Marketing Technology

2019 Marketing Technology Guide

by ComparisonX Editorial Feb 11, 2019

This is a detailed 2019 guide to Marketing Technology.  We outline how marketing technology can help your business streamline and automate marketing campaigns to generate more sales.

Marketing technology (or MarTech) is a term for tools that help to automate, track and streamline your marketing activity. MarTech is associated with digital marketing (such as social media, paid search or display advertising), but the tools can also be used to increase the efficiency of offline marketing such as TV or newspaper campaigns.  This category of software is also called ad tech, advertising technology or marketing automation.

Some of the common marketing platforms are HubSpot, Marketo, the Google Marketing Platform, Adobe Advertising Cloud, Oracle Marketing Cloud and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

There are also many specialist digital marketing tools that focus one area of marketing such as HootSuite for Social Media, Canva for design, Kenshoo for paid search and Litmus for email marketing. The list goes on with tools for just about every area of market you can think of.


Who are the main marketing technology players?

Does my business need marketing software?

The answer is if your business does any kind of digital marketing across more than one channel, such as social media, paid search, display or remarketing you should be managing this through a third party tool to help streamline the process and maximize results.

Benefits of using Marketing Software

Implemented correctly the right marketing software can:

  • Increase the efficiency of your paid media campaigns
  • Track results and optimize to the best performing placements
  • Improve the effectiveness of advertising messages
  • Uncover key social media insights
  • Improve the functionality of your website
  • Improve the digital user experience for your customers
  • Save staff time and increase productivity
  • Automate repetitive tasks
  • Increase information security and backup your data
  • Improve the professionalism of your communication

It is important to remember that ultimately marketing software should help you sell more and increase market share. It is easy to get wrapped in using the latest tools or features, but remember these tools are there to help you sell more or increase brand awareness.


What are the other key benefits of marketing software?

Improve information security and backup marketing campaigns

One of the key mistakes businesses of all sized make, but especially small or growing companies, is not having documented and systematic procedures in place. Often the responsibility of marketing will fall with one or two people. If those people leave or are too busy the marketing operations can fall apart.

Simple but crucial information such as who holds the passwords for social media accounts can be lost or misused without the proper procedures in place. Marketing software can help companies have a robust and logical procedure for dealing with marketing that can be managed by any number of team members.

Marketing material, schedules and reports are backed up the cloud rather than in siloed files on hard drives. Managers can track who made what changes and assign different access levels to different employees.

This is a key feature of making your marketing operations more professional and secure.

Turn data into actionable insights

Almost all marketing tools produce some kind of report. The value in these reports can be powerful and have an impact across your business, not just in sales and marketing.

Search insights data may reveal new products or services that customers are looking for. Your website analytics may find that you are losing customers as checkout cart take too long to complete. Your social media data may uncover key concerns users have on your services.

This is valuable information that is worth you investing time in analyzing and understanding.

The value of information you can get out of reporting depends almost entirely on the quality of data in the reports. It is worth investing time when using a new tool setting these up correctly so you can tag, label and segment data to get meaningful information.

Lower the reliance on external marketing agencies and consultants

Not too long ago to run any kind of national advertising campaign required the use of specialist media and creative agencies. All this expertise came at a cost, which was out of reach for many businesses. Today, anyone with basic technical knowledge and a credit card can create and execute a campaign that can be precisely targeted to national or international audiences.

There is still a role for marketing agencies and specialists for many companies, but marketing tools have democratized this expertise like never before.

What are the key considerations when selecting a marketing software company?

Identify the problem you are trying to solve and match this to the service available

You may simply need a tool help you manage your social media activity. In that instance a simple social media tool is likely to be all you need rather than a full marketing stack platform. Many of the enterprise level platforms have hundreds of features that you will never use, but you can end up paying for.

However, if you have a significant marketing budget and digital media plays a key part in your sales operations there is a value of choosing one large marketing technology stack and implementing as much of your campaigns under that platform.

Your technical know how

Many of today’s digital marketing tools are intuitive and easy to use. Most people who can use MS Office can pick up how to use a lot of marketing software.

