What is Marketing Technology?

If you’ve ever read about how a company was able to become leaner, more profitable, or better able to make faster, smarter decisions about its marketing, it’s because it was employing Technology to:

  • Address its target market at scale
  • Automate its redundant and mundane marketing operations
  • Streamline its performance data into a single point of truth

So what is Marketing Technology, how do you know if you need it and how do you make it work for you?

The Rise of Marketing Technology

The majority of the market is online, and those who aren’t have become edge cases, rather than laggards.

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Digital is now the dominant medium in which we make purchase decisions, form opinions and connect with friends, family and brands. Over the course of this decade of growth, a massive ecosystem of tools has emerged to help us thrive in this medium.

Marketing Technology is the system of applications, tools and frameworks that connect marketers to their audiences through Information Technology. It allows us to quickly reach audiences where they spend their time, with messages that can be dynamically crafted to fit with their personas, and form long-lasting relationships that drive greater revenue and/or form better reputations.

How To Get It Right

In the same way that operating heavy machinery requires expertise, so too does using these tools. You need the right combination of People, Processes and Tools to maximize the impact of Marketing Technology. Here are some questions to ask within your organization:

Do We Have The Right People?

It’s not uncommon for an organization to pay for a new platform, have IT turn it on, hand it over to the Marketing department, only to then find out that it requires significantly more integration work. Take for example a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. IT will likely own the software due to Information Security risks from private data, as well as being responsible for the servers that the software needs to run on. If IT isn’t told what the platform is being used for, or that it needs to connect to financial data in another separate system, the software isn’t going to perform to the best of its ability. Getting Marketing Technology right requires experts that can see the whole picture from beginning to end.

Key questions to ask: Do we have IT/Marketing hybrids that can bridge the gap? Who are they?

Do We Have a Process?

Compounding these types of issues further, these platforms all come with their own datasets, analytics and dashboards. If they’re not all pointing to a single point of truth, it becomes impossible to connect the dots between things like financial health and customer preferences.

Key questions to ask: What is our process for handling data? How does it move from one system to another? Who reports on it?

Do We Have Tools?

Here’s an example of how a Marketing Technology stack might look across each of these phases (note that there are a variety of software/tools that can be used):


Objective: Understand what my audiences care about and how to get them to care about me


  • MOZ and Sysomos: Keyword and topic identification for content creation
  • IBM Watson: Making sense of the results in minutes instead of weeks

Using this research, we’d create our first creative campaigns, based on empirical data vs. gut feel.

Discovery / Awareness:

Objective: Drive audiences to my website


  • Google Adwords, LinkedIn, Facebook: Target audiences with my message based on their interests, searches, professions and behaviours
  • StackAdapt: Target audiences based on location and online reading behaviours
  • AdRoll: Target audiences that have already visited my website, but have not become customers yet (otherwise known as Retargeting)


Objective: Tell my story


  • WordPress: Manage multiple landing pages and allow non-technical users to easily create content
  • Optimizely: Conduct A/B tests on landing pages to determine which messages are working best, and for whom


Objective: Convert visitors into prospects


  • Pardot: Capture prospects into segmented categories and score them based on their action
  • Tag prospects so their information can be used by other future platforms


Objective: Convert prospects into customers


  • Pardot: Keep prospects informed about updates, new offerings or simply provide enough education and value to help them become a customer


Objective: Measure performance and identify issues


  • Google Analytics: Observe the full customer journey from acquisition to action to understand where to keep investing time, energy and money, vs. areas that are not working

Key Question: Do we have the right tools in place?

Marketing Technology is a number of things. It’s a suite of tools, it’s processes for managing complicated but highly effective ecosystems of marketing tools and teams, and it’s an entire discipline. If you’re looking to increase your access to your audiences, automate your marketing, or find tangible value from your marketing operations, these three questions are a great starting point to get you there.