Martech is hard: Improve your chances of martech and marketing success

In a recent survey by, only 22 percent of marketing technologists expressed being “fully equipped” to drive the necessary change within their organizations. But it’s no longer budgets, since 70 percent of respondents say they feel adequately funded. So why the disconnect?

It’s now a tougher set of problems: too many conflicting priorities (65%), lack of resources (62%) and a lack of collaboration between departments (47%). Many of our clients are dealing with the above and then add to that mix agencies, technology suppliers and other partners all saying “we’re here to help.” It’s no wonder marketers are skeptical: a KPMG 2016 survey reported that CIO’s judged only 48 percent of digital marketing projects as having a successful outcome.

Succeeding with martech is about taking ownership in a very complex, multiparty and evolving environment. And because of the difficulty and a lack of deep expertise, vendors can end up with a disproportionate amount of influence. To succeed, develop an explicit understanding of your needs while maintaining consistent engagement with your vendors to keep efforts on your path.

And even with a single person responsible for marketing technology, the challenges persist. Here are some rules of thumb:

  1. Don’t rely on technology alone to evolve your organization without additional hard work. The more pervasive the technology and the more core to your marketing and customer engagement strategies, the deeper the implications on your people, processes and measurement. For example, the evolution from optimizing individual marketing channels to omnichannel analysis does demand new technology – but the larger changes are in how you organize, how you orchestrate customer engagement and how you measure and determine success. By planning holistically, you minimize the chances of shelf-ware, lost time and lost opportunities. Partners and technology are key enablers, but not a fix.
  2. Building your roadmap goes well beyond engaging vendors. Companies often don’t think through their business roadmap before they dive into the technology; they work backwards from the software functionality. We routinely see companies purchasing overlapping technologies or leaving important needs unsatisfied. At the other extreme, you don’t want to invest so much in planning that you end up paralyzed. We see success with a two-fold approach. First, instead of long discrete projects, focus on nearer-term impacts and smaller improvements to your go-to-market motion. This could mean emphasizing pilots and proof-of-concepts – always with direct alignment to business results and longer-term fit with your strategy and ecosystem. Second, for many use cases, marketing is better served by “good enough” functionality, gaining benefit from technology that is actually put into use and improved iteratively. This often means pushing back on vendors, partners and internal team members who are more focused on technology than on direct market or business impact.
  3. Be explicit about what roles you need your external vendors to play. Are they augmenting your staff? Guiding new behaviors? Providing strategic guidance? Delivering technology? Partners are a critical part of the working model for almost every marketing organization – as technology providers, implementers or advisors. And every marketing supplier knows how to say “we are committed to your success.” Your teams need to understand your partners’ KPIs and reward structures – and know these going into projects and relationships. There’s nothing wrong with rewarding partners for their commitment, but you need to “trust and verify.” It’s your responsibility to keep efforts hewing to your business and functionality roadmaps rather than defaulting to where your partners are more comfortable or being derailed by unaddressed conflicts.


When we work with clients to enable next-generation marketing, the key success factors are how well they understand their market, how completely they can transform those needs into a business-oriented marketing roadmap and how well they support the evolving go-to-market processes with appropriate enabling technologies over time. In the end, you will direct your marketing technology leaders to deliver an agile infrastructure that can support more and more of your digitally-driven marketing and sales over time.  But don’t underestimate the complexities or challenges. Creating and executing this type of roadmap is extremely complex, especially when it involves both internal stakeholders and external vendors. The challenge is not about how quickly you can deploy a tech stack. Instead, it’s about how well you improve the business processes and deliberately choose where and how much technology to apply. Your marketing technology leaders are in a challenging advocacy role that requires a balance of knowledge and experience across marketing, technology and development. You need to help them be strong and empowered enough to orchestrate this multidimensional effort on behalf of your organization.