John Wanamaker, a leading American businessperson and a pioneer in marketing in the last century, once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” The second part of the statement wouldn’t hold in today’s world. A lot has changed since advertising was formally recognized as a discipline in the 19th century. In today’s digital age, attributing your marketing success to an advertising campaign is naturally possible, thanks to the intersection and convergence of marketing and technology, giving rise to MarTech.
In practical terms, MarTech refers to software applications or platforms used by marketers to run marketing programs. Marketers can plan and execute campaigns, collect and analyze results, measure, and track performance through analytics, and even apply insights to future campaigns using such applications.
Why do we need MarTech?
The global marketing technology market values at an estimated $121.5 billion, a year-on-year increase of 22%, according to Martech: 2020 and beyond. More than 1,200 new MarTech solutions a year came into the market between 2016 and 2019. The total number is estimated to be over 7,000!
Let’s understand why we needMarTech solutions in the first place. Today’s buyer’s journey pans through changing behaviors, multiple touchpoints, and channels. The buyer is looking for contextual information and conversational engagement with the brand irrespective of the journey’s touchpoints. The CMO’s job has become much more complex, and performance expectations keep rising year-on-year.
As part of the digital wave, companies like Salesforce pioneered the SaaS model. They gave businesses the power to move some of their heavy software investments from CapEx to OpEx. Mobile and social media channels provided customers new avenues to interact with brands, experience content, and transact at fingertips or even by voice, from literally anywhere. Think about how companies like Amazon and Flipkart made commerce so convenient between consumers and businesses. Digital channels exploded with massive volumes of structured and unstructured data, resulting in a strong need to centralize marketing data to impact business transformation.
The blurring lines between the CMO and the CIO
Marketers have been evolving in the past decade, perhaps more than ever before. The constant intervention of the C-suite in marketing decisions, owing to macro-economic and other business factors, has brought along some unique challenges. Collaboration with the CIO has never been stronger, while CMOs have no choice but to be tech-savvy and lead the change, and embrace it, rather than follow it.
Marketers use MarTech stacks to collect customer data, build buyer personas, communicate with customers across platforms, plan and execute campaigns to drive demand for their business. In a way, marketing today owns the entire process of conversations through conversions. Marketing Automation, Social Marketing, Search Marketing, and Web Analytics address the pain points of collecting and managing the ever-increasing amount of data, cross-channel storytelling, creating content, and delivering personalized experiences at scale. The older ways of spraying and praying no longer work in today’s hyper-competitive world. If you are still doing so, you should stop, lest you witness your business’s sure and swift death, behind the facade of some ignorable success of such methods.
Your MarTechStack is yours. One size doesn’t fit all.
MarTech tools help marketers connect with customers at every stage of the marketing funnel to help them navigate the customer journey. Some of them connect with customers at every step of their journey. At the same time, some are specifically designed for a particular stage. This has led to a strong need for organizations to assimilate different MarTech tools into a custom stack. One size never fits all.
Striking the right balance is key to building a successful MarTech stack, which you learn with experience, trial, and error. Once you begin integrating technologies into your stack, you start seeing the scope to plug in creative and innovative marketing elements to further enhance your enterprise’s efficiency in decision-making.
The growth of MarTech and the caution of self-experimentation
MarTech has grown to impact every part of the business as companies move toward viewing customer experience as a continual journey from marketing, sales, and delivery to servicing and repeat-selling. Companies like HubSpot started as an email automation tool. However, they evolved into a powerful MarTech platform spanning across CRM, Marketing, Sales, and Service modules. A key thing for CMOs is to understand that while backend integration of touchpoints is essential, providing a seamless and unified front-end experience to customers is critical.
While all this sounds great, I want to taper off with a note of caution. As part of some great self-experiments, today’s marketers and sales teams are purchasing several point solutions and attempting to piece them together to build their homegrown franken-stack (a term inspired by Frankenstein, who had hoped his creation would benefit all of the humanity but resulted otherwise!). While made with the best intentions, each of these point solutions has its objectives that may not align with different enterprises’ business metrics. Do spend enough time crafting your own MarTech strategy using internal and external resources so that it is built to scale and last, just like your business!
The author is a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of The Higher Pitch, an experience consulting company.