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What Is MarTech and Why Is It Important?

January 26, 2020

In this article you will learn:

MarTech – or marketing technology – is a big business. Spending worldwide reached more than $121 billion last year, according to “MarTech: 2020 and Beyond.” In North America alone, MarTech now accounts for 30% of the overall marketing budget spend, up from 14% in 2017.

With the increasing demand comes an explosion in new solutions. There are more than 8,000 MarTech solutions on the market today – up more than 13% since last year – as vendors seek a share of this lucrative, growing market. But more choice among differing vendors makes it complicated for organizations to figure out which solution or combination of technologies is the right for their needs.

With such a robust market and escalating interest in MarTech, here's a primer on what it is, why you need it and the types of solutions available.

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In this article you will learn:

What Is MarTech (Marketing Technology)?

Martech is what the technology – software, cloud-based solutions and platforms – that marketers rely on to plan, execute and track campaigns, then measure and analyze results. It can be applied in many different ways within an organization – from advertising and promotion, content and experience, social and relationships, to sales, data and management.

These MarTech tools have become vital to the success of marketing campaigns, particularly in the increasingly digital world. With so much data available from digital platforms, like social media, content, email and search engines – technology is required to help automate processes, target customers, and collect and analyze data on a scale that is impossible to achieve with traditional, manual processes.

With the right MarTech stack, organizations can improve and optimize their marketing processes, discover new ways to connect with customers on an individual level, and evaluate campaign results.

The Importance of MarTech (Marketing Technology)

In many organizations, there is a silo effect in which different departments, such as sales, customer service and marketing, have limited views of interactions with customers and access only to select data. By not having a holistic view, it is difficult for all departments to work toward common corporate goals and deliver a cohesive and optimal customer experience.

MarTech can bridge these divides, offering a common, centralized platform to keep data in one place and give all departments a view into not only the various pieces of the marketing puzzle, but the big picture overview. too.

By integrating MarTech with other key platforms and systems commonly used in business, marketing teams can understand customer interactions through every touchpoint. The insights derived from this data will enable marketers to quickly pivot and address areas that need improvement, or change strategies to better engage customers throughout their journey.

Benefits of MarTech

The MarTech ecosystem can deliver a number of benefits. By automating repetitive and time-consuming manual tasks, marketing teams can streamline workflows and do more with less. These MarTech tools also reduce internal friction, allowing all departments to work together toward common goals.

Relying on powerful computing tools to gather and analyze data enables marketers to create content, offers and campaigns that are designed uniquely for each individual customer, achieving the marketing nirvana of true 1:1 personalization. This individualized marketing results in stronger customer relationships, greater loyalty and ultimately growth in the customers' lifetime value.

Challenges of MarTech

Even with MarTech platforms in place, there can be some challenges to overcome. First is the marketing team. Along with advanced marketing technology, you'll need individuals who know how to leverage it.

Organizations also often lack access to quality data that is clean and consistent across all marketing channels. And there can be issues trying to integrate data within a centralized platform to create unified views of customers. Without a strong data acquisition and integration strategy, it will be impossible to derive valuable insights from the data and achieve the pinnacle of personalization marketing at scale.

What is a MarTech Stack?

A MarTech stack is a combination of marketing technologies and solutions that can help marketing departments meet their, as well overall business, goals. The different technologies can include email marketing platform, content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, customer data platforms (CDP) and analytics tools.

The types of tools that make up the marketing tech stack can vary depending on the company, its brand goals and whether its focus is business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B). As a company builds its marketing stack, it must start with a strong foundation, and be sure that any additional tools will support and enhance existing efforts.

By continually maintaining and updating the marketing technology stack, companies can gain efficiencies, and achieve personalization at scale that engages and inspires loyalty among its customers.

