Marketers are currently living through one of the most transformative and evolutionary periods in marketing history. Just like the Cambrian Explosion–which saw an order of magnitude acceleration in diversification of lifeforms on Earth–marketing is living through its own period of massively accelerated change: an exponential growth in marketing technology, services and tools: a ‘MarTech Explosion’.
The evolutionary parallels don’t stop there.
Many touted causes of the Cambrian Explosion have close parallels with the MarTech Explosion:
- Massive increases in Earth’s oxygen levels which fueled growth and diversity (read massive increases in data that are fueling better analysis and decision-making),
- Evolution of eyes to better see and navigate the ocean environment (read visibility, transparency and the ability to better track relevant digital activity in an ocean of digital noise),
- Surge in the predator-prey arms race (read intensifying competition and better competitive tools), and
- Crossing a threshold of genetic complexity that accelerated evolutionary advances (read the emergence of complex analytics that are enabling faster and smarter marketing decisions and more sophisticated marketing programs).
Which Brings Us To… Account-Based Marketing
And so marketing is living its very own Cambrian-like MarTech Explosion—a staggering burst of marketing technology innovation and start-up activity heralded by rapid expansion and diversification in marketing software, services and tools.
From less than 200 firms in 2011, it is estimated the number of firms in the marketing technology space has risen to 2,000 in 2015 and a staggering 3,500 in 2016* (Scott Brinker, ChiefMartec).
The MarTech Explosion has in turn enabled the rapid advancement of one of B2B marketing’s most powerful tools: Account-Based Marketing.
ABM was made for the MarTech Explosion, and the MarTech Explosion was made for it. It is probably one of the single greatest signals of where marketing is heading as a result of it.
ABM systematically takes full advantage of virtually all the evolutionary developments and advances that the MarTech Explosion brings with it. That’s why it has ascended so rapidly in visibility in a short period of time. But all this rapid change leaves marketers with some challenges.
The B2B Challenge
So what does this all mean for CMOs and B2B marketers? In short–it means plenty of new and non-trivial challenges:
- Overwhelming Choice –the daunting task of making the right MarTech choices for any given business,
- Intensifying Competition –as some marketers harness these new tools better than others, and results begin to show in top line revenue growth,
- Increasing Complexity –in how all these newly-innovated MarTech pieces inter-connect and inter-depend, and the difficulty in gaining and maintaining control over these new tools,
- Dependence on Good Data—ensuring cleansed and standardized data is available to drive and deliver the value promise MarTech is offering,
- More Complex Business Cases –to articulate and justify MarTech spend and ensure it is understood by the control function,
- Expanding IT responsibilities –as the tech in MarTech becomes an integral part of marketing with a whole new set of responsibilities and required skills sets,
- Technology Skills Gaps –between old school marketers with limited technology backgrounds and their more tech-savvy peers,
- Buyer’s Remorse –due to poorly implemented or poorly selected MarTech solutions,
- Cultural Resistance –to newfound transparency and accountability, from both sales and marketing,
This is a formidable checklist to think about.
Accountability Is Here To Stay
Perhaps the biggest challenge from the MarTech Explosion is the one that will affect everybody: Accountability. Everyone –CMOs, marketers, sales execs and CROs –must face the new reality of continuous performance measurement.
There’s no longer any excuse for not knowing what all your target accounts are doing, what they’re worth to your business, how they’re interacting with your organization, how well you’re executing on your plan to turn them into customers, and the probability you assigned to revenues over the next four quarters.
The MarTech Explosion is an unstoppable force that all marketers need to reckon with, and in turn harness for the benefit of their businesses.