The state of martech: three-quarters of marketers looking for simplification in 2023

Software and services taking the lion’s share of marketing investment for businesses as they chase simplification, integration and yet… more data.

Marketers are prioritising marketing automation or cloud simplification tech to allow their teams or others to self-serve martech needs, new research has found.

With budgets set to increase for 60% of businesses and no forecast reduction in marketing investment, marketers are taking time to strategically consider the martech that is right for them, as 58% reported an increased utilisation of martech this year.

The latest annual State of Martech report from martech consulting and service provider Clevertouch Marketing found that just under three-quarters (74%) of marketers surveyed across the UK, EMEA and US are turning to tech that simplifies processes, a mammoth rise on the 26% reported in the same research last year.

The report, in partnership with the University of Southampton Business School, surveyed more than 650 marketers across the globe and found increased demand for hyper-personalised campaigns – with 27% of businesses, compared to 9% in 2022, reporting that they harness the data they hold to deliver dynamic and contextual campaigns in real time.

And yet, businesses are demanding more data – with the want for more cited by 60% of organisations despite 84% reporting control of their analytics. The research found that one in five respondents believed their data was of poor quality. A more encouraging uptick was that 54% of US respondents said their marketing teams made all their major decisions based on data analysis, but the UK and EMEA fared lower, at a combined 23%, down 5% from last year.

US leads the way for integration

US organisations were found to be more likely to have a fully integrated martech stack as opposed to a series of unconnected platforms. More than half (57%) of marketers surveyed in the US reported a fully integrated tech stack in their business, compared to 32% in the UK and 33% in EMEA.

B2B2C organisations were also more on top of martech integration – with a small rise on last year from 45% to 48% claiming their systems were integrated. But B2B organisations saw a decline year-on-year for being on top of tech integration, from 40% to 27% in 2023.

Both the US and B2B2C were also leading the charge when it came to implementing simplification technologies, with 88% of US organisations saying they had done so compared to 74% in the UK and 59% in EMEA.

Budgets on the up and software is the priority

The research found that martech investment is rising, with 76% of B2B2C businesses having adopted customer data platforms and more than half reporting that their use of martech has grown over the last year.

For those businesses with the largest marketing budgets – above $5m – the biggest investment was in software, accounting for a third of budget investment on average, while investment in people accounted for just over 13% of these budgets and campaigns taking a smaller slice of 11%. Those businesses with smaller budgets – $500,000 or less – focused on services and software, with 26.6% and 24.1% of their budgets ploughed into these areas respectively. Both businesses with small or medium budgets spent less on people than software or services – with organisations with mid-sized budgets of between $500,000 and $5m spending just 8.6%.

But businesses were taking note of the inclusion of martech specialists in their skills mix, as 47% of US businesses said that they employed specialists that were the only users of their martech platforms, compared to the UK and EMEA businesses taking part in the research, where a higher proportion of EMEA businesses (20.4%) said they employed no specialists at all with generalist marketers running their platforms.

Away from a “Nextopia” martech mindset

Paurav Shukla, Professor of Marketing and Department Head of Research at the University of Southampton, said: “The research shows evidence of a continued shift away from a ‘Nextopia’ martech mindset (implementing more and more but not fully utilising new or existing technologies) to a more sustainable platform and organisational architecture.

“It also demonstrates the importance of high-performing data management, the growing emphasis on people centricity in improving the skills gap, understanding and adapting of martech in a multi-cultural, multi-region landscape, and the correlation between budget and effective sales and marketing efforts in delivering growth.”

Adam Sharp, CEO at Clevertouch, added: “The changing dynamics give some excellent insights into the attitudes of marketing leaders and the influences their choice of martech, people and budgets have today and in their future thinking too. Senior marketing leaders can see the impact and return on investment that martech, now a highly mature part of a successful marketing strategy, is having on organisations across a wide range of industries.”