Every year since 2011, marketing technology expert Scott Brinker has created a supergraphic of the marketing technology landscape. Every year, the landscape has grown more and more, going from around 150 tools in 2011 to around 7,040 in 2019. And, that doesn’t even include regional martech, vertical-specific martech, apps built for specific platform ecosystems, services apps that are packaged as products and “citizen” developed apps.
Brinker describes the martech field as having a “long, long, loooooong tail,” and the convergence between what’s classified as marketing software and what’s considered sales, services and business operations software is a big contributor to the rapid expansion of the field.
What is Martech?
Martech (marketing technology) was originally comprised of marketing software such as marketing automation platforms, social media management and monitoring tools, website and SEO analytics tools, etc. But as the tools marketing teams used began to increasingly overlap with tools leveraged by other parts of their organizations, the martech landscape has grown to encompass sales and service tools as well.
The expansion of HubSpot’s products exemplifies how the landscape has shifted: originally, HubSpot was just a marketing tool. Then, they expanded into website content management. Next they added their CRM and initial sales tools, incorporating a focus on marketing and sales alignment into their product offering. After that, HubSpot released add-ons for reporting and Ads and began integrating their platform with other tools. Then they started experimenting with chatbots and conversational marketing, first as part of their sales tools and later as part of their marketing offerings. Most recently, they incorporated service delivery and customer support into the mix with their Service Hub.
As more companies began viewing their marketing efforts as part of the greater buyer and customer journeys, marketing strategies, and thus the need for marketing tools, stopped ending once sales got involved or prospects closed as customers.
The general areas martech addresses are:
- Advertising and promotion: This category encompasses all forms of advertising along with PR tools.
- Content and experience: Martech was born from this category. It includes tools for email marketing, web and SEO, asset creation and management, testing and optimization, marketing automation and content marketing.
- Social and relationships: This category encompasses the ways you can foster relationships and engage with people in a more personal manner online. These tools include customer loyalty and advocacy platforms, review tools, CRMs, Conversational marketing platforms, social media monitoring software and event tools.
- Commerce and sales: This category includes software for sales intelligence, e-commerce and affiliate marketing, amongst other things.
- Data: The data category encompasses a variety of platforms for data visualization, data management and enhancement, analytics, attribution and business intelligence.
- Management: Management includes all of the business operations tools that aren’t strictly used for marketing, but you wouldn’t be able to manage a marketing team without, such as project management tools, collaboration software, talent management platforms and finance software.
Why is the Changing Martech Landscape Important?
You can’t effectively do marketing today without a solid tech stack. Therefore, choosing the right tools for your company is integral to your success.
If you choose a tech stack that is difficult to use or doesn’t do everything you need it to, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. If you choose tools that integrate well with each other, fulfill your company’s needs and enable you to execute initiatives that accomplish your goals, you’ll grow better.
The number of technologies has been increasing at an exponential rate. Someone identifies a pain point and creates a tool around it. Then, another person finds a way to improve their tool and better solve for that challenge.
Sometimes a tool can be improved so much that it becomes a whole new category of software. For example, marketing automation started out as just email marketing tools, but the functionality of those platforms expanded so dramatically that marketing automation became its own category. Now, email marketing is just one feature of those platforms.
While some companies focus on creating software that accomplishes many functions, others create function-specific tools that do one specific thing really well.
For example, an all-in-one marketing automation platform can help you manage your email marketing, social media presence, content strategy and conversion paths. Alternatively, there are still tools that focus on just email marketing and have features that go deeper into optimizing that than the all-in-one tool.
With so many specialized tools, it can be overwhelming to build a tech stack that does everything you want without using too many individual software. You can get a different best-in-class tool for every aspect of your marketing strategy and then get a second set of tools to optimize and measure all of your initial platforms. But doing so might not actually make your marketing efforts easier or better and could be an unnecessary waste of your time and budget.
Understand What Areas You Need to Invest In
Not every business needs a best-in-class solution for every single subcategory included in the marketing landscape. You need to identify what tools you need for your particular company and focus on leveraging those without being overwhelmed by all of the other options available.
If you’re a scaling business, this might also involve creating a roadmap for tools you want to invest in later on. For example, you might determine you need a marketing automation platform, CRM, CMS and sales tool from the start. Those are the tools you invest in immediately. Then as you grow, you can add on more function-specific tools, like a social media monitoring tool or a video marketing platform, that help you take specific tactics to the next level,.
Avoid shelfware and Frankenstacks
If you don’t evaluate how new tools will fit into your process or connect with the rest of your tech stack, set the tools up properly and ensure onboarding and adoption or enable your company to leverage them effectively, you can end up with shelfware that you’re paying for but no one at your company is using. This could be caused by introducing too many new tools at once or not having a plan for how each tool will be leveraged before you purchase it.
Not properly evaluating how new tools will work with your current software can also lead to a Frankenstack, a collection of disparate tools that require workarounds to speak to each other. For example, if you have to use multiple APIs to connect different components of your tech stack, that’s a sign that you have a Frankenstack. Frankenstacks get increasingly difficult to manage with each new addition, and too many manual integrations can slow down your software.
Don’t rush the addition of new tools. Being strategic and methodical in your evaluation and adoption of new tools can prevent you from having shelfware or a Frankenstack.
In some ways, martech has almost become synonymous with biztech. Software such as project management tools, BI tools, finance software and collaboration platforms aren’t just essential for marketing.
Martech has now grown to encompass every aspect of a business because companies are moving toward viewing the customer experience as one continuous journey from marketing to sales to product or service delivery. Not only do all of the touchpoints need to be seamlessly integrated on the back end, but they also all need to create a cohesive experience for your prospects.
With marketing’s role extending further into businesses, the tools necessary to enable their efforts have expanded in scope as well.