It may seem like the current growth in marketing technology (martech) solutions is unsustainable and, similar to the Dot Com Bubble of the early 2000s, the space is likely to “pop” under the weight of more than 3,800 solutions.
Except martech doesn’t really have much in common with tech stocks like Pets.com that went bust in 2001. The doubling or tripling of marketing solutions every year (to 3,874 in 2016) since chiefmartec.com began tracking the industry landscape in 2011 has occurred alongside ballooning interest in martech more generally. Walker Sands, in its “State of Marketing Technology 2017” report, found that 70 percent of the 300 marketers they polled expect their marketing technology budgets to increase and only two percent expect a decrease.
Marketers are also seeing results from their technology investments; 69 percent of the marketers Walker Sands polled said their company’s martech helps them do their jobs better—up from 58 percent last year. Martech quite simply works, and many marketers already have an extensive stack of solutions to manage everything from email to analytics to social media.
If anything, adding tools involves finding the right technology now more than ever, given the abundance of choice. Compounding the problem is that marketers have unique technology needs, which is why nearly half of the marketers Walker Sands polled (48 percent) use best-of-breed stacks composed of different point solutions as opposed to the 21 percent of marketers who use a single-vendor suite. And even then, only 16 percent of marketers with a single-vendor suite use no other tools.
Because every marketer has slightly different needs, the martech landscape will morph and expand with a growing bounty of niche players targeting specific use cases to support marketers’ unique requirements. The problem is that, in this abundance, marketers will struggle sifting through the available options to find the right solutions that align with their overall strategy. Doing this properly requires a comprehensive customer engagement plan, as well as an efficient method of weaving together the ideal tools.
Marketers need a cross-functional and cross-channel customer engagement strategy to be competitive today. Customers themselves are channel agnostic, which requires an adaptable strategy for long-term results. Employing a strategy that crosses internal borders requires an owner with the skills and clout to garner C-level support and guide the organization through change, including breaking down silos.
One method to integrate disparate martech solutions, and break down silos, is with an open-garden approach that connects martech tools at the data layer as well as at the application layer. This tighter integration allows marketing leaders to think beyond the natural borders of their department and support functions like sales and service, while also paving the way to blend martech and adtech and take advantage of all extant customer touchpoints.
The concept of an engagement hub can connect data and applications together in the open garden, ensuring marketers take action in and optimize every customer touchpoint. Engagement Hubs democratize access to customer data across the enterprise, enabling instant access to data wherever it lives and allowing marketers to more easily leverage advanced techniques like propensity scoring and machine learning. Because Hubs are open solutions, they also facilitate access to any digital or traditional channel, such as DMPs, DSPs, ESPs, call centers, or billboards.
Martech isn’t like bubble gum, a balloon, or even the stock market. There is no martech bubble, and if anything the space is going to keep growing with more vendors appealing to ever-smaller niches of customers. This ongoing innovation and consolidation means only that marketers can now find the right solution to address their unique needs, wants, and desires without having to settle for something that works if you turn your head sideways and squint.
Marketing has shed its capacity for a one-size-fits-all approach, which means martech has done the same. Marketers that want to take a cross-functional approach to customer engagement, and win in the new modern marketplace, must work with martech vendors that have an interoperability strategy for their solution to function in an open-garden environment. That’s how marketing ROI will expand alongside a growing martech stack.