I have been working with marketing technology for the past 5 years. There’s a dizzying array of technologies,  plenty of overlap, and a lot of vague and confusing terminology.  To navigate and create a road map for the future at my work, I’ve created a simple visualization to depict these technologies.

I started with a simple marketing funnel, but after I arranged everything and stepped back from my diagram, I realized it looked like a snow cone 🙂  If I had better drawing skills this would be a 3D cone, rotating so you could see delivery on one side and measurement on another, but alas, I am not so skilled, so we’ll have to go with two parallel cones.

At the end of the day, Marketing is a funnel to Sales. Even Brand Marketing can be viewed this way, as it serves to widen the funnel.  The funnel has 3 general layers:  brand as well as product and service Awareness, deeper customer Knowledge of one’s products, then Consideration. Ultimately, all of these leading down to a Lead or a sale. Some customers go straight to a sale without passing through these layers as defined by the company’s Marketing path, but in one way or the other they do proceed through these natural steps.

Feeding into the overall funnel are three kinds of sweet syrup (ummm, customers): the Anonymous Masses; identified, Known Prospects (usually known target names in a b2b context); and our Current Customers, to whom we pitch retention as well as cross-selling & up-selling opportunities. The funnel is cinched up with a Digital Delivery “Wrapper” (depicted here as a belt at the top of the funnel, but in reality for most channels it extends all the way down through the funnel).

The Delivery funnel has a parallel Measurement funnel of analytics tools and approaches.

Below the funnel are online enrollment and ecommerce solutions, which start the fade into sales systems, including CRM, Invoicing, Billing, and other customer touch points.

Some marketing automation vendors pitch themselves as the solution to everything, but in reality, they each serve a niche. Some products and approaches work better with mass digital marketing, others are more suited toward identified prospects and customers.  Some tools are great at top-of-the-funnel lead nurturing, but others don’t work well integrating deeply into sales and customer account systems.  Niche products may require some sort of technical “glue” to tie them together, so technologies like Ensighten have merged.  And, this is all good, because a big, single, “one ring to rule them all” marketing technology would probably be too bulky and inflexible to meet all needs, and subjects the enterprising marketing operation to vendor lock in.

The Snow Cone Applied

Here are some sample companies with their marketing technologies arrayed in this framework:


Firm 1 – open source solutions, home-grown technologies


Firm 2 – more mature, industry-popular technologies at play