One of my favorite things about Ruby on Rails is that it’s a very opinionated framework. It makes key decisions up and down the technology stack so that I don’t have to. As DHH puts it, Rails is omakase:
A team of chefs picked out the ingredients, designed the APIs, and arranged the order of consumption on your behalf according to their idea of what would make for a tasty full-stack framework.
As a result, it’s remarkably easy for beginners to get started and actually ship something useful without getting bogged down with infrastructure details.
Rails is by no means the only framework like this. The concept of default “stacks” is extremely common in all corners of software development.
Some stacks aren’t wrapped up with a bow like Rails is; rather, they’re written prescriptions of what to use together (e.g., the “LAMP” stack: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP).
While not automated, this still achieves the goal of eliminating up-front research by giving you defaults that Just Work™ and will drastically cut down your time to delivering value.
It’s time for marketing stacks
With the proliferation of marketing tools over the past few years, I think we’re desperately in need of some default marketing stacks.
You can quickly become paralyzed by choice when trying to setup a full-fledged marketing stack. There’s so much to consider: lead capture, analytics, email marketing, contact management, behavioral automation, A/B testing, social media, and more.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone just gave you a shopping list and how-to guide for all the components that work really well together for your particular scenario, be it SaaS, e-commerce, enterprise, or whatever?
Wait, doesn’t marketing automation software solve this problem?
To be blunt: no.
Marketing automation suites like HubSpot attempt to be all-in-one solutions, but none of them does everything I need. Even if I had the budget for HubSpot or Marketo, I’d still want to supplement with Segment, Mixpanel, and Google Analytics at minimum.
What’s more, these massive suites tend not to be as opinionated as they should be. They provide so much flexibility and power that it’s easy to get lost down a rabbit hole. This is exactly why I decided to write Mastering HubSpot. I wanted to remove all the decision-making and provide readers with a detailed prescription for how to use the software to get the best results.
A low-cost marketing stack that I love
I put together a powerful, yet cost-effective stack for my SaaS app Munchkin Report. It literally costs me $9 per month.
This stack is ideal for pre-revenue bootstrappers who don’t want to invest a ton of money but want to be poised for growth.
What’s in the stack?
- Segment (free for 100,000 events/mo)
- Google Analytics (free as in beer)
- Mixpanel (free for 25,000 events/mo; 200,000 events with badge)
- Optimizely (free for 50,000 uniques/mo)
Marketing Automation (opt-in forms, email marketing, automation, and CRM)
- ActiveCampaign ($9/mo for 3 users; used to be free)
Bam. 9 bucks per month.
I’m writing a highly detailed setup guide that will walk you through how to best configure and tune this stack end-to-end for your business, so stay tuned for that!
Other super-cheap or free marketing tools you’ll catch me using for Munchkin Report, but I consider outside the scope of my core marketing stack include:
- Share by SumoMe (free) for easy social sharing on the blog
- Scrollbox by SumoMe (free) for pop-up lead capture on the blog or sales site
- Perfect Audience (free to signup; CPM billing) for retargeting
- Wistia (free for up to 50 videos) for video hosting
- Buffer (free up to 10 buffered posts) for social media
Keep in mind, while the philosophy of a stack is to dictate sensible defaults, you should feel free to substitute when the need or desire arises.
Note: I have zero affiliation with the tools I mentioned in this post.