The Top Tools: Building a Comprehensive MarTech Stack

There are six key categories of marketing technologies that can be combined to create the marketing technology stack:

  1. Advertising and promotion – These include search engine marketing (Google Ads, Microsoft Ads); social media advertising through Facebook or tools like AdEspresso and StitcherAds; and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered programmatic advertising through solutions such as and SmartyAds. Additionally, customer loyalty software and offer optimization platforms like Formation help brands strengthen their relationships with their customers at scale.
  2. Content marketing – These tools help create and distribute content through a variety of digital channels. CMS like WordPress enable brands to host websites and blogs. Search engine optimization (SEO) solutions, like Google Search Console and Keyword Planner, allow brands to improve website rankings and generate more traffic. This category also includes marketing automation platforms, such as HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot; email marketing tools like Constant Contact and MailChimp; and mobile marketing solutions, such as LeanPlum and Serve.
  3. Social media marketing – Managing a brand across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and other social channels can be overwhelming without management tools, like Hootsuite or Sprout Social. Depending on the brand, influencer marketing can be effective, so you'll want to find and connect with the right people through tools like BuzzStream and FollowerWonk. Monitoring interactions with customers on social is important too. Tools like Brandwatch Analytics and TweetReach can help you track industry trends and what's being said about your company.
  4. Commerce and sales – Sales, CRM and customer support tools are all important components of the MarTech stack. Sales automation solutions, like, can help automate everything from prospecting to lead nurturing and improve productivity. CRM systems, like HubSpot and Salesforce, provide a central solution from which you can manage business relationships and related data. And customer support solutions provide helpdesks, knowledge bases, decision-tree software and virtual assistants that improve engagement.
  5. Data and analytics – Leveraging data from multiple sources is key to getting a holistic view of customers and what is needed to optimize personalized marketing. These tools include CDPs, such as Evergage, that help create unified customer profiles by aggregating and organizing customer data; and data analytics that help turn complex information into valuable insights, like Tableau and Klipfolio. Web analytics, such as Google Analytics and FreshMarketer, also help optimize website and campaign performance.
  6. Management and collaboration – To support productivity, it is important to have tools that support communication between all parties, such as Zoom, Slack or GoToMeeting. And to ensure that everyone is on the same page with project management and workflow, solutions like Asana and Basecamp can help track and manage all important tasks.

Learn the 5 steps to build an airtight business case for MarTech in our free guide.

MarTech Strategy

To implement these tools, utilize them effectively and get the most out of your investment in the marketing technology stack, it’s critical to have a MarTech strategy in place. Otherwise, you risk ending up with an array of fragmented technologies that are not delivering cohesive insights, a singular customer view or effective execution.

MarTech strategy should be owned by your marketing team in collaboration with IT, and should focus on 4 key areas:

1. Creating a plan

Your MarTech strategy needs to align with and help facilitate the key goals of your marketing department (which should ideally ladder back to the key objectives of your organization). Consider how your marketing technology stack will support your customer journey, and how your AdTech stack will drive your channel marketing. Equally importantly, make sure your plan prioritizes unified data and insights that can continue to inform your overall marketing strategy.

2. Building a team

Even the most innovative MarTech can’t be effective without people who know how to use it. You’ll need to build a team of experts with the specialized skills to implement your plan. This could include marketing technologists, marketing operations managers, data scientists, marketing automation managers, loyalty and retention managers, and even experts in the growing field of marketing personalization.

3. Choosing the MarTech

Based on the plan you’ve built, you’ll need to decide what is the marketing technology that’s right for your team. You’ll find hundreds or even thousands of solutions within the categories we explored above: advertising and promotion, content marketing, social media marketing, commerce and sales, data and analytics, and management and collaboration. But how can you decide where to best invest your budget?

This is where it’s helpful to collaborate with IT. The Association of National Advertisers recommends working with your IT partners to support 3 key areas: integrated consumer data, which gives you the single view or profile of the customer, decision-making, which helps you evaluate customer behavior and value, and distribution platforms, which automate the distribution of content across all your channels.

