The begginer’s guide to full stack marketing

Full stack marketers are on the rise and in high demand, especially in the startup space. So, whether you’re a marketing pro or a startup in search of one, you definitely want to know what it means to be a full stack marketer.

What is a “full stack marketer”?

You’ve likely heard the term “full stack engineer” thrown around. It’s used to describe engineers who can complete a project from start to finish… all by themselves. They have a background in everything, but they’re an expert of nothing. Somewhere along the way, we applied that same concept to marketing and ended up with full stack marketers.

Full stack marketers have a working knowledge of all of the modern marketing tactics, from PPC and email marketing to social media and PR. They use that knowledge to create integrated growth strategies that they are capable of executing with limited external resources.

Why Startups Need Full Stack Marketers

Full stack marketers are die-hard generalists. And while the generalist vs. specialist debate is tired, most entrepreneurs would agree that startups should hire generalists in the early days and then focus their attention on specialists. Why? In the beginning, startups need people who can wear many hats.

If a PR pro is your first marketing hire, they’ll likely also have a working knowledge of content marketing and social media. But you’ll need to outsource PPC, landing page optimization and analytics. If a PPC pro is your first marketing hire, they’ll likely also have a working knowledge of landing page optimization and analytics. But you’ll need to outsource PR, content marketing and social media.

Full stack marketers are ideal first non-technical startup hires. They’ll take you from 0 to 90, building the framework, establishing early traction, and allowing you to grow rapidly for the first year or so. But full stack marketers are rarely the ones who can take you from 90 to 100.

Why? In the later days, startups need specialists to grow the framework they built their early success on.

Seems like you’d have to have a difficult conversation, right? “Thanks for everything you’ve done, but… we don’t need you anymore!” Fortunately, by the time a startup is ready to hire marketing specialists, most full stack marketers already have their eye on a younger startup or a VP of Marketing / CMO role.

That’s just the natural progression. Either they love the early, rapid growth stage (and they’re leaving) or they love the way different marketing tactics come together (and they’re advancing). Why VP of Marketing / CMO? Because they understand the moving parts… all of them. They won’t favour one tactic over the other because they’re more familiar with it, they’ll design strategies for rapid growth and hire specialists (who are smarter than them) to make it happen.

What goes into the full marketing stack?

Here’s a list of what’s commonly considered part of the full marketing stack (and some resources to get you started).

Startup Marketing

With startup marketing, you must first ensure that people love the product. All the really successful companies of today started with a product that their early users loved so much they told other people about it. If your product doesn’t have raving ambassadors, you will fail. If you deceive yourself and think your users love your product when they don’t, you will still fail. The startup graveyard is littered with people who didn’t take this seriously. Check out Sean Ellis’ post on achieving product/market fit and Sam Altman’s Startup Playbook. KISSMetric’s Ultimate Guide to Startup Marketing provides more detailed tactics.

Sean Ellis’ blog Startup Marketing covers a lot of these different topics well. You’ll also want to note that he’s now blogging on the Qualaroo blog (his startup) so bookmark both of these.

1. Website Auditing:

You need to be able to pour over the website’s design, its content, the stats, and the strategies that make the site visible to the right audience and how it converts those visitors.


Search Engine and App Store Optimisation refers to how easily your website or app is found when your ideal audience search for a solution to their problem online. Start with the Beginner’s Guide to SEO and Decision Making in the App Store.

3. Copywriting

Titles, headlines, landing pages, blog posts etc., you need to be able to communicate ideas well, and inspire people to take action. Web visitors are increasingly distracted online, so you need to pull them in with something interesting or exhibit how you’ll solve their pain. And then you need to follow-up effectively, since most people won’t buy on their first visit. Learn from the pros at Copyblogger and Copy Hackers.

4. PPC

Traction is what separates a viable business from a really good idea. It’s what shows that your business can grow and sustain itself. It’s a way to show that a dollar invested into your business will always result in three dollars of revenue. It’s the proof that your business model isn’t based on assumptions, but on actual hard data. Lead generation prior to launch will help you gain that early traction. Wordstream and LeadPages have 6 Lead Generation Strategies from Fast Growing Startups and Gleam share 15 Early Traction Strategies for Startups. Bill Widmer of ChannelApe has created a massive list of 200 Marketing Hacks & Tools to Ensure Your Startup Crushes It.

