30-second summary:

  • Ascend2’s Martech Stack Optimization survey asked nearly 300 B2B and B2C marketers how are they addressing the challenge of optimizing their martech stack in 2020.
  • 19% of respondents indicated that they’ve implemented a martech stack strategy, while nearly 60% of respondents are currently working on or developing a strategy.
  • Improving marketing efficiency is the top challenge respondents faced, followed by improving revenue attribution.
  • Data analysis, integrations, and real-time processing are key features that marketers look for when implementing an effective martech stack.
  • Nearly 90% of respondents indicated that they either plan to, or will continue to, invest in their martech stack in the coming year.

In January, research-based marketing firm, Ascend2, surveyed nearly 300 marketing professionals to assess how they’re addressing the increasing use of different marketing technologies (martech) within their organizations.

The survey, conducted during the week of January 13th, 2020, was answered by a combination of B2B and B2C marketers, though respondents skewed more on the B2B side. Companies ranged in size from fewer than 50 employees (54% of respondents), to more than 500 employees (24% of respondents). A breakdown of respondent types is illustrated in the following table.

Source: Ascend2

The challenge of martech optimization

The Ascend2 survey sought to answer one foremost question facing today’s marketers—how are they addressing the challenge of integrating multiple marketing technologies into their businesses?

Since most of the tools and technologies required to compete in today’s client-focused, experience-driven environment necessitate a considerable investment, it is incredibly important for companies to address how marketing technologies are utilized and managed.

To this end, there is clearly room for improvement based on most survey responses that addressed the question, “Which best describes the current situation as it applies to optimizing a martech stack strategy.”

Source: Ascend2

As (Read more...) above chart demonstrates, only 19% of respondents indicated that they’ve implemented a martech stack strategy, while nearly 60% of respondents are currently working on or developing a strategy. 23% of respondents don’t have a strategy in place at all, but the fact that most respondents are either thinking about—or actively implementing—a strategy reflects the growing trend toward the focus on martech stack optimization.

Per Ascend2, “It seems that marketers have recognized, and are slowly taking action when it comes to addressing how marketing technologies are utilized and managed.”

Improving marketing efficiency: pain points and priorities

When asked to name their top barriers to the success of martech stack optimization, respondents listed improving marketing efficiency (40%) as the top challenge followed by improving attribution of revenue (38%).

Other key barriers included integrating systems, increasing marketing ROI, and improving customer experience. In most cases, the main barriers fuel the top priorities.


For example, improving marketing efficiency falls squarely at the top of the list of challenging barriers and key priorities in the survey. 55% of respondents listed this as a key priority, followed by improving customer experience (51%) and increasing marketing ROI (45%).

Ascend2 martechSource: Ascend2

Per Ascend2: “When comparing how marketing professionals view priorities versus barriers of martech stack optimization, it is clear that high-priority items such as improving marketing efficiency will likely take precedence over integrating disparate systems, a lower priority which is also considered a more challenging concern to overcome.”

Getting the most out of martech tools

Choosing and implementing the correct tools is only part of the challenge that businesses face when evaluating the efficiency of the new technology they purchase and integrate. There is also a clear need to optimize these technologies once they’re in place, with respondents a variety of capabilities are needed for the tools to be utilized to their full potential.

The top improvement needed was better ease of use, with 52% of respondents noting this as a criteria they needed from their martech tools. Additional needed capabilities were: integrations with other technologies in the stack (38%), ability to customize a tool (37%), and the ability to improve customer experience (36%).

To this end, Ascend2 asked marketers what they considered the most important features for implementing an effective martech stack. The top feature listed by marketers was data insights/analysis, with just over half of respondents listing this as a key feature. Other desirable features include: systems integration, real-time processing, and data centralization.

Ascend2 martechSource: Ascend2

A martech stack strategy is worth investing in

In spite of the challenges and complexities involved in researching, vetting, purchasing, and integrating new martech tools into an existing stack (not to mention building an entirely new tech stack), nearly 90% of respondents indicated that they either plan to, or will continue to, invest in their martech stack in the coming year.

A fairly significant portion of respondents (22%), will continue to invest significantly, while 49% indicated they will continue to invest moderately. Just 14% of respondents indicated that they don’t plan to invest in their martech stack at all in the coming year.

Ascend2 martechSource: Ascend2

Clearly, martech stacks are important tools that help businesses improve or increase their marketing efficiency. Companies that want to compete in this new highly technical landscape, need to research, evaluate, and implement new tools regularly. Thus, creating a martech stack strategy can help ensure investments in these tools are made appropriately, tools are utilized to their full extent, and integrations of make sense within the larger landscape of your existing martech stack.

You can download the full results of this survey which include more statistics and graphs, from Ascend2’s website.

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