What is martech and marketing technology?

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Image shows the question what is martech? The 'mar' and 'tech' are in different colours, and below the words marketing and technology appear using the same colours as in martech. The image helps explain the word is a portmanteau of marketing and technology.

Martech (a.k.a., marketing technology, including marketing software and marketing platforms) is technology employed in the service of marketing. Martech is used to create, execute, manage, orchestrate, and measure the performance of online and offline content, campaigns and experiences.

It is difficult to imagine marketing that is not technology-powered. So, with no discernible separation between campaigns and the tools used to execute them, concluding that “martech is marketing” isn’t a stretch. 

Others define martech even more broadly. Some definitions incorporate applications used by sales (salestech), by customer success teams as well as for advertising (adtech).

What is a martech stack?

The collection of platforms and software applications used to create, execute, manage, orchestrate, and measure the results of marketing activities is known as the martech “stack”. Stacks can comprise commercial, off-the-shelf applications and/or homegrown software and range from the relatively simple to the highly complex. The number of applications in any given company’s stack varies widely, but for enterprises to have more than 100 is not uncommon.  

Visual representations of a martech stack

Visual representations of martech stacks

See examples of martech stacks here, here and here

Number of martech software applications growing rapidly

The Marketing Technology Landscape, published by chiefmartec.com and its editor Scott Brinker, is the most frequently cited source of the rapid growth of martech. The 2023 edition lists more than 11,000 martech applications in 49 categories. 

Growth has been rapid. The number of applications featured increased approximately 1,100 in 2023 compared to 2022. More than 600 applications were removed from the Landscape, which means the gross number of additions was about 1,700.

In its maiden year, 2011, just 150 solutions were listed on the Landscape. 

Growth in martech software, 2011-2023

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Source: chiefmartech.com

Here is a summary of popular martech applications being adopted today:

Marketing automation uses software and web-based services to execute, manage and automate repetitive marketing tasks and processes to more effectively market through multiple channels (i.e., email, mobile, social media, and websites). Marketing automation focuses on defining, scheduling, segmentation and tracking of marketing campaigns, allowing the marketing and sales organizations to nurture leads with highly personalized content aimed at attracting and retaining customers.

A customer data platform, usually called a CDP, is a marketer-managed system designed to collect customer data from all sources, normalize it and build unique, unified profiles of individual customers. The result is a persistent, unified customer database that shares data with other marketing technology systems.

Customer journey analytics and customer journey orchestration software let marketers connect real-time data points from across channels, touchpoints and systems, allowing users to gain insights into the customer journey over time. This allows marketers to explore the customer journey using data.

Marketing performance management

Marketing performance management (MPM) platform employs statistical modeling and machine learning to evaluate the performance of a company’s marketing initiatives on bottom-line impact. Its purpose is to help marketers allocate future spend and bring it in line with business goals.

SEO platforms offer numerous capabilities that range from keyword research and rank-checking to backlink analysis and acquisition, as well as competitive intelligence, social signal integration, and workflow rights and roles.

Enterprise-level platforms may also provide more extensive link and site audits or analytics that include predictive scoring systems to identify potential opportunities to improve page performance or link authority. Vendors differentiate by offering more frequent or detailed data updates or content marketing features that sometimes require additional investment.

U.s. Spend On Identity Data Platforms And Services

Identity resolution platforms enable marketers to “close the loop” of customer marketing, analytics and compliance with a comprehensive holistic view of activity across all of an organization’s customer touchpoints and channels. Such identifiers can and should encompass both online (device, email, cookie or mobile ad ID) and offline (name, address, phone number) data signals and attributes.

Email marketing platforms offer features for email creation and sending, but consolidation and integrations have added to what one might have once expected. Common capabilities of these platforms include:

  • Message design and creation
  • Workflow automation and collaboration
  • Message previewing
  • Email sending
  • Deliverability management
  • Data management
  • Ecommerce capabilities
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Third-party integrations
  • Automation and landing pages

Digital asset management software, often called DAMs, store, organize and make useful an organization’s library of digital assets. A DAM is the “single source of truth” where marketers can find every relevant version of the media assets (a.k.a., marketing asset management) that have been created for the brand — images, PDFs, photographs, audio, video and even virtual reality or other cutting-edge formats. 

A digital experience platform, also called a DXP, enables the creation, management, delivery and optimization of digital experiences in a variety of channels and contexts. A DXP differs from a content management system (CMS) in that it delivers to multiple digital channels, has commerce built-in and scales, among other things.

Call analytics platforms are one of the few martech applications that can track both online and offline leads. Call tracking — following a call from source (i.e., website, click-to-call search or display ad) to sales representative (i.e., based on geographic location or product line) — has been a core use case.

Benefits Of Abm Cited By Marketers Surveyed

Account-based marketing software, or ABM, enables the implementation of B2B marketing strategies that align sales and marketing efforts on high-value accounts. This customer acquisition strategy focuses on delivering promotions — advertising, direct mail, content syndication, etc. — to targeted accounts. Individuals who may be involved in the purchase decision are targeted in a variety of ways, in order to soften the earth for the sales organization. 

Digital events platforms enable event marketers and organizers to plan, deliver and measure the results of digital event experiences that serve geographically distributed audiences live or on-demand presentations.

A note on Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a widely discussed topic within the martech community. It is important to understand that it is not just another application like those listed in the section above. Rather, it is a process used in one way or another by many martech applications. AI is so-called because it is thought to simulate human intelligence, although it is far from clear that it actually mimics human brain processes.