Remarketing: Statistics commonly quote 96% of visitors leave a website before converting and 46% of people visit a website 2 to 4 times before making a purchase. Online shopping carts are abandoned over 70% of the time and customers typically remove 60% of the items originally added to shopping carts. Remarketing allows you to remind the prospect of their original intent as they browse other websites. KISSmetrics’ Remarketing Guide is a good place to start.

5. Email Marketing
A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Email Marketing from KISSmetrics
Email Marketing Field Guide from MailChimp
The Definitive Guide to Engaging Email Marketing from Marketo

Good old faithful email remains one of the best distribution channels for marketing. Permission email is the name of the game. Effectively use the power of email by creating and optimising an email that gets delivered, read, and achieves desired results. I highly recommend reading Nathan BarryAndre Chaperone’s and Patrick McKenzie’s courses are incredible. For Email Intelligence, you won’t find better than LiveHive’s blog.

6. Social Media & Inbound Marketing:

You need to know how to use social media to draw people into your world, rather than continue the old (and broken) method of broadcasting and chestbeating. By aligning the content, you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time. Read Neil Patel’s Advanced Guide to Content Marketing and check out for the latest on inbound marketing.

7. Video Marketing: With online video quickly becoming a key means for people to satisfy their information and entertainment needs, small businesses that fail to include video in their internet marketing strategies do so at their peril.

8. Positioning

Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Branding & Positioning 4 Startups & Sith Lords from Dave McClure 
The Right Way to Position Your Startup Against Competition from VentureBeat

9. In-Product Marketing

Sean Ellis’s Blog 
How to Measure If Users Love Your Product Using Cohorts and Revisit Rates from Andrew Chen

10. Public Relations

A Beginner’s Guide to Public Relations for Tech Startups from KISSmetrics
PR Daily
Top 10 PR Tactics and Strategies of Successful Content and Link Building from Lexi Mills

11. Partnerships: Creating the right partnerships as part of a market development strategy can help you create whole product solutions as quickly as possible and differentiate your product or service. T.A. McCann has a great list of 10 Do’s and Don’ts that make successful startup partners.

12. Content Marketing

Content Marketing Institute Blog
The Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing from Neil Patel
The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing from Neil Patel

13. Blogging

14. Storytelling

Every startup needs a story. Stories are almost always fun and engaging to read. People love a good story behind a product or service. According to Rand Fishkin, there is “an odd correlation with brand narratives and successful brands.” As a marketer, being able to tell compelling stories is a must-have skill because you’ll be able to connect to users emotionally and inspire desired actions. Learn how to tell stories by visiting The Stanford Storytelling Project.

Why Our Brains Crave Storytelling in Marketing from Fast Company
Seth Godin’s Blog

15. Lifecycle Marketing

The Customer Life-Cycle Marketing Playbook from Forrester
Infusionsoft’s Lifecycle Marketing Resource Library

16. App Store Marketing, mobile marketing

App Store Marketing Guidelines from Apple
App Store Optimization – A Crucial Piece of the Mobile App Marketing Puzzle from KISSmetrics 
App Store SEO: The Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Mobile from Moz

Mobile is eating the world. Whether marketing your mobile app or targeting potential customers searching from their phone, mobile marketing is growing exponentially in importance. For mobile app marketing, I’d check out Flurry’s blog and somewhat surprisingly, Mashable’s Mobile Marketing section is a good place to learn and get creative ideas.

17. Analytics

You cannot improve what isn’t measured, so you must have analytics setup properly and know how to extract the data you need. No exception. KISSmetrics provides the most extensive sources for analytics.

The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics from Fast Company
The Beginner’s Guide to Startup Analytics from KISSmetrics
Startup Metrics for Pirates: AARRR from Dave McClure

Predictive Analytics & Marketing: Predictive analytics is the use of statistics, machine learning, data mining, and modeling to let salespeople know how and when to communicate with prospects to have the greatest chance of closing a sale. Predictions are based on systems that leverage every imaginable variable that impacts a customer’s decision to buy. Sales Predict’s blog has meaningful articles on predictive analytics.

