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Balloons, Bubble Gum, and Martech: Which One Doesn’t Belong?

Unlike balloons and bubble gum, Martech won’t burst when extended to what seems like a breaking point. Instead, the Martech industry will continue to shift and stretch and adjust to change and innovation—just as it’s done over the past several years.

It may seem that the industry’s current growth is unsustainable. Many have asked whether the martech industry—distended by more than 3,800 solutions —has hit its tipping point. Our simple answer: No, it hasn’t. Innovation isn’t going to slow anytime soon. This ever-expanding ecosystem is the new reality and marketers have to learn how to manage through it.

The Situation

The number of martech solutions has doubled or tripled every year since began tracking the marketing industry landscape in 2011, to its current size of 3,874. Interest in martech has ballooned as well. According to the Walker Sands State of Marketing Technology 2017 report, 70 percent of the 300 marketers polled expect their companies’ marketing technology budgets to increase in 2017; only two percent expect it to decrease. One reason marketers are bullish on martech: results. Sixty-nine percent of marketers polled by Walker Sands say their company’s current marketing technology helps them do their jobs better. This is up from 58 percent last year.

Martech works, and many marketers already have an extensive martech stack. So, adding tools means finding the right technology to support their specific marketing strategy and objectives. Marketers’ needs are unique, which is why nearly half of marketers polled 48% have built their stacks with best-of-breed solutions, while only 21 percent use a single vendor suite. In fact, 83% of marketers using integrated best-of-breed solutions rate their company’s ability to “leverage the full power of their tools as excellent or good,” according to the Walker Sands study.

Even so, many marketers feel that the industry is moving faster than they can keep up with.

The Solution

The martech bubble isn’t going to burst. It’s going to morph and expand—with an ever-growing bounty of niche players—and, as a result, continue to support marketers’ unique needs. But sifting through all the available options to find just the right solutions requires marketers to have a comprehensive customer engagement strategy, as well as an effective way to weave together the ideal tools to support that strategy.

Today’s customers are channel agnostic, so any customer engagement strategy needs to be cross-functional to be effective over the long term. An engagement strategy that crosses internal borders requires an owner who has the skills and clout to garner executive support and guide the organization through change—including the breakdown of silos.

One way to eliminate silos, as well as integrate disparate martech tools, is by taking an open-garden approach. Instead of just connecting martech tools at the application layer, consider integrating them at the data layer. This allows marketing leaders to think more readily beyond marketing and consider how to support functions such as sales and service across the enterprise. It also enables marketers to bridge ad tech and martech to best take advantage of all the available customer touchpoints.

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) act as a hub that enables organizations to link data and applications in the open garden. This ensures that marketers can take action and optimize every touchpoint with customers. CDPs democratize access to data, analytics, channels, and customers across the enterprise. This approach provides for instant access to data wherever it lives, from different structures and sources in the enterprise. Marketers can also more easily take advantage of advanced techniques such as propensity scoring and machine learning. CDPs also simplify access to any channel through an open ecosystem. Connecting to any digital or traditional channel—including DMPs, DSPs, ESPs—can be incorporated into an open garden.

The result? Using an open-garden approach to managing a growing martech solution allows marketers to optimize customer engagement across the enterprise. That is, to create a cross-functional strategy that reaches beyond marketing, sales, and service, and touches customers, employees, operations, and products.

A Bubble Without a Pop

The martech bubble hasn’t burst. Nor is it going to anytime soon. With the sheer growing number of vendors in the space, as well as the ongoing innovation and consolidation, marketers can find just the right solutions to address their unique needs, wants, and desires.

There is no room for a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing today, which means there’s no room for a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing technology. Marketers looking to take a cross-functional approach to customer engagement need to work with marketing technology vendors that have an interoperability strategy such as enabling an open-garden approach to integration. That’s how marketing ROI will expand right along with a growing martech stack.

Patrick Tripp

Patrick Tripp brings 17 years of experience in the technology, consulting and marketing industries to his role as vice president of product strategy for the Convergent Marketing Platform at RedPoint Global. Previously, Patrick was in charge of email and cross-channel marketing strategy at Adobe. Before that, he led real-time marketing solutions strategy at Neolane, which was acquired by Adobe in 2013.

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