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Key Takeaways from the 2017 MarTech Conference


Earlier this month, a few members of our team attended the MarTech Conference in Boston (October 2-4, 2017). This conference is billed as “as a tech conference for marketers and marketing conference for technologists.”

There were six different tracks of sessions happening at one time during the conference, so the organizers delivered a lot of content during the two main days. While we didn’t attend every session, we were able to gather some key takeaways and ideas from the presentations we attended.

If you are a marketer, you probably already know that the marketing field is headed towards more sophisticated data and technology. Below are some insights we gathered about how those trends are impacting marketing today.

Key Takeaway #1: Marketing leaders are no longer just functional leaders but enterprise leaders who help shape the organization.

In most companies, marketers and business leaders have been trying to figure out how to measure marketing for a long time.

Historically, marketing's job was brand building and communications. Marketers were expected to help get the word out, reach and engage with customers, and determine how customers are interacting with their brand.

All of those functions are still important, but now marketing interactions with customers can actually be measured. With the help of MarTech, marketing departments can now take sophisticated and measurable steps to put the brand in the hands of prospects and customers, along with information that is specifically relevant to them.

That means that marketing is now even more closely aligned with business goals. Marketing departments are expected to be run like a business, and marketers are not just viewed as a cost center, but are tasked with delivering revenue.

Successful marketers today aren’t just thinking about marketing, they’re thinking about growing the company using their marketing tools and mindset. Marketers should be prepared to talk to their company leaders about the ways they can help grow the business through marketing efforts. If you want to grow your career, ask yourself, “If I were running this company, what decisions would I make?”


Key Takeaway #2: Cross-functional partnerships are more important than ever before.

These days, marketers are also tasked with evangelizing and building a marketing culture throughout an organization.

To be successful, they must engage the entire organization using marketing strategies, and talk to everyone about how they in turn can use marketing to engage with customers. For example, sophisticated MarTech now allows sales and marketing to work together in new ways, and there’s a huge opportunity for partnerships between these groups.

These partnerships can create an incredibly customer-centric culture – a culture that is driven by marketing, not just by business leaders.

Marketers need to be great communicators who are constantly connecting internally, not just externally. For example, salespeople may see capturing extra data (and using specific tools to record that data) as extra work. A marketer’s job as an evangelist is to show salespeople why that extra work is worthwhile, and talk to them about how having key information can benefit them as they connect with customers to drive revenue and build relationships.

One example of cross-functional partnerships was shared by a speaker from CA Technologies. He explained that keeping up with innovations in the MarTech space was difficult particularly because of the many teams and decision makers who would need to be involved in decisions related to MarTech. So they set up a MarTech council made up of stakeholders across the business who are impacted in some way by MarTech (including marketing, sales operations, and IT). The council comes together regularly to discuss recommendations for new tools, and they have a “Pitch It” series every month, where they bring in two vendors to pitch their solutions. The council evaluates and grades the pitches, and the strongest ones move on to the next round of evaluation. The MarTech council helps keep everyone involved in the MarTech evaluation process to streamline information sharing, alignment, and decision-making.

Key Takeaway #3: MarTech is changing the roles that exist in the workplace.

Given how quickly things are changing in the MarTech space, companies need someone who can identify, implement, and understand marketing technology.

Skilled MarTech talent like digital marketing analysts, digital marketing managers, and marketing technology managers are in high demand, as companies figure out what technology they’re using, whose responsibility it is to own them, and how to use that technology to drive revenue.

Right now, 52.7% of companies have someone explicitly in charge of marketing technology, and many companies have a marketing operations person who also handles MarTech.

Key Takeaway #4: Companies are still struggling to manage and connect data collected through MarTech tools.

Developments in marketing technology are pushing marketing as a discipline to evolve quickly as well. There are currently thousands of ways marketers can connect with their customers and measure those interactions. Unfortunately, right now all that data is still difficult to measure and analyze. Only 6% of current marketers feel their measurements are helping them determine their next best marketing action.

On the whole, companies are still figuring out how to take all the marketing data that is pouring in, and transform it into a format they can use and understand. There are tons of different MarTech tools on the market, but 82% of companies are still using spreadsheets as their primary tool for marketing performance measurement.

Marketers can add enormous value to a company by helping stakeholders figure out how to work with data, analyze it properly, and use that data to optimize marketing efforts.

More Great Insights from the MarTech Conference

Want to learn more from the MarTech conference? Conference organizers have generously shared all the speaker presentations on their website.

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