4. Defining the process

Create a roadmap for the implementation, adoption and use of your technology. This will help to define roles for collaboration between marketing and IT, but will also help your team hit the ground running once your MarTech platforms are in place. Your internal marketing processes should focus on enabling agility and rapid experimentation—continually running small experiments will help ensure that learning and optimization are always ongoing within your team.

Digital Marketing Architecture - Understanding the structure of the MarTech stack Aligning MarTech with the rest of the organization

When creating your MarTech strategy, it’s important to understand how the different elements of your stack fit together and share data. There are normally four key layers to enterprise digital marketing architecture:

Data Foundation of the Enterprise - The foundation of your MarTech stack is all of the data and analytics your marketing relies on, including business intelligence, customer and product data. Marketing teams that have many disparate data sources often find it useful to unify them with a customer data platform.

Large Marketing Technology Platforms - Much like Microsoft or Google are foundational to productivity at most enterprises, these marketing technologies form the primary executional layer of the MarTech stack. Examples include Adobe, Salesforce and similar platforms. They provide capabilities including marketing automation, customer relationship management, digital asset management, social media management and web content management.

Marketing and Sales Services - These technologies expand your marketing capabilities beyond those of your primary MarTech platform. They integrate with the layers below and execute higher-level functions–a few examples are content delivery, e-Commerce management, online video platforms, offer management, reward fulfillment and offer optimization. While many of these services require marketing teams to generate the content for them, some, such as offer optimization platforms, can build content on their own from your existing digital assets and customer data.

Marketing Channels - The top layer of the MarTech stack includes all of the channels, or touchpoints, where you reach and engage your customers and prospects. For most brands, key channels include email and the brand’s mobile app, social platforms and website. They can also include the channels used for advertising, such as display ads and digital video or audio platforms such as Youtube and Spotify.

5 questions to ask when deciding on MarTech

As we mentioned earlier, the first step in creating your MarTech strategy is to identify your goals and ideal customer journey, then look for the right technologies to support them. But what if your customer journey is not yet defined? Here are a few questions you can ask to help you hone in on the right tools and platforms:

1. How are customers finding your brand? Do they first become aware of it via paid media, organic search or word of mouth? Is their first interaction with the brand via your website, on social media, or at a brick-and-mortar location? Knowing the answers to these questions can help inform what tracking and analytics tools you should invest in.

2. What are you doing to convert customers? Do you know which channels convert most often? What tactics are you using to help nudge the customers along their journey? Common choices include digital remarketing ads, upselling tactics such as showing related items, and marketing automation, such as automated follow-ups after cart abandonment. Tools that support these strategies will help you engage customers at the right point in their journey—for example, an offer optimization platform will identify the right point in the journey to send customers your marketing offer.

3. What are you doing to retain customers? Consider your customer loyalty and retention efforts and what marketing executions you are using to support them. Are you running drip campaigns, consistently scheduling social media posts, or sending loyalty offers? There are MarTech solutions that can automate these tasks and individually track their results.

4. How are you ensuring your marketing is relevant? Most marketers are already doing some type of personalization—for example, personalizing the customer name in a communication using email tokens, or personalizing basic messaging. But these basic capabilities don’t really make your marketing communication more relevant to the customer. To improve relevance, look for solutions that can deliver 1:1 personalization, also known as individual marketing. These platforms should be able to personalize both the creative and the incentives, or offers, that you are sending customers.

5. How are you measuring what’s working? Determine your key performance indicators, and invest in analytics tools that are able to report on them, such as dashboards, attribution models and business intelligence tools. Make sure the MarTech you choose gives you visibility at a granular level. For example, if you are running a marketing campaign with multiple offers or promotions, ensure your solution can measure each one individually.

Accelerate business results with the right MarTech

Choosing effective MarTech can help your marketing team achieve the revenue and performance goals your organization demands. Learn more about the Formation platform or contact us to see how we can help drive business results.