CMOs: Here’s How to Drive Value From Martech

Deliver efficient growth and innovation with a highly effective marketing technology stack.

Build trust and safeguard your budget with a fully utilized martech stack

Gartner’s 2023 Marketing Technology Survey reveals that martech utilization has plummeted to 33%, creating risk and drawing CMOs into a choice of how to respond. CMOs must balance AI pursuits with the need to maximize returns on existing investments.

Download our eBook, “4 Actions to Improve Martech ROI,” and discover how to:

  • Get the most value from martech
  • Improve the IT-marketing partnership
  • Set a firm foundation for AI innovation

Maximize the impact and efficiency of marketing technology

The building and maintaining of an effective martech stack is central to a CMO’s ability to fulfill marketing and business goals. Unlock the full potential of marketing technology with a focus on these key areas.

Tailor your martech strategy to the approach that best supports your business

Digital marketing leaders are often faced with the choice of a “best-of-breed” or “integrated suite” approach to their marketing technology stack. Both approaches have merit. The best marketing leaders first assess their specific circumstance, then adjust their martech roadmap and vendor selection approach.

For years, survey data showed an increasingly strong preference for a best-of-breed approach to martech vendor selection. But in 2020, we saw a sharp reversal to a preference for integrated suites: 59% of respondents said they prefer to select their marketing technologies using an integrated suite approach, relying primarily on a single vendor with multiple interconnected capabilities to satisfy their needs.

Neither option, however, is necessarily better than the other. Instead, digital marketing leaders should choose an approach based on several variables that are specific to their company and its roadmap. These decisions have numerous implications: 

  • Integrated suites may not be strong in all required areas, and often require multiyear commitments.
  • Best-of-breed architectures require organizational maturity, along with “high-touch” support from a martech leader in an organization. 
  • Both approaches require a plan for how data will be used among systems. 
  • While there may be less integration work to be done when adopting an integrated suite, one still has to map data from outside a given set of integrated products into the suite itself.

Given the significance of the decision, a disciplined approach when making a selection is crucial to effective martech management. To utilize such an approach, take these steps:

Martech Strategy

  1. Audit your marketing technology vendor ecosystem. Apply a holistic approach when viewing vendors by considering historical research, your current needs and your desired future end state.
  1. Create hypothetical scenarios to compare against the current roadmap. Scenario-plan alternate roadmaps with additional timelines. Repeat with capabilities and competencies that you wish to build.
  2. Determine evaluation criteria. Compare the output from the hypothetical scenarios you’ve mapped out. Solicit internal and external feedback, and gain alignment from executive stakeholders on your new direction. After reverse-engineering your end state and plotting your must-haves into crawl-walk-run categories, you will be ready to make a choice.
  3. Drive toward a decision. Leverage all of your inputs into your decision-making process. Revise your martech roadmap accordingly to guide near-term actions such as contract renewals or proofs of concept.

Martech Vendor Selection

Accelerate martech vendor selection by thinking beyond conventional RFPs

With significant investments and heightened expectations for martech, leaders must ensure that their vendor selections will make a difference.

Traditionally, martech leaders have relied on RFPs to identify vendors that may help fulfill a desired outcome. However, traditional RFPs can no longer keep up with the speed in which businesses must adapt to emerging technology and consumer trends to remain competitive.

Vendor selection using an RFP can take four to six months to complete. While the average martech roadmap extends more than 15 months into the future, they are often updated faster than RFPs can be completed. This results in RFP responses that reflect a prior state of the martech stack.

To select the best technology solutions to meet your organization’s needs:

  • Audit your internal marketing technology ecosystems to identify where your organization excels in its use of tools, any overlap in use cases, and areas of opportunity where utilization is low. For each marketing technology, consider these three primary groups:
    • Audiences: These are the recipients of your marketing campaigns and communications generated by the marketing technology. 
    • Daily users: These are employees, contractors and agency partners who use the product every day to do their jobs, as well as occasional users such as managers or analysts who may access the system on an as-needed basis to pull reports or data for performance insights.
    • Power users: These individuals are ultimately responsible for integrating and deploying the martech solution successfully. They are your go-to people between your organization and the technology provider.

For daily and power users, assign clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for successful martech implementation.

