The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Partnerships Martech Data Driven

5 ways brands can drive value from their martech investment



Open Mic article

This content is produced by a publishing partner of Open Mic.

Open Mic is the self-publishing platform for the marketing industry, allowing members to publish news, opinion and insights on

Find out more

December 20, 2023 | 7 min read

If there’s one resolution brands should make this New Year, it’s to base their martech investment on business outcomes not on technical capabilities

Simon Chung, EMEA head of strategy and analytics services at Acxiom, explores five ways brands can drive real business value with marketing technology in 2024.

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. Enthusiasm for that fitness fad or strict savings plan can be hard to maintain throughout the cold, dark weeks of January.

But, as we look ahead to what the next year might bring, there’s one thing I’d like to ask all brands to do. Something there’s a good chance they'll stick to. And that’s to take a more considered approach to their marketing technology investment. An approach that’s rooted in real business value, and not in technical capabilities.

An expanding martech market

Double-digit growth in martech spend will continue until at least 2025. Martech now accounts for around 30% of marketing budgets, and the vast majority of CMOs expect their martech spend to increase in the coming year. And with AI accelerating innovation, there’s never been so many tools clamoring for their share of budgets.

From full marketing clouds, to real-time personalization tools, and data clean rooms that help ethical data sharing in a cookieless world, marketers are under pressure to adopt new technologies to keep pace with change. But it’s too easy to get carried away with new capabilities, or to panic-buy the latest tool, without considering what the business really needs and what value the technology will bring.

Before you rush headlong into your next martech investment, these five tips will help you realize real value and deliver the rapid results your brand needs.

1. Start with outcomes not capabilities

Adopting a new martech tool is often the point at which brands start thinking about how it’s going to work. They may have decided to implement a customer data platform (CDP), for instance, after reading about the benefits of the technology or speaking to a vendor. Unfortunately, at this stage, the conversation tends to be based around the capabilities of the platform. What can it do? What are the implications from a data and technology perspective?

Instead, brands should take the time to put value foundations in place - starting with business outcomes, i.e., what they’re trying to achieve. Is the goal to drive revenue and profitability, to improve efficiency, or increase customer satisfaction? What kind of customer experience does the brand need to deliver in order to gain a competitive advantage?

Coming at martech from a business perspective, and putting these foundations in place early – ideally before making any decisions on platforms or tools – will help enormously with creating quick value and driving growth at implementation and beyond. It will allow brands to calculate what ROI they can expect from any martech implementation before they get started.

2. Go backwards to move forward

If you’re thinking it’s too late to go back to business basics because you’re already in too deep, the short answer is – it’s not. Whatever stage you’re at, it’s never too late to take a backward step and get that business value foundation in place.

If a brand’s use cases are built around the capabilities of an existing platform, it’s still possible to map these out against business outcomes in a value driver framework. This will help to identify gaps and suggest improvements, either by optimizing the technology or supplementing with additional tools. Going back to basics and the foundations of business value empowers the brand to accelerate and grow.

3. Get everyone on the same page

Of course, getting buy-in at exec level is important when introducing any new technology. And those ROI figures I mentioned earlier? They’ll make conversations with CFOs and COOs so much easier. But it’s not just the c-suite who needs to be involved from an early stage.

Every piece of new technology is a digital transformation for the business. And that inevitably means change. Bringing in a new tool isn’t just a technological change, it’s an organizational one, and the business needs to adapt in parallel to get the outcomes it wants at the speed it needs.

Engaging and onboarding every team that’s impacted by the technology – especially the marketing team – is essential to drive adoption. This applies to any technology, but is particularly crucial for AI-based tools where black-box perceptions can hinder adoption if teams don’t understand what the tool is doing and the benefits it brings.

4. Prepare for ongoing iteration

Implementing a new tool may sound like a one-and-done exercise, but that approach is unlikely to deliver results. Getting value from any martech solution requires an ongoing process of analysis, optimization, and enhancement.

It may be that the martech stack is performing brilliantly at converting new leads. But if it isn’t also filling the funnel by increasing brand awareness, or engaging and retaining customers after the initial conversion, this won’t have the required impact on outcomes.

Even when martech tools are performing well, there’s often work to be done in maximizing the capabilities of those tools, and then scaling their use across different teams and potentially different markets.

5. Ask for the help you need

With the martech ecosystem evolving quickly, few brands have the in-house experience to navigate it. Most rely on martech service partners to get the most out of their investment. Acxiom research reveals it’s the number one reason brands bring in external martech services partners, followed by the need to have access to specialty skills, and to assist in defining future business requirements and strategies.

But a service partnership can be about far more than just integrating a specific system. Engaging a service partner from the start means they can consult on the required business outcomes and the use cases to support those outcomes. They can either recommend the most appropriate tech, or validate a brand’s choice before budgets are committed. They can assess operational readiness, such as whether a brand has the data infrastructure to support the technology.

A service partner can also offer vital post implementation support with embedding and optimizing the technology, recommending complementary solutions to drive additional value, and scaling use of the tool across the business.

While experience with specific platforms or technologies is vital, it’s just as important for a service partner to have a wider understanding of the martech ecosystem and the industry the brand operates in. With this well-rounded knowledge, service partners help brands avoid potential pitfalls and open up quicker routes to business value.

A considered start to the new year

Every brand is at a different stage on the martech journey. A few may be starting from scratch, while many will be looking to replace an outdated platform. Some will be struggling to accelerate with a custom-built in-house technology, and will be looking for alternatives. Others may just be inspired by a new development, or looking to solve a specific problem.

Whatever your situation, my advice for the new year would be to go back to basics and start with the outcomes that will drive real business value. That’s the secret to making the most of martech in 2024.

Partnerships Martech Data Driven


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +