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More than two-thirds of marketers don’t think there’s such a thing as the “perfect stack” for marketing technology, believing instead that it’s always a work in progress. Trouble is, they may not be keeping pace with tech advancements, according to Walker Sands’ 2018 State of Martech report [download page].

The survey, conducted among 300 marketers in Q1 from companies of various sizes, found that the majority feel that the marketing technology landscape has evolved rapidly (48%) or at light speed (15%) over the past 3 years. (One only need to look at the famous chiefmartec.com marketing technology landscape infographics to make that case.)

But marketing teams may not be keeping up with the pace of change: just 28% feel that their company’s use of marketing technology has evolved at that speed over the past 3 years (rapidly, or “at light speed.”) That’s matched by the 28% of marketers who believe they’ve only evolved “slightly” over that time frame, with a plurality (37%) instead saying their use has grown “steadily.”

The report’s analysts note that “marketers have rejected the ‘set it and forget it’ philosophy.” Indeed, about half of respondents assess their marketing technology stack holistically every 6 months or less, including more than a quarter who do at least monthly. Marketers also are adding to their stacks, though not quite as quickly: roughly half report adding new tools to their company’s marketing technology stack every 6 months (26%) or once a year (27%).

And as regards agility, few (15%) feel “very agile” in their ability to add new solutions to their marketing technology stack, with most instead feeling “somewhat” (46%) or “not very” agile in that regard.

Perhaps as a result of these trends, respondents this year are not quite as confident as they were last year in their marketing technology usage. Only 16% this year – down from 22% last year – strongly agree that the marketing technology in place at their company is up to date and sufficient for helping them do their job more effectively. Likewise, just 13% strongly agree that their company invests the right amount in marketing technology, down from 24% last year.

One positive finding exists on the budget front, though. While research has suggested that budget availability is the main impediment to acquiring new martech tools, 65% of respondents to the Walker Sands survey expect their company’s marketing technology budget and investment to increase either slightly (48%) or greatly (17%) this year as compared to last.

Marketers Feel Reasonably Confident in Tech Skills

CMOs today are prioritizing marketing technology platform experience when hiring, as most believe that understanding marketing technology is becoming increasingly important for successful senior marketers.

Interestingly, respondents to the Walker Sands and chiefmartec.com survey appear to be quite confident that they have the necessary skills to keep up with evolving marketing technologies. Fully 41% claim that they have “exceptional” tech skills that can be used across the department, and another 53% have “adequate” tech skills for their current role.

Just 6% feel that they’re missing the tech skills required.

Those tech skills look like they’ll only become more important in the future. Looking at how creativity and technology are blended in marketing strategies, the report shows that:

  • Creativity (47%) drove strategy for twice as many as technology (24%) 5 years ago; but
  • Creativity (29%) and technology (30%) are equally as likely to be the main driver today, with most (41%) actually saying their strategy blends an equal mix of these drivers; and
  • In 5 years’ time, the majority (56%) feel that marketing strategy will be driven equally by creativity and technology, with the majority of remaining respondents feeling that strategies will be dictated by technology rather than creativity.

While the prevailing trends point towards a greater role for technology and data analytics in the future, it’s worth noting that there’s still plenty of art in data-driven marketing, and senior marketers who unite data and creativity enjoy above-average revenue growth rates.

The full Walker Sands / chiefmartec.com study can be downloaded here.

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