The Beginner’s Guide to Full Stack Marketing

The Beginner’s Guide to Full Stack Marketing


Growth hackers, full stack marketers, and ninja-rockstars - oh my! 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.

Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

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).

1. SEO

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz
The Advanced Guide to SEO from Neil Patel

2. Copywriting

Copyblogger’s Copywriting eBook Library
Copy Hackers Blog
The Definitive Guide to Copywriting from Neil Patel

3. PPC

How to Create a Profitable Google AdWords Campaign (from Scratch) from KISSmetrics
The Complete Guide to Getting Started with Facebook Ads from Buffer

4. 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

5. Social Media

Social Media Examiner Blog
How to Master Social Customer Acquisition from KISSmetrics
The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media from Moz

6. 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

7. In-Product Marketing

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

8. 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

9. Content Marketing

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

10. Blogging

How to Blog: Blogging Tips for Beginners from ProBlogger
The Ultimate Newbie Blogging Guide: What the Experts Don’t Tell You from Heidi Cohen
The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging from KISSmetrics
16 Top Tips from Blogging Experts for Beginners from Buffer
How to Start & Create a Blog Today: Step-by-Step
The Truth About PR for Startups

11. Storytelling

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

12. Lifecycle Marketing

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

13. App Store 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

14. 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

15. 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

16. Landing Page Optimization

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

17. HTML / CSS / Javascript

Become a Programmer, Mother$&#*er
Coding for Entrepreneurs from Udemy

18. 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

19. Pitching

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

20. 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

21. Business Development

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

The 3 Golden Rules of Full Stack Marketing

1. Never stop doing.

Originally, this golden rule was going to be “never stop learning”, but then I remembered Hiten’s tweet. It’s not enough to read blog posts and eBooks about something, you have to put pen to paper and actually do.

Full stack marketing is all about having a working knowledge of many different tactics. Those tactics are always changing and evolving. So, if you don’t change and evolve with them, you’ll fall behind.

2. If it doesn’t scale, it doesn’t work.

Full stack marketers are agile and scrappy (they have to be). They have to use the limited time and resources they’re given to make big things happen. The key is developing scalable, repeatable strategies.

If it doesn’t scale, it doesn’t work. Most full stack marketers just don’t have the luxury of working with strategies and systems that don’t facilitate exponential growth.

3. Conversions or it didn’t happen.

You’re familiar with the phrase, “Pictures or it didn’t happen”, right? Similarly, if you didn’t get the conversion, it didn’t happen. All of the visits, page load times and average visit durations in the world won’t change the fact that you didn’t get the conversion.

Full stack marketers can’t get stuck focusing exclusively on the top of the funnel. They need to be able to see the entire picture and ensure that leads can progress from one step to the next with ease.

Results are everything. No full stack marketer is being measured by her input.


That’s it, that’s all. Now you know what skills to develop if you want to call yourself a full stack marketer and what skills to look for if you want to hire one. For more information about full stack marketing, follow experts like Kyle Tibbitts, Dan Kaplan, and Morgan Brown.

Did we miss any killer resources for marketers and entrepreneurs? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Serena Epstein

What do you think?


Great blog. Now I know what to call myself

Awesome post, thank you Shanelle. Internet is full of great marketing posts but it’s hard to pick those that stand out of the crowd. I’ll definitely go through your list to do what I love (=marketing) even more effectively.

Absolutely fantastic round-up of #startupmarketing resources!

This is a wonderful resource, I’ve been reviewing a lot of the content for the past couple of days and refreshing my skills from all angles. Thank you!

Really great post, I will change my position to Full Stack Marketing Manager :))

Interesting jargon that I can use 🙂
I would like to have a debate on hardcore programming skills, though.

Great blog Shanelle, now the question is – how do you find them, and hire them, and how do you pick the good ones from the ones who just wear the badge because they think it looks cool?

Awesome. Where do you suggest one starts to learn the most important parts? Ive started
-Whats the 80/20 for Full stack startup marketing?

I figured it would be:
Growth hacking/ Viral acquisition strategies

Amazing stuff!

Now where does one start? Lists are nice. Theres a few more via googling but whats the best way to start?
Whats priority for a newbie? A “Uni educated” marketer? (No technical skills that is)

I’ve narrowed it down to:
PPC(Adwords), Seo, Analytics, Content marketing/creation, and (gasp), growth hacking .
Should I start a blog and write about a passionate topic and apply all the above? Your list is very daunting. I think a summary/plan of action from these kinda posts is very important as right now, its insanely good information but overloading and paralysis-by-analysis kicks in. Just saying!

This link kinda summarizes my views.

Whats the *onboardly* summarized plan to becoming a startup marketer?

Thanks again for all the amazing posts !

Good list – and suggest adding “Product” and “Conversion Rate Optimization”. Serious full-stack marketers will feed all their learning back into product development and new features, while CRO is probably the most critical of all. If you can see where you can squeeze more people out of the off-site, on-site, pre- AND post-sale steps, that’s the best indicator of ninja level-99 skills.

Awesome startup marketing round-up!

I really like the golden rule “Conversions or it didn’t happen”. It’s just so true.

I also like the resource on Kissmetrics under the app store marketing section. It’s a great article about app store optimization.

You know what? I actually set out to make something similar:

It’s like the post on Kissmetrics, but more up to date and comprehensive. I figured, maybe your readers might find this article helpful

Either way, keep up the great work!