Breaking Down the Stack: Defining the Full Marketing Software Categories

Digital, Technology

woman using smartphone as code matrix emanates from it

Another year, another terrifying amount of growth in the marketing technology landscape. Based on Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape, the amount of marketing technology available in 2017 grew about 40% from 2016, and now this year has grown by 27%, meaning the sheer volume of options to build out a marketing stack is larger than Charlie Sheen’s bar tab.

chiefmartec supergraphic 2018

We’re looking at 6,242 total platforms broken out across 49 categories, all dedicated to every form of distribution, tagging, optimization, visualization, and marketing known to man. For real, guys, this ChiefMarTec infographic is getting so big you can’t even tell what logos fit into what categories anymore without going cross-eyed.

Obviously there are some mainstays on here, platforms that are synonymous with certain marketing efforts, but it’s tough to stay sharp on a SaaS industry that has this kind of rapid growth. Element Three (specifically yours truly) specializes in data continuity, tracking, and marketing stack development. So allow me to be your sherpa on this mountain of stack options. (And if you’re looking for the top-rated martech companies in each category, head over to our interactive SaaS selector tool!)

Disclaimer: Top-ranked martech solutions are based off of G2 Crowd reviews. At E3, we have our own favorites…but that’s another post for another day.

Full List of Terms:

Advertising and Promotion

In general this one shouldn’t come as a surprise. These categories deal with platforms that enable and optimize marketing and promotion via brand penetration and creative distribution.

Mobile Marketing

martech mobile marketing

These platforms deal specifically with mobile device advertising and marketing tactics. Most in here specialize in the distribution of ads across mobile apps and mobile services, but some dip their toe into mobile optimization, tracking, push notifications, or even share of voice. But all are specific to mobile devices.

Total platforms: 270
Top rated software: Mobiniti, MOBIT, StartApp, Tapjoy

Display & Programmatic Advertising

martech display and programmatic advertising

Most of these platforms deal with display advertising, or the distribution of visual ads across multiple mediums. Broadly these fall into the DSP (demand side platform) bucket, and help manage bids for ads wholesale. Some might specialize in specific sites, others are dedicated to music streaming services, and some utilize artificial intelligence to help optimize spend and placements.

Total platforms: 224
Top rated software: Acuity, AdSupply, ExactDrive, LaunchBit

Search & Social Advertising

martech search and social advertising

Search advertising platforms refer specifically to text ads delivered via search engines (such as our overlord Google), and these help place bids for certain phrases locally or globally. Social advertising gets a bit more blurry, but obviously deals with social media platform ad delivery. These could refer to ad tracking, A/B testing, or bidding among others.

Total platforms: 109
Top rated software: Kontentino, PPC Protect, NetElixir, Catvertiser

Native/Content Advertising

martech native and content advertising

Native and content ads refer to online content published on behalf of a organization. These typically come off as more unbiased than a typical advertisement and have excellent engagement rates. Platforms in this category work both on behalf of the publication looking for organizations to purchase placements, and for advertisers looking for PR-esque opportunities with more control.

Total platforms: 77
Top rated software: Gold Lasso, Nudge, StackAdapt, Zemanta

Video Advertising

martech video advertising

SaaS in this category generally fall into the video servicing bucket, but aren’t necessarily limited to advertising through video platforms (though some certainly are). Some platforms here help in the creation of videos, the optimization of video assets, or the tracking and analysis of video performance online.

Total platforms: 57
Top rated software: YouTube, Gruuv Interactive, Vungle, Panopto


martech pr

The breadth of the PR category is so wide it’s a little scary. Some of these platforms are closer to the social monitoring side, tracking and quantifying results from media placements and brand permanence. Others help connect you to media outlets for earned media opportunities, while others even resemble influencer platforms to help distribute coverage.

Total platforms: 57
Top rated software: PRgloo, Mustr, NewsAI, Muck Rack


martech print

This is one traditional area that is boldly charging into the digital realm. Orgs in this category deal with printing physical materials, but that could range anywhere from event signage and direct mail to 3D printing objects.

Total platforms: 38
Top rated software: PsPrint, Inkit, Postalytics, MOO

Content & Experience

In my opinion, this is the broadest category of providers, which for the purpose of consolidation I get. Yet it’s tough to place an app management platform with an SEO tracking system next to an email delivery system. Most of these platforms are absolutely critical in that they establish the foundation for data collection, lead generation, sales, and user engagement.