However, there are some platforms that are very technical and require specialist training to implement and manage. Much of the Adobe, Oracle and Google Enterprise stack requires a high degree of product and technical knowledge to implement correctly. The reality is even large fortune 500 companies using these platforms are only using them to a fraction of their capability as they require specialist skills not only to set up, but also to manage and analyse the data.

These platforms are becoming more user friendly, but for most people they will require specialist training or an outside agency to assist if they choose these platforms.

Martech Training

Many of the marketing software providers provide free training to their customers. This training may be as simple as watching a product how to video. All the way through to sitting exams and getting industry recognised certification with companies like Google or Adobe.

We can’t recommend enough the value in getting trained on the platform you use. This can save your company thousands of dollars and will improve the efficiency of your campaigns.

Even if you have a marketing agency implementing your campaigns there is still a real value in you getting trained so you understand how your money is being spent and the information you can get out of marketing platforms.

Google Training

Google Training

Whatever platform you choose, there is a good chance that you will still use some of Google’s advertising products such as paid search.

Google has been running certification programs on its search and marketing products for years. You may have come across agencies or consultants that tout their Google Certified status. These training programs are actually open and free to any business.

The study materials for the Google Accreditation training programs are online and users can take the course at their own pace. You can choose to complete different modules based on your requirements (paid search, display, analytics etc).

Be warned the Google certification is not easy. You will need to read the study materials and revise to pass.

If you are spending money on Google products it is well worth investing the time in learning the platform and how best to make the use of your marketing dollars. A mistake many companies make is wasting money by not optimizing their Google campaigns correctly. Bid on the wrong key words at the wrong price and it can cost you dearly.

The Price of Marketing Software

Cost is of course a key consideration when selecting any service provider. The price of marketing software and ad technology varies dramatically from completely free through to solutions that can literally run into the millions.

One area to note is that a high price does not mean you are getting the best product for your business need. For example, an enterprise level service such as Adobe Marketing Cloud has some best in class benefits and features, but the reality is that few companies need all this functionality. It is important to identify your needs and requirements and match this to the service provider.

Many of the niche tools offer free trials or a ‘freemium’ pricing model. This lets you trial the product without committing to a long term contract.

Even when upgrading to the paid tier a lot of the niche marketing tools represent excellent value for money.

A Marketing Technology Stack Vs Individual Tools

A technology stack refers to a suite of integrated software products offered by a vendor. This means you may select one company to manage your analytics, paid media, CRM and social activity. The alternative is to pick niche tools that only manage one aspect of marketing campaigns, such as email, social, search etc.

Examples of marketing stack vendors would be Adobe, Oracle and HubSpot. Niche tools would be organisations such as Litmus, HootSuite or DoubleVerify.

The advantages of using one technology stack are:

  • Integration between toolsMarketo
  • One user interface
  • Lower data discrepancies
  • Sometimes there can be pricing benefits (but not always)
  • One point of contact for support and training
  • Increased productivity by focusing on one platform

The disadvantages on using one marketing technology stack are:

  • No single marketing technology stack is not going to have the strongest tool in every area
  • You may end up paying for features you never use

The advantages you picking the best in class niche tools:

  • You get solutions which match your needs
  • Only pay for what you use
  • Independent niche marketing tools are often competitively priced

The disadvantages of using niche marketing tools are:

  • There is almost always data discrepancies when integrating two separate tools
  • Longer workflow management by using multiple platforms
  • Manual integration may be required for reporting
  • Multiple training and support required

It is also important to note that many niche Martech tools get acquired by major marketing automation companies or can go out of business. You may build your marketing around one great tool only to find it doesn’t exist in its same form next month.

Making the decision on a MarTech stack vs niche tools depends on the size and sophistication of your marketing campaigns. There are clear advantages of aligning with one main technology and then using selected niche tools to fill any gaps your vendor may have.

