April 13, 2016

When Marketing Technology Fails

Written by
Carlos Hidalgo

Carlos Hidalgo has over 20 years’ experience as a B2B marketer and is widely recognized for his expertise in strategic integrated marketing, demand process, Demand Transformation, and marketing automation. As CEO and Principal of ANNUITAS, Hidalgo drives strategy and leads core practice teams for enterprise clients. Carlos is the author of Driving Demand, an Amazon best-seller, has been named one of the 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management for the last five years. 


That is number of marketing technology solutions listed on the newest Marketing Technology Supergraphic by Scott Brinker. It’s almost double the number of solutions that were listed last year. The proliferative marketing technology industry shows no signs of slowing.

ALSO READ: 4 Signs Marketing Automation Has Turned You Into a Robot

With this bonanza of technology at the fingertips of today’s B2B marketer, one would think that our jobs have gotten easier — that our advanced capabilities and swollen budgets have dramatically increased output. But this is not the case:  

  • In a recent study conducted by my firm, ANNUITAS, only 10.7 percent of B2B organizations said they were very effective with their demand generation programs.
  • Another data point from DemandBase and Wakefield Research states that 89 percent of marketers do not believe their digital marketing efforts are working.

All this technology at our fingertips, yet we have very little results to show for it.


Many companies have this issue. Here are some of the reasons why I think modern technology fails to generate marketing results:

Lack of a Documented Strategy

In Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Content Marketing Benchmark study, only 30 percent of organizations said they are effective with content marketing and only 32 percent said they have a documented content marketing strategy.

Too many organizations buy software without a documented process for using it. This scenario applies to many marketing technologies including marketing automation, predictive technologies, social media management, data analytics, and others. When approaching a technology purchase, marketers need to think strategy first, technology second.

Just as content marketing needs a strategy in order to realize value, the same goes for technology. Organizations cannot just buy new tools and expect them to bring magically affect change and success. But that’s exactly what many companies are doing. When approaching a technology purchase, marketers need to think strategy first, technology second (click to tweet).

Technology Becomes the Focal Point

I continually see articles that discuss the need for having a marketing automation strategy, or a predictive strategy, etc. But when technology becomes the centerpiece around which marketing organizations operate, it must change every time a new solution is purchased.

Marketing organizations, along with their counterparts in sales, need to put the buyer/customer as the focal point of their strategy, without exception. This means getting to know buyers at a granular level — why they buy, how they buy, who is involved in the buying process, their path to purchase, and so on. Simply buying the latest technology will not uncover these answers.

Lack of Alignment with IT

While the CMO is spending more on technology than ever before, this does not mean marketing should be or is even capable of managing the technology stack on their own. However, according to Accenture, only one in 10 CMOs and CIOs agree that collaboration is at the right level.

Since marketing organizations are relatively new to the technology game, it’s hard to imagine them acquiring and assembling and integrating a technology stack on their own, but, this is very common among B2B organizations today.

Understand that I am not advocating for IT to run marketing. I do believe that marketing should have the ability to operate and manage their technology via a marketing operation function. But excluding IT from this process is dangerous.

CMOs need to drive closer alignment with the their IT counterparts and make sure their approach provides insight into the management and usability of technology. In other words, marketing should not go it alone.


The gold rush of marketing technology will not stop any time soon. More and more vendors will create technology that seems glamorous. They will promise ten fold ROI and entice marketers to spend at will.

Marketing technology is a great enabler and essential to an effective demand generation strategy, but it is not the starting point (click to tweet). Marketers need to take a measured approach to technology and understand that the buyer/customer is the focal point of everything. Everything else, including technology, just helps us get there.

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