We’ve heard the views of the marketers in last month’s Green Room on the rise of the marketing machines, but what do the Martech industry insiders think? In the first of these interviews, we asked David Aponovich for his take.

In last month’s Green Room we sat down with six of our Rockstar CMO’s and asked them about the impact of technology on the craft of marketing and the response got us curious about what folks in the marketing technology industry made of this discussion.

The first person I asked was David Aponovich, Senior Director of Digital Experience at Acquia, the open source digital experience company, who have with close to 4000 customers globally and are considered one the leading providers of Web Content Management software (according to Gartner and Forrester).

However, I know David better from his time as a Forrester analyst and so aside from his credentials as a leader of a vendor whose products clearly feature in a lot of our marketing technology stacks, he maintains a keen eye on the industry and it was my pleasure to chat about the trends that our little band identified.

In this interview I refer to this article from last months issue and this is a response to that – suggest you check that out first.

Is the bubble bursting on Martech?

Christine Bailey mentioned the famous Scott Brinker mega-graphic and that she “shudders” when she sees it, however it’s reported that the pace of vendors being added to that graphic has slowed and of course IBM has divested itself of its marketing suite. As a former industry analyst, what’s your take on the industry today?

There are too many vendors and products across most of the martech mega-graphic segments to be sustainable long term – and we’re seeing that in the slowing pace of vendors being added to the graphic.

Enormous funding has flowed like water to create and grow many of these companies, some of which are finding it harder to differentiate. The redundancies in some of the market segments have –surprise– created redundancies in many organization that discover they own multiple tools that can sort of do the same thing. Buyers will rationalize what they own – shaking loose redundant tech where they can.

On the supply-side, expect more consolidation and roll-ups across the mega-graphic in the next year (IBM’s divesting its marketing tech is an example of this), and expect some of the (smaller) vendors to go away.

It’s been exciting the see the march of the martech market over the past several years, but it feels like we’ve reached peak mega-graphic.

 Buyers will rationalize what they own – shaking loose redundant tech where they can

Will we realize the promise of personalization?

Personalization is a hot topic right now, Jeanniey Mullen expressed her excitement – I know it’s a topic that’s important to Acquia and presumably top of mind in your day job – do you think the industry will deliver on Jeanniey’s dream and the hype that’s been around the topic for so long?

I think the software industry is already delivering on the dream with an abundance of personalization-related technology – some of which is easier for marketers to use than others. What’s lacking are the best practices and even basic practices inside enterprises and brands today to put this personalization capability to use.

This is an area where Acquia, and its partners, are providing strategic guidance and enablement to help organizations “do” personalization right with our personalization technology.

That said, it’s surprising even today to see large organizations struggling to establish and execute an effective personalization strategy. It’s not easy, but in the next year or two we’ll see more organizations make the dream reality as they mature and grow their skills.

What’s lacking are the best practices and even basic practices inside enterprises and brands today to put this personalization capability to use.

Are we losing the human touch?

A lot of the push back against marketing automation is that it’s removing the human touch, both John Andrews and Ted Rubin touch on this – do you think automation and being human are mutually exclusive for brands?

Not at all – they’re not mutually exclusive. Although it takes a deft touch to ensure marketing automation technology doesn’t pull the soul out of your customer communications.

I like what Ted Rubin said in this article, that people seeking customer service want to interact with someone who understands them, and that they’re “not interested in a canned message, a fake conversation, or a process that spins aimlessly.”

Marketers need to hit the brakes on the frequency (and uniformity) that automation allows, and seek instead to communicate carefully in the moments that really matter, with messages in context to the individual. 

Is it making us lazy?

Here’s a tough one, for a representative a leading vendor in this space – has marketing automation made marketers lazy? Both Robert Rose and Ted Rubin suggest it has.

The marketers I know and work with are not lazy ;). But I understand the sentiment.

Marketing automation makes it possible to push out lots of content and campaigns on email, social media and elsewhere, without necessarily being focused on the quality or relevance of communication. Too often messages are generic, instead of addressing individuals and their specific pains and needs. Automation combined with a dose of segmentation and personalization offers a better approach and a chance for greater marketing outcomes.

Going even further, taking a journey-based marketing approach and orchestrating more individualized messages and experiences –delivering the right content,  at the right time, on the right channel, down to the individual– is an antidote we see more organizations attempting.

Fabulous, thank you David!

You can read David’s Three Traits of Successful CMOs, follow him on Twitter or learn more about Acquia.


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