The Golden Age of MarTech: What Marketers Need to Know

By Chris Perez


Inside IncubatorCTX, at the Austin campus of Concordia University, four industry panelists display  — through thumbs-down and thumbs-sideways — their mixed feelings about the state of marketing technology today.

Much like the overall state of technology today, the digital marketing landscape offers immense capabilities, but often at the cost of management complexity. In this American Marketing Association (AMA) discussion, featuring a panel of MarTech experts from SolarWinds, Accruent, Cornerstone OnDemand, and Ascend Marketing, panelists explored aspects of the current digital marketing space and how marketing technology continues to play a more prominent role in advancing the industry.


• Rich Herbst, CEO, Ascend Marketing

• Robyn Hatfield, eNurture and Marketing Automation Manager, Accruent

• Marie-Laure Carvalho, VP, Customer Marketing & Marketing Automation, SolarWinds

• Ali Rastiello, Sr. Director of Marketing Operations, Cornerstone OnDemand


• Pavel Soukenik, Chief Client Acquisition Officer, RWS Moravia

Let’s recap some of the panel’s opinions and recommendations:

Think beyond the technical and business cases for new tools

“If I decide to take on a project, it has to be worth it. I have to make sure there is a strong business need,” remarked Marie-Laure Carvalho, Head of Customer Marketing and marketing operations at SolarWinds, about the trade-offs to consider before deciding to introduce a MarTech tool into her company’s data flow.

Robyn Hatfield, eNurture and Marketing Automation Manager at Accruent, and Ali Rastiello, Senior Director of Marketing Operations at Cornerstone OnDemand, are tasked with similar considerations in their day-to-day roles as managers of B2B-focused MarTech stacks. “I need to evaluate if things play nice with Marketo but also translate what the marketing manager wants to do through marketing automation,” said Rastiello.

It’s critically important for marketing managers to think through both the business and technical cases for bringing on new tools, but also about their capacity for keeping track of the tools’ capabilities, incremental updates needed and industry trends. In the B2B space, focus technology considerations on those tools with a long development history, detailed product roadmap and a robust set of integrations and APIs.

Perform regular tools assessments

“Technology sprawl is a thing. So on a regular basis we do an assessment on all our tools and determine if we are still using them or if there are new overlaps,” noted SolarWinds’ Carvalho.

Software development is always moving, and the largest vendors often trek rapidly along a one-year product update cycle (unveiling new features, updates, API capabilities and bug fixes). Regular tools assessments, at quarterly or half-yearly cycles at least, will ensure that execs and marketing managers are staying on top of the latest capabilities and segments.

In systems assessments, evaluating tools on a purely revenue basis may not be enough. As Rastiello added, ”It’s not always about a direct ROI. Ask yourself … does this make the marketing team smarter and more informed? How much does it save your staff to make your team work faster?”

Be mindful of ongoing workflow needs

As noted by marketing managers earlier this year, the feeling of falling behind is common, so emerging technologies are often looked to as a quick solve.

However, it’s essential to unpack the data costs and organization readiness for adoption. Noted Carvalho, “We track externalities around the process and think about the total headcount … is IT going to have to be involved in this? Are they going to get it? It has to be considered all the way through.”

Rastiello agreed, noting that she’s seen companies fall into that rushed cycle with the emergence of chatbots, a popular MarTech tool that’s often not thoroughly examined.  ”Understand the resources needed to keep it going. Someone has to program the decision tree … you’re going to need campaign people to program and manage these.”

Key takeaway: taking only the software vendors’ word regarding implementation costs is risky. Including development and implementation partners in the conversation can offer real-world examples in terms of costs, deployment time and total overhead.


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Be a good data steward

“A big principle I preach is data stewardship,” offered Rastiello about the importance of watching data flows carefully. Hatfield had similar thoughts. “At Accruent’s regular data reviews, we go line by line on the code and data fields to determine where it came from and where it’s going.”

Such a diligent level of regular tracking is absolutely necessary to keep a clean database, and to verify that governing logic, automations and APIs are maintaining segmentation information and metadata across tools exchanges.

Being a good data steward gains even more importance today when managing the evolving landscape of privacy and security policies. Consideration has to be given to not only how data flows are orchestrated, but to where they are housed by locality and storage type.

Open source your tools knowledge through networking

The panel confirmed that, with thousands of tools and integrations on the market today, sorting through them often requires word-of-mouth recommendations from industry peers and colleagues.

So what are some of the tools that have surprised — and delighted — them lately? The panel responded with various recommendations:

Rastiello: “It’s basically a giant VLOOKUP tool. They have algorithms installed that will transform data like standardizing phone number syntax, and correct email common email domain misspellings. It made the GDPR work we were doing very easy because it was basically programmed to identify the countries and flag the records for us.”

Carvalho: “They allow you to create content hubs for your audience. Keeps other sites in their experience. They used to be called Lookbook HQ.”

Hatfield: “6sense captures signals from known and unknown sources, and connects it all to prospect accounts. It allows you to see the full picture in the account-based buying journey.”

Herbst: “The journey orchestration tools allow sophisticated customer journey mapping, with the flexibility to integrate with today’s most-utilized marketing platforms like Marketo and Salesforce.”


It’s undeniable how marketing technology has shifted the way businesses operate, enabling broad digital transformation and accelerating the push for advanced automation and big data. This truly seems to be a golden age of MarTech, where customer engagement strategies thrive when marketing technology workflows support communications at just the right place and time. With an optimized marketing technology stack and a marketing team that understands how to deploy its full capabilities, organizations can implement efficient, highly effective engagement strategies that build stronger customer relationships.

Contact us or visit Austin AMA to stay updated on the latest marketing technology events in the Austin area.

About Ascend

We are a marketing services provider deeply dedicated to helping organizations optimize their customer engagement strategies.

Data powers the way we think — it’s the backbone of how we transform information into targeted insights that emotionally speak to customers and businesses. Our team of strategists, data analysts, designers and certified marketing technologists have diverse, enterprise-level expertise in delivering sophisticated, personalized customer experiences.

Working in both proprietary advanced technology and the latest marketing platforms (Marketo, Salesforce, Adobe Experience Cloud, and Hubspot) our team ensures unified communications and workflows across all channels (social, web, email, display and search) in real time.

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