Mobile Apps

martech mobile apps

Obviously mobile experiences are critical in today’s tech landscape. Platforms in this category range from hybrid app development environments to UX testing and deployment and analytics.

Total platforms: 95
Top rated software: Monaca, UXCam, Avoka, Catalog Bar

Interactive Content

martech interactive content

Platforms in this category look to move businesses and online assets away from static properties like images and white papers, and toward a more engaging and interactive state. “Interactive” here means quizzes, polls, infographics, games—anything. Services within this category assist in the creation of these assets as well as their deployment and tracking.

Total platforms: 160
Top rated software: Avoka, GameSalad, Genially, Opinion Stage

Video Marketing

martech video marketing

Don’t ask me what video marketing is, it’s pretty obvious. Most of these platforms deal with the hosting of your video assets and analysis of how they perform online. Some, though, work to transform videos in animations or even transition your assets into lead generating opportunities.

Total platforms: 56
Top rated software: Vzaar, vooPlayer, Videolicious, Cincopa

Email Marketing

martech email marketing

Big email software like MailChimp and HubSpot falls into this category, but specialization is starting to emerge within the email marketing bucket. Send time analytics, contact deduplication, and database optimization in regards to email efforts are now supplemental tools to your email delivery agents.

Total platforms: 175
Top rated software: Seventh Sense, FireDrum Email, LeadGnome, Benchmark

Content Marketing

martech content marketing

HubSpot popularized the concept of content marketing, and SaaS companies have taken advantage of it. These martech solutions vary from content creation and publishing to content marketing automation and management.

Total platforms: 232
Top rated software: InPowered, nDash, Yseop, Powerpost

Optimization, Personalization & Testing

martech optimization personalization and testing

A lot of web and landing page optimizers fall under this category. Platforms also utilize artificial intelligence to help generate content and marketing suggestions to contacts based on known qualities and interactions. Very cool stuff here.

Total platforms: 198
Top rated software: ContentSquare, Retention Science, Roojoom, Validately


martech dam and mrm

Digital asset management, or marketing resource management, deals with the hosting and distribution of various files for your marketing activities. Niches exist here for finding files faster, compression or delivery of said resources, continuity of assets to brand standards, and analysis of usage/access.

Total platforms: 146
Top rated software: Adgistics, Templafy, Cloudfind, Honeycomb Archive


martech seo

Search engine optimization deals with the indexing of online content and its connection to organic search engine keywords. Platforms here help in the optimization of online content, links, and the identification of opportunities for websites.

Total platforms: 127
Top rated software: CanlRank, Mondovo, Synup, Rio SEO

Marketing Automation and Campaign/Lead Management

martech marketing automation

Automation and campaign platforms assist in marketing to known contacts by engaging and re-engaging them with messaging from email, push notifications, chat and more. Most of these platforms would include analysis of activities performed and how they integrate with your greater marketing campaigns.

Total platforms: 127
Top rated software: CanlRank, Mondovo, Synup, Rio SEO

CMS & Web Experience Management

martech cms and web experience

Content management systems are the “front end” UI to the back end of your website. Essentially they are the platform access for you to easily access, edit, and manage your website’s content. Some platforms help with hosting or analysis, but most within this category deal with the actual management of your site.

Total platforms: 196
Top rated software: The Grid, Solodev, Concrete5, WP Engine

Social & Relationships

This is another very broad category of tools. Community management, influencers, live events, chatbots, and call management all are pretty distinct from one another, and sway from customer retention to sales. Yet they still refer to the use of communities that exist in the world, and how to manage and connect with them for your brand.

Call Analytics & Management

martech call analytics and management

This bucket of tools refers to platforms that specifically assist in call tracking. This may be for the purpose of sales or customer service. Most provide analytics on the types of activities coming from your callers, while others offer specialized tools such as call transcription and lead attribution to various sources.

Total platforms: 89
Top rated software: Ruler Analytics, WhatConverts, Jiminny, Retreaver


martech abm

Account-based marketing is a relatively new concept, where B2B businesses target prospects at major organizations (and the influencers who work there) to market their services directly to them. This is actually the smallest pool of platforms within the entire stack, so benefits and functionality are still being ironed out.

