survey – What is your Biggest Issue with your Marketing Stack?
Thank you for reading.  I covet your comments!