18. A/B Testing

Architecting Great Experiments from Kyle Rush
The Ultimate Guide to A/B Testing from Unbounce
71 Things to A/B Test from Optimizely
41 Detailed A/B Testing Strategies to Skyrocket Your Testing Skills from Raphael Paulin-Daigle

19. Landing Page Optimization

 Landing page optimisation is usually associated with A/B split testing because the two work hand-in-hand, but homepages and highly trafficked blog posts are also excellent candidates to split test headlines, CTA’s and images. A highly optimised landing page drives conversions and revenue and split testing is the method to find the highest performing pages. The Unbounce blog is a great resource in learning landing page and conversion optimisation. Also, check out Sprout Social’s “perfect landing page” and Conversion Rate Experts’ CRO 101 Guide.

The Landing Page Optimization Guide You Wish You’ve Always Had from ConversionXL
The Definitive Guide to Landing Page Optimization from Neil Patel
101 Landing Page Optimization Tips from Unbounce

20. HTML / CSS / Javascript

Become a Programmer, Mother%%EDITORCONTENT%%amp;#*er
Coding for Entrepreneurs from Udemy

21. Business Development

The Ultimate Guide to Startup Business Development from Udemy
A Co-Founder’s Guide to Biz Dev from Ian Hogarth

22. Customer Service

7 Ways to Stop Satisfying Customers and Start Wowing Them from Buffer
A Primer on Turning Customer Service Reps into Support Superstars from Help Scout

World class customer support has to be a given. But customer-driven enterprises are taking support further and leveraging the power unlocked by customer data in order to get proactive about identifying at-risk customers while growing the lifetime value of healthy ones. You need to be able to leverage customer intelligence and automation to proactively manage retention, reduce unexpected churn and identify upsell opportunities. Totango offers great insights, and their readers actually share their stuff!

23. Pricing Optimisation: Many startups are starting to use Price Optimisation Models to tailor pricing for customer segments by predicting how each segment will respond to price changes. These predictions are made based on an analysis of Big Data from similar companies in the same industry. While Price Intelligently’s blog is more focused on SaaS companies, their pricing strategies and examples are a great reference point.

24. Pitching

How to Craft the Perfect Marketing Elevator Pitch from HubSpot
How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea from Harvard Business Review

25. Distribution

The Ultimate Guide to Content Distribution from C5 and Onboardly
How to Promote Your Content Across Owned, Earned, and Paid Media from Convince and Convert
17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content from KISSmetrics

26. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the most important online marketing channels. Budgets are growing fast, and marketers are seeing strong returns. The vast majority of marketers are generating real revenue from influencer marketing, and the top 13% are making $20 or more for each $1 invested. KISSmetrics’ Guide to Influencer Targetting is a good place to start.

27. Avodocates Marketing

28. legal advertisement

29. Comunications:

Many start-up founders pay too much attention to the technical aspects of their product, wrongly assuming that people will understand their product the same way in which they do themselves. Your job is to get inside the heads of founders, match their product to a burning need in the market and communicate the solution to the right audience using the right language. See Kevin York’s Startup’s Guide to Communication.

30. Competitor Analysis:

James Caan says that competition is either direct or indirect for any startup or established business. Even if you have a product or service that is completely niche or unique, it is impossible not to face some competition. Dismissing companies because they initially appear too different to yours means that you could overlook some close substitutes which are providing good or better solutions to the same target market as your product or service. You need to know how to effectively analyse all the different types of competitors. Avinash Kaushik has an old (but good) post called The Definitive Guide To Competitive Intelligence Data Sources.

31. Surveys:

Connecting with customers in real-time with an app like Intercom or collecting feedback from customers through apps like Qualaroo is a great way gain important insights from your users. Then, put that feedback into action, whether it’s developing a new feature or copywriting.

32. ffiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketers are sometimes seen as shady, untrustworthy marketers but I tend to find that to be untrue. They’re actually some of the most creative marketers because they tend to just make things happen by doing anything it takes to get the job done. Learning how to do affiliate marketing is just one piece of the puzzle. If you’re trying to grow a startup and you start an affiliate program, you’ll need to learn the ins and outs of managing an affiliate program.

I highly recommend reading Geno Prussakov’s blog on affiliate marketing. He’s seen as a leader in the affiliate marketing space and has written a highly rated affiliate program management book. I highly recommend it by the way.

