Is “Martech” a Noun or a Verb? Two Mindsets to Consider

The marketing industry is undergoing massive transformation. One of the hottest topics in marketing right now is martech, where the vendor landscape ballooned from 1,500 vendors in 2014 to 7,000 in 2018. The technology sounds promising but many marketers are wading through the hype and trying to piece together a clear picture of what is realistically possible.

I recently attended the MarTech East conference in Boston to take the pulse of the industry and gauge marketer sentiment. Everyone in the room was looking for golden soundbites to help the “crack the code” or find the next new thing.

Marketers seem to have one of two philosophical mindsets around how they view martech. The techies see martech as a “noun” and as a cluster of assets. They are shopping for components to integrate together in the ultimate marketing stack (fun fact: there is an annual award called the Stackies).  On the other hand, the visionaries believe that that martech is a verb and holistic marketing philosophy. Scott Brinker, the conference chair and author, explained his Martech Manifesto and how marketing strategists, IT specialists and analytics experts collaborate in one system.

Several analysts, like Bryan Yeager from Gartner, presented the latest stats on the array of tech that enterprise marketers are currently using (e.g., communications, personalization, real-time decisioning).  There is definitely strong momentum from companies and marketing tech adoption is increasing +20% year over year. But several experienced gurus cautioned to look before your leap.

They believe that marketers are overbuying technology too soon and they end up with technology where they only use 20% of features. These are early days in some emerging categories… so be cautious.

Several key themes emerged from the conference:

  1. Start with data and get a solid strategy and plan.
  2. Digital transformation is a team sport and requires organizational change experts.
  3. Don’t get locked in or handcuffed to just one vendor promising the world.
  4. Configuring your martech “stack” is unique to each company.

Martech is a balancing act on many levels such as: integrating new tech with legacy tech, data storage and conditioning, modelling and decision engines, and targeted messaging in different channels. In his keynote, Scott Brinker stated that the challenge for today’s marketer is to “work down the stack to achieve both CX and ROI”.  And CX requires a customer-centric view and lots of discipline!

My main takeaway from the conference is that martech is the “fabric of the future” but companies first need to get a vision and strategy in place and the structure should follow.

To help Canadian marketers navigate this space, the CMA has launched a Martech Council.  Exciting times are ahead and our Council is looking forward to providing the Canadian perspective. Stay tuned!


About the Author:

Geoff Linton is CEO of Inbox Marketer Corp. and a data-driven marketing expert and engineer with more than 28 years of applied experience in both client and agency roles. He is a member of the CMA’s Martech Council.

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