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Martech is booming, but CMOs struggle to keep up

Posted by Grace Townsley

September 7, 2021    |     3-minute read (632 words)

The marketing technology industry is booming. But many CMOs and marketing directors are falling behind. 

Martech refers to the systems and software that are used to collect data, develop strategies and push concepts that help companies reach specific marketing goals and objectives.

The industry has been rapidly expanding globally. According to a report by Statista, as of 2019, the martech industry was worth over $121 billion, achieving 22% year-over-year growth. Over half of that value is concentrated in North America and the UK alone.

Globally, 26% of every marketing dollar spent is put towards a martech solution. Put simply, martech went from an experimental innovation to a company necessity within a few years. 


Key players in the martech industry

The same Statista report outlines the biggest and most influential drivers of the martech boom:

  • Hubspot – highest US market share for a marketing automation solution provider.
  • Criteo S.A. – highest revenue in the world for an adtech company.
  • Artificial intelligence – 3rd most-popular B2B marketing tactic in the U.S.
But many marketing leaders aren’t tech experts.

Only 22% of CMOs report having a clear understanding of the use and benefits of utilizing technology to drive marketing. This group is largely spearheading the vast innovations we see in the industry. They are able to see new marketing channels and new ways to use existing channels, driving the digital revolution. 

But for the other 78% of CMOs, there’s a gap between what marketers know about tech and the level of tech knowledge needed to keep up with global trends. There’s a significant tech knowledge deficit, especially among mid and late-career marketers who may struggle to keep up with the quickly changing martech environment. 

The good news? CMOs aren’t alone.

Rather than trying to keep up with the logistics of martech, many CMOs are closing the knowledge gap, either by hiring support staff with advanced knowledge, or outsourcing their company’s martech needs to specialized companies like Hubspot. Each of these options have pros and cons. 

By hiring martech experts in-house, companies can better customize their strategies and protect their proprietary trade secrets. They can monitor marketing data in real time and quickly make adjustments as needed. But these companies are limited by the expertise of their marketing specialists. If the industry innovates beyond the scope of their team’s knowledge, they’ve only found a temporary solution.

CMOs who compensate for their own martech knowledge deficit by hiring outside companies to handle their martech needs have the advantage of access to a vast team of experts constantly in search of new ways to benefit their clients. These tech-centric companies are on the forefront of marketing innovations. They’re tech-driven and data-focused. But, trusting an outside company to keep your best interests and values in mind can be risky.

Companies that rely on outsourced martech services often have to give up some level of control over their brand direction, trade secrets and marketing vision. They may be limited by what the outside company is willing to offer, and their marketing strategy may be generic. 


If you don’t feel knowledgeable on martech trends, you’re not stuck in last place.

Just because we can recognize the knowledge deficit doesn’t mean that gap is permanent. For CMOs and marketing leaders who do feel behind, there are thousands of free and paid resources available online. From LinkedIn and Google courses to college-level certificate programs and YouTube, any CMO interested in becoming a martech expert has the power to do so. If they’re willing to invest the time necessary.

The bottom line is CMOs must recognize that by failing to keep up with the trends, whether that’s through outsourcing, hiring experts or learning martech themselves, they risk their company quickly losing ground. 

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