The MarTech West 2019 conference just wrapped up a little over a week ago on April 5th. As always, the event featured new and interesting news in topics that are central to our identity, like Marketing Automation, Customer Experience (“CX”), and omnichannel marketing. Since MarTech brings together many of the critical stakeholders in the marketing industry – marketers, tech innovators, and business leaders – the information that comes out of there gives us a good look at what the future is going to hold.
So, what happened this year? Here are the main themes we heard:
Rumors of Our Demise are Greatly Exaggerated
First, there is the current state of the marketplace, which now includes 7,040 marketing companies. We’ve previously pointed out both the scale of the landscape and the rapid pace of its growth. This year, however, there is a new trend: growth is slowing. Marketers have long predicted that the explosion of marketing entrepreneurs must eventually lead to a wave of consolidation. Is this the first sign?
Actually, no. What has happened, in fact, is that the marketing technology landscape has grown so large that it has begun to exceed the limits of our ability to catalogue it. For example, WordPress alone is supported by over 50,000 unique applications, some of which get as much use as major martech applications within large, sophisticated enterprises.
Warnings of catastrophe have been further tempered by another observation: we are in a second golden age of marketing software. In the first golden age, companies purchased marketing platforms by the suite. If there was something that the suite didn’t do, then they’d have to purchase a point solution and then use their own resources to develop an API connection to it.
We are now in a second golden age. In this era, software vendors provide platform ecosystems. These aren’t as restrictive as a traditional software suite. They’re designed to be added to and tinkered with, accepting of both point solutions and custom software. Some of the applications aren’t even built using code – they offer tools only a little more complicated than a spreadsheet that allow users to create their own marketing applications. Marketers can then distribute these apps to an even larger audience, and they become part of the wider marketing ecosystem.
Robots Shouldn’t Scare Marketers
Related to the above theme, we also heard from Ann Lewnes. Ann is the CMO at our oversized competitor, Adobe, and she has held her position for well over a decade – a tenure that’s nearly unheard-of at the enterprise level. Lewnes credits her longevity to the decision to heavily invest in digital marketing initiatives in 2010 – a time when her contemporaries were just starting to experiment. More recently, Adobe has been an early adopter of technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. So, Lewnes has developed a fair amount of perspective when she says “Marketing is never going to be done by robots.” A relief to many marketing pros around the globe.
Prioritizing Customer-centricity Over Technology
Brinker and Eckman’s keynotes weren’t the only exciting presentations to come out of MarTech West. Subbu Iyer, CMO at Riverbed, argued that companies are approaching marketing technology the wrong way. Companies are getting caught up in the hype and purchasing solutions because of – gulp – marketing noise. And also because they see peers and competitors buying the same solutions. For that reason, they’re failing to properly evaluate technology in a way that makes sense for their team/business/strategy/goals/process/etc.
Iyer also shares that, when marketers purchase technology based on an expected increase in MQLs, they’re listening to the wrong metrics. The only metrics that matter are ones that quantify the human experience. Sentiment analysis can already tell us much about customer moods on channels such as social media, and artificial intelligence tools are beginning to gather emotional intelligence about customer in real time when they’re on the phone. Can your technology purchase move the needle when you measure it in these terms?
In short, marketers have an opportunity to cut down on wasted marketing spend if they focus on technology which can demonstrably and defensibly improve the customer experience.
Autodesk Boosts Renewals Using a CDP
Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) may have just become the next new buzzword in marketing technology. Saira Nazir, head of digital marketing at Autodesk, described how his organization was able to recapture a significant fraction of their renewals by using a CDP to unite data from different corners of their environment – customer IDs, purchasing, product attributes, and so on.
Using this unified information, Autodesk was able to create a more cohesive version of their customer journey than they had previously. They found that customers were bouncing out of the renewal process because they wanted different pricing on their products. Using this information, Autodesk was able to create a purchasing experience tailored specifically to renewing customers, thus increasing their retention.
A Wider Marketing Landscape with More Customer-Focused Tools
The final thing that we can take away from MarTech West 2019 is that enterprises are using a much wider variety of tools in their attempts to accomplish the same goals. Everyone wants to automate their daily marketing communications, centralize their customer data, personalize their experience, and experiment with artificial intelligence, but no two companies are using the same marketing stack in order to do it.
This suggest that connectivity and interoperability – or lack thereof – will be a primary reason why any marketing organization will succeed or fail in 2019. When companies invest in a platform that can incorporate inputs from best-of-breed automation tools plus proprietary systems plus custom-designed WordPress plugins (for example), they’ll be able to create a marketing stack that delivers a more finely-calibrated version of the customer experience they want.
We know from our own research that the average enterprise today runs up to 14 different marketing technology solutions. Yet, just 3% of marketers believe their stacks are adequately connected. Translation: 97% of marketers believe their systems and data are disconnected. Learn more, including where we got these stats from, in our recent eBooks:
- How Deploying and Managing Multiple MAP Instances Will Change the Game for Distributed Enterprises
- The Key to Turning Your Marketing Stack from Frankenstein to Voltron
- Life is Unfair for B2C Brands. Here’s How to Build an Omnichannel Customer Experience that Competes with the Big Guys