Pitfalls to avoid when using marketing software

Not focusing on business results

The number one mistake we see by digital markers is that they can focus on measures that don’t impact the bottom line. Sure everyone would love millions of Instagram followers or a high click thru rate, but if these measures are not impacting your business goals (normally sales) then there is no point in focusing on them.

Identify the measures that impact your business goals and set your campaigns up to achieve these.

Information overload

Each of the marketing tools described here produces data. Sometimes a lot of data. It is easy to get confused and overloaded with all this data.

Having a campaign reach of millions of people means nothing if these people are not converting to customers. Use the right marketing software to identify the key data points that are important to your business goals. Don’t get distracted with vanity measures of success.

Data discrepancies between marketing technologies

Many marketing tools use different methodologies to count and monitor user behavior. This may mean that for the same campaign you could get two completely different sets of results.

Whenever two different technologies have to talk to each other there can be some data loss or discrepancy. This has been further compounded through data protection laws such as GDPR and the blocking of most advertising tracking by Apple.

There may be many instances where two technologies are integrated on the same campaign. For example, you may use ad serving through Google and track site visitors through Adobe Analytics. The data from both platforms may vary significantly – so what data do you believe? This is where it is important to understand the methodologies each platform you use employ and match this back to your business goals in order to make actionable decisions.

It is very easy to become a slave to the data and not optimize correctly. Remember, none of these tools are perfect and each will have some margin of error in their reporting. Using common sense and intuition still has a large role to play in today’s data driven marketing world.

Over-optimizing marketing campaigns

Through a tool such as the Google Marketing Platform you can see exactly what search keywords are converting to sales, which parts of your site HubSpot Analyticspeople are spending most time on and what time of day people buy from you.

You should be using all this data to make your campaigns as efficient as possible. However, there is a danger that you can over optimize and lose sales. Customers do not act in a linear fashion through the sales funnel.

For example, a user may see a social media ad and take no action, they may then see a banner five times and click but not convert to a sale. They may then search for your competitors, before finally typing in your company URL directly into their browser and making a purchase. In this instance your reports may not give any credit to the social or display placements that helped to get a sale and remove them from the marketing campaign.

There is a technology called marketing attribution modelling that aim to identify each touchpoint in the user journey that impacts on a sale and gives credit to it. These tools are valuable, but are hampered in what data they can track (for example almost all Apple data is blocked).

You should take into account all the data available to you, but then also take a step back and use your best judgement when making optimization decisions.

Using too many tools

There are thousands of marketing and ad technology tools available. Each promises to improve the efficiency of your campaign in return for a small slice of your marketing budget.

The reality is many ad technologies are a solution looking for a problem, with few practical applications. It is easy to get distracted by the latest ad tech product launch that promises to automate this or optimize that.

Before even trialing any tool ask yourself what problem are you trying to fix and will it impact on business results. Don’t mistake effort with marketing productivity.

Don’t (always) believe the hype

Each marketing technology vendor makes grand claims on the power of their tool and impact their product can have on your campaigns. Often marketing technology can have game changing impact on businesses, however in many cases the impact will be marginal.

Terms such as artificial intelligence, blockchain technology and machine learning are often used to hype up software. It is easy to get excited to think your campaigns will be using cutting edge tech, but remember it doesn’t matter how the technology works, but what it does for your business.

Who are the main marketing technology players?


Hubspot logoHubSpot has been around since 2006 but has grown in popularity in recent years. Its users cite ease of use, a low learning curve and competitive pricing as the reason they choose the platform.

HubSpot offers a large breadth of products to manage most aspects of marketing campaigns including: CRM, email marketing, content management, social media and customer service.

It would be fair to say that most of HubSpot’s tools individually are not the strongest in the market, but where HubSpot shines is by having so many tools under one platform.

HubSpot is very popular among small and medium sized businesses, but is also used by some enterprise level clients.

Almost all of HubSpot’s services are available on a free trial basis. To upgrade to greater functionality HubSpot’s pricing range is a few hundred dollars for the starter pack up to under $5,000 per month for the enterprise solutions.

