What is Martech?

Jack Chatterton / 19th February 2020

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There is a paradox at the heart of how we think about martech. One the one hand, it is the cornerstone of every modern digital marketing campaign, and on the other an often poorly defined grouping of various technologies and ideas. Quite simply a pleasing portmanteau of “marketing” and “technology”, it broadly refers to the confluence between the two – it’s a simple term to grasp but a tricky one to fully understand.

“Martech” is often used only to refer to technology platforms – but this isn’t quite right. Scott Brinker, considered by many as the foremost expert on martech, believes the term should be used to refer to two entities:

  1. The technology used to contribute to marketing efforts. This includes technology that marketers use (generally Software as a Service platforms) as well as that that they create themselves (e.g. web apps).
  2. The industry profession itself – driven by marketers using technology to enhance their operations, and technologists who create powerful marketing solutions. Brinker sees these two groups as amalgamated in many ways, referring to them as “Marketing Technologists”.

Why is martech essential in modern marketing?

The industry has exploded in recent times – in terms of the number of platforms on the market, the number of people in martech roles and the level of investment in martech. Accountancy firm BDO and Warc last year valued the global marketing technology market at £95.3bn, also reporting that UK and North American brands now spend an average of 26% of their marketing budget on martech.

A strong and carefully considered martech stack can give an organisation several advantages:

  • Increased content-creating capacity: Bespoke tools and automation mean content can be created and delivered quicker, and repurposed more simply.
  • More integrated campaigns: Campaigns can be delivered in more joined-up and powerful ways, with previously disparate marketing channels brought onto one platform – like HubSpot.
  • More personal marketing: Martech allows the message you want your customer to see to be far more tailored. Integrated CRMs make it possible to segment your audience and personalise the experience they receive.
  • Better relationship nurturing: Technology can improve the connection sales teams make with their leads through use of their personal data, habits and behaviour.
  • More valuable insights: All analytics can be easily integrated to produce better campaign reports.

Martech is by no means new – practically everyone working in digital marketing in 2020 is by definition a martech user. The martech boom and even the popularisation of the word itself has been accelerated by fast-paced technology developments, but perhaps has even more to do with the growing awareness of the potential of martech among marketers.

What we traditionally knew as martech – for instance CMS, email automation and SEO tools – are still core technologies used in marketing campaigns. However, the scope of martech has expanded markedly to incorporate sales and services operations too. Organisations are becoming more open to the idea that technology can improve efficiency and effectiveness across every department of their business.

Six types of martech product

The growth of the martech field continues apace. There are now an enormous number of vendors operating under the banner of martech – with a handful of ubiquitous platforms leading the way and thousands of more specialised offerings solving different problems.

A result of this expansion in available technology has been the ability to tailor your solutions to your business. Utilising martech effectively is now less about just embracing technology; it’s more beneficial to invest in the specific technology that’s right for your organisation and building a martech stack that complements your business aims.

Scott Brinker’s annual ‘Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic’, the definitive list of marketing technology, identified 7,040 solutions as of last count. To cut through this almost overwhelming variety of options, he divides them into six key categories. They act as a useful guide to the scope of martech.

  • Advertising and promotion: This covers solutions for researching, creating, delivering and optimising every type of ad from display to content and video to search.

Forge’s favourite: Google Ads

  • Content and experience: This category, one of the most densely populated, covers all technology involved in content marketing. This ranges from traditional CMS through to email marketing and SEO solutions.

Forge’s favourite: Moz

  • Social and relationships: More than just the social media solutions that its name suggests, this group encompasses all martech platforms and tools related to building, maintaining and nurturing relationships with customers. E.g. CRMs, events software and call analytics.

Forge’s favourite: Hubspot

  • Commerce and sales: These are the solutions that boost sales departments and bring them into closer alignment with marketing teams. For instance, sales automation software, eCommerce and affiliate marketing.

Forge’s favourite: WooCommerce

  • Data: The technology in this category records, integrates and interprets data from multiple sources to provide key campaign insights and help identify areas for improvement. It covers numerous types of analytics, data visualisation and even compliance tools.

Forge’s favourite: Google Analytics

  • Management: These martech tools and platforms help streamline and add value to management processes from staff management to recruitment and budgeting.

Forge’s favourite: Basecamp

With the number of platforms on the market continuing to grow and increasingly niche services emerging, choosing the martech solution to fit your business aims is more difficult than ever. While martech is only increasing in importance, marketers need to give careful consideration before investing in any new product to ensure their stack delivers truly powerful insights and results.