Total platforms: 37
Top rated software: Folloze, Bizible, LeanData, Triblio

Events, Meetings & Webinars

martech events meetings and webinars

This technology can be used to help generate leads through events and webinars, as well as for simply organizing and accommodating communication via clients, prospects, and remote employees.

Total platforms: 194
Top rated software: JetWebinar, Shocklogic, TapCrowd, Tito

Social Media Marketing and Monitoring

martech social media marketing and referrals

Ah, how social media has waxed and waned over the past 10 years. This is the second largest group of platforms in the stack, which makes sense as so much attention has been placed on new social platforms, the communities within the platforms, and their purchase power. Tools in here vary as much as the social platforms they monitor and connect to: tools analyze posts and visitor activity, optimize ad placements and effectiveness, and provide stats on performance.

Total platforms: 323
Top rated software: Amplifr, Buzzmonitor, Clkim, CrowdRiff

Advocacy, Loyalty & Referrals

martech advocacy loyalty referrals

These tools are generally focused on existing customers, and how to incentivize and reward them for remaining loyal advocates for your brand. A lot of platforms here work on managing these customers and delivering gifts based on certain criteria, while others look to evolve certain customers into brand ambassadors.

Total platforms: 163
Top rated software: CrowdTwist, Forewards, Perkville, Advocately


martech influencers

Social influencers are a great way to earn more balanced promotion from a less biased third party. Platforms within this category work to identify, collaborate with, manage, and deliver payment to your brand’s influencers.

Total platforms: 82
Top rated software: Crowdly, Famebit, IZEA, Revfluence

Community & Reviews

martech community and reviews

Online engagement and user generated content (UGC) are phenomenal ways to expand your brand’s digital footprint, stir engagement from customers and prospects, and earn referral traffic. Be warned, though, it is a double-edged sword, so your reviews (if truly unbiased) can turn on you if your products or services take a dive—though the marketer in me would say that would be a great opportunity to learn and update your offering for the better. Platforms here work to manage online reviews, generate new ones, format their display online, and analyze their benefits.

Total platforms: 115
Top rated software: TrustSpot, NiceJob, Podium, ReviewBuzz

Live Chat & Chatbots

martech bots and live chat

I’d wager this category blew out immensely over the past year considering how gaga Silicon Valley went for chatbots last year. Bots these days can be deployed over a variety of native platforms (a la Facebook or Slack) and be embedded onto your site for visitor assistance. Some companies specialize in bots for sales, while others may help with customer service.

Total platforms: 93
Top rated software: Helloumi, JivoChat, LeadChat, Delighted

Customer Experience, Service & Success

martech customer experience service and success

Platforms here cover functionality like surveys, customer feedback, live chat, forums, and the analysis and impact of their results. Some may function similarly to a website plugin, while others may work across channels, emailing and texting customers based on your preferred setup.

Total platforms: 300
Top rated software: Avoka, Zonka Feedback, Responster, Helpcrunch


martech crm

Customer relationship management platforms are pretty synonymous with business these days. Typically these platforms will organize and aggregate your leads/customers to simplify their management for sales and marketing teams. We all know the big software here, but more specialized software may plug into these platforms to work on lead deduplication, or to focus on a niche industry.

Total platforms: 214
Top rated software: Comidor, Sellsy, BlueCamroo, Salesmate

Commerce & Sales

Platforms within this category deal with the actual sale for brands and organizations. Online or offline, these platforms work to integrate your sales with your marketing efforts and back-of-house delivery.

Retail, Proximity & IoT Marketing

martech retail proximity iot marketing

SaaS platforms here deal with things in the real world (my god, so it does exist…). Brick and mortar locations can be turned into customer tracking or engagement platforms. Proximity marketing may send SMS coupon codes to known contacts walking by or collect data from free wi-fi channels. Lots of cool choices here.

Total platforms: 121
Top rated software: 4-Tell, SalesWarp, VL OMNI, Enplug

Channel, Partner & Local Marketing

martech channel partner and local marketing

For brands with large reach across the globe, local marketing is key to generate demand in localities, particularly with partners and niche distribution channels within each community. Demand generation, local listings, and partner relationship management all fall into this category.

Total platforms: 106
Top rated software: Synup, Brandify, Affise, Localize

Sales Automation, Enablement & Intelligence

martech sales automation enablement and intelligence

So this category is pretty close to CRMs, but the key distinction is that platforms here add more to the process than just a way to track a database of contacts. Efficiency management and sales optimization, channel attribution for sales reps, round-robin lead distribution, and lead identification all feed directly into your CRM and sales cycle.