Read the in-depth ComparisonX review of Hubspot

HubSpot Facts Infographic

The Google Marketing Platform

Google Marketing Platform is the interface and brand that brings together Google’s marketing and ad technology. This encompasses popular solutions such as Google Analytics, through to solutions that are used mainly by media buying agencies such as Campaign Manager and Search Ads 360.

Much of the Google Marketing Platform is designed for use with Google’s own ad products, such as search, display and YouTube. Google does not offer many tools that the other vendors sell such as CRM and social management, but given Google’s importance in the digital ecosystem most companies use some part of the Google Marketing Platform.

Read the ComparisonX detailed review of the Google Marketing Platform

Adobe Experience Cloud and Marketo

Adobe LogoThe Adobe Experience Cloud offers solutions for large scale campaign management, creative personalization, data management, analytics and e-commerce. Adobe is aimed firmly at large enterprise level customers. To use the entire Adobe advertising stack will regularly run into six figures, with significant expertise needed to manage the platform.

Adobe is popular among large advertisers as it has a reputation for being highly secure and robust. Many companies are wary about technologies with a media offering (such as Google and Facebook) having access to their user and sales data.

In late 2018 Adobe acquired one of the leading marketing technology vendors, Marketo, for $4.75 Billion. Marketo is in the process of integrating with the rest of the Adobe Experience Cloud. Together they offer customers a comprehensive marketing solution, with crucially Marketo adding a strong CRM offering to Adobe’s product suite. However, we do expect it to be quite some time before Marketo integrates seamlessly with Adobe’s other products. When two large legacy software companies come together there will always be issues in making disparate systems work together.

Oracle Marketing Cloud

Oracle LogoThe Oracle Marketing Cloud provides solutions to automate and manage social media, audience targeting,segmentation and lead management.

One of the most popular parts of the platform is the lead management tool Eloqua. Eloqua dates back to 1999 and was later acquired by Adobe. Eloqua is used by many companies to automate large scale email marketing and lead generation campaigns.

Oracle’s analytics solution, Infinity, is a enterprise level solution to integrate website data, customer information and external marketing campaigns.

Like Adobe, the Oracle Marketing Cloud has been partly built through acquiring leading niche tools and vendors, such as Bluekai and Eloqua. Part of Oracle’s user base has been built on up-selling to the customers of acquired companies. Some have complained that pricing has increased once Oracle acquires a tool or support decreases.

Oracle pitches itself at enterprise level customers to use their entire marketing stack, but there are many brands and agencies that use only selected products.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Salesforce LogoSalesforce built it’s business on its excellent CRM tools, but today they offer a fully fledged marketing technology stack.

As you would expect from a CRM company much of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud is built around customer data and personalisation. Salesforce has tools to create and deliver targeted messages based on the data which you may hold on a prospective customer.

Salesforce customers cite the ease of use and the visual nature of the platform interface. The Journey Builder tool helps campaign managers set our each customer touchpoint in a logical manner.

Salesforce allows for leads generated by sales people to be nurtured with regular communications and can automate much of this process. If your company has a sales team using Salesforce CRM, there are key benefits to using the rest of their marketing stack.

Glossary of marketing technology terms

Ad tech: Short for advertising technology. This is a term to describe the use of technology in delivering advertising campaigns. This normally refers to digital marketing campaigns, but can also cover offline marketing such as TV, radio and print.

Ad server: An ad server is a piece of technology that provides a third party verification of a campaigns performance. An ad server is normally associated with display advertising such as banners, but can also capture data from other forms of digital advertising. An ad server would typically be used to ensure that a publisher is delivering all the advertising impressions bought and also track, clicks, unique users, creative performance and what actions users who interacted with the advertising campaign took.

CPA: Cost per acquisition. This is where an advertiser only pays a publisher when the advertising message results in a sale, lead or another pre-agreed action (such as email sign up or registration).

CPC: Cost per click. This means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. CPC buys are most associated with paid search engine marketing, but can also be found across other digital channels.

