What next for martech? How digital transformation is paving the way for a new era

The robots are coming… but what does that mean in terms of the trends, developments and opportunities within martech? Mumbrella's Damian Francis asks four of the industry’s leaders to see what they think we can expect in the coming 12 months from the sector.

1. How did 2020 shape or reshape martech?

Karl Durrance, Amazon Web Services (AWS) director of enterprise, Australia and New Zealand
This year put a focus on marketers on the importance of one-to-one and personalisation, in lieu of in-person experiences, and finding mechanisms to scale to successfully market to customers.

For example, beauty retailer, MECCA challenged themselves to translate their highly personalised in-store service to their online experience. MECCA launched a proof of concept led by the MECCA technology and CRM teams to demonstrate how much they could achieve without developing their product recommendation engine. Since integrating Amazon Personalize, MECCA is seeing customers respond positively to the new recommendations with a 65% increase in email click-through rates and a corresponding increase in email revenue relating to the products.

Henry Innis, Mutiny co-founder and partner 
Going into 2020 martech was oversold and over-invested. We’d hit a saturation point — my view is MarTech probably was taking money away from brands, not delivering more to brands.

A big part of this was adoption and processes. Most people bought licences, but didn’t do the legwork to digitise processes and operations.

It’s a cliche to say COVID created change, but it did. It created urgency and gave political capital for people to change processes in large organisations quickly. The result — marketers worked out how MarTech integrated into their workflows, stripped out the costly licences they weren’t using and changed processes instead of just tech platforms.

That’s a big shift. It means less money going into martech in the short term, but martech may start to be a tool of effectiveness not just expense.

Deb O’Sullivan

Deb O’Sullivan, LiveRamp Australia and New Zealand, vice president, enterprise sales 
The COVID-19 pandemic had an unprecedented and far-reaching impact on the Australian martech industry. We saw the market’s volatility impacting many consumers and their spending habits, which put marketing spend under increased scrutiny. Because of this, 2020 saw an increased focus on how investments in marketing outputs are driving quantifiable business results.
This year, we’ve seen more brands taking stock of their expenses to justify marketing spend, especially as consumer behaviour and media consumption continue to evolve with an increasing shift to online and social media. Brands are realising more than ever that they need to ensure every marketing dollar counts, and that the way to do so is to embrace data-driven solutions that enable addressability and measurement.

Kat Warboys, HubSpot head of marketing ANZ
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s the number of tech solutions a business needs to function — for most businesses, no one piece of software represents their entire stack.

However, to be effective, these solutions need to connect seamlessly to truly provide value. That’s where the power of an all-on-one connected platform comes in handy. It’s the “glue” businesses need to bring greater cohesion to their stack of SaaS apps. In 2020, the industry turned a corner — recognising that this challenge was really holding back so much potential for businesses to actually get value out of systems. Sales, marketing, and services all need different tools but are serving the same customer. Having an all-on-one platform unites your tech stack and allows data to be shared across teams so everyone has a single view of the customer, and can receive better insights.

We’ve also seen greater emphasis placed on the role of marketing as the champion of the customer. Customers have never been in more control than they are right now, and in lieu of physical stores, consumers are craving a stronger sense of connection to the companies they’re interacting with. For businesses, it’s meant finding new ways to translate the traditional connections built with customers through physical experiences like in-store, to online — no mean feat. It is by understanding the customer’s journey (and their changing behaviours) that helps being able to serve it. Moving forward, marketers need to make sure they’re adapting to the changing environment. If 2020 is anything to show by, agility and continuous learning has led to success.

2. In terms of martech, what will the two biggest challenges be for marketers in 2021 and what will the two biggest opportunities be?

Karl Durrance
Scale. With marketing teams focusing on implementing one-to-one engagements and conversational marketing, there’s an increased pressure on martech platforms to scale drastically to ingest those interactions, and transform big data into actionable insights or automated decision making. Access to cloud services can help martechs to scale and meet these demands by enabling the collection, processing, and analysis of big data and the orchestration of communications at scale.

Democratising data. Data is every organisation’s most valuable asset and strategic resource. However, it often lives in siloed environments, and offers retrospective insights that inhibit marketers from delivering marketing automation, personalisation, and cross-channel orchestration.

The promise of cloud-enabled martech is for businesses to activate real-time decision making, deliver customer value, or create marketing intervention moments based on ‘right now’ customer needs. Data and analytics solutions such as cloud-based data lakes and machine learning can help marketers derive a single customer view that help them understand and better serve their customers with timely and relevant experiences. By making data accessible and actionable for marketers and professionals, other than data scientists, AWS is democratising data in a way that delivers optimal customer experience that, in-turn, drives innovation and positive business outcomes.

Henry Innes
The two biggest challenges are the usuals — process and people.

Process will be about continuing to re-engineer processes with technology. How does your production process work with a DAM? How does data fit into your production process? Those sorts of questions are key.

People is about talent. The challenge with technology in marketing is that talent is competitive. Most agencies and clients are only willing to pay relatively low wages, yet want to compete with Google and Facebook for talent. That’s a structural talent issue that isn’t going away.


Henry Innes

As for opportunities? Firstly, process automation. Process automation has been nailed in logistics around data and operations. Similar themes will emerge in marketing — from analysing and predicting media investment outcomes, to automating ad trafficking more effectively.

