A few years ago, Scott Brinker and the Third Door Media team declared that MarTech is marketing. There is no difference between marketing technology like personalization and just plain marketing. It used to be you’d ask the question “Tell me about your martech stack.” That’s no longer the case today–it would even be perhaps a weird question.
The real question is: How do you run marketing? Process and marketing technology are virtually indistinguishable. What does vary from organization to organization is how the martech strategy is executed. Should you take an integrated suite approach or focus on best-in-class by category? Like many things, it depends.
How did we get here?
I had a conversation this morning with a technology company in Europe. The executive was talking about SEO and SEO technology, and how it was linked with his personalization efforts. Every time he talked about how he was doing content marketing, and how his CMS does this and this but not that, it was clear to me that there was no line between the process and the technology. It’s how you expect a mature process to operate — everything is integrated.
It seems that as companies reach a certain level of maturity, their approach to marketing technology evolves. Scott’s framework for marketing technology adoption describes how companies get to this advanced state.
First marketing is assisted by martech. It’s an additional tool but not central. Next it becomes embedded as an essential component of processes. As organizations and technology advance, the technology is both integrated into the process and into team member’s day-to-day work. This is the absorbed phase. Finally, when technology drives all marketing activities, Scott talks about this as the dominated phase.
So what MarTech should you build?
When MarTech began it was a handful of small vendors who battled it out for mindshare with their target audiences. That Wild West soon sorted itself out into a handful of larger vendors. Some of those were dominant independent companies such as MailChimp. Others quickly got scooped up by the big names in tech–Adobe, Oracle, and Microsoft–to become part of an integrated suite (though it’s arguable how “integrated” some of those are).
Many large companies welcomed the integrated suites to help them understand the marketplace, what capabilities deliver the most value, and assist them in integrating the tech into their processes and technology environment.
But then something changed.
As soon as consolidation occurred, it seemed like a thousand (actually, 7,040) flowers bloomed and the MarTech landscape became much more complex. But the complexity came at just the moment when marketing executives had become a lot savvier in the ways of MarTech.
Marketing execs are smarter about the integration of processes and tech components. Vendors have gotten better about this as well. They’re building their technology to easily integrate with established platforms and creating frameworks for data to be easily shared.
So is the best-in-class approach the best MarTech strategy?
The real magic of Scott’s MarTech adoption framework is that it talks about the evolution of process and technology integration. At the end of the day, that’s the most important factor when considering a new capability to meet a specific business need. How will it fit?
When I speak to customers about our personalization technology it’s always in the context of how the marketing processes address top-of-funnel progression and how our stuff integrates with or influences decisions about the rest of their tech stack.
If you’re still thinking about tech as a shiny object (and I see a bunch of that, especially with regards to “AI”), you need to change the way you think about MarTech. It’s not an add-on once you have the basics under control. It needs to be both an essential component related to all the other marketing technology you buy, and an integrated aspect of your marketing practices.
If your practices and your MarTech are thought of separately, you won’t be keeping up with the competition. Consult with the people who have the best in-depth understanding of your practices and ask how we can integrate the technology. Hint: it’s probably the people who are neck-deep in day to day marketing work. Additionally, buy technology that doesn’t take seven extra steps in order to implement, but can be easily integrated into your marketing. SoloSegment’s GuideBox is one quickly-implemented personalization technology. #shamlessplug
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