Why You Need a “Systems” Mindset to Optimize Martech

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At the recent MarTech West conference in San Jose, California, Scott Brinker unveiled the new version of his famous (or perhaps infamous) marketing technology landscape supergraphic (shown above). To no one’s surprise, the new graphic shows that the number of marketing technology solutions continues to grow at a breathtaking pace.

Scott’s 2018 graphic includes 6,829 technology solutions from 6,242 unique vendors. The new graphic has 1,448 more solutions than the 2017 versions, which constitutes a year-over-year growth rate of 27%. But the expansion of the marketing technology space is even more dramatic when you consider the growth that’s occurred over the past few years. Scott Brinker made this point in a recent blog post:  “. . . the size of the 2018 landscape is equivalent to all of the marketing tech landscapes we assembled from 2011 through 2016 added together.”

With so many technologies available, the task of assembling the right combination of marketing software applications (the marketing technology stack) can easily feel overwhelming. And because technology now plays such a vital role in marketing, it’s become critical that marketers get technology decisions right.

Fortunately, there’s a well-established and proven process for evaluating business software applications, and there are abundant resources describing that process. For example, many providers of marketing software solutions have published “buying guides” that can help marketers navigate the software selection process.

But in addition to making sound decisions when selecting individual software applications, marketers must also focus on assembling a marketing technology stack that, as a whole, will deliver maximum results for their company. This adds a layer of complexity to the technology selection process, but using a “systems” view will help marketers design and assemble an optimal martech stack.

Think Ecosystem

Today’s customers and prospects routinely use multiple communications methods and channels to interact with companies. They expect to find whatever information they want or need, whenever they want or need it, via the channel of their choice. And they increasingly expect companies to remember their interactions as they move from channel to channel. These expectations put special demands on marketing technology systems.

In order to optimize the performance of their marketing technology tools, marketers need to think of their marketing technology stack as an ecosystem of interdependent capabilities. This interdependence means that the components of the stack must be integrated at appropriate levels to produce maximum results.

Recent research has shown that many companies have more work to do to achieve the necessary level of integration. For example, in the 2018 Digital Trends study by Econsultancy (published in association with Adobe), 43% of survey respondents said their marketing technology stack is “fragmented” with “inconsistent integration between technologies.”

Lack of integration has a particularly adverse impact on a company’s ability to provide personalized marketing communications and customer experiences. In a recent survey by Dynamic Yield, only 24% of respondents reported having an integrated tech stack that allowed them to personalize communications and experiences across all touch points.

All of this means that marketers need to ask two critical questions when they’re evaluating a new marketing software application:

  1. How will this application complement or enhance the performance of our existing marketing technology ecosystem?
  2. Can the application be easily integrated with our existing marketing technology tools?
Illustration courtesy of Scott Brinker.

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