After sharing my SaaS marketing stack the other week, I thought it’d be useful to learn which marketing tools other practitioners use.

This type of peer-to-peer learning offers a way to crowdsource the painful work we do to identify and choose from literally thousands 1,000s of marketing technology available on the market.

Recently, I’ve been quietly approaching some of most respected growth practitioners with a simple question…

What marketing tools do you feel are a must have?”

The result? 19 companies from a variety of stages and business models got back to me. They were cool enough to share the tools they spend hundreds of hours using each month:

marketing and growth tools study

In this post we’ll dig into each tool. As you scroll through this post, you’ll get:

1.)  Background behind the Marketing & Growth Stack Study (Spreadsheet) and why learning from peers can help you save time and discover great products you’ll actually use.
2.)  Quick guidelines to help you select your next growth tool.
3.)  A method to quickly check which marketing tools almost any company uses.
4.)  Background on each of the initial companies who submitted information to the study so you can save time looking at those most relevant to your goals/resources. 

5.)  Guidelines on how to submit YOUR company growth stack to this evolving study.

Background on The Marketing Stack Study

There are plenty of ways to find another shiny marketing tool. For this study however I was focused on tools that are actively being paid for, or otherwise have found a place within a repeatable growth program. 

Although I love using ProductHuntBetalist and Crunchbase I’ve found inconsistent results when trying to discover a tool to actually use or pay for.

In coming up with last week’s post on how to get anyone’s email address, more than half of the tools I searched for on ProductHunt were no longer available. This may just be the nature of email tools, although I’ve been surprised to see negligible upvotes for a variety of products I actually use.

Toofr, which is a email search product I’ve used for quite some time for example only picked up 15 upvotes.

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 1.31.13 PM

The above services place a heavy bias on recent products, which are naturally the most unproven. At this stage, you’re not likely to get credible reviews or evidence on how well the product may work for you.

An alternate approach we could take is to look into the code of relevant sites, and inspect the code they’re using. This strategy can be useful for recon (I’ll show you how to do below) however doesn’t give us the best context around whether a tool is actually being used.

For this study, my focus was to ask practitioners which tools they currently use and feel are a “must-have.”

To help provide context, I asked each practitioner provide descriptions about what they did, as well as describe a particular tool and give us their company stage, business model, growth team size and primary user acquisition channels.

I started mostly interested in the higher leverage tool investments, although I have to say I personally found a number of interesting smaller tools in the process. I walked away with a publisher analytics tool and a WordPress plugin that I’m currently testing on GrowHack. I’ll also be testing another tool that promises to convert Google docs to HTML. If it works, it’ll save me 2 hours a week.

This study can also be useful if you’re building your own marketing product, learning how about how other purchase this type of technology, or just want to better understand the systems these companies are using to run growth today.

Before we go into the study, let’s I’ll preface it and say the tools used by the practitioners I spoke with aren’t in any way set it stone.

Thoughts on Chosing Marketing Tools

Two quick thoughts on how to think about choosing marketing tools. 

1. A tool itself isn’t as important as how it’s used.

In some cases, like in the the more mature marketing automation space, the product’s in the market have all the features we really need. In this study it was was common to see a number of companies develop their own in house tools as they grew or optimized their models.

2. Just because a peer is using a tool, doesn’t mean you should. 

We’re each optimizing toward our own unique ideal customer profile and have our own goals and resources. I’d recommend you get a clear idea of your specific goal and resources before testing too many tool options.

For more on way tools can fit into a repeatable growth process check out my earlier post earlier post on a fully loaded SaaS marketing stackStarting from this insight can help us avoid ‘shiny tool syndrome’ and focus on actions that will will make an impact in our business. 

How to Do Quick Marketing Tools Recon

Before we go into the study, you should know you can figure out what marketing tool any company uses in a couple seconds with a free plugin like Ghostery or Datanyze.

