ion’s Marketing Technology Stack

My friend and co-founder here at ion is Scott Brinker, aka ChiefMartec. A couple of weeks ago, Scott and I decided to share ion’s marketing tech stack as an example for his second-annual Stackie Awards competition. I jumped at the idea. ion may not be able to compete for a Stackie, but we can sure as heck make one.

 Click for the interactive infographic version of ion interactive’s marketing technology stack. This is what we use and how we use it.
Click for the interactive infographic version of ion interactive’s marketing technology stack. This is what we use and how we use it.

After we created the Stackie, Scott and I chatted about the process and the thinking behind it. When I told him how much fun I had working through it, he laughed out loud. But I wasn’t being sarcastic. It really was a lot of fun to frame our marketing tech in the process it serves. Here’s some of that story.

Competing Ideas

When I started sketching out potential frameworks for our Stackie, I had a bunch of divergent and competing ideas. We could look at it from marketing’s perspective of outputs — social gen, lead gen, demand gen, etc. We could look at it through the old-school AIDA advertising engagement lens (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action — for those of you too young to have covered it). We could look at it by tech capability — content marketing, email/nurture marketing, data append, etc. We could look at it as a funnel. And there were more.

Marketing Technology is Sales Technology Too

Ultimately, it came back to focusing on our buyer and how our business engages with them over the course of their journey. Where we ended up is a reflection of shared ion/buyer goals and objectives with higher-level overlays for marketing operations and measurement.

How our tech fits into the journey was cool to visualize. One of the interesting things that happened early in the process was the inclusion of sales in our marketing stack. Those of you who read my blog posts know that I’m in the camp that sees the relationships between marketing and sales evolving in two significant ways: the line is getting increasingly blurry and it’s moving closer to the transaction. More of the journey is taking place before personal selling begins and the buyer is more in control than ever before. This means marketing tech is sales tech.

Foundational and Helper Marketing Technology

Next, I looked at our stack and how we use each tool. We have two primary classes of tools: foundational ones that provide capabilities used across the journey and helpers that provide specific functionality along the way.

Our three foundational tools are our own ion Interactive Content platform, Pardot marketing automation and Salesforce CRM. We show the journey stages that the foundational tools serve using a colored ribbon for each. We use ion to create and distribute interactive content in our website and across the lifecycle. Pardot uses ion’s high-fidelity buyer profiles to target, segment and nurture our universe. And Salesforce aggregates and surfaces buyers to our sales and accounts teams.

Our helper tech ranges from Hootsuite for social management; to addthis for sharing; Squarespace for our site’s skeleton and blog; Datanyze for data append in Salesforce (leveraged by both marketing in Pardot for segmentation and by sales in Salesforce); Quotient for sales packaging and quoting; and ion’s Sell-Side capability for surfacing the buyer’s digital journey and profile to our sales team. The list goes on and on, with each helper tool providing clear and significant value to our organization.

Operational Marketing Technology

There are tools that are integral to marketing that sit over the buyer lifecycle and fall outside of the foundational and helper classes. These fall into two groups: agile marketing management and marketing dashboard. On the marketing ops side, we use Trello for sprint planning and management; Slack for communication/collaboration and Box for file management. Google Analytics augments tool-specific measurement with a broader perspective and Geckoboard surfaces key metrics in real time to our organization.

Business Perspective

There are thousands of marketing technologies out there. As our CEO and/or CMO, I get pitched almost constantly on the next big thing. And sometimes there’s a fit. But most of the time, there’s not. We hold our stack in pretty high regard and treat it with care and respect to keep it stable. From our perspective, the last thing we want to do is introduce fragility into that customer journey. I imagine a lot of you are in that same boat.

Explore the Interactive Version

We wouldn’t be ion interactive if we didn’t interactivate our passive PDF Stackie into something more. So here you go, the first interactive infographic Stackie. Click around, explore and get a bit more color on ion’s marketing technology stack. We’ll be keeping this up to date as our stack evolves too.

And Enter to WIN!

Oh, and be sure to enter this year’s Stackie Awards! Like I said, ion isn’t eligible to win, but you are! Good luck.

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