February 23, 2016

How shaky is your marketing stack?

The term marketing stack is so new it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page. Yet.

marketing stack
But marketing stack is a topic en fuego. The wheels on the buzz go round and round. I was speaking at a conference recently about marketing automation and related topics, and the question of marketing stacks came up. Often.

One of the other speakers showed slides of a dozen big marketing firms (some B2B, some retailers) and diagrammed the components of their assembled “stacks.”

What struck me was this: no two stacks resembled each other. It was like a software all-skate, as every team cobbled together a Jenga tower of components, often with some redundancies (“they liked this CRM until this newer one came along…”) and wildly complex operations. Marketers kept adding the Next New Shiny Thing so that nobody – literally nobody – knew how to steer the machine as a whole. Clearly, there is zero consensus.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, a marketing stack is the collection of tools assembled by the CMO and CTO (holding hands) who hope to turn data into revenue. It starts with
• data, used by
• marketing automation which uses and measures
• inbound marketing and
• outbound marketing to
• tag prospects in order to
• segment a pipeline in a
• CRM, which collects the data to circle back to step one.

Whew. It gets even more complicated, as the teams of specialists in each of those stacked functions lay out tactical plans to optimize measurable results

There are many competing software tools for each one of these functions, which explains the wild profusion of stacks. It’s Girls Engineers Gone Wild.

Well, here’s our little cautionary reminder. You can go all science-y with these toys, but the techniques and technologies will tumble to the tabletop without the other half of the equation: an actual, breathing creative inspiration. The ability to measure ROI is better than ever, true, but don’t fall totally in love with the new tools because they will not rescue a mediocre idea. Saying sooth.