The MarTech Obsession Is Out of Hand

Wouldn't it be fantastic if every consumer action could be cleanly turned into a statistic and monitored, if every website visit resulted in a purchase, and if data told a clear and engaging story

Unfortunately, that isn't the case, but you wouldn't know it based on the promises made by the slew of marketing technology – or martech – firms that have sprung up in recent years.

As marketing grew more technology-reliant, Gartner projected in 2012 that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.

According to Gartner's Annual CMO Spend Survey, martech accounted for 26.6 percent of overall marketing budgets in 2021, which is higher than paid advertising (25.1 percent), labor (25 percent), and agencies or services (2 percent) (23 per cent).

Fundamentally, these businesses have turned marketing into a product in order to sell software. How? By giving the impression that everything can be quantified, that targeting can be almost flawless, and that success is as easy as 1-2-3.

They tend to concentrate on short-term measures that have little bearing on long-term company development. Just because something can be measured does not imply it is significant. For example, there is no link between clicks and income.

Marketers have been sold the idea that by using martech, they can target just the individuals who are most likely to purchase, exactly when they are ready to buy. They make it seem as though you can ultra-personalize your approach – and do it at scale – in order to increase the likelihood of leads being converted into sales.

That, however, is just nonsense.

The majority of this premise is predicated on an erroneous assumption about data: that it is accurate and tells you what you want to know. Most marketing databases, on the other hand, are awful — full of mistakes and out of date.

Ads on low-cost websites are often placed by programmatic adtech to be seen by bots and fraudsters. The analytics show things like impressions, but they can't be traced directly to anybody who may be willing to spend money with the company.

However, the statistics seem to be in excellent shape, and management is always keen to see figures. As a result, marketers continue to feed the machine.

The reality is that most B2B marketers just need a few martech tools: CRM (connected with sales), analytics (Google is OK), a content management system (WordPress is acceptable), and marketing automation (Marketo, Pardot, HubSpot etc). The rest is for decoration.

They also need a good image of real-world buyers (not made-up personas). They need a plan for connecting the company's commercial requirements with marketing's strengths. They must also be able to show value to consumers in a unique and memorable manner.

Fortunately, it seems that the sand is starting to move. More smart B2B marketers are realising that taking marketing advice from businesses whose goal is more focused on selling products than providing results isn't always the greatest option.

Especially when so many of those businesses are backed by venture capital and don't seem to be profitable anytime soon.

And, with the Gartner study revealing that marketing expenditures have dropped sharply this year, from 11% of sales in 2020 to just 6.4 percent in 2021 - the lowest level in the survey's history – marketers will be thinking even more carefully about which items they add to their arsenal.

Thanks to Jason Ball at Business 2 Community whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.

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