The marketing community was unable to come together in San Jose for MarTech West 2020, unfortunately. In fact, the status of MarTech East and all other digital marketing conferences across the globe remain up in the air during these trying and uncertain times.
But the team behind the MarTech Conference was able to improvise accordingly, as it put together one of the premier marketing events of 2020 (and on short notice): Discover MarTech, which featured numerous impactful sessions and insightful speakers.
If you didn’t catch the free, virtual marketing technology conference, don’t fret: We’ve got all of the most important highlights and insights from Discover MarTech covered here.
(Note: We gathered the top takeaways from MarTech Conference 2019 as well, so be sure to check out our coverage of the most recent MarTech East event after reading this recap.)
Discover MarTech 2020: Ideas and inspiration from the virtual conference
“A virtual event for strategies and solutions”: That’s how Third Door Media, the brand that runs the MarTech Conference, pitched this year’s version of the esteemed event.
And that’s exactly what attendees got this year: insights into leading organizations’ marketing strategies — as well as from the martech providers that help them succeed.
Looking for new ideas and inspiration to inform your own marketing program? Here were some of the top highlights from the inaugural Discover MarTech conference.
Marketing technology landscape grows considerably
With the release of his 2020 Marketing Technology Landscape supergraphic (the ninth such edition, by our count), MarTech Conference program chair and ChiefMarTec editor Scott Brinker discussed the continually evolving (and now very expansive) martech marketplace.
In a change of pace from years past, Brinker crowdsourced the 2020 graphic, reaching out to martech vendors across the numerous categories featured to ensure they were properly classified. The result? A 13.6% rise in the number of technology providers included.
Though consolidation in martech was projected by some in the marketing community, Brinker wasn’t surprised to see a sizable number of martech companies — 8,000, including 1,575 new entrants — featured in this year’s supergraphic and growing the industry at large.
“When we look at this progression of the martech landscape in 2011 through 2019, [the supergraphic] becomes this very tangible artifact and gives us a sense of scale of just how significant this transformation in our industry has been,” Brinker noted.
Brinker added that, by “charting this growth of the incredible diversity of tools that are available to marketers,” it’s become increasingly evident to him that “technology truly has become a primary pillar in how modern marketing operates.”
When examining specific martech categories, Brinker honed in on the significant growth of database solutions in particular.
The number of databases on the Marketing Technology Landscape graphic grew 25.5% from the 2019 rendition, double the annual growth rate of all tech featured.
“It kind of makes sense, right?,” Brinker stated. “I mean, we know we’re completely awash with [customer] data at this point in time, and the challenge is increasingly shifting to, ‘How do we harness that data effectively to deliver results?'”
Role of marketing technologists continues to evolve
With an influx of solutions available to marketing teams today, Brinker aptly pointed out it makes sense to have an internal owner for the more technical tools.
Specifically, Brinker indicated a marketing technologist is must-have personnel for many businesses today, particularly those with sizable database setups.
“We’ve been championing this idea of marketing technologists — tech-savvy people in the marketing department — for over a decade now,” Brinker said. “But there are very different kinds of marketing technologists out there” with different skill sets and focuses.
According to Brinker, there are four broad types of marketing technologist today:
- Operations Orchestrator (“Maestro”): Typically, this is a marketing operations specialist who owns the CRM software and automation systems for their organizations.
- Brand/Demand Builder (“Marketer”): Marketing managers, growth marketers, and demand generation specialists often fall under this technologist subset.
- Analytics Architect (“Modeler”): This person is usually a marketing analyst, data scientist, or data engineer and focuses on things like segment analysis and model-building.
- Marketing Maker (“Maker”): Those in this marketing technologist subcategory are generally web and app developers focused on customer-facing tech orientation.
With the need for effective customer data management processes and personnel becoming more important for brands, Brinker noted it’s only a matter of time before many companies who currently operate without one or more of these marketing technologists to hire one.
Data management is just one of the now-standard tasks on technologists’ plates, though.
The 2020 MarTech Career Survey shows 82% of marketing technologists said training their marketing teams on how to utilize their martech was a primary responsibility. Meanwhile, 77% indicated they operate all of their brand’s intricate marketing technologies.
It’s safe to say the role of the marketing technologist is growing across countless industries and organizations — and only figures to grow further in the years ahead.
Agility and teamwork required for martech selection
Aside from a few highly informative keynotes from Brinker across the three-day marketing event, another familiar MarTech Conference face offered insights into what it takes to not only build a modern marketing technology stack, but also thrive with it.
The Real Story Group Founder Tony Byrne spotlighted the art of martech stack selection, creation, and optimization in his enlightening Discover MarTech keynote talk.
Whether you want to speed up the decision-making process regarding new tools to buy, or slow down and carefully evaluate the martech landscape to find the optimal (and optimally priced) software, Byrne explained the “agile” martech selection approach is ideal.
And at the heart of the agile approach is the “design-thinking” mindset.
“The ideas underneath this [methodology] rely on more team-based decision-making,” Byrne said. “It involves heavy testing. You iterate through various phrases here. And, above all, you’re adaptive, because nobody gets their [martech] requirements right the first time.”
Byrne added it’s difficult for most brands to document requirements in interactive systems or on paper and stay on the same page (no pun intended) regarding martech needs.
“It’s a useful first step [to document requirements], but it’s not going to tell you how real-life humans — whether they’re customers or colleagues in your marketing group — are going to actually use these platforms,” according to Byrne.
Marketing leaders and professionals researching tools also need to remember it’s not necessarily about finding the best marketing technology, Byrne mentioned.
Rather, it’s about identifying the best-fit martech for your business.
Too often, Byrne added, enterprise organizations “fall in love at first sight” with martech after seeing a modest explainer video or seeing a sales rep demo a solution at a conference.
These vendor-provided insights into their martech are helpful, Byrne noted. But at the end of the day, marketing professionals who will ultimately operate the prospective technology need to get their hands on potential solutions and take them out for test runs.
“Love at first sight in the tech world typically doesn’t lead to long-term relationships,” Byrne noted, adding enterprises, “when left to their own devices,” tend to become enamored with martech without really understanding if it’s the right fit for their business use cases.
At the end of the day, to avoid bad martech choice — and getting stuck with systems that don’t provide the desired marketing ROI — day-to-day marketers, CMOs, and leadership need to design-think together to determine requirements for potential tech to purchase.
BlueConic customer Planet Blue spoke at Discover MarTech 2020 as well. Learn how the retail brand built its omnichannel CX strategy with our customer data platform.