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What Is MarTech? Marketing Stacks, Marketing Technology Landscape, And Martech Resources

You may get a chuckle out of me writing an article on MarTech after publishing over 6,000 articles on marketing technology for over 16 years (beyond this blog’s age… I was on blogger previously). I do believe it’s worth publishing and helping business professionals better realize what MarTech was, is, and the future of what it will be.

First, of course, MarTech is a portmanteau of marketing and technology. I missed an excellent opportunity to come up with the term… I used MarketingTech for years before rebranding my site after MarTech was adopted industry-wide.

I’m not sure who exactly penned the term, but I have immense respect for Scott Brinker who was key in taking the term mainstream. Scott was smarter than I was… he left one letter off and I left a bunch on.

What is Martech? Definition

Martech applies to major initiatives, efforts, and tools that harness technology to achieve marketing goals and objectives. 

Scott Brinker

Here’s a great video from my friends at Element Three that provides a brief and simple video description of What Is Martech:

To provide an overview, I want to include my observations on:

History Of MarTech: Past

The history of Martech, or marketing technology, can be traced back to the early days of the internet. As the internet became more widely adopted, companies began to realize its potential as a marketing tool.

We often think about MarTech today as an Internet-based solution. I would argue that marketing technology itself preceded today’s terminology. In the early 2000s, I was helping businesses like the New York Times and Toronto Globe and Mail build terabyte-size data warehouses using several extract, transformation, and load (ETL) tools. We combined transactional data, demographic data, geographic data, and several other sources and utilized these systems to query, send, track, and measure publication advertising, phone tracking, and direct mail campaigns.

For publishing, I worked at Newspapers soon after they moved from molded lead presses to chemically activated plates that had the impression burned into them utilizing first high-intensity lamps and negatives, then computerized LED and mirrors. I attended those schools (in Mountain View) and repaired that equipment. The process from design to print was entirely digital… and we were some of the first companies to move to fiber to move the massive page files (which are still twice the resolution of today’s high-end monitors). Our output was still delivered to screens… and then on to printing presses.

These tools were amazingly sophisticated, and our technology was at the bleeding edge. These tools were not cloud-based nor Software as a Service (SaaS) at the time… but I worked on some of the first web-based versions of those systems as well, incorporating GIS data to layer household data and build out campaigns. We moved from satellite data transfers to physical networks, intranet fiber, and the Internet. A decade later, all of those systems and technologies I worked on are now cloud-based and accommodate web, email, advertising, and mobile marketing technology to communicate with the masses.

What we lacked back then to move to the cloud with those solutions were affordable storage, bandwidth, memory, and computing power. With the costs of servers plummeting and the bandwidth skyrocketing, SaaS was born… we’ve never looked back! Of course, consumers hadn’t fully adopted web, email, and mobile back then… so our outputs were sent via broadcast mediums, print, and direct mail. They were even segmented and personalized.

Fast forward to the 1990s, and basic marketing software such as email marketing platforms and content management systems were developed. As the internet continued to evolve and more people began to use it, companies started to develop more advanced marketing technologies, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems and marketing automation software.

In the 2000s, the rise of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter further expanded the opportunities for digital marketing, leading to the development of new technologies for managing and analyzing social media data. The 2010s saw rapid growth in the number and variety of Martech tools, as well as an increase in the amount of data available to marketers. This led to the development of new technologies such as data management platforms, marketing clouds, and artificial intelligence (AI) based marketing tools.

Nowadays, Martech has a massive impact on the way companies connect and interact with their customers, allowing them to personalize the customer experience, automate their campaigns and measure the results. The Martech industry is expected to continue to grow and evolve rapidly in the coming years.

The State Of MarTech: Present

The companies span artificial intelligence, customer relationship management, advertising, event management, content marketing, user experience management, social media marketing, reputation management, email marketing, mobile marketing (web, apps, and SMS), marketing automation, marketing data management, big data, analytics, ecommerce, public relations, sales enablement, and search marketing. New experiences and emerging technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and more are finding their way into existing and new platforms.

I don’t know how Scott keeps up with it, but he’s been tracking the rapid growth of this industry for over a decade… and today’s MarTech landscape has over 8,000 companies in it.

MarTech Map: Marketing Technology Landscape

Source: MartechMap

MartechMap elegantly segments the landscape based on marketing responsibility, but many platforms are blurring the lines between capabilities. Marketers assemble and integrate these platforms as needed to build, execute, and measure marketing campaigns for the acquisition, upsell, and retention of customers. This collection of platforms and their integrations is known as the MarTech Stack.

What Is A MarTech Stack?

