Wow, I am just in awe of the 54 entries we received into The Stackies 2018: Marketing Tech Stack Awards. The quality of the illustrations this year were particularly remarkable. These are marketers who clearly have a lot of passion for their infrastructure.
(How’s that for something you wouldn’t have heard 5 years ago?)
If you’re new to this, a “marketing stack” is the collection of software that a marketing team uses to ply their trade. The Stackies is a fun awards program at the MarTech conference where we invite marketers to send in a single slide that illustrates their marketing stack in some conceptual way.
We share all entries with the community, because the real purpose of The Stackies is to give all of us lots of real-world examples of marketing stacks at different companies across different industries. We learn a lot about the reality of martech from those who are willing to contribute.
As a way of expressing our gratitude to those contributors, we make a donation on behalf of every entry to charity. This year, we decided to donate $100 for each entry to Girls in Tech — a total of $5,400.
We (the editorial teams at chiefmartec.com, MarTech Today, and the MarTech conference) select 5 winners to receive trophies. The winners are chosen based on the quality of their slide illustration — but also based on innovations that they bring in the way that they visualized their stack, giving us a new way of looking at them.
Of course, the test of a real “winning” marketing stack is how well it performs. So while the winning illustrations are a fun way to celebrate The Stackies, all of our entrants are winners if their stack delivers for them.
But officially, the 5 winners of The Stackies 2018 are:
1. BlackRock Marketing Tech Stack
This is a spectacular illustration — the SimCity of Marketing Stacks — of “MarTechtropolis.” On visual production values alone, this slide by BlackRock is impressive.
But it’s more than a pretty picture. The four sections of MarTechtropolis capture the cyclical process that BlackRock uses to iterate on marketing strategy and execution:
- Discover City — defining the opportunity, value, or user
- Concept Park — defining the direction or idea
- Plan-Ville — assembling the team and prioritizing work
- Do Town — executing on the vision and plan
In each of these sections, they’ve identified the key technologies they use and, in the legend on the left, they’ve annotated what marketing capability the use those tools for.
2. Earth Networks Marketing Tech Stack
Earth Networks, a meteorological data and weather intelligence company, takes top honors for “best brand metaphor” with their marketing stack.
But their stack-as-a-weather-system illustration shares real meaningful structure:
- A “jet stream” of core platforms that run throughout the entire marketing process.
- Three “fronts” of marketing efforts and their tools: attract, engage, and analyze.
- Color coding of tools to categorize them in one of five different capabilities: content creation (blue), distribution (orange), customer experience (green), website (yellow), and data management (magenta).
One last shout-out for their metaphor: I love that opportunity and revenue are both “highs” and churn is a “low.” And that the whole thing is called a “marketological forecasting stack.”
Well-played, Earth Networks. Well-played.
3. Cisco Marketing Tech Stacks (2017 to 2018)
As you may know, Cisco entered The Stackies last year and won an award for sharing their marketing stack with 39 marketing technologies. They had a clever way of illustrating how martech was applied for different stakeholders through different stages of a customer’s lifecycle.
This year they entered again — and won again.
Now, there wasn’t much that changed about the design of their entry this year. So you might be wondering if we just really, really liked that design to award it a Stackie trohpy twice in a row.
Well, we do love their design. But the reason they won this year was because by submitting an update to their stack one year later, they’ve given us an amazing example of how an enterprise marketing stack evolves over time.
Some products were removed. Some new ones were added. They tweaked the organization of their foundational layer. They even let us in on their work-in-progress, noting that they’re currently evaluating customer data platforms and showing where they think that could fit in their stack’s overall architecture.
For this incredible transparency into the real-world evolution of a truly world-class enterprise marketing stack, Cisco definitely deserves their second trophy and the gratitude of the martech community.
4. Janus Henderson Marketing Tech Stack
In the same theme of martech evolution, investment firm Janus Henderson, won a Stackie for illustrating their marketing stack as it evolved through the merger of Janus Capital Group and Henderson Group, showing us their pre-merger stack and their post-merger stack.
It’s a terrific example of “rationalizing” a larger stack with overlapping solutions into a slimmer, more unified stack. We get to see what stayed, what went, and what was added.
The elements of their stack are well organized too, shown with four clusters of technologies — production, awareness, engagement, and analysis — grouped into three levels using Gartner’s pace layering architecture:
- Systems of Record — common ideas, change infrequently
- Systems of Differentiation — better ideas, change occasionally
- Systems of Innovation — new ideas, change frequently
No flashy metaphor, but a solid marketing stack — and they’ve let us witness its evolution through a major company transition. That’s a wonderful contribution.
5. Element Three Marketing Tech Stack
Speaking of flashy metaphors, this was clearly a bumper crop year for them in The Stackies. This stack from marketing agency Element Three is a particularly fun one.
They grouped different functional areas of their stack and labeled them with riffs on popular movie titles, such as:
- Minority Report[ing] Analytics)
- Enemy of the Stack (Security & Performance)
- Catch Me If You Can (Lead Capture and Nurturing)
- How to Generate a Lead in 10 Days (Ad Tech)
But they didn’t win for their clever movie titles. They won because they introduced a novel insight into their marketing stack illustration that shows the amount of time they spend in each tool.
From a small amount of time (a ticket) up to a lot of time (a big tub of popcorn), they’re giving us a sense of how their team operationally uses these different tools.
That’s an interesting view into a marketing stack, and it’s an exercise that others may want to follow as they thinking about investing in staff training and tool-specific process optimization.
Marketing Stacks from Non-Tech Companies
It was really hard for the editorial teams to choose the winners this year because they were so many great entries.
However, I was particularly impressed by — and grateful for — the number of non-tech (or at least non-martech) companies who shared their stacks this year. It’s a sign of how mainstream marketing technology is becoming that firms from so many different industries are carefully building their martech infrastructure (and sharing it in The Stackies).
In addition to some of the winners, here are a few of the non-tech company marketing tech stacks that stood out to me:
Airstream Marketing Tech Stack
Space NK Marketing Tech Stack
Stantec Martech Stack
Tennant Martech Stack
All 54 marketing stacks entered into The Stackies
Thank you to everyone who contributed to The Stackies this year. Here are all 54 stacks that were entered on SlideShare, yours to download and study: