Introducing the MarTech Stack Canvas and Where to Download
11 Jan 2022
5 min read
Do you want to create your own MarTech stackie in no-time? Here is a Martech canvas. This canvas also shows how you grow. How marketing drives company value. Every month.
This MarTech canvas helps you to map out your tools, marketing organization, strategy and tactics. You can run your entire marketing department with it, a kind of visual marketing Operating System (mOS).
We built the MarTech canvas based on what we learned in day to day marketing reality, combined with research and insights.
We experimented with a marketing team template with CMOs since early 2016. The basic idea was to integrate all aspects of marketing in one ecosystem. Connect goals, teams and stacks, so to speak.
We used new valuable Martech ideas, like the ‘MarTech Grand View’ and ‘marketing as the growth engine’.
It’s marvelous how so many companies took the effort to design and share their stacks. The various stackies are interesting to consider on their own, but they also are a great resource to run additional analyses on. We crunched the numbers, took the good parts of existing stacks and created a canvas of our own.
We hope this Martech canvas is of help to you. As far as we are concerned, this is only the beginning. Let us know what you think!
This is what we would like to share in this article.
Five Martech canvas building blocks.
The MarTech canvas (png).
Three MarTech canvas variations (png).
One Martech canvas variation for a client (png).
Downloadable Martech canvas + five variations + one client variation (Google Slides).
Why do I need a MarTech stackie?
It all started with a question from the CMO of InternetSolutions, Mayur Soni: “How can I show marketing drives value for the company? I want to show how it all fits together what we do on a daily basis with our people, process and technology. Investors, the board, my team, other departments, newcomers, agencies, interns, they all need to be able to understand instantly what we do and why.”
In my mind, what he needed was a MarTech stack, but then supercharged. It had to include more elements, e.g. the marketing team, the marketing mix, the marketing strategy, etc. The stack and its additional elements all had to fit together. On one page. Visually attractive. Self explanatory.
As if that wasn’t enough, this CMO didn’t plan to just have the overview.
He saw the Martech stackie as a living document. His intention was to actually run his department from this one pager. A multi-purpose MarTech stack, you might want to call it. He actually summed up a list of practical use cases.
The CMO wanted to use the canvas to...
Onboard new hires and new agencies.
Show his team how marketing channels contributed to the bottom line.
Share what tools were at the team’s disposal.
See how his strategy was unfolding.
Check if he made the numbers.
Adjust his strategy, team and stack when needed.
Track costs for people, process and technology.
Use it as a progress report.
This is what he called the marketing Operating System (mOS).
You’re probably thinking “that is quite ambitious”, as did we. What would you do if you were us, apart from panicking a little?
Some cool MarTech stackie research findings
Well, our first step was to -frantically- explore the Martech stackies out there. All of them! Right from the first ones until the most recent stacks, 2015 (21), 2016 (41) and 2017 (57).
We listed all the categories mentioned in all the stackies. Soon enough a very insightful picture emerged!
Our research gave us a stunningly simple and clear answer. We learned there are two fundamental dimensions companies rely on to create their stackie. And for a good reason, as it turns out.
By logically grouping the keywords that companies use to categorize the tools, we saw two main dimensions emerge.
The Funnel dimension. Main keywords used are: attract, acquisition, engage, nurture, convert, loyalty, advocacy, etc.
The Function dimension. Think of keywords like analytics, data, demand generation, productivity, communications, collaboration, etc.
As a next step, we made a simple categorization. Each stackie that mentioned three or more of the keywords we associate with a dimension, we classified as Funnel or Function. When three keywords were found for each of the categories Funnel and Function, we classified those stacks as ‘both’.
39% of the company stackies take the Funnel as a starting point.
52% takes the Function as an important point of reference.
9% did not use either the Funnel or Function dimension.
Interestingly enough, 19% combined both dimensions. Especially the combined version caught our attention.
When taking a step back, you’ll see that the Funnel represents the customer and the Function represents the marketing organization.
The one does not exclude the other. Organization does not exclude the customer. Au contraire. We concluded that the marketing organization should group and align around the customer. You need to define both. It takes two to tango… but the customer leads the dance.
That was a big first step. Time to take these insights to a next level.
Some cool MarTech innovations in 2017
A couple of visionary articles helped us to further design the canvas.
In August 2017, Mayur Gupta made a plea for marketing departments to become growth engines, or else should be replaced. Targets, goals and KPIs should all point towards one thing, and one thing only, company growth.
In summary, these concepts position MarTech in a bigger marketing and company picture. Basically, they show that MarTech serves the marketing organization and the marketing organization serves the customer in its turn. It revealed three important elements to take into consideration. To quote Scott Brinker...
Content. Code. Corporate.
The Creative. The Nerd. The Suit.
The Marketer. The Technologist. The Manager.
The interplay between all three, management, marketing and technology, determines the customer experience and company growth. To make sure this interplay works smoothly, it needs attention of marketing operation managers.
This brings us to five elements.
The MarTech stack canvas
Our quest for Martech canvas building blocks was complete. We now had to put it all together, and we did. Here it is.