MarTech Stack is the collection of systems and platforms that marketers use to research, strategize, execute, optimize and measure their marketing processes throughout the prospect’s buying journey and through the customer lifecycle.

Douglas Karr

A Martech Stack often incorporates licensed SaaS platforms and cloud-based proprietary integrations to automate the data necessary to provide everything necessary to support the company’s marketing efforts. Here are some of the key components and their functions:

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): A system used to manage customer data, interactions, and communications. It helps marketers to segment their audience, personalize their messaging, and track customer behavior.
  2. Marketing Automation: Software that automates repetitive marketing tasks such as email campaigns, social media management, and lead generation. It helps to improve efficiency and consistency in marketing efforts.
  3. Content Management System (CMS): A platform for creating, managing, and publishing digital content such as blog posts, web pages, and videos. It helps to streamline the content creation process and optimize content for search engines.
  4. Analytics and Reporting: Tools used to track and analyze marketing performance, measure ROI, and provide insights for optimization. They enable marketers to make data-driven decisions and continuously improve their strategies.
  5. Social Media Management (SMM): Platforms for managing social media accounts, scheduling posts, and monitoring engagement. They help marketers to build and maintain a social media presence and engage with their audience.
  6. Advertising and Promotion: Tools for managing and optimizing digital advertising campaigns, including social media ads, PPC ads, and display ads. They help marketers to reach their target audience and achieve their advertising goals.
  7. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Tools for optimizing web content and improving its visibility on search engines. They help marketers to drive organic traffic to their website and improve their search engine rankings.

These components are not exhaustive, and different companies may have different martech stacks depending on their needs and goals. Today, the majority of corporate MarTech Stacks leave a lot to be desired, companies spend a lot of time on development for integrations and personnel to still build and deploy their marketing campaigns.

MarTech Extends Beyond Marketing

We also recognize that every interaction with a prospect or customer impacts our marketing efforts. Whether it’s a customer complaining on social media, a service interruption, or a problem finding information… in a social media world, customer experience is now an attributing factor to the impact of our marketing efforts and our overall reputation. Because of this, MarTech is expanding beyond marketing efforts and now incorporates customer services, sales, accounting, and usage data.

Enterprise companies like Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft that build bits and pieces in the MarTech space are acquiring companies rapidly, integrating them, and attempting to build platforms that can service their customers from beginning to end. It’s messy, though. For example, integrating multiple clouds in Salesforce requires experienced Salesforce partners that have done it for dozens of companies. Migrating, implementing, and integrating those systems can take months… or even years. The goal of the SaaS provider is to continue to grow their relationship with their customer and provide them with better solutions.

How Has It Impacted Marketers?

To leverage MarTech, today’s marketers often have an overlap of creative, analytical, and technological aptitudes to overcome the limitations and challenges that most marketing technology platforms require. For instance, an email marketer has to be concerned with domain infrastructure for deliverability verification, data cleanliness for email lists, creative talent for building amazing communication pieces, copywriting prowess for developing content that drives a subscriber to action, analytical aptitude for interpreting clickthrough and conversion data, and… coding that provides a consistent experience across a multitude email clients and types of devices. Yikes… that’s quite the talent necessary… and that’s just email.

Marketers today must be incredibly resourceful, creative, comfortable with change, and understand how to interpret data accurately. They must be attentive to customer feedback, customer service issues, competitors, and sales team input. They’re most likely working at a disadvantage without any of these pillars. Or, they must rely on external resources that can assist them. That’s been a lucrative business for me for the last decade!

How Has It Impacted Marketing?

Today’s MarTech is deployed to collect data, develop target audiences, communicate with customers, plan and distribute content, identify and prioritize leads, monitor a brand’s reputation, and track the revenue and engagement with campaigns across every medium and channel… including traditional marketing channels. And while some traditional print channels may incorporate a QR code or a trackable link, some traditional channels like billboards are becoming fully digitized and integrated.

I’d love to state that today’s marketing is far more sophisticated than a couple of decades ago, providing timely and relevant messaging that consumers and businesses welcome. I’d be lying. Today’s marketing is largely void of any empathy to consumers and businesses being bombarded by messages. As I sit here, I have 4,000 unread emails and unsubscribe from dozens of lists I am opted into without my permission daily.

While machine learning and artificial intelligence are assisting us to better segment and personalize our messages, companies are deploying these solutions, collecting hundreds of data points that consumers aren’t even aware of, and – instead of finely tuning their messages – are bombarding them with more messages.

The cheaper digital marketing is, the more marketers SPAM the crap out of their target audience or plaster ads across every channel they can find to hit their prospects wherever their eyeballs wander.