What A Full Stack Marketer Needs to Know:


  • SEO – How to acquire visitors via organic search by targeting the right keywords, building links, and optimizing your site
  • PPC – How to write, price, and choose keywords to drive targeted traffic at the right acquisition cost
  • Social Media – How to identify, build, and engage an audience on social platforms
  • Email marketing – How to segment and engage your audience while navigating changing email rules
  • App Store Marketing – How to optimize your app store listing to acquire users via app store search
  • PR – How to make a splash with a new announcement, either through with a traditional press release or in coordination with media outlets
  • Business Development – How to create and maintain partnerships to strategically grow your business


  • Copywriting – How to write a compelling story that draws in your audience, whether in a blog post or a 140-character tweet
  • Content Marketing – How to create compelling and sharable media


  • Analytics – How to measure and assess changes to performance against a baseline metric
  • A/B Testing – How to locally optimize your site by making small tests
  • Landing Page Optimization – How to serve a page for a specific audience and use it to convert them to your goals
  • Basic HTML/CSS/Javascript – How to make changes to your product to enable your marketing goals by yourself

The Skills Required to Become a Full Stack Marketer

Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring an expert, it’s important to know some or all the skills that a full stack marketer needs to have in his or her repertoire.

The key skill of an experienced full stack marketer is being able to ignore the “bright shiny object syndrome” of whatever the latest marketing trend happens to be. Instead they focus on marketing principles and draw from a rich and varied set of experiences and tools to apply tried and tested approaches to each specific situation.

As I’ve said earlier, full stack marketers are most comfortable in startup environments, where the culture is entirely different to established companies. With that in mind, its worth looking first at what characteristics make for winners in the startup world. I’ve taken the liberty of adapting of the qualities he looks for to decide whether the founder of a company is a winner and worth backing. If you’re keen on positioning yourself as a full stack marketer or you’re looking for someone to help launch your startup, make sure these qualities and characteristics exist before focussing on the skills of the individual. One thing to keep in mind is that not everyone has all of these qualities, and people frequently succeed without many of them. These are just some of the signals that Jason sees most often — but not exclusively — in a successful founder (and by extension, a full stack marketer).

Full Stack Marketer Characteristics

  • Resiliency: the #1 trait in winners. Are you able to quickly recover from difficulties or from campaigns that don’t work and try something else? Are you open to new ideas, to taking the best from a multitude of tactics and cobbling together something new? Can you adapt quickly to the rapidly changing landscape of user acquisition tactics?
  • Relentlessness: the #2 trait in winners. Do you have a track record of keeping going against all odds? Are your ongoing attempts creative, or do you keep doing the same old thing while expecting a different outcome?
  • Curiosity: Can you stay abreast of and suck up all the information on the planet, process it, and incorporate it into your strategy — even if that means recognising and then ignoring what you’ve previously learned?
  • Product/Market Fit & Vision: Do you know what the company is building, why they’re building it, and does the dev team know how to make it exceptional? Does the team even know what makes products exceptional? Are you able to identify the excruciating pain point the product addresses and communicate the solution succinctly?
  • Fearlessness: Are you willing and able to take on any project in any vertical without any prior knowledge? Do you have a track record of experience across a range of verticals?
  • Resourcefulness: Do you find ways of turning nickels into dimes and dimes into dollars? Can you find the best way to solve any given challenge with the least amount of effort and cost?
  • Intractable: Are you a willful, recalcitrant individual with strong principles and willing to stick to them even under pressure? If you’re a yes (wo)man — subservient, obedient, and easy-to-deal-with — it’s unlikely that you’ll make a great full stack marketer. If you’ve been called “difficult” your whole life that could be a sign that you’re made of the right stuff (“could” is the important word in that sentence).
  • Debatable: People with big vision, strong opinions and solid principles love to debate their ideas and every aspect of what they bring to the table. If you’re not willing to engage in vibrant, challenging, and sometimes uncomfortable debate you will unlikely succeed as a full stack marketer. If you are hard to talk to, there’s a problem. Communication is a very important skill for full stack marketers — this is possibly the most important rarely-discussed skill.
  • Networkability: Can you get to anyone or do you need someone to hold your hand as you walk into a room?
  • Charisma: There is no substitute for your ability to get people to embrace the startup’s vision. You can call it leadership or sales or charm. It’s all the same thing at the end of the day: your ability to get people to embrace how you and your team want the world to be.

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