Why CMOs must embrace martech

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Martech’s capabilities and influence are growing exponentially but, there are still gaps in CMOs’ martech preparedness. Without taking action that gulf is only going to widen. Certainly, they can rely on the assistance of consultancies and vendors in the interim while they get up to speed or build internally, but the work needs to be done to build internal capabilities that are robust, yet flexible enough to accommodate this ever-evolving discipline.


Change is already underway. Nike has recognised the value of martech and the need to get on board, fast. For most companies and particularly ones of the size and complexity of Nike, there just isn’t time to build every capability organically. So it went on a shopping spree. In 2016, it bought digital design studio Virgin Mega, followed by consumer analytics start-up Zodiac and Invertex in 2018, and now in 2019 it has acquired another analytics start-up, Celect.


That most marketing-led of companies, McDonald’s, recently saw its much-feted CMO Silvia Lagnado depart the business – not to be replaced. Instead, Lagnado’s role is being filled by two veeps. Colin Mitchell, SVP global marketing and Bob Rupczunski, SVP, marketing technology. This is undoubtedly to help the company as it, too, makes investments in the martech space, announcing it would buy Dynamic Yield, a personalisation specialist, for $300m in early 2019.

This isn’t the only acknowledgement that a modern CMO’s role is essentially half-tech. In companies where the CMO role is staying, they’re looking to fill it with tech-capable marketers. Meal kit company, Freshly, tapped Spotify for its vice president of growth and marketing, Mayur Gupta. So far, so expected. But, if you delve a little deeper into Gupta’s CV, you see that he was director of marketing technology and strategy for SapientNitro, arguably one of the marketing sector’s earliest proponents of martech-led marketing.

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That’s not to say that the march of the marketing technologist is going to stamp all over traditional marketing techniques and every creative decision will be made by bot or algorithm. That would be your proverbial baby sailing out with the bathwater. Traditional marketing techniques and theories absolutely have a place in modern marketing. But it’s about embracing and evolving with the new.

CMOs need to begin integrating marketing technology by acknowledging that there needs to be a dedicated martech pillar in their strategy – and one that goes beyond just technology. We refer to the ‘4Ps’ of Marketing Technology. One of those Ps – platform – is undeniably about tech, but the other three are just as critical.

The first P is to Plan. It’s about setting out why you need that tech, the company’s goals and the customer experience. The second is People - who you need on board to deliver the tech, the strategy and the customer experience, and finally the third is Process - the how. How you are going to integrate the technology, manage company culture and processes so they can adapt rapidly and continue to respond to customer needs.

Embracing martech as a CMO means being able to embrace your whole organisation and bring them along with you on the journey. How do current procurement processes fit the more agile needs of martech, for example? Is your current, traditional marketing operation a good fit when it comes to adding a martech pillar? In some cases, you may need to consider reengineering operations so they can accommodate the changes martech inevitably brings.

It’s a lot to take on board and as the landscape continues to grow and shift, it’s an almost perpetual learning exercise – even for those of us in the middle of it all! One of the best ways to grow your understanding of the impact of martech is to reach out to fellow CMOs and take part in events – yes, even our very own #MarTechFest – where experts can cut through the jargon and the sales pitch and tell you what you really need to know.

But, until the next event or meet up rolls around, you could do a lot worse than to check out our 4Ps of Marketing Technology eBook, completely free to download here. It’s full of insights and stats to help you on your way to bringing martech into the heart of your marketing operation, build an optimal marketing technology stack and avoid falling through the martech gaps.