Future Of MarTech

MarTech’s recklessness is catching up with businesses, though. Consumers are demanding more and more privacy, disabling notifications, reporting SPAM more vigorously, and deploying temporary and secondary email addresses. We’re seeing browsers begin to block cookies, mobile devices blocking tracking, and platforms opening up their data permissions so consumers can better control the data captured and used against them.

Ironically, I’m watching some traditional marketing channels making a comeback. A colleague who runs a sophisticated CRM and marketing platform is seeing more growth and better response rates with direct-to-print mail programs. While your physical mailbox is more expensive to get into, there aren’t 4,000 pieces of SPAM in it!

Innovation in digital marketing technology is skyrocketing as frameworks and technologies make it easier to build, integrate, and manage platforms. When I faced spending thousands of dollars a month on an email provider for my publication, I had enough knowledge and expertise that me and a friend just built our email engine. It costs a few bucks a month. I believe this is the next phase of MarTech.

Codeless and no-code platforms are rising in adoption, enabling non-developers to build and scale their solutions without writing a single line of code. Simultaneously, new marketing platforms are popping up daily with features and capabilities that surpass platforms costing tens of thousands of dollars more to implement. I’m blown away by e-commerce nurturing systems like Klaviyo, Moosend, and Omnisend. I could integrate and build out complex journeys that drove double-digit growth for my clients within a day. Had I worked with an enterprise system, that would have taken months.

Tracking customers is getting challenging, but customer experience (CX) solutions provide beautiful, self-service experiences for buyers to navigate their path and drive themselves to conversion… all with a first-party cookie that can be stored and tracked. The war on third-party cookies should put a dent in Facebook’s pixel (that’s what I believe the real reason is why Google is dropping it) so Facebook won’t be able to track everyone on and off Facebook. That may reduce Facebook’s sophisticated targeting… and could increase Google’s market share.

Artificial intelligence and high-end analytics platforms are helping to provide more insight into omnichannel marketing efforts and their impact on the buying journey. That’s good news for companies that still scratch their head on where to spend the most effort to acquire new customers.

I’m not a futurist, but I’m confident that the smarter our systems get and the more automation that we can apply to our repeatable tasks, marketing professionals can spend time where they’re most valued – in developing creative and innovative experiences that drive engagement and provide value to prospects and customers. I hope that it provides me with the following capabilities:

  • Attribution – The ability to understand how every marketing and sales investment I’m making is impacting customer retention, customer value, and acquisition.
  • Real-Time Data – The ability to observe activity in real-time rather than waiting hours or days to assemble the appropriate reports to see and optimize my clients’ marketing efforts.
  • 360-Degree View – The ability to see every interaction with a prospect or customer to serve them better, communicate with them, understand them, and provide value.
  • Omni-Channel – The ability to speak to a customer in the medium or channel they want to be communicated with from the system that I can easily work within.
  • Intelligence – The ability to move beyond my bias as a marketer and have a system that segments, personalizes, and executes the right message at the right time to the right place for my customer.

Martech Publications

There’s so much growth and innovation in our industry that there’s no way that we can keep up. I’d highly recommend this list of other publications, originally curated by Xenoss.

  • Chiefmartec – Provides expert insights and analysis on marketing technology and operations. Edited by Scott Brinker
  • MarketingTech – Provides news, opinions, and insights on the latest marketing technologies. Edited by Duncan MacRae.
  • MarTech – Features thought leadership content and interviews with MarTech industry leaders. Edited by Kim Davis.
  • MarTech Cube – Features in-depth articles, interviews, and analysis on the MarTech industry. Edited by Anirudh Menon –
  • Martech Gazette – Offers news, insights, and expert commentary on the MarTech industry. Edited by Ben Rabinovich.
  • MarTech Series – covers the latest news, trends, and insights in the MarTech industry. Cofounded by experienced sales executive Shayne Barretto.
  • MarTech360 – Focuses on the intersection of marketing and technology, with articles, interviews, and expert analysis. Edited by Zachary Rapp.
  • MartechTribe – Independent business-driven marketing technology research, benchmarks, and selections.
  • Martechvibe – Offers insights, news, and expert analysis on the MarTech industry. Edited by Ravi Raman

What Do You Think?

I’d love your thoughts and feedback on Martech: Past, Present, and Future. Depending on the size of your business, sophistication, and the resources available, I’m sure your perception may be different from mine. I will work on this article each month or so to keep it up to date… I hope it helps describe this incredible industry! I’ve also written a similar article breaking down sales technology that you might enjoy.

If you’d like to keep up with Martech, please subscribe to my newsletter and podcast!

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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