Inspecting GrowHack with Ghostery, I get 11 seemingly behind-the-scenes trackers:

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 9.45.55 AM

Datanyze on the other hand, picked up 40 technology used by GrowHack.

Using an inspector is great, until you run into conflicting or out-of-date data. From the outside, you there’s no way to know if GrowHack uses MailChimp or Drip:

datanyze plugin

This is what makes looking at qualitative information we focus on with the below study the more useful.

Two great ways to do intel on tool usage and migration are with BuiltWith or Datanyze. Here’s a snapshot that I pulled from a free Datanyze report that goes into how the world of marketing automation tools looks like this month:

marketing tool migration

Based on an external analysis, I can see which tools are being used and tested by others in a category to use the crowd to identify tools to test.

You can use this type or report on a dozen of other categories of software and this approach can certainly helpful to strategize about a particular go-to-market approach as well.

Learning From Other Growth & Marketing Stacks 

Here’s the link to the full Growth Stack Study (Google Spreadsheet)

To to use the spreadsheet:
Step 1: Click the above link and make your own copy.
Step 2: Sort the spreadsheet by your main bottleneck or goal (acquisition, activation, retention, referral, revenue, operations).
Step 3: Identify products that help with this goal you can test now or note to check out later.

Here’s some more color on each company included in the initial study to provide context on their stack and tool decisions:

1. Namely

namely marketingWhat they do: All-in-one HR software
Business model: SaaS
Source: Nick Christman (VP of Performance Marketing)
Marketing Team Size: 25
Company Stage: Growth
Link to Namely’s marketing stack

Additional commentary from Nick on the top 5 areas he felt he wasted time with tool selection:

Project management tools. Staying organized and managing projects is about people and their focus and discipline. With that, Google docs work fine. We tried everything else, too, and nothing moved the needle.

Predictive lead scoring. We’re a hungry sales team. Our reps want to follow up most leads and they tend to know where to invest their time. Low impact.

Heat mapping. People spend their time above the fold, so optimize there. If you give them a header, they click it. Lessons learned.

Social media monitoring. Hubspot’s built in capabilities are fine. You need a lot of time to do more with the rest.

Retargeting vendors. We spent a lot of time switching or thinking about doing so, and it didn’t have much impact. Just pick one and manage it.

2. Buffer

buffer tools

What they do: Social media scheduling and analysis
Business model: SaaS
Source: Kevan Lee
Marketing/Community team size: 7
Company stage: $10M ARR
Top Channels: Social, SEO
Link to Buffer’s marketing stack

3. Livestream

livestream tools

What they do: Global livestreaming platform and services provider.
Business model: SaaS
Source: Amber Van Moessner
Growth Team Size: 6
Top Channels: SEO, Content, Events
Company Stage: Growth
Link to Livestream’s marketing stack

4. Growthhackers

growthhackers projects
What they do: Content curation and platform for managing growth experiments.
Business model: SaaS
Source: Sean Ellis (Founder / CEO)
Growth team size: 4
Top channels: Twitter, SlideShare, Invites
Company stage: Series-A
Link to Growthhackers marketing stack

5. Hired

hired growthWhat they do: Job search marketplace.
Business model: Marketplace
Source: Zack Onisko (VP of Growth)
Company stage: Series-B
Link to Hired’s marketing stack

6. Drip

drip marketing

What they do: Marketing automation provider.
Business model: SaaS
Source: Zach Grove
Company stage: Acquired (by Leadpages)
Link to Drip’s marketing stack

7. Drift

drift chat tool

What they do: Connect businesses with their customers.
Business model: SaaS
Source: Dave Gerhardt
Growth team size: 2
Top channels: Content/PR
Company stage: Series-A
Link to Drift’s marketing stack

8. Inman

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 9.09.10 AM

What they do: Real estate industry research.
Business model: Media/SaaS
Source: Morgan Brown
Growth team size: 2
Top channels: Search, Social
Company stage: $3M+ ARR
Link to Inman’s marketing stack