A CPC can also be calculated from other forms of advertising such as CPM, for example:

How to calculate a CPC from a CPM:

CPM: $20

Total impressions: 800,000

Media cost: (800,000 impressions/1000 = 800 ad units of 1000 x $20 = $16,000

Click thru rate: 0.5%

Clicks: 800,000 impressions x 0.5% = 4000 clicks

= $4 CPC

A CPA can be calculated from all forms of advertising. The calculation is simply total media cost divided by the number of acquisitions.

CPM: CPM is the Cost Per Thousand ad impressions. (M is used to represent thousand as it is a roman numeral for 1,000). If you see a price of $5 CPM. It means that a publisher is charging $5 to display a banner 1000 times.

CRM:  CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.  This term is typically used to refer to CRM software.  Examples of CRM software are HubSpot, Pipedrive and Salesforce.

CRM software allows sales teams to track exiting and potential customers information and interactions.  The tools can also be integrated with marketing software to send tailored messages to customers.

Cost per sale: Cost per sale is calculated by dividing the total media cost by the number of sales. For example:

Impression:An ad impression refers to the number of times an advertising message was displayed. Impression is most commonly used when describing display advertising, but is also used in search, social and email marketing.

Marketing cloud: This refers to marketing automation technology that is delivered by online tools rather than programs that are physically downloaded.

Examples of marketing cloud technology are available from HubSpot, Salesforce and Adobe.

Marketing cloud can be an alternative term to Martech, Ad Tech or Marketing technology. It may also sometimes referred to as software as a service for marketing.

Martech: Short for marketing technology. This term refers to technology used to manage marketing campaigns. Martech is more often associated with the brands in-house use of technology rather than a media or digital agency. Ad tech is the term that tends to be used when describing an agencies use of technology for advertising campaigns. However the two terms are interchangeable.

Performance marketing: Performance marketing is a term used to describe a method of media buying and marketing where the aim of the campaign is a predefined action, such as getting sales or a lead. Usually performance marketing would employ media buying tactics based on guaranteed actions such as cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA) or affiliate marketing. Other forms of media buys, such as cost per thousand (CPM) advertising can be used in a performance marketing campaign, but they would be optimized to ensure that the appropriate cost per sale is reach.

Sponsorship: When sponsorship is used in association with media buying it normally means that an advertiser will pay a publisher a fixed price for a set period of time to promote the advertisers products.

Tags: A tag or tracking pixel is a piece of code written in javascript that is placed on a site to collect information. The information may be as simple as counting impressions or visitors, all the way through to tracking the performance of paid advertising and purchase behaviour.

Tag managers: When a site starts to become active in paid marketing and analytics tag will be added to the site to track performance, normally through third party ad technologies or publishers. Each tag can add to the load time of the site and slow down performance. Tag managers allow website administrators to connect all their tags under a single platform. This lowers the need for site development (as only one tag is placed on the site), tag managers can speed up site performance and can also make the site more secure.

Media cost: $1500 / Number of sales: 98 = $15.30 cost per sale

Viewability or Viewable impression: Viewability refers to the number if impressions in a campaign that were seen by a real person.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau define an impression as being viewable if 50% of the impression was seen for at least one second. This measure should be treated with some caution. A lot of data suggested that time in view is a more important measure. So the longer a message is seen, the more likely it is to have an impact on a consumer.

There can be legitimate reasons why an ad may not be viewed, such as being placed at the bottom of content. However, a lot of non-viewed ads are as a result of ad fraud.

Website Analytics: Website analytics refers to the software that tracks visitors behavior on a website. An analytics platform will typically track the number of users, which pages they viewed, if they took any actions on a site such as a making a purchase. They can also provide valuation information on the source of visitors (search, social, advertising etc). Depending on the analytics platform used a wealth of other information can be gleaned, including visitor demographics, device used, time of day etc. Google Analytics is the most commonly used analytic platform.

Checkout our glossary of sales terms

ComparisonX Editorial

ComparisonX articles are written by a panel of independent experts. If you would like to join an expert panel or submit an article for consideration, drop us a line at We welcome users with a range of experience. Key for our readers is having people who actually use the products we are reviewing on a daily basis.

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