Anita Brearton's official title is founder and CEO, but she says the stories she hears from clients also make her a “marketing mom.”

“We hear all the marketing sob stories,” said Brearton, whose Boston-based company CabinetM offers a discovery and management platform for marketing technology strategy and digital transformation.

Our expenses are out of control. Our security isn’t tight enough. Our storage isn’t large enough. We have five different contracts with the same marketing automation vendor.

Brearton and her team have heard it all over their three years of operation. CabinetM’s database has catalogued 7,000 products in more than 300 categories of MarTech, AdTech and sales tech.

The mounting pressure to produce successful digital customer experiences and the growing number of marketing technology platforms combine to give CMOs nightmares. 

We caught up with Brearton to explore some recent MarTech trends. 

Every Marketing Stack's a Snowflake

Brace yourselves, B2C marketers: You’ve got twice the headaches of B2B marketers — at least when it comes to your MarTech stacks.

While it’s not breaking news that B2C marketers have a wider audience to reach than their B2B counterparts, it’s worth noting they’re also grappling with larger marketing technology stacks to get the job done.

Brearton’s company found B2C stacks built on the CabinetM site have twice the number of products as B2B stacks.

Most companies have their core anchor technology — CRM, marketing automation, an email platform. After that, Brearton said, the marketing technology stacks start to “look like snowflakes.”

“They’re wildly different in composition of products,” she said. “B2C will have more tools for lead generation and a lot of tools around content and social and AdTech. Because of all that, you actually see more analytics products because they have more stuff they’re trying to measure.”

SaaS = Credit Card IT

Anita Brearton
Anita Brearton

We’ve seen some wonderful advancements in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based marketing technologies where vendors can provide real-time updates and patches.

The problem for many organizations? It’s very easy to sign up for these platforms

“People are swiping credits cards throughout the organization willy nilly with no oversight,” Brearton said. “We talk about enterprises using 100 tools at any given time. You have multiple business lines using all sorts of technology. Nobody knows what each other is using, and so people are buying redundant systems and swiping credit cards. Then they stop using the product and forget to cancel their subscriptions and then auto renewal kicks in. They have these zombie products where the monthly subscription keeps on ticking, and nobody knows it’s there.”

Salesforce's Open Door Policy

Over the last three years, Brearton also noticed stacks that include Salesforce have significantly more products than those that don’t.

Salesforce attracts vendors because it provides an open door through its CRM system via API interfaces. 

“Salesforce,” Brearton told CMSWire, “has promoted itself as kind of being a hub that invites other vendors to build systems to integrate with them. People are surrounding their Salesforce systems with all these different products and systems.”

Salesforce recognizes it can’t be a one-stop shop for all things marketing. This, Brearton said, is reflected in how many marketing stacks shape up: a combination of Salesforce and other integrated platforms.

Learning Opportunities

Marketing Automation Duplication

Many companies are using multiple marketing automation platforms at the same time, Brearton has found with CabinetM. 

For example, some may use HubSpot for email and then turn to Marketo for marketing automation.

Brearton said she’s even seen Marketo and Oracle Eloqua under the same MarTech roof.

“This,” she said, “is fascinating to me. “These products are not simple to operate and take a lot of learning. We’ve found cases of two marketing automation products working in siloed operation. My big takeaway from this is there is room for innovation in marketing automation. People tell us they have a level of frustration with these platforms not doing everything they want and that they’re not easy to use.” 

Marketers: You’re Not That Far Behind

Everyone wants to know where they are on the digital maturity path.

Forrester defines four categories of digital experience maturity. It found very few “differentiators,” or “those who are way out in front and are blazing the path of what it means to be a digital business that is customer obsessed.” 

It found most companies are:

  • Adopters: Those starting to move toward digital experience execution and delivery and have yielded some business value
  • Collaborators: Those who are actually changing, adapting and breaking down many silos

Brearton, meanwhile, finds most marketers feel they’re behind in digital transformation, she said.

“But I don’t think that’s the case,” Brearton told CMSWire. “The only person I’ve met that is actually behind is the one who says they are still making the case for digital at their company.”

Marketers get too far ahead of themselves with “big concepts,” and end up getting “panicked and stressed” because they’ve yet to fully meet them.

“Nobody’s figured it all out,” Brearton said. “We’re all mapping strategies and refining them. Most are on the path they should be. People have deployed technology in a very tactical way and are now moving toward creating customized personal experiences. They’re taking a more strategic look at technology being deployed and what technology they’ll need in the future.” 

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