This one is vertically oriented. Tell your designer you could rotate it by 90 degrees. Flip the funnel, if you want to. Juggle with the five blocks. Add or split blocks if you need more level of detail.
Feel free to experiment and show us your creations! At the end of this article we include three playful variations based on the canvas. And we share more in the downloadable Google Slide deck.
How do the five MarTech stack canvas elements fit together?
How can we show how marketing drives value with the five elements? This question brings us back to the essence and role of Marketing. Who better to ask than CMOs and marketers themselves?
Over the years, we’ve interviewed countless marketers about some quite specific topics. In addition to the asking about the details, we could never resist to ask CMOs how it all would fit together. We learned the five building blocks basically do not overlap each other, but consistently cascade into each other.
If we would summarize all those conversations, it would look something like this.
The five MarTech stack canvas elements
Let’s talk you through what we believe comes with each territory.
Funnel - Customer Journey
Or should we say Growth? This is where the world of the CMO meets that of the CEO.
This is where, across the stackies, marketers use concepts like customer journey, personas, target audience and customer experience stages.
But in the end, all these concepts aim to make the company grow.
KPI Stack - Management
Let’s enter the realm of the Manager. The Suit. Corporate.
In order to know if you are indeed influencing the attitude and behavior of the right customer, you’ll need some sort of goal and measurement.
Here companies frequently use keywords like ROI, strategic objectives, targets, KPIs and dashboards and reports.
Tip: find the right marketing KPI by funnel stage here.
MarTech org - Marketing
Now, let’s enter the realm of the Marketer. The Creative. Content.
In order to hit those KPIs, to change customer behavior and beliefs, marketing distributes marketing messages. These are also known as the marketing mix, channels, media, content, collateral, campaigns.
The Org is not only about the internal teams involved, but also about external suppliers and agencies, and maybe even stakeholders and internal clients.
MarTech stack - Technology
This is the realm of the Technologist. The Nerd. Code.
When creating, producing, distributing and analyzing effectiveness of marketing materials, many repetitive tasks are performed to get the job done. Anything that is repetitive can be automated. This is where the Martech tools play their parts.
Think of keywords like apps, tools, APIs or MarTech stack.
Today, only repetitive tasks can be automated. But with the rapid improvement of artificial intelligence, the more creative tasks that real people need to perform today can be automated soon. Thus, the importance of MarTech in the organization will grow significantly over the coming years.
Marketing Ops - The Oil
To make sure the engines keep running smoothly, marketing has appointed so called Marketing Operations Managers. They are there to keep the marketing ecosystem in sync and up to date.
The ecosystem supports the three areas of Management, Marketing and Technology. They do not only select suppliers or MarTech tools, but also introduce new ways of working, like Holacracy, Lean, Scrum or Agile Marketing.
How to report progress on your MarTech stack?
This specific purpose for the Martech stack is intriguing. It creates transparency and engagement among teams.
Using the Martech canvas as a progress report is simply about showing numbers to accompany the fields you already use. Different kinds of numbers. Numbers related to ROI (or ROMI). Take a quick look at the MarTech canvas and the following explanation.
In the Return area, the ‘Return’ side of the ROI equation, figures represent growth, such as market share, revenue or margin.
In the KPI Stack area, still in the ‘Return’ side of the ROI equation, the figures underpin that growth. Basically these KPIs should derive from the market share, revenue or margin targets.
With the growth goal formulated, make the strategy digestible for the company. It helps if you use umbrella concepts like Get - Grow - Keep, or Attract - Engage - Convert.
Then break down the strategy even further. Assign team relevant KPIs (with a link to the umbrella concepts). These umbrella KPI areas help the teams to relate, or even create (!), relevant personal metrics.
In the MarTech Org area, we now entered the ‘Investment’ side of the ROI equation, the numbers represent costs. There are three main cost locations to pay attention to.
The costs for creating, producing and distributing the marketing elements of all sorts.
The costs for suppliers and agencies (retainers, hourly rates).
The costs for the internal resources (costs/hour, capacity).
In the MarTech Stack area, the costs for tool subscriptions and license fees are the most important to mention.
In the Ops Stack area, you can highlight the costs for your MarTech agency.
The first time you add these figures will be a manual job. It usually turns out the numbers are not readily available. Once you have figured out how to produce them, you will be able to automatically generate them.
For our clients, we put those numbers into Google sheets. Once they’re in there, you can do magic with Zapier. Here is an expert tip. If you use the ‘Refresh charts’ action in Zapier, you will be able to have a constantly updated view on your marketing team performance. Now that is a very comfortable marketing driving seat… How cool is that?
Developed an appetite for designing your own MarTech stack?
We believe that by defining the building blocks for a Martech canvas, we fuel creativity and make marketing a respected party at the negotiation table.
Below are just a handful of MarTech canvas variations to show some of the countless options. We hope it sparks your imagination!
Please download the Martech Canvas here. Below are three more variations, plus one we submitted for the Stackies Awards September 2017.
Custom version for InternetSolutions.com
Based on the InternetSolutions version the designer created these two stackies, one for 2017 and one for 2019.