Martech Boston: 5 Key Takeaways You Need to Pay Attention to Now

October 19, 2017

Blog | Strategy | Martech Boston: 5 Key Takeaways You Need to Pay Attention to Now
Martech Boston: 5 Key Takeaways You Need to Pay Attention to Now

Several members of our team traveled to Boston to attend the MarTech Conference run by Scott Brinker of We came home buzzing (we’re talking 20 pages of notes). We’ve distilled down our top takeaways for your here.

1. Marketing is changing

Marketing is driving spending more than any other department now, but they are also being held accountable for that spend for the first time ever. Much of their budgets are being directed towards marketing technology spends and tools to help them reach specific goals around things like personalization. If they succeed, they are rewarded with higher budgets and bigger teams, but when they are not moving the needle forward, their tenure at an organization is short-lived.

In order to see how they are doing, marketing organizations must be able to measure ROMI (return on marketing investments) and they need a set of cohesive, unfragmented, tools to help them collect and analyze data. Yet only 20% of marketing organizations can prove marketing’s impact and contribution to the overall business, according to the presentation that Laura Patterson of Visionedge Marketing gave entitled How to Implement Best-in-Class Processes, the Foundation of your Marketing Operations. Laura also shared that 30% of marketing budgets are being spent on martech these days, yet half of all projects fail because people are putting technology before processes and people.

“Great tools, without great people, won’t get you far” Mike Volpe shared during perspectives on Evolution & The Future of Martech. Making all of these tools work still comes down to having the right people, and the right tools for your people.

2. Siloed teams are out, collaboration is in

In many sessions there was a focus on cross functionality. As CMOs and marketers your job is to grow revenue. In order to do so, you must think and talk like a CEO, which means being comfortable talking about money, and integrating and collaborating throughout the entire organization (not sitting in a marketing silo) in order to be truly effective. Today’s top marketers are business people first, marketers second.

As we learned in the Session: How a $1B Startup Runs Marketing to Lead Digital Transformation by Neenu Sharma of GE and Sam Melnick from Allocadia, companies that can demonstrate a link between their marketing spend and their overall revenue are 5x more likely to grow that ones that can’t. Many organizations still have marketing, sales, technology, and finance running independently of one another. In fact, only 8% of organizations have marketing, sales, and finance data in a single source. Yet companies that integrate tech across marketing are 5x more likely to see revenue growth than those who silo, and high performing organizations are 3x more likely to have strong alignment between marketing and finance.

Teams themselves need to collaborate more and stop being so siloed. As Rishi Dave shared in his keynote, he has introduced the idea of tiger teams to his organization. They are essentially cross-functional marketing units filled with experts in various marketing roles (creative, analytics, content) working together to reach specific personas, instead of siloed in their individual job functions. This way you create one seamless customer journey through their shared expertise. He said it’s been really challenging to get people working together like this, but that it’s been very important for their growth.

Why is there a call for unified systems and teams? So you can create unified experiences for your customers. That’s how you’ll grow.

3. Tech is ahead of marketing maturity

Tech is continuing to advance, offering more and more innovation to marketers, but 80% of them feel that they are performing below average, Tony Byrne shared in The Right Way to Select Marketing Technology. According to Neenu Sharma of GE and Sam Melnick from Allocadia, there is still a big lag in marketer’s embracing the martech tools available to them to show ROMI. Only 21% of marketers are able to measure marketing’s contribution to revenue and 82% are still using spreadsheets as their primary tool. 80% of low performing companies don’t use MPM (marketing performance management tools), but organizations that do are 3.5x more likely to see their budgets and overall company revenue grow in the coming year.

Needu recommends investing in tools that will get you quick business wins that show the leadership in your company how effective your marketing organization is, helping you gain additional support and budget to continue your team’s initiatives.

4. Establish a strong technical foundation

Get your foundation tools right and build and add up from there. Don’t get distracted by the newest or greatest tools available, take time to figure out what you need for your organization, based on what will help you focus the most on your customer. In his presentation, Tony Byrne used a mall metaphor for your martech stack. He said that you have boutiques (startups) and you have anchor stores (enterprise tools), and you must get your anchor stores right or you will fail, but you should absolutely experiment with the smaller boutique stores that may come and go.

Same goes for your martech stack. Choose your anchors wisely and then build from there. Just remember that customer focused organizations outperform their peers. He also recommended putting together a cross functional team to help you choose your marketing technology made up of business, marketing, and technology stakeholders and creating real user stories with multiple personas to truly understand what you are looking to do. Don’t focus on features, focus on use case.

5. Millennials are changing the game

Millennials will go out of their way to avoid talking to your sales team. This was stressed, a lot. Think they will fit into your neat funnel? Think again. Customer journey’s have never been as linear as we try to make them, but millennials will push you to be more responsive and innovative with the way you communicate with them than ever before. You need tools that can put together a cohesive customer experience across many channels and mediums, and you need to be able to analyze the data these tools produce to continually make improvements because they will not be comparing you to others in your industry, but to the best digital experiences they have ever had, experiences they have now come to expect.

You also have to provide more value to millennials, they buy for reasons that drive them personally, like your culture, not the features you offer. As CEO of Marketo Steve Lucas said in his keynote, Winning in the Engagement Economy, “if you narrow in on what a persona values – you drive the value of the engagements way up.”

GeekHive, founded in 1997, is a leading domestic MarTech Enablement partner. We know what it takes to create a successful digital program from strategy to implementation to ongoing refinement and support and we love nothing more than coming up with technical solutions and strategies to solve the complex MarTech puzzles our clients face. When failure isn’t an option, our partners count on us, and we make it our personal mission to exceed their expectations, every time.

Shannon Brennan-Cressey

Director of Digital Marketing
Jay Oliver, Chief Technology Officer, GeekHive

Jay Oliver

Chief Technology Officer
Martech Enablement Series

The Martech Enablement Series

Check out A Nine Part Practical Guide to Martech Enablement written by Peter Ladka and featured on Martech Today. In it, Peter shares an approach marketers can take to successfully enable martech within their organization.

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