  • Build a martech story that outlines your organization’s current and desired capabilities, alongside your measured marketing outcomes. In your story, highlight:
    • Your martech ecosystem as it exists today
    • Your martech roadmap
    • Your user groups
    • Your desired outcomes
  • Direct prospective vendors to show — not tell — the value of their solution. Typical RFPs prioritize tactical features and functions over outcomes and performance. This creates a disconnect between marketing leaders and vendors during and after the process, increasing the likelihood of failure. Require vendors to demonstrate how the solution meets your specific needs and how it will integrate with sales CRM and other relevant applications across the business. Also, require the vendor to provide user references.
  • Seek a competitive proof of concept (POC) where two or more vendors simultaneously test their solutions against the same scenario. This allows you to perform comparative analysis to gain an accurate measure of the vendors’ performance and impact.

Martech Partnership

Choose the most suitable martech partnership model for your unique needs

When martech complexity and sprawl collide with unclear ownership of digital experiences, a tug-of-war for martech control occurs among the CMO, CIO and other functional leaders. Coupled with declining martech utilization rates, this presents CMOs with the opportunity to foster a more balanced collaboration that enables marketing and IT to play to each other’s strengths.

Finding the right martech partnership model for your organization depends on the unique context and needs of your company’s talent and functional relationships.

Our client research identifies the following as common martech partnership and ownership models:

  • Marketing-led: In this model, the CMO, senior digital experience or marketing leader takes the lead in developing and managing the martech stack and customer-facing digital platforms. The martech budget is primarily owned and managed by the CMO with inputs from IT/technology leaders.

    The marketing-led model is suitable for companies where:
    • The IT team faces resource constraints and is swamped with digital support requests
    • Marketing significantly leads other functions in terms of digital maturity
    • The marketing leader in charge has extensive martech and digital experience in a startup, digital agency or technology company
    • Marketing has in-region access to digital marketing and/or technical talent
  • IT-marketing balanced partnership: In this model, the CIO and CMO work together to build and manage the martech roadmap and align strategically on capabilities development and digital experience investments. Marketing and IT manage the martech budget jointly and together develop the business case for big-ticket martech investments. In terms of resourcing, talent is split between IT and marketing teams based on strength areas.

    The IT-marketing balanced partnership model is suitable for companies where:
    • IT has set aside dedicated resources for marketing’s digital and martech initiatives
    • The marketing team is relatively lean and has budget and resourcing constraints
  • Digital centralization: In this model, the chief digital officer (CDO) leads a centralized e-commerce or digital innovation or experience team. The CDO works closely with the CMO and the CIO but has budget and decision authority over the company’s digital and martech roadmap. The CDO manages the martech stack, with inputs from the CIO and engineering leaders. In terms of resourcing, talent could be split among the centralized digital team, IT and marketing teams based on focus areas. For example, the digital team would focus on building authenticated experiences on digital channels and/or e-commerce sites. The marketing teams would focus on the customer-facing journey touchpoints for branding and customer acquisition. IT would support back-end platform development and data engineering needs.The digital centralization model is suitable for companies where:
    • There are many CMOs for different business lines or units, all investing in martech in their own silos
    • Substantial strategic investments in digital commerce or direct-to-consumer channels are in the works

GenAI & Emerging Tech

Identify and deploy disruptive technologies to support marketing innovation

Marketing leaders are pressured to do more with less, which is at odds with their own desire for a comprehensive view of the customer. Investment in customer data management and integration grows as the number of channels that marketers use to acquire and engage customers increases. Emerging technologies — such as generative AI — continue to disrupt marketing strategies.

To stay current in an accelerating world, digital marketing leaders must be aware of the following impeding technology shifts:

  • AI adoption is accelerating and most industries are aggressively experimenting with AI, supported by rapid adoption from martech, enterprise applications and tools. Although AI powers well-established analytic, predictive, and recommendation or decisioning components that have become entrenched in today’s martech landscape, the biggest changes are attributed to the disruptive entrance of generative AI. Generative AI for marketing supports the creation of new ideas and automates the production of content and creative materials. Special cases of generative AI such as conversational marketing use generative models to humanize customer interaction.
  • Privacy considerations add additional obstacles for digital marketing leaders with uncertainty in the regulatory environment, which is clouding innovation in some solutions. For example, customer data ethics and identity resolution both remain stagnant due to the uncertainty of privacy changes. Despite regulatory ambiguity, digital marketing leaders’ heavy reliance on first-party data continues unabated, even as rising data management costs threaten to push budgets. To increase customer opt-in rates and customer data sharing, marketers need to meet their customers at the right time in their journey and continue to nurture trust.
  • Recently, superapps have emerged. Users demand mobile-first experiences that are powerful and easy to use. Superapps have seen expanding use across the globe, especially in Asia and Latin America, as they provide a single gateway for multiple customer interactions across social media, e-commerce and advertising, with customer data across each facet.

The following Gartner Author from 2023 provides their research perspective. HERE

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