SAN FRANCISCO - You could find a solution for just about any marketing technology need at MarTech: The Marketing Tech Conference here this week.

Want more insight about customer data? Check.

Integration with other Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions? Just walk down the hall.

Digital asset management, direct marketing and other key needs could be addressed by one or more of the many vendors at this year’s event.

But it turns out that’s part of the problem. From talking to many of the vendors on the MarTech show floor, it became clear that an abundance of tools are part of the problem.

For example, during Scott Brinker’s presentation — the one where he unveiled the massive list of 3,500 companies in the MarTech space — he said he found that most companies are using upwards of 20 or more applications as part of their marketing stack.

Monitoring upwards of 20 dashboards or more is no way to streamline efficiency.

But the bigger issue is that most marketing directors and other executives said they only had full confidence in about one-fifth of them or even fewer. There just isn’t the time to do full, closed-loop testing with such an overflowing toolbox.

An Ever-Expanding Stack

An informal survey of nearly 20 vendors in the show exhibit hall confirmed what Brinker was saying. More than half of the marketers reported their company used anywhere between 10 to 15 applications as part of their own stack. And when asked what percent of those branches of the software tree had been tested, the usual response was something on the lines of, “oh, not sure” or “definitely less than 20 percent.”

The sheer abundance of software choices and dashboard management stuck with Anji Taylor, the director of marketing for

“There are just so many companies out here competing for the same space,” she said. “It can really kick your butt if you’re not careful.”

Learning Opportunities

According to Katrina Denk, the director of marketing for Strata Company, it’s a challenge that faces the company’s clients. She said that even those outside marketing are juggling an increasing number of tools throughout the day. So when building custom dashboards for a client that sells cafeteria food packages to universities, they sought to keep things simple.

“We looked at how the person using this would want the buying process to be very focused, and they want clear options and may not always be tech savvy,” she said.

Breaking Through the Noise

A key theme from many of those who were crammed into the floor space at the Hilton Union Square was how many companies there were trying to sell their solutions as a way to connect and bridge all the disparate data that’s out there.

When you’re chasing the next shiny thing, it’s easy to lose sight of what you already have.

Anne Murphy, the director of content for Kapost, said her company seeks to unify the process from content creation to marketing.

“With more steps along the marketing journey inside of one application, you have better visibility and control over your whole campaign,” she said.

Controlling that signal to noise ratio will remain a major challenge as the marketing technology space expands. It’ll be worth monitoring if more companies jump in during the next year and how they try to carve out a unique message for themselves.

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