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The Era of Martech

Michael Fleischner and Beth Grad

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Marketing technology is integral to every aspect of marketing, and if you’re not leveraging its power, you’re falling behind.

The fundamentals of marketing are largely unchanged: Know your audience, position your product and provide compelling offers to turn prospects into customers. However, as the marketing journey has gone omni-channel and threatened the traditional marketing funnel, the way brands communicate with prospective customers has changed—along with the technology that makes it all possible.

How Did This Happen?

Marketing automation software vendors have incorporated a wide variety of tools and capabilities—content marketing systems were the first, but the technology has grown sophisticated. This resulted in a land grab by technology companies to develop software that could manage different aspects of the marketing life cycle.

According to chiefmartec.com, approximately 7,000 vendors offer services including enterprise data warehouses and chatbots serving as the first point of contact for would-be customers. Virtually every aspect of marketing funnels, processes and analytics is supported by a technology tool that promises to turn data into valuable insights.

Whether you’ve been marketing for years or are new, it’s important to know that we are already in the martech era. Gartner’s 2018–19 survey found that martech jumped to 29% of the average CMO’s budget this year, up more than 7% from a year ago. The best way to understand marketing technology is to have a framework to understand what it is and how to use different tools that support day-to-day marketing activities.

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A Marketing Technology Framework

It’s no secret that marketing technology can be complex. This is especially true as you think about all of the integrations, contingencies and updates that occur every day; the possibilities are endless.

Gartner and other research firms have done amazing work to develop visuals and other frameworks for thinking about and managing marketing technology. In its Transit Map example, Gartner interprets martech as a visual landscape, helping to reduce complexity and clarify centers of excellence critical to marketing success. This type of work helps professional marketers think about the overall strategy and specific product categories relevant for marketing technology.

Another way to think about marketing technology is as various layers designed to address the primary functions of an integrated marketing program. These layers include advertising, experience, core and analytics.

The advertising layer is generally where marketing first appears. Any truly effective marketing program begins with market and competitor research and a strategic planning process, but once that direction is set, technology helps the professional marketer communicate through advertising. In the advertising layer, technology tends to focus on search, display advertising, content marketing, social media and even marketing automation. Technology enables almost all of our advertising today. From programmatic to automated lead scoring, it’s possible to do more in real time to understand how our prospects find us and to improve our marketing qualified lead metrics. This foundational layer of technology is often where many of us were first introduced to martech and continue to engage with it.

As new users come in contact your omni-channel marketing programs, they enter the experience layer. This includes websites, mobile applications and e-commerce. It also includes how we interact with prospects and customers through testing and optimization, personalization, and voice of customer tools. Through web analytics and tagging, we can understand consumer behavior and enhance the experience.

As customers interact with our digital properties and brands, we accumulate an exhaust pipe of data. This information must be stored, aggregated and homogenized before we can develop our marketing insights. In the core layer, sometimes called the “back office layer,” we see things such as customer relationship management system tools; data management systems; content management systems; enterprise data warehouses; and third-party integrations with finance, inventory and service.

With such a large data lake available, the next step is to make sense of it all. The final layer is focused on analytics. Today’s marketing technology and emerging artificial intelligence is helping to make sense of this data lake. Through attribution modeling, data visualization tools and predictive modeling, companies large and small can better understand the marketing programs that help to grow their businesses.

Begin Your Martech Journey Today

Everyone’s marketing technology journey is different. If you’re in a Fortune 1000 company, chances are you’re already using enterprise-level technology that integrates with dozens of existing technologies across your business. But martech isn’t just for large companies—even small organizations must use technology to manage their customer lists, optimize web properties and deliver various communications-based interactions that customers and prospects have with the brand.

Think about this basic framework for martech and what you’re doing to take advantage of technology in advertising, experience, back office and analytics. The more you know, the more effective you will become.

Michael Fleischner is founder and CEO of Big Fin Solutions, a marketing and technology advisory firm. He works with companies to assess their marketing technology needs and advise on solutions aligned with corporate strategy. He has been helping B2B companies drive revenue and marketing efficiencies for more than 20 years.

Beth Grad is the vice president of digital & e-commerce at LT Apparel Group. She is a digital executive with extensive knowledge of enterprise-level applications. Beth has been helping B2B companies drive revenue and marketing efficiencies for more than two decades.