How MarTech Should Help, Not Hinder, Your Digital Marketing Transformation

In many ways, COVID-19 was the spark that brands across Southeast Asia needed for a wholehearted embrace of digitalisation and digital marketing. The events of 2020 led to a surge in the adoption of marketing technology (MarTech) in what looks to be a permanent move up the innovation curve.

Yet a jarring disconnect remains. Marketing teams are estimated to lose around US$222 billion and shed 30% of their staff by the end of 2021. A study found that only 19% of businesses have a MarTech strategy, while 60% are working on it. According to Gartner, marketing leaders were utilising just 58% of their MarTech stack’s potential in 2020 – unchanged since 2019. The same survey said almost two-thirds of MarTech leaders expected moderate to severe budget cuts in 2021, with 35% of respondents starting to overhaul their MarTech stack.

The reality is that adoption of new technologies alone, if not accompanied by a cohesive and outcome-driven strategy, will not bring about the much-hoped for digital transformation.

What marketers need is an overhaul in their approach to MarTech.

But before diving into the how of that approach, it’s helpful to first understand why MarTech came to be the force it is today.

Growing Importance

Marketing technology, or MarTech, refers to the various software solutions used to achieve marketing goals. Businesses acquire point solutions from MarTech vendors to build a “stack” of tools that help them optimise the customer experience on owned media and platforms such as a website or app.

Despite the issues with strategy and utilisation, marketers are set to lean more heavily into MarTech to deliver on their digital marketing objectives.  


Here are some of the major trends that will push MarTech adoption higher in the years ahead:

Source(s): Forrester Research, Statista

  1. End of third party cookies – Google’s move to block third party cookies from 2023 onwards, as well as Apple’s focus on privacy, has rankled marketers and the US$100 billion market for targeted advertising that relies on third-party tracking. Businesses will have to pivot towards first-party data and start relying on Customer Data Platforms (CDP) and Data Management Platforms (DMP).

  2. Integration with eCommerce – As online marketplaces and super apps become the new hangout spots for consumers, MarTech solutions will need to provide seamless integration with these platforms as well as services like customer experience, content management, and customer data management.

  3. Interoperability of tools – The MarTech industry is seeing a “flattening” of the stack as some point solutions start to extend their features into adjacent domains. For example, vendors have started to bundle data, content and customer experience functions to boost their value proposition to clients via partnerships and backend integration.

  4. Emergence of “hybrid” customers – The COVID-19 pandemic has given birth to a new “hybrid” customer whose impressions of a brand are informed by a multiplicity of offline and online channels. This highlights the importance of UX/UI, conversion rate optimisation, digital touchpoint management, and customer data management.

End-to-End Solutions

John Wanamaker, a leading American businessperson and a pioneer in marketing in the early 19th century, said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Thanks to MarTech, the second half of that statement no longer holds water.

A core, meaning end-to-end, MarTech stack should include solutions for the entire customer journey:

  1. Conversion Rate Optimisation – To improve conversions via website, apps, or other owned platforms through A/B testing, experimentation, and hyper-personalisation of the customer experience.

Providers: Insider

  1. Digital Touchpoint Management – To keep track of customer behaviour across websites, mobile sites, and apps.

Providers: Google Analytics,, Adobe Analytics

  1. Customer Data Management – To build a single view of the customer by consolidating data from multiple touchpoints and online-to-offline sources.

Providers: Treasure Data, Meiro, Tealium

  1. Lifecycle Management – To automate and personalise email messages, conversations, and other interactions for lead nurturing and CRM communications.

Providers: HubSpot, CleverTap, Braze

  1. UX/UI Enhancement – To discover what customers need, add new functions and content, and iterate usability across the customer journey.

With MarTech, brands can obtain valuable insights into customer behaviour, campaign results, and more. A proficient MarTech stack can enable marketing teams to understand customer interactions through every touchpoint and efficiently address any gaps, while iteratively and progressively improving customer engagement.

Source(s): Content Marketing Institution, Statista

Furthermore, MarTech helps automate repetitive and time-consuming manual tasks, allowing the team to focus on core value-generating functions like product launches and sales.

MarTech also enables marketers to run efficient campaigns that successfully convert into sales. For example, when a Cambodia-based electronics brand wanted to boost sales and acquire new customers, they turned to ADA. The client was keen on reaching their intended audience rather than blasting large advertisements around the city during the Cambodia Water Festival. With ADA’s precision telco-based marketing technology, the campaign reached its intended segment of mid- to high-income customers via geo-targeting. The target customers received tailored promotional SMSes personalised to their purchase intent and behaviour. The campaign reached 38,000 unique customers in a month.

Be Outcome-Driven

All said and done, the key to a successful MarTech journey is to take a strategic, integrated, and ROI-driven approach.

The right stack, coupled with the right strategy, should help marketers achieve the following tangible benefits:

  1. Boost customer acquisition
  2. Enhance customer lifetime value
  3. Improve marketing efficiency (for e.g. ROAS)
  4. Increase productivity (for e.g. automation)
  5. Create single view of customer
  6. Empower in-house talent

But with only 18% of brands having mastered their extensive MarTech stack to produce a “gifted” or “genius-level” performance in 2020, brands are still trying to experiment across websites, mobile and social platforms.

Rather than adding on to their MarTech stacks, marketers should take stock of existing inventory and work with a partner that can bring out the best in their people, process and technology.

The ADA Difference

There’s no one-size-fits all solution when it comes to MarTech. At ADA, our core MarTech-as-a-Service (MaaS) offering works with brands as part of an extended team to ensure your MarTech performance and potential are being extracted to the fullest. Our expertise is in streamlining and optimising the entire stack from Conversion Rate Optimisation, Digital Touchpoint Management, Customer Data Management, and Lifecycle Management to UX/UI Enhancement.

If you want to learn more about our unique approach or need help getting unstuck, then get in touch with our MarTech experts here