How much content marketing technology do you need in 2016?


The content marketing tech landscape has become a crowded and complicated space. Barb Mosher Zinck braves the latest infographics while addressing the burning question: how much content marketing technology do you need?

female-with-budgetScott Brinker introduced the 2016 version of his MarTech Landscape Supergraphic this week. It includes roughly 3500 individual solutions across six high level categories (what Brinker refers to as MarTech clusters). It’s a pretty impressive graphic (if not incredibly challenging to read) – check it out here.

This year’s supergraphic took a new approach to how the vendors were organized. In the last couple of years Brinker worked on the premise that there was an underlying platform from which you started from. What he’s found is that this isn’t always the case and that, in fact, most organizations follow a multi-platform approach. This is possible partly because integration has become a must-do capability for most marketing technology solutions and because there is a lot of middleware that helps connect different technologies.

This is kind of a new take on the suite versus best of breed argument that has never really seen a clear winner. The truth is, even if you go the suite path, you will still likely need to integrate some solutions, so integration is always going to happen.

What was really interesting to see was the growth of the industry overall since 2011 (when Brinker started officially tracking it). From year to year the number of new technologies has almost doubled, or has doubled, with the change from 2015 to 2016 an impressive 87% growth:


Image from ChiefMarTech Blog

Like most, I am impressed with the amount of work that went into documenting and categorizing marketing technology. There are a few areas I’d like to spend time diving into, but for now, let’s talk about content marketing technology specifically.

Content marketing technology in 2016

This category didn’t appear in the supergraphic until 2013, which is about the time when the term really took hold. This year, Brinker places 160 vendors in the content marketing category. They don’t all do the same thing.

To get an idea of the subcategories found in this category, I checked out Luma Partners’ LUMAscape for Content Marketing/Native:


Image from LUMAscape for Content Marketing/Native from Luma Partners

From this perspective, depending on your needs, you might want a solution for content creation, content curation, recommendations, native advertising, social marketing management, and advocacy and so on. The truth is, there are other solutions that don’t get labeled specifically as content marketing solutions that aid in content marketing, such as marketing automation and content management.

How many different content marketing technologies do you need to support your content marketing strategy? The answer might be none.

Lots of tech, but strategy and plans are more important

It’s true that technology is an enabler; without it, you’ll have a pretty hard time implementing on your strategies in this digital age. But the technology that will help you is hard to find if you don’t have a clear strategy and implementation plan in place.

Let’s look at content marketing in the tech industry as an example. A recent study from the Content Marketing Institute found that 95% of tech marketers are using content marketing, but 58% said they were in the adolescent or young phases – where strategy and effective implementation are still a challenge. In fact, 84% say they have a strategy, but 47% haven’t documented it:


Image from CMI 2016 – Technology Report

In this report, the most effective technology marketers spend about 37% of total marketing budget on content marketing, and the majority expect spending to either increase (51%) or stay the same (35%).

What we don’t know from this is how much of that budget is on actual content marketing technology. I think that’s a good indicator of how much content marketing tech you need to be effective. (Note: The CMI report asks about social media platforms used, but these platforms are not owned by the business.)

My take – what content marketing tech do you need?

That’s the million dollar question. You need to create content, manage content, deliver content to multiple channels and devices in multiple formats, you need to track effectiveness, manage audiences, and more.

The short answer to the question, “what tech do you need?” is: “you need something.” The long answer? What do you have now that you can leverage – a content management platform, MS Office (gotta love those documents and spreadsheets!), a marketing automation solution?

Look at what you have in house now. Then look at your strategy and implementation plan. Is this enough? Can you do what you need to do without buying all those extras that you will have to train to use, figure out how to fit into your plan and pay for? Then go for it.

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for content marketing technology. I’m just saying look at it as your strategy and plans adapt and improve and you are ready for it. Until then, spend your money on understanding your customers and developing the content they want/need.

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