Marketing automation (popularly referred to as MarTech) refers to the tech-driven applications and tools used to enhance digital advertising and marketing functions.
Technological developments that have created new digital customer touchpoints have brought about new and varied forms of marketing. Enhancements in AI and machine learning (ML) have also broadened the scope of marketing automation tools—replacing or complementing marketing functions previously done exclusively by humans.
These developments together with shifting consumer preferences toward personalized experiences and online activities, firms of all sizes have turned to MarTech for their marketing needs.
AdTech and Marketing Campaign Automation remains the most active pieces of the MarTech Stack, while Data & Analytics have witnessed accelerated growth
AdTech and Marketing campaign Automation are the most established parts of the MarTech stack with search engine optimization (SEO) and email marketing remaining staple tools for marketers. With respect to AdTech, while investor interest in SEOs and search engine based marketing has been relatively muted with respect to fund raising activities, adTech tools such as account based marketing (ABM) and ad personalization tools have witnessed growing demand.
In addition, the Marketing Data & Analytics segment, in particular the CDP subsegment, has been experiencing an accelerated growth in response to the challenges brought about due to new regulations surrounding customer data privacy.
In contrast, disruptors activity is comparatively low in the marketing intelligence & management segment which typically faces competition from incumbents. Most incumbents position themselves as an all-in-one marketing solution, with a few disruptors compete in this space offering a cheaper and flexible alternative.
Global enterprise resource and planning (ERP) services have been extending the capabilities of their cloud computing platforms to include marketing solutions. Most of these platforms have been pieced together by both in-house developments and acquisitions, offering customers an all-in-one marketing solution. Most firms focus on business-to-business (B2B) solutions while some firms, such as Adobe, Oracle, and SAP, have extended their capabilities into the business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing space. ERP firms tend to have an edge over pure-play MarTech firms (particularly in the B2B space), given their ability to offer an integrated platform that connects to a firm’s sales, operations, accounting, and other functions provided by the ERP.
Popular customer relationship management (CRM) services, such as Salesforce, HubSpot, Sugar CRM, and Zoho, have also introduced solutions specific to marketing. As the unification of sales and marketing roles is a growing trend, CRMs (popular among sales teams) help bridge the information gap between the two teams via a single platform, giving such firms an edge.
Search engine operators such as Google and Bing (Microsoft), in addition to providing ad placement services, also offer their data analytics platforms. These have access to large customer data reserves for marketing teams. Meanwhile, ecommerce firms like Amazon and social media sites like Facebook have been improving the data analytics capabilities of their products to offer a more complete package.
A note on ad and marketing agencies: Ad and marketing agencies are external firms specializing in providing professional marketing services and have been mainstays in the marketing landscape for decades. Traditional marketing agencies (agencies that focus on traditional media channels and are typically owned by large holding companies) have witnessed a slowdown in their performance, while marketing automation has complemented the services of digital marketing agencies rather than completely replacing them. Many independent digital marketing agencies have positioned themselves to provide complete marketing solutions by developing their in-house marketing automation tools or partnering with marketing automation startups; others specialize in providing strategic consultancy services for marketing. A case in point is the marketing agency 3Q Digital, which provides complete digital market management solutions and strategic consulting.
Another service offered by marketing agencies is the implementation and training of marketers in the use of marketing automation, which has grown in complexity, while firms have cited a lack of know-how as a barrier to implementation. Adswerve is one such agency, offering a licensed marketing automation platform as well as implementation and onboarding services.
As such firms do not directly compete with the services offered by startups in the marketing automation space, we have excluded them as incumbents.