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Marketers love (to hate) their tech. Why?

Posted on March 17, 2020 in Industry Insights by Conversionomics

In a post about how marketers buy and use analytics technologies, we mentioned last year’s sizable 7% increase in martech spend Gartner reported. Although that spend decreased by 3% in this year’s survey (down to 26% from 29% the previous year), it is fair to say that martech now consistently eats up nearly as much budget as Media and Labor – the largest allocations, traditionally.

Figure 1. Marketing budget allocations across agencies, technology, media and labor.
Figure 1. Marketing budget allocations across agencies, technology, media and labor.
Source: Gartner

Martech has clearly gained a seat at the table, but with the increased visibility comes increased scrutiny. And, for many marketers, martech’s value is not on par with its price tag. Why is that? Several reasons, really. And only half of them have to do with the tech.

For starters, marketers are not leveraging technologies to their full potential. According to Gartner, marketing teams utilize only 58% of their martech stack’s potential. Leaving all that power untapped puts “both their credibility and impact” at risk, says Benjamin Bloom, senior director analyst in the Gartner for Marketers practice. The consultancy recommends that marketers use “best-of-breed” tools and invest in training for their teams in order to improve analyst efficiency and martech stack effectiveness. 

Next, where marketers spend their dollars is often misaligned with their top priorities. At 16%, marketing analytics seems to be the largest area of investment. But, Gartner says, if highly-skilled data scientists are stuck doing basic data cleaning and integration because the automation tools for these operations are not available, they likely won’t have enough time left to do the analysis that uncovers the deep insights expected of them. (Btw, if your organization needs marketing analytics automation, we can help.) Gartner advises companies to automate time-intensive, low-value tasks and allocate a position dedicated to driving operational efficiencies across the organization.

Marketing Program Spend
Figure 2. Marketing program/operation area spend breakdown. 
Source: Gartner

Third, marketers are not tracking the metrics that show marketing’s true contributions to the business performance as whole. In Gartner’s study, CMOs placed most importance on “soft” metrics such as brand awareness and customer satisfaction. But showing how marketing directly affected profitability by increasing average order value (AOV) or conversions, for example, can bring immediate impact and credibility in the C-suite. Here’s where your marketing analytics tools can track and calculate these hard metrics and your analysts can build the queries to derive the insights that drive bottom-line results.

Figure 3. Metrics tracked on CMO dashboards.
Source: Gartner

Fourth, marketers are getting disoriented in the changing martech environment. By now, everyone has seen Scott Brinker’s famous annual martech landscape, which started with about 150 marketing technology companies in 2011 and at last count included 7,040 logos. In a recent talk at the ANA’s Masters of Data and Technology conference, Brinker discussed the push-and-pull effect marketers’ may be experiencing because of the need to be both centralized and decentralized in their martech stack and operations. While it is hard to find the balance, Brinker called on marketers to keep the customer at the center and “humanize” the automation as much as possible. Specifically, he recommends standardizing common tools, data and processes (centralization) while federating data and empowering team members to do local experiments and workflows with their preferred tools (decentralization) and building “levers for empathy & intuition,” visiting customers often and paying attention to the CX (humanization).

Figure 4. Centralize, Decentralize, Automate, Humanize Martech.
Source: ChiefMartec.com

All of this advice is great, but experienced marketers know that the essential ingredient for success with implementing major changes (technological or not) in an organization is culture. That’s why we were happy to see that Scott Brinker included a slide summarizing just this point. So there it is: the push-pull, love-hate, fast-slow reality we live in. It is easy to blame the tech, but really, that’s only part of the problem… AND the solution.

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