The promise of marketing technology (martech) is that it helps marketers like you collect and make sense of data. It helps paint a picture of your prospects and customers. That’s the promise. But what’s the reality?

As many marketers in the B2B tech space know well, an influx of new technologies in a fast-growing area can lead to sprawl. It’s easy to end up with point solutions that don’t integrate, are difficult to integrate, or no one has gotten around to integrating. We’ve seen this in other areas of B2B tech, where point solutions and sprawl lead to silos, inefficiencies, and under-utilization of tech investments. The result is often a hot mess of data and solutions that provide no better insight than where you started.

That might explain why, after years of martech spending, there’s some evidence that marketing organizations are starting to pump the brakes. Let’s look at some data.

Gartner’s annual CMO survey found martech spending is down nearly 10 percent. As for why, data from last year’s CMO survey might provide a clue:

Marketers indicated they only use 61 percent of the functionality available in their martech portfolio. A reported lack of resources was identified as a common organizational challenge.1

Martech Today

Marketing automation, one of the linchpins of many a martech-enabled campaign, is one of the technologies that’s not being used to its fullest, according to research published by CommuniGator. That research found that one in eight B2B firms is not using marketing automation and 28 percent are not using many of the technology’s key features — a stat that hasn’t changed in three years.

And according to a research by WARC and BDO, brands in North America have allocated 30 percent of their budgets to martech, up from 24 percent last year. Not all of that spending is going to direct investments in technology, however.

In the North American market, the increase in martech budgets appears to come from outsourced marketing technology spend, which accounts for 14 percent share of budgets this year compared to 9 percent last year. According to the research, “a driver of the need for outsourcing marketing technology functions to agencies is a lack of expertise on the brand side, particularly in an era of rapidly diversifying technology and media options.”2

Marketing Charts

Questions to ask about your martech investments

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the whiz-bang things martech tools can do. It’s interesting to track the meteoric rise of any industry, and the winners and losers and consolidation that’s inevitable as the market matures. But what really matters to marketers trying to grow their business is the martech they have and the role it’s playing in the programs they run.

Here are the questions to ask:

Are you seeing ROI?

Martech budgets are coming from marketing, not from IT. That means that every dollar invested in martech isn’t invested in programs that help grow the business. And if the martech isn’t being fully utilized, and it’s not delivering on the promise of visibility and insights, then pumping the brakes might not be a bad idea.

Is your martech playing nice with how your company’s sales and marketing teams are aligned?

Sales and marketing alignment remains all the rage in B2B, with a strong focus on Account-Based Marketing (ABM) as the tactic of choice. But organizations still sort their leads differently depending on how their teams are structured – which leads need nurturing and stay with marketing, which get fast-tracked to sales, etc. – and martech can help your teams manage who gets sent where and why.

Is your martech aligned within your company’s internal structure?

Martech investments sometimes lead to a re-organization of your team’s structure and responsibilities because pre-martech processes and post-martech processes can be very different things. Would the utilization of some of your martech functionality improve if you could make that functionality a core part of someone’s role?

Is your martech playing nice with the programs you’re running?

With all of the martech options available, your stack is your own — warts and all. There’s a danger, then, in running cookie-cutter marketing programs that are designed for someone else’s martech stack or functionality you don’t have or you’re not using.

The advice here is simple: choose partners that can custom build a marketing program that meets your needs and your martech investments. If your stack is unique, then your programs should follow suit. 


  1. https://martechtoday.com/gartner-cmo-spend-survey-martech-and-agency-spending-down-in-house-resources-rise-236305
  2. https://www.marketingcharts.com/customer-centric/analytics-automatmartech-110745