After what has been the most disruptive 20 months in a generation, I was particularly eager this year to read the The Martech Report 2021/22 from the Martech Alliance. And to follow are some of the key takeaways (sorry, not that type of takeaway - no, somebody did not say Just Eat!) from the Report.
The words unprecedented, pandemic, social distancing, pivot, virtual pub and even a new verb ‘to Zoom’ - are now embedded in our parlance as we find ourselves in a ‘new normal’. But what has been the impact of the Covid pandemic and changing expectations and behaviours of consumers and on the adoption of marketing technology?
Based on a survey of over 200 brand side CEOs and Agency Directors, the report tracks market trends, opportunities and challenges in marketing and technology, and provides a benchmark for the state of play in this evolving space. So, what can we learn and act on?
The Martech market is huge, complex and crowded!
Estimated at being worth more than $344bn and containing more than 8,000 vendors, the global martech ecosystem is an increasingly crowded and complex space. Making the most of the explosion of platforms and tools is a challenge for today’s marketers – with teams having to learn and use 40+ martech systems to keep up with the market and consumer demands – particularly around personalisation for example. It is likely that the decision making for the investment of new marketing technology will be increasingly influenced by the need for efficiency and ease of use for end-user marketing and digital teams – as well as the demands for connected customer experiences.
System consolidation will simplify the martech stack and choosing platforms that perform multiple functions – Digital Asset Management, CDP personalisation, experimentation and analytics for example – needs to be a priority to drive efficiency and reduce costs – and deliver on KPIs.
Are you investing in your marketing technology? If not, then be aware (or beware) that your competitors almost certainly are!
Organisations in the sample confirmed that on average, nearly a quarter (23%) of their overall marketing budget is spent on marketing tech – on a par with their Media spend (also 23%). And this is certain to grow, with 61% planning to increase their tech spend in the next 12 months.
And the main focus of that investment will be in tools to drive and measure digital initiatives:
The key drivers of the increasing spend are (not surprisingly) changing customer behaviours and changing technological landscape – accelerated by the Covid pandemic and lock-down measures making the adoption of digital-first approach a necessity for many organisations and across all sectors.
Notably, over a third of respondents indicated that investing in Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) is a priority in the next year, reflective of the changing approach to enable the management of connected digital experiences to meet customer expectations.
The challenge is to ensure that the increasing budget is invested wisely. Choosing the right marketing technology must start with being clear on your business and marketing strategy, objectives and success measures and how these tools will deliver the desired outcomes. Ignore integration considerations and you could be storing up a big (expensive) set of problems for the future. This is an area when it makes sense to work with a partner to review your existing systems and define your strategy for future success.
Our top tip: Review the efficiency and effectiveness of your tech stack against your strategic objectives. Be clear what is really needed to deliver on your defined success measures.
The right tech is “critical” to meeting customer expectations
No surprises here with 61% of respondents seeing tech as ‘critical’ to meeting the expectation of their customers. A result that corroborates with the sentiment evidenced in the recent Martech Alliance 2021 CX Trends Report with 79% of the CMOs polled seeing the ability to deliver ‘excellent customer experience’ as a powerful competitive advantage.
What is holding back digital maturity and why?
Despite 45% of respondents rating their digital maturity - against the MarTech Alliance Framework - as “Advanced” (13%) or “Optimal” (32%) that leaves over 50% that rate their maturity as less than optimal. It is clear there are still some way to go. So what are the barrier to achieving digital maturity?
Lack of governance is identified as the number one challenge - but lack of skill set and knowledge of martech comes in at a not too distant second, followed by lack of marketing tech vendor solutions.
The rise of Marketing Operations
As the results suggest, many organisations are identifying that to fully maximize the value and leverage the capability of marketing tech requires both technical knowledge and creativity. The need for that combination of skills has led to a rise in marketing operation roles and teams to bridge skills and knowledge gap in more traditional marketing and IT roles.
In the absence of teams with the right experience, investment in training and development of existing teams is imperative. Organisations can also lean on the expertise of digital consultancies to help to fill the capability gaps and support knowledge and skill development.
So many tools but do they work together?
The short answer is not really. With over 8,000 martech tools on the market (globally), the average tech-stack is a complex beast.
In the Report, inadequate technology integration was cited as the number one barrier to both investment and utilisation of martech by over a third of respondents. It is a common pain point, further exacerbated by the challenge of combining legacy systems with newer tech.
Forrester¹ corroborates this as a fundamental challenge for even the most digitally mature businesses, identifying difficulty in integrating new tech as a core challenge and recommending that when choosing new platform/providers that deep integration separates true platforms from mere product portfolios.
This is also an important consideration for technology vendors where ease of integration will increasingly prove to be a competitive advantage.
Apply a data-driven approach to evaluating your current (and future) martech.
In a crowded, complex and demanding martech environment, the key challenge for organisation to be competitive is making strategic and data driven decisions regarding their martech stack. With huge budgets (and targets) at stake, understanding which tools and platforms are delivering on your KPIs – improving efficiency and reducing costs (or not) – is success critical.
Integration issues? Consider consolidation..
With integration cited as a challenge by 37% for there is an opportunity for organisations to consider consolidation of martech tools and utilising platforms that deliver multiple functions from content and data management to experimentation - such as one of the leading DXPs to simplify the user experience for in-house teams and reduce subscription costs.
Apply the right combination of recruitment, training and partnerships to fill the skills gap.
A lack of knowledge and skills was identified as a barrier to digital maturity by 39% of respondents - a gap that needs to be filled with a combination of recruiting for the Marketing Operations roles, investment in training of your existing team and working with the right external partners.
Choose the right partners
With many challenges – and huge opportunities – in the delivery of connected digital experiences, working with a trusted partner (or partners) to help you to overcome skills gaps, support better, data-led and more profitable decisions on the digital future of your organisation can be a powerful differentiator.
We’d love to talk. Please contact our team of experts for a no obligation consultation to explore how we can help: How to Contact Netcel
Fancy reading the Report? Download The Martech Report 2021/22 here: Martech Report 2021/22 (martechalliance.com)