The Stackie Awards are presented each year at the annual MarTech Conference, a vendor-agnostic conference series put on by Chiefmartec.com, Third Door Media, and MarTech Today.
The Stackies challenge entrants to visualize the tools in their martech stack, illustrating how each marketing category is connected.
This helps clarify a company’s marketing and digital transformation strategies, shedding light on how they’re using technology to facilitate operations, work with customers, and approach prospecting, nurturing, and sales.
It also illuminates how companies track and measure their customers and marketing initiatives.
There were 48 entries in the 2019 Stackie Awards and five winners (the 2020 winners haven’t been announced yet). All 2019 entries were published on Chiefmartec.com, a blog maintained by Scott Brinker, VP of Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot.
I think there’s a lot we can learn by reviewing the Stackie entries, starting with trying to answer the question: what does the ideal martech stack look like?
It’s a good thing I wasn’t expecting to have an epiphany about what the perfect martech stack looks like because, just like fingerprints, each Stackie entry is unique.
That’s not surprising considering the martech technology landscape contains more than 8000 martech solutions across six main categories and numerous subcategories.
The Stackies don’t limit entrants to a specific number of categories, so one of the most interesting aspects of each visualization (in my opinion) is how entrants chose to categorize their tech solutions.
AB InBev, the parent company of Anheuser-Busch, included only three main categories, but their visualization includes many more subcategories (32 total).
Other companies mapped their tech to the customer journey. This made much more sense to me at first, until I realized it often left out the important step of strategy and planning, starting instead with acquisition.
AdWerx Enterprise, a marketing automation platform, grouped tools like Slack, Salesforce, and Facebook within Lead Gen & Prospecting. Theirs was one of my favorite slides, though they weren’t a winner.
There’s a considerable amount of crossover with tools, which can add some confusion to the visualizations.
For example, as demonstrated in Adwerx’s stack, Facebook can be used for lead generation and prospecting, but also for customer outreach and communication. Elegantly visualizing this crossover wasn’t an easy task.
While there isn’t a fixed list of martech categories in the contest, most entries included a variation of the below list. It’s worth mentioning that these categories don’t have to be linear.
Some entrants represented them in a circle—the perpetual cycle with no beginning or ending, while others represented them as more of a maze, and still others listed them out in funnel form.
Reviewing the Stackie Entries really clarified the complexity of the martech landscape for me, and the challenges that organizations face in trying to manage and maintain the many tools available to them.
I deliberately focused on the martech side of the Stackie entries, but there are categories missing from my analysis—eCommerce and operations tools like CDPs and DAMs, for example.
Simplicity was the exception rather than the rule with many of the 2019 entries. A key challenge in 2020 (and beyond), will be for companies to not only understand how all of their tech fits together, but how to simplify it.
To this end, it can be extremely helpful to see what martech stacks look like for other companies within your industry which is why I found the Stackie entries so fascinating.
They represent not only the tech use to facilitate a company’s overall growth strategy, but provide insight into their marketing strategy and philosophy.
We asked Scott Brinker of Chiefmartec.com his thoughts on the Stackies. Brinker responded via email: “The discipline of marketing technology management is still quite young. The field has advanced rapidly in a very short time, and as a community, martech and marketing ops professionals have a lot to learn from each other. That’s what I love best about The Stackies: through the generosity of those who share their stacks and the way they conceptualize them, we all benefit from seeing a wide variety of real-world examples of martech toolsets. It’s a gold mine of ideas, patterns, and trends over time.”
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