Secondly, cost vs investment. As marketers get smarter with data they’ll be able to present marketing as a revenue centre, using technology platforms to prove their case. That will unlock more budgets for the two real drivers of our ecosystem — media and creativity.

Deb O’Sullivan
The current climate presents a unique opportunity for marketers to assess their existing tactics and strategies, particularly as the industry moves beyond third-party cookies and device-based identifiers.

The continued deprecation of third-party cookies along with the newly-issued restrictions at the device level (e.g., Apple’s Identity for Advertisers) will initiate a ripple effect across the industry, meaning that brands – including some of Australia’s heritage brands – will need to adapt and evolve quickly or risk falling behind.

As this happens, there’s an opportunity for publishers and marketers to move beyond reliance on cookies or device IDs, with the adoption of people-based identity and addressable solutions. By shifting more of their open internet programmatic budgets to people-based campaigns, marketers will realise the improvements of ROAS (return on ad spend) and core UA (user acquisition) KPIs.

There is also an opportunity for the industry to collaborate on a new paradigm for marketing by building a trusted ecosystem, with increased collaboration between publishers and marketers.

Kat Warboys
Challenge: Adapting to changing customer expectations — 2020 has been a year of leaps and bounds when it comes to digitalisation and remote work/living. In response, the scope of traditional marketing has changed significantly, and businesses needed to adapt accordingly. We’ve seen how SMS and live chat have been critical to helping Australian businesses during the pandemic. Data collected from more than 70,000 HubSpot customers revealed that since March, chat conversations increased by 132%, highlighting Aussies’ expectations of instant replies and a customer experience that’s both on demand and personalised. The businesses that come out of the other side successful will be those who were receptive to their customers’ preferences and tailored their experiences accordingly.

Opportunities: Put your customers first by investing in a great CRM — New technology comes and goes, and while the tools and tricks are evolving rapidly, they still serve a central, age-old function — one that’s becoming even more important as a business differentiator today — to improve the customer experience. In 2021, businesses should be looking at their CRM. A CRM is not nice to have, but essential for your business to grow better, deliver exceptional customer service and support internal team alignment by providing a single view of the customer. Your CRM should be at the heart of your front-office teams (sales, marketing and services).

Quality content continues to reign — over the course of the past year, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of marketing emails sent to Australian inboxes, making the cut-through for brands even harder and the importance of quality content and personalised communication all the more essential. A joint report by HubSpot and Canva revealed that, in 2021, marketing leaders are looking to reevaluate their investments and prioritising investment in growth marketing, content marketing, and design. This indicates the importance of creating quality marketing assets and well-designed, branded materials that can help companies get their message across online.

3. What will your business be focusing on in the first half of next year?

Karl Durrance
We believe data and analytics will be a top priority for business executives in 2021 as they look to tap into their resources to deliver efficiency, unlock experimentation, and enable expansion. At AWS, we’re focused on helping marketers to build the right data foundations and then help them to reap the benefits from sophisticated cloud-based analytics tools like machine learning to deliver real-time, contextual experiences to customers. The barriers to getting started with the cloud are low, and the first step is often to simply get started. Experience shows this builds confidence for further experimentation. Given the uncertainty that many organisations face today, that is something from which we could all benefit.

Henry Innis
We are obsessed with building our media investment analytics platform to prove out the financial narrative for marketers. We’re continuing to innovate in this space, and our next phase will be media investment analytics across owned and earned media to track the impact of these two areas on financial performance of businesses.

That will change the value of, say, social listening data into measurable impact on the bottom line. Or PR data. We’ve cracked a model in this area, and now are going to continue to invest heavily in R&D to innovate the space.

And we’ll be continuing to educate the industry on the value of media investment analytics — proving out your media as an investment that drives financial returns, not just media metrics.

Deb O’Sullivan
In 2021, the adoption of addressable solutions will accelerate faster than we’ve already seen in 2020. At LiveRamp, we believe that addressable solutions will help support a consumer-centric ecosystem that prioritises a crucial value exchange between publishers and consumers. When brands invest in value-added interactions, they are better positioned to create meaningful and positive engagements with consumers. For the first half of next year, we will continue to support our customers and partners in navigating what may be unchartered waters for many. We’ll be focused on helping customers create and deploy more sustainable, data-driven strategies with people-based, privacy-first identity infrastructure at the core.

Kat Warboys
While we’re all looking ahead to a new year, the challenges of 2020 aren’t going to dissipate overnight. In 2021, our focus on enabling businesses to continue to grow by delighting their customers will continue. To achieve this, we’ll be doubling down on our commitment to building an enterprise-grade CRM platform and continuing to grow our powerful solutions and integrations.

Over the last few years, we’ve focused on building an all-on-one platform for our customers, based on their feedback — positive and constructive — to evolve our products to solve for the customer.

It’s why this year we launched our Marketing Hub Enterprise, Sales Hub Enterprise and CMS Hub, packed with even more powerful features for growing teams needs. We also introduced Marketing Contacts, a new way for businesses to manage their marketing contacts so that they only pay for the customers they want to market to — addressing a common pain point many businesses with large contact bases face.


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