Total platforms: 490
Top rated software: ClinchPad, Collabspot, OneMob, Saleswhale

Affiliate Marketing & Management

martech affiliate marketing management

Affiliate marketers are bloggers and other third-party websites who promote products and services on behalf of an organization, who in turn pay the affiliate a commission per sale or per opportunity. These platforms work to connect and embed your products through affiliate-owned properties, and manage the relationships and payment distribution for each.

Total platforms: 65
Top rated software: Avantlink, Skimlinks, CAKE, HasOffers

Ecommerce Marketing

martech ecommerce marketing

While carts deal with the actual functionality of generating and closing sales via ecommerce, there’s a whole section here dedicated to optimizing and enhancing that experience. Store optimization, product management analytics, and interactive content customization all work within here.

Total platforms: 203
Top rated software: 4-Tell, Intent Media, sloop1, Katra

Ecommerce Platforms & Carts

martech ecommerce platforms and carts

This category is pretty self explanatory. Depending on your needs, some software providers here specialize in an industry or product type, or offer analytics and different perks, but inherently all deal with the digital sale of goods.

Total platforms: 217
Top rated software: Contalog, MobilityeCommerce, Storm, Workarea


All the systems within your business and stack invariably create a set of data that can be utilized to your advantage. All of these platforms deal specifically with the access, management, and visualization of that data.

Audience/Marketing Data & Data Enhancement

martech audience data and data enhancement

Intel is the name of the game, and with the prevalence of online activity, there are treasure troves of information everywhere to bolster your understanding of your audience and how they engage with your brand. Platforms in this category work to analyze audiences and bolster your existing prospect data with additional insights pulled and correlated from other services.

Total platforms: 190
Top rated software: MightySignal, SalesFuel, Segmentify, WhatRunsWhere

Marketing Analytics, Performance & Attribution

martech marketing analytics performance and attribution

Platforms here provide tracking and analysis across your platforms. The key difference here is ChiefMarTec has it broken down into more specialized areas of focus, not just your broad web analytics. Some may focus on UX, other may focus on ROI or lead attribution, but they all give you the data to make more informed decisions.

Total platforms: 104
Top rated software: ContentSquare, FunnelWise, Newlytics, Proof

Mobile & Web Analytics

martech mobile web analytics

This is another tried and true category. SaaS platforms in this category give you the tracking and insights to your online activity, which may focus on paid media or SEO, but again, the data is provided in a digestible UI.

Total platforms: 145
Top rated software: CoolaData, FoxMetrics, Mattersight Behavioral Analytics, SalesChoice

Dashboards & Data Visualization

martech dashboards and data visualization

This category and the next are a bit confusing to me, since some here might easily apply in the BI category as well. However, with my deducing cap on, I’d hypothesize that platforms in this category would be specific to DIY data visualization on a more fundamental level (if somebody disagrees with me then come fight me!). The bigger BI tools would allow for larger datasets and blending of information across platforms, whereas perhaps the tools here are more of a 1:1 connection from existing data?

Total platforms: 121
Top rated software: ZoomData, Reflect, Supermetrics, Statpedia

Business/Customer Intelligence & Data Science

martech business customer intelligence and data science

So this category, I’m feeling a bit more confident about. Definitely relating to data analysis, data cleansing, and data visualization, but the toolset you’re given is more robust and covers the front-end visualization of data as well as the back-end functionality to clean and blend it together. Bigger datasets, SQL type manipulation, and data merging are more in line with enterprise-level analysis.

Total platforms: 228
Top rated software: ClearStory Data, Prognoz, Salient, Stay Upstream

iPaaS, Cloud/Data Integration & Tag Management

martech ipaas cloud data integration and tag managament

Now where some of the platforms are specific to visualizing your existing data, these platforms are specific to the back-end process of ETL manipulation, cleansing and transferring data to the right places. Some might be specific to various environments or types of data. Tag management tools are specific to the code to collect the data.

Total platforms: 122
Top rated software: HVR, Denodo, Blendo, Flowgear


martech dmp

Data management platforms allow you to to create and target audience groups based on provided and supporting data, which in turn you may utilize for various campaigns and tracking across your marketing efforts.

