What The Heck is MarTech?

A Stan Lee to customer’s superhero

Martech stands for marketing technology. In a broad sense, anyone involved with digital marketing deals with technology by definition. However, martech is not just that. It lies at the intersection of marketing, management and technology — until recently separate domains that have come to realize they can’t exist without each other, but still are too independent to innovate across them.

But again, it’s not martech yet. It’s not just equipping marketers to deliver persuasive campaigns and outstanding user experience, allowing technologists to embrace UX/UI and growth hacking tools to design better products, or making managers seek cross-domain combinations of the new elements to achieve synergy and embody agility. It’s all those people and processes.

Here are the words from The MarTech Manifesto:

‘When boundaries blur, it’s an opportunity to bring a customer into focus. Everyone who affects customer experience is — in some proportion — a marketer, a technologist, and a manager. In martech, they are a united tribe, but not a homogenous one’.

Everyone brings something different to the table, and there is a great strength in that diversity.


The Marketing Technology Landscape

Since 2011, Skott Brinker and his team keep track of all marketing technology vendors and their products to present them in a supergraphic, introduced at the Martech Conference every year. This year’s updated supergraphic includes 6,829 marketing technology solutions from 6,242 unique suppliers, which indicates 27% growth over the last year’s landscape. But what’s most thrilling is that the size of the landscape observed in 2018 is equivalent to the sizes of the landscapes assembled from 2011 to 2016 added together:

Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2018): Martech 5000 (actually 6,829)

Based on this data, the complexity and the scope of marketing technology has increased 45x in 7 years. The interest from venture capital and private equity investors is also growing, with $14 billion attracted only last year.


New Trends

The largest category in this year’s supergraphic is Sales Automation, Enablement & Intelligence — tools and software behind so-called ‘SalesTech’ (490 solutions). This is a clear indication of the ongoing integration of marketing, sales and service into a new digital realm.

The whole new categories that appeared in the updated supergraphic are Compliance and Privacy under the Data column and Bots & Live Chat.

It serves as a good visualization of this year’s major trends we have written before (AI wasn’t warranted a separate section simply because it’s embedded in all of already existing).

To see how chatbots, new data regulations, namely GDPR, and other technological advancements are reshaping marketing, read our trends overviews.


Forces Behind MarTech Boom

The growing amount of suppliers within the martech ecosystem (with only 4.5% of last year’s solutions exiting the market) is explained by two main factors: better customer understanding and zero entry barriers.

Visualized by Blue Green Brands
  1. On the demand side, given the technology and expertise available, we have achieved the better digital representation of target audience than ever before. It means both the empowerment of our customers (Brinker even compares them with fully fleshed out superheroes) and business forced (and willing) to adjust to their every need, to meet ever-advancing buyer expectations and to keep finding more sophisticated ways to do so in order to differentiate from a global multitude of competitors.
  2. On the supply side, increasing accessibility in software results in zero entry barriers. Marketing doesn’t need a strong IT department to strive anymore.

The graph below illustrates the decreasing incomprehensibility of technology and, thus, the barriers to integrate it in a marketing toolkit. It indicates the new wave of transition we are experiencing right now: technology is not reserved to IT and even marketing technologists anymore, but is rather widely accessible to a regular marketer, who is better equipped today than a senior engineer ten years ago.

In fact, CMOs today are twice as likely as CIO to bear the responsibility for strategic marketing technology decisions, according to Econsultancy and IBM Watson Marketing joint research Marketing in the Dark: Dark Martech.
Martech in 2019: The New, New Rules of Marketing — MarTech Conference — Boston October 2018

Open source projects, cheap infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), global on-demand talent markets, and low-cost channels for digital marketing allow new ideas to appear seamlessly and inhabit the market faster.

A regular marketer today is better equipped than a senior engineer ten years ago.

The New Normal

Martech in 2019: The New, New Rules of Marketing — MarTech Conference — Boston October 2018

According to the same survey, only 13% of marketers are convinced they have both skills and talent to use their martech to the fullest. Another reasons that hold the businesses back from investing in marketing technology is management not seeing value in it, or IT department not supporting the technology wanted. Consequently, martech is overlooked by most companies on the market.

While the rest of the market is still in the dark regarding martech, it’s time we make it our competitive advantage.

It’s up to us to educate ourselves and the C-suite, to become marketers of the future and acquire knowledge and skills required to implement the technology needed, regardless of IT support. To show on our own example that martech can bring real value to the company and it is worth spending on. While the rest of the market is still in the dark regarding martech, it’s time to make it our competitive advantage and differentiate from competitors once and for all. That’s how the change is made.


The Marketer of The Future

So who are these marketers of the future? We have already seen the fully fleshed out avatar of a buyer, but what is a marketer supposed to look like then? We, the future of martech, should become the Stan Lee to customer’s superhero.

The first and foremost goal is not to talk higher management into investing in martech or indiscriminately automatize and decentralize (especially since 73% of companies are already suffering from siloed technology), but to develop the right mindset for cross-domain decision-making. No matter how heterogenous, the martech tribe serves the merged mission: to design and develop extraordinary customer experiences.

‘Brands need people who understand the underlying technologies and are able to define which creative is needed within each.’
Andy Betts, Executive and CMO Advisor, Digital Hybrid

Andrew Betts identified three main principles of a martech mastermind or so-called hybrid marketer: agility, proficiency and accountability.

Cover of Ultimate X-Men #20 (2002)

While the first two have been clearly manifested by Brinker, accountability, an indicator of maturity, shouldn’t be subtracted from the equation either. Creative tribe with an analytical acumen and the whole set of other superpowers needs their own Professor X — data — to keep their experimentation in check and hold them accountable.

Especially since, as of this August, martech has already crossed the threshold into maturity.