When you're looking for a tool, software, or piece of technology to solve a specific marketing problem, where do you go to find it?
Typically, marketers turn to colleagues, friends in the industry, and/or analyst reports to figure out what best fits their needs. But the problem with sources like these is that feedback is scattered. It's spread across 15 different emails in your (already overcrowded) inbox, or across 20 tweet replies from people of varied reputability.
Historically, the only place to go to get an overview of the marketing technology landscape has been Scott Brinker's supergraphic, which gets updated every year to highlight new companies and, more importantly, show how quickly the industry is growing.
The problem with this model? It looks at marketing technology from a technology perspective, not a marketing perspective.
"Scott has done an amazing job of building awareness for the marketing tech landscape," Mozilla CMO Jascha Kaykas-Wolff told me. "But he's first and foremost a Chief Technology Officer with a mind for information technology. He's learned marketing over time. That landscape model feels like you're building and showing products to an IT buyer."
Kaykas-Wolff believed there was an easier way to show the problems that marketers were trying to solve. That's why, last fall, Kaykas-Wolff and Kobie Fuller met over lunch to talk about how to help marketers make sense of the increasingly complex marketing technology landscape.
The result? Last week, Kaykas-Wolff and Fuller released Growthverse: a free, interactive, online visualization of the marketing technology landscape that focuses on the business problems marketers are trying to solve, and leads them to specific pieces of marketing technology that aim to solve those problems.
I played around with Growthverse as soon as it was released and found it to be a really well visualized map of carefully curated marketing technology resources. Shortly after, I had a chance to speak with Kaykas-Wolff to learn more about his and Fuller's creation. Read on to learn more about why they built the tool, how it works, and what marketers can use it for.
Finally: A Tool That Makes Sense of Marketing Tech
First and foremost, Growthverse is a taxonomy of marketing technology resources. It's a tool for marketers, built by marketers, with the help of a community of marketers. And both Kaykas-Wolff and Fuller intend to keep it updated so it continues to be a helpful resource.
Here's a snapshot of what it looks like:
The basic idea is this: You're a marketer, and you have a problem you're trying to solve that you have some knowledge of already. At the very least, you can categorize it. Your problem could be related to anything from marketing automation to content marketing to analytics to paid acquisition.
Let's say, for example, you recently got some budget for paid advertising, and in light of Google's recent algorithm change favoring mobile-friendly content, you're looking for some piece of technology that'll help you advertise to mobile users.
From Growthverse's main page, you look under the "Paid Acquisition" category and find "Mobile Advertising Software."
Click through and you'll find a list of companies that have software for mobile advertising -- all of which were specifically recommended by the 100 or so CMOs Kaykas-Wolff and Fuller consulted when creating the database. Click into any of those listed companies and you'll find relevant, unbiased information that'll help with your research.
The order of companies listed within each subcategory is entirely random.
The crux of the project was founded on approaching marketing technology from a marketing perspective rather than a technology perspective. This meant the tool they built would need to first try to figure out the pain point of its audience (in this case, a marketer with a business problem), and then deliver value to that audience in the best way possible.
Less than a year later, we have Growthverse.
A Measured Approach to Marketing Tech
After taking a first pass on the taxonomy using practical and tactical research, Kaykas-Wolff and Fuller submitted it to a select network of about 100 reputable CMOs. They collected feedback purposefully and then adjusted the classification as needed.
One notable point of feedback the two of them received was that there was a "large divide" between advertising technology and marketing technology. While Brinker's supergraphic covers both, they ultimately decided to solve for marketing technology only and leave advertising technology out of it.
"Ad tech as a category is fairly well understood, especially in comparison to the marketing tech space," Kaykas-Wolff told me. "Maybe in a future version."
This reduced the total number of products and companies in the database by a pretty significant amount. From there, they worked with the marketing community to bring down the number even further until he had a well-curated list of about 600 companies.
These companies are divided into categories, which he narrowed down based on feedback from his network. For example, although paid acquisition and organic acquisition are closely related, he ultimately decided to separate the two based on data and feedback. The final product has nine overarching categories: marketing automation, retention, customer experience, content marketing, organic acquisition, paid acquisition, analytics, data centralization, and collaboration.
How Marketers Can Use It
Kaykas-Wolff sees marketers using Growthverse in tandem with resources like analyst reports and peer recommendations.
"It isn't really a perspective on which companies do which things better," he explained to me. "If I were going to do that type of research, I'd expect an editorialized view. [Growthverse] is more of a categorization; a taxonomy. The expectation is that you use taxonomy to find a company in a specific category, and you find one that matches your needs."