September 24, 2019

How much MarTech is Too Much?

by Sam Beck

Tech is pervasive in the modern era—virtually every industry vertical has a strong showing of start-up companies touting some form of SaaS to make lives easier. Marketing is no different. Platforms for content management, talent, management, market research, and who knows how many other things, have been popping up. Sure, it’s great as a buyer to have multiple options for helpful tech, but recent research has indicated that marketers might be struggling under the weight of so many choices and are sacrificing creativity at the expense of tech optimization. To get a better sense of how this is happening, we spoke with our CEO, Drew Neisser.

What’s your overall beef with martech spending?

Recent Forrester research pointed to the fact that marketers were devoting ⅓ of their marketing budgets to martech. That’s flat out insane. That’s thousands, if not millions of dollars, that could be going toward something that actually generates awareness, consideration, and / or valuable leads. Forrester says marketers are wasting $19 billion on technology that could be put to better use elsewhere generating an incremental $10 billion in sales. It’s nice to have research to back up what I’ve been seeing in the real world.

So, is the problem just about spending too much on martech?

No. The problem I see over and over again is that when marketers purchase a new martech tool, they underestimate the amount of staff that they’ll need to realize the benefit of that software. But rather than adding staff, they then purchase another layer of software to help provide another data point, merely compounding the staffing shortage issue, limiting the value of all the software.

Is there a better approach to spending and staffing?

The promise of all this software is so enticing—increasingly efficient spending, better attribution modeling, precision messaging, personalized customer experiences and my favorite, less staff (the biggest lie of all). Who wouldn’t want all of these things? But at what cost? This is not a blanket condemnation of martech. On the contrary, no B2B brand should be without a CRM system and some form of marketing automation. The message here is about balance, making sure that you aren’t spending more than 15% of your budget on technology, and not adding software without allotting the necessary staff to maximize the value of that software. 

Are there broader guidelines for approaching the creation of an effective tech stack?

There are. What usually throws people for a loop is how rooted in common sense this advice tends to be. The first thing is: really put the upfront cost under a microscope. Look at potential levels of service in the company that you may consider later, examine the costs of the aforementioned staffing you’ll need, implementation costs, additional training costs—really leave no stone unturned. Another big thing that gets overlooked is integration capabilities. Is your data lake going to flow into all of your systems? Or will that require some manual assistance from staff? Is that new CRM compatible with your e-marketing software? Questions like that can save you a mountain of trouble down the line. One last thing I’ll add is: don’t go grabbing at every shiny new toy you see. It’s easy to fall into the trap of over-enthusiasm based on a cool new solution—but don’t adjust your company’s needs to fit the functionality of impressive technology. It might be great, well-built, and all-around powerful, but if it’s expensive and doesn’t fit exactly what you’ve set as your company’s need, it’ll just throw you off course.

How does ignoring these guidelines hurt your marketing?

In a bunch of ways, really. Over-investing in tech ends up taking resources away from other areas. If you’re spending too much on tech, you’re often investing in optimizing a bunch of internal processes. While that is, to a certain degree, a good thing to invest in, over-investment means you’re spending less on external outreach, things that really pull in revenue. Things like campaigns that boost awareness, quality content to develop and nurture leads, direct prospect engagement via events—that sort of thing.

What other ways does over-investing in martech hurt?

In a similar vein, there’s a good chance that allocating more money to your tech stack means less money for creative teams that can produce quality content. Given how saturated the market is with content, and given how discerning prospects are, the old adage rings true here: quality over quantity. Churning out more content while underinvesting in quality won’t help you. Sacrificing creative budget to automate more processes internally won’t yield good results—there’s no way (yet) to automate a compelling brand story.  We conducted a pretty large marketing survey recently—our study found that 90% of B2B marketers noted a massive increase in complexity caused by having more target audiences, more technology to integrate and more data to sift through. Unfortunately, this increase in complexity has not resulted in improved marketing performance for many B2B CMOs. That sort of inquiry helps show how overall performance can get hurt by complexity, and a big part of that complexity is over-investment in martech.