At the risk of cliché prognostication I believe it is worth pausing to note the significant shifts taking shape in the marketing industry, enabled and accelerated by the rapidly expanding martech landscape and the unforeseen impacts of the worldwide pandemic–both of which will continue to reshape our economy and lifestyles throughout 2021.

Here are the four “firsts” I consider most noteworthy and important for savvy marketers to recognize and respond to this year.

1. Value-First Martech Stack

Martech has burgeoned from 150 to more than 8,000 solutions over the last decade, a 5,233% expansion since 2011, according to ChiefMartech.com. Technologies support advertising and promotion, content and experience, social and relationships, commerce and sales, management and data (more on data in #2 below).

With so many options how can savvy marketers build an effective martech stack? By driving decisions based on value. Here are three questions to ask:

  1. Does the technology address a significant pain point (is it “mission critical”)?
  2. Is the solution easy to learn and integrate into your marketing organization?
  3. What is the quantifiable return in incremental revenue or savings (does the technology investment deliver ROI)?

2. Decision-First Data Culture

Data is the fastest-growing martech category. According to Martech Advisor, data-related technologies grew 25.5 percent last year. As we suggested via the Forbes Communications Council, data is only valuable to the extent that it elucidates the decision(s) you need to make.

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