Here Are the 5 Biggest MarTech Challenges of 2021

Among the myriad blows marketers had to take in 2021, dealing with an ever-expanding list of marketing technology (MarTech) solutions is probably near the top of the list. Brands today can choose from a bewildering array of MarTech, which are tools created to optimise and automate marketing activities across the customer funnel. But MarTech adoption alone is no magic bullet, and neither does it lead to quick fixes for complex marketing problems. 

To realise the full value of their investments, marketers should be aware of the five pitfalls that can slow down their efforts to build an efficient and effective MarTech stack 

1. New Technology 

With the emergence of new sales channels such as social commercelive commerce, and mobile commerce, MarTech including chatbots, email marketing and WhatsApp are fast becoming a necessity. The chatbot market worldwide is set to jump from US$2.9 billion in 2020 to US$10.5 billion by 2026 – a whopping 23.5% in compounded growth. Yet most brands are struggling to keep up, and Southeast Asia especially looks set to play catch-up. In Malaysia, the adoption rate of artificial intelligence (AI) services in February 2020 was just 8.1%.  

Global statistics on the ChatBox Market, an integration of the MarTech stack.

2. Talent acquisition and retention 

When it comes to MarTech, human capital is the single biggest obstacle faced by brands. The right people with the knowledge, experience, and expertise to help build an end-to-end MarTech stack are few and far between – yet the need for this segment of technology-savvy marketer has never been greater. Companies are far more reliant on technology today to drive marketing outcomes, but without the right people to implement those technologies, the full potential of their investments may never be realised.  

3. Complacency 

Due to reasons such as past success, lack of vision, or risk aversion, marketers may suffer from complacency that leads to stagnationA US-based survey revealed that only 25% of marketers used AI and predictive marketing in their campaigns. In Asia Pacific, many industry leaders too see complacency as one of the biggest hurdles faced by marketers.  

4. Redundancy  

According to one survey, over half of marketers think redundancy is among the top barriers to building their MarTech stack. With more than 7,000 MarTech solutions already in the market, and new products and features being launched every day, redundancy within the MarTech stack is inevitable.  

5. MarTech integration  

Drawing a fit-for-purpose MarTech roadmap is arguably the toughest challenge marketers face. According to a study by Airtable, over 60% of marketers use more than 20 MarTech tools on a regular basis. Yet research by Mulesoft suggests only 28% of those tools are integrated with other tools. That means more tools to manage and an influx of data, resulting in a disjointed customer experience and an inability to attribute marketing spend to results. 

A MarTech Playbook for 2021  

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution to all the challenges above, but marketers should outline a holistic strategy that covers all the bases from people to process, and technology to data. The framework below provides a six-step guide to doing so. 

A MarTech playbook

Automation should be the starting point of any MarTech strategy. Conversion rate optimisation tools such as Insider can help brands push the right message to the target customer segment at the “moment of truth”, leading to higher conversions. Meantime, customer relationship management tools such as HubSpot are useful for personalising email messages and other interactions to keep customers engaged.

Next, brands can work with digital touchpoint management tools to improve their marketing attribution, which is key to maximising return on investment. And by tracking customer pain points throughout the path to purchase, brands can obtain actionable intelligence that allows them them enhance the overall customer experience. Furthermore, marketers can turn to Customer Data Platforms such as Treasure Data to help unify their first-party data siloes into a single source of truth on the customer. In completing the circle, marketers need to ensure they not only have the right tools in place, but also a capable internal team that’s ready to execute.


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Yih Cheng Yak

Head of Consulting,
Marketing Technology