Investments in martech continue to grab the top priority position for businesses across the board, as they continuously strive to meet the mounting demands for personalization to enhance the customer experience (CX).

The overall marketing budgets have dipped slightly to 10.5% of the total company revenue in 2019 in comparison to 2018, as CMOs and VPs of marketing operations still focus on efficiency and ROI, according to Gartner’s annual CMO Survey for the year 2019-2020. Still, the optimism for 2020 was comparatively higher at the time of the survey, with around 88% of CMOs confirming that they believed the future impact of this global economic environment would be ultimately positive, over half (53%) consider that the impact will be strong.

The advent of COVID-19 was never foreseen at the time of this survey, however, and it always had a significant financial impact globally. That said, it remains to be witnessed as to how long the impact of the novel COVID-19 will dominate the mindshare and headlines of the people, as containment or other factors will make the situation worse. Digital marketing — which has the ability to reach out to remote workers and the people self-quarantined — could benefit in the short run as people seek smart alternatives to in-person conferences and meetings. However, a general economic slowdown, along with continued uncertainty, will negatively impact all businesses in general.

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As per a recent martech survey, though, the proportion of the overall martech budget in 2019 slipped down to 26%, as compared to 29% in 2019. Martech continues to overshadow other related areas of the marketing budget. Only media spending equaled the total martech investments, with agency budgets (22%) and labor costs (25%) attracting smaller amounts.

Global marketing automation expenditure is projected to reach up to $25.1 billion by 2023, up from $11.4 billion in 2017, signifying an implied annual growth rate of 14%, as per Forrester’s Marketing Automation Technology Forecast, 2017-2023 (Global), published back in April 2018.

Marketing automation platforms prioritize user experience

MA platforms form the backbone of all marketing operations, serving as a sophisticated marketing orchestration platform. A range of platforms is available to marketers, based on their firm’s budget, size, and level of digital marketing sophistication. The basic functions of marketing automation have become commoditized, so platform vendors mostly look to create differentiation based on the ability to scale, as well as ease of implementation, usability, and customer experience.

The importance of third-party integrations

ABM is replacing persona-based marketing, leading the way for enhanced demand for ABM capabilities among martech platforms, and driving a convergence of sales and marketing. Sales and customer service professionals use marketing automation platforms frequently, to better understand how customers are reacting to service and products.

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Big mergers are done, and plenty of smaller ones are on the horizon

The B2B marketing automation market for enterprises is concentrated among a few handfuls of cloud vendors, including Oracle, Salesforce, and Adobe. In 2018, there were many acquisitions by Salesforce and Adobe in particular as they sought to consolidate their positions at the leading market and broaden their offerings for B2B firms.

It is likely that more acquisitions are yet to come in 2020, as the number of smaller martech companies mature out of their venture-funded stage. With martech budgets under extended scrutiny in the current environment, marketing leaders are now expected to demonstrate ROI for any latest technology investment. Marketing automation platforms are a crucial part of the martech ecosystem, offering frequent benefits by streamlining manual