In the simplest terms, AI consists of algorithms that not only automate certain desired outcomes (think of Amazon book recommendations), but also have the capacity to improve and optimize their own performance, with or without human supervision.

In the context of martech, AI is used to power applications that create text and image content, personalize messages, recommend next-best-actions, perform sentiment analysis, tag digital assets — the list is endless. On the marketing operations side, generative AI can be used to create code.

What’s the history of martech? A (super) long view

It’s tempting to think that martech began somewhere around the time of Brinker’s Landscape, given that there were only 150 marketing software applications identified in the first edition in 2011.

The timeframe was expanded in this view of martech, created by another marketing technology pioneer and CDP Institute founder, David Raab. Raab traces marketing technology back about 37,000 years to when the first signs began appearing.  

The Marketing Technology Timeline chronicles significant developments in three categories: marketing channels; the tools marketers use to manage those channels; and data available to marketers. The yellow highlighting demonstrates the volume of technology available during each period. 

Raab’s main point: Marketing technology and using data to enhance campaign performance didn’t emerge in any significant way until computers were applied to list management in the 1970s, and expanded rapidly with the adoption of the Internet in the 1990s and 2000s.

The number of marketing channels proliferated throughout the industrial and computer ages. Proliferation also accelerated with the advent of the internet. The yellow areas represent the volume of technology available during each period.

Marketing Technology Timeline
Source: Customer Experience Matrix, David Rabb. 

Is adtech part of martech? 

Advertising technology or adtech is a category of martech that enables marketers to buy, deliver and measure digital advertising campaigns. 


Adtech applications include demand-side and supply-side platforms, ad servers, viewablity and measurement tools and brand safety assurance providers

Martech: the industry

Martech is an industry in addition to being a variety of platforms or software. Thousands of companies, large and small, offer a variety of marketing software solutions to aid marketers in their quest to identify potential buyers, close sales and provide customer service. 

Spending on marketing software was expected to exceed $20 billion in 2022, up 14.3% compared to 2021, according to a recent report

B2C was expected to account for two-thirds of martech spending in 2022. B2C enterprises will $13.4 billion on martech. B2B firms will spend $6.6 billion. 

What Is Martech B2c
Source: MarTech.org analysis of eMarketer data. 

Venture capital investment in martech fell sharply in 2022

Investment in martech companies fell sharply in 2022. Investments declined more than $11 billion to $28.4 billion in 2022 from $39.8 billion in 2021, according to martech management platform CabinetM.  

The company said downturn was the result of economic uncertainty and “investment fatigue.”

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Source: MarTech.org analysis of data from various CabinetM “MarTech Innovation” reports.

The solution categories new martech applications were created for changed in 2022 compared to 2021 as well. Artificial intelligence, audience segmentation/intent, behavioral and business intelligence analytics, and web performance/security were all new to CabinetM’s launch list in 2022.

Several categories were the top launch categories in both 2021 and 2022: Enterprise data management, event management, productivity/workflow, retail/ecommerce, and video creation.

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Source: MarTech.org analysis of data from various CabinetM “MarTech Innovation” reports.

Martech professionals’ responsibilities

Researching/recommending marketing technology, designing and managing workflows, acting as a martech administrator and executing campaigns are among the top responsibilities of marketing technology professionals. 

Responsibilities diverge in more budget-related tasks. Selecting marketing technologies, negotiating contracts and conducting privacy/security reviews were much more likely to be in the purview of management.

Here’s a comparison of responsibilities for martech management and staff:

  • Recommending new marketing technology products was top responsibility for marketing management; 81% of managers (those with titles of director level and above) said they research and recommended martech applications. 
  • Designing and managing workflows and processes (70%), training/supporting marketing staff (70%), operating marketing tech as an administrator (63%), and integrating martech applications (61%) rounded out the top five responsibilities of managers. The fact that most in marketing management use technology as an admin demonstrates just how hands-on directors and above are in this age of tech-enabled marketing.
  • The responsibilities of marketing staff are similar. Designing/managing workflows (63%), researching martech applications (62%), training/supporting team members (62%), and designing/running campaigns (61%) are their top responsibilities.

Categories with the most significant differences between managers and staff were:

  • Approve or veto purchase of marketing technology (37 percentage points)
  • Pay for martech from a budget (29 percentage points)
  • Negotiate business terms when purchasing marketing software (28 percentage points)
  • Architect the martech stack (22 percentage points.

Tasks martech professionals are responsible for

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Source: 2023 MarTech Salary & Career Survey, MarTech and chiefmartec.com.

What applications do martech professionals use most?

Marketers from staff to executive levels reported using a host of technologies to power their activities. But the tool at the top is anything but a shiny object.

When it comes to platforms/tools being used by marketing management, spreadsheets, project management tools and marketing automation platforms reigned.

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Source: 2023 MarTech Salary & Career Survey, MarTech and chiefmartec.com.

Is a career in martech lucrative? 

Salaries for individuals who identify themselves as working in marketing technology are substantial, according to the 2022 edition of the MarTech Salary and Career Survey

Average salaries for marketing professionals surveyed were nearly $138,000 in 2023, which was about equal to the 2022 edition of the survey.  

Marketing management (senior management and directors) make approximately double what staff make. Marketing manager make about 20% more than staff.

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Source: 2023 MarTech Salary & Career Survey, MarTech and chiefmartec.com.

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