Total platforms: 77
Top rated software: Clear Analytics, MightySignal, ActivePrime, Leadiro

Governance, Compliance & Privacy

martech compliance and privacy

This category is admittedly a bit of a mystery to me. Inherently I understand the need for compliance globally with local regulation, and privacy to maintain and secure customer and marketing data, but the application and user experience of it, and how it fits into an existing stack of tools, is beyond me.

Total platforms: 30
Top rated software: Ensighten (the only one listed with a review)

Customer Data Platform

martech customer data platform

This is another confusing category to me, as the platforms here sound very similar to the ones listed in iPaaS. They inherently pull data from multiple sources, clean and unify them into one universal model (which a Data Management or Data Integration platform would allow you to do as well). I’m gonna go ahead and quote Wikipedia on this one: “Customer Data Platform (CDP) is a marketer-based management system that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems. Data is pulled from multiple sources, cleaned, and combined to create a single customer view.”

Total platforms: 59
Top rated software: Segment, Zaius, BlueConic, CaliberMind


Final broad category! Management deals with your internal teams and how they work together and communicate. Depending on your business structure, this could mean time tracking, financial management, hiring new employees, or simply just how your team talks to one another on a daily basis.

Talent Management

martech talent management

These platforms are specific to your HR professionals, or those looking to source new talent. There’s a lot of variance here based on business niches and various talent needs, but in general they help internal teams manage required documentation on employees, find new hires, manage time off requests, the works.

Total platforms: 68
Top rated software: DeepTalent, HireHive, Skilo, Teamable

Product Management

martech product management

If you have a platform yourself, or a system that requires upkeep and development, then product management platforms are what you need. These allow you to track engagement and develop strategies for new deployments across your assets.

Total platforms: 27
Top rated software: Validately, ProductPlan, productboard, ProdPad

Budgeting & Finance

martech budgeting and finance

Internal finances, taxes, invoices, balancing your budget, forecasting…very sexy stuff here. Software providers here may specialize towards one end of the spectrum or to a specific business type, but all in all they work to optimize your internal financial and operational structure.

Total platforms: 33
Top rated software: Simple, Microsoft, Adaptive Insights, Longview


martech collaboration

Collaboration could mean a lot of things in the SaaS world. It might mean a specialized intranet for team and sub-team communication. It could mean a chat-esque tool for teams to IM. It could even mean optimizing how you collaborate, a la Doodle and finding the right meeting times for team members. Overall, they’re platforms to help you better connect with your team and get stuff done.

Total platforms: 141
Top rated software: Conceptboard, Intraboom, Knotable, LumoFlow

Projects & Workflow

martech projects and workflow

Productivity management is the name of the game here. These platforms help your teams and project managers track activity, time, and how to prioritize tasks to hit goals. Some platforms are specific to traditional business types and some lean more digital, but this category seems to be specific to a more traditional style of project management (think Gantt charts and waterfalls).

Total platforms: 98
Top rated software: Buddy, Viewpath, HeyOrca, ClickUp

Agile & Lean Management

martech agile and lean management

Productivity management is also the name of the game here, but more towards development sprints. Agile is a more cyclical method of development, focusing on more bite-sized tasks, seeing them to completion and deployment, then moving on to the next task for a full team sprint.

Total platforms: 51
Top rated software: Sandglaz, Simple, Kantree, Taiga

Vendor Analysis

martech vendor analysis

The final category is where ChiefMarTec itself falls: the analysis and management of all these platforms. Obviously this is a stupid long blog post because there are so many services out there (and we only described the categories, oy-vey) so now software is popping up to help you keep track of all your software and purchase new ones. Very mirror-in-a-mirror.

Total platforms: 37
Top rated software: G2 Crowd, Gartner, Capterra, Topo

Think Before You Leap

Good golly that was a long way to go for all the tech platforms out there. It just goes to show that whether you’re just getting into the wonderful world of marketing technology or you’re a martech veteran, you can’t just dive in blind. There’s way too much, and you’ll definitely get lost. So take our roadmap. If you’re looking for a more streamlined way to dig through all of it and the companies within here (including their websites, pricing, descriptive info) hop back up top and play with the interactive chart.

Or if you want some more personalized assistance, you could always talk to your good friends here at Element Three. We’re always glad to help people navigate treacherous marketing territory.

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