9. Interstate Analytics


What they do: Help you understand your marketing spend.
Business model: SaaS
Source: Jamie Quint
Company stage: Seed
Growth team size: 2
Link to InterState’s marketing stack

10. Digital Marketer

digital marketer tools
What they do: Digital marketing content and education.
Business model: Media & Education
Source: Ryan Deiss
Link to Digital Marketer’s marketing stack

11. SumoMe

sumome tools

What they do: Tools for web traffic.
Business model: SaaS
Source: Noah Kagan
Company Stage: Self-funded
Link to SumoMe’s marketing stack

12. HubSpot

hubspot seo tools

What they do: All-in-one inbound marketing.
Business model: SaaS
Source: Matthew Barby
Company Stage: IPO
Link to HubSpot’s marketing stack

Conrad commentary: These tools focus mostly on Matt Barby’s must haves. Matt is Global Head of Growth and SEO at HubSpot and writes about how he uses some of tools in this detailed SEO tips post.

13. Segment

segment marketing toolsWhat they do: Data and analytics infrastructure as a service.
Business model: SaaS
Source: Guillaume Cabane
Growth team size: 6
Top Channels: WOM, Paid, Events, Content
Company Stage: Series-B
Link to Segment’s marketing stack

Additional commentary from Brent:

At Segment, we believe the specific tools used are much less important than having agility in experimentation. That agility comes from having a solid analytics foundation. When data is reliable and accessible, you can generate insights quickly that drive growth.

We are always experimenting with new tools at Segment. Our team wants to understand the benefits and features of each tool on our platform. So, our growth stack changes all the time. These are the tools we’re testing out right now. We love all of our tools.

14. Cezary & Co

cezary marketing tools

What they do: Mobile, B2C + B2C Growth Consulting
Business model: Mobile, SaaS, Marketplace, On-Demand, Ecommerce
Source: Cezary Pietrzak
Growth Team Size: 0-5
Top Channels: Paid Social, Email / Push, Content, Lead Gen, Referral Programs
Company Stage: Series A
Link to Cezary’s marketing stack

15. Teachable

teachable marketing tools

What they do: Create and sell online courses.
Business model: SaaS
Source: Conrad Wadowski
Growth Team Size: 7
Company Stage:$3M+ ARR
Top Channels: WOM, Search, Partnerships
Link to Teachable’s marketing stack

16. Expandery

expandery acquireWhat they do: B2B consulting
Source: Peter Borden
Growth Team Size: Various
Company Stage: Various
Link to Peter’s marketing stack

17. Task & Purpose

veteran marketing tools

What they do: News & culture content for military veterans.
Business model: Media
Source: Aubrey Arcangel
Company stage: 3M Monthly Uniques
Growth team size: 2
Top Channels: Social, SEO, Partnerships
Link to Task and Purpose’s marketing stack

18. CB Insights

cb insights marketing tools

What they do: Market intelligence for venture capital, startups and partnerships.
Business model: SaaS
Source: Anand Sanwal
Business stage: Series-A
Link to CB Insight’s marketing stack

19. AdEspresso

ad marketing tools
What they do: Facebook ads manager.
Business model: SaaS
Source: Massimo Chieruzzi
Growth team size: 5
Top channels: Search, Social, Paid
Link to AdEspresso’s marketing stack

Submit your stack to this ongoing study

To keep the momentum going on this study, I’d love to hear from you if:

1. ) You’re doing at least $10k/mo MRR and have grown an audience of over 100,000. I understand this biases against newer and potential great tools. However for this study I’m interested in products which have strong evidence of staying power.

2. ) You have evidence of a repeatable growth system at your company. This helps make the information most useful to everyone involved. 

3. ) You’re open to reporting on the growth and marketing tools YOUR company is using with a simple explanation as to why you’re using it.  

If you can do either of these, submit your information with this form I’ll get back to you as soon as I can about getting included in the study.

Do you get something out of this study or think something like this could catch on as a way we discover new marketing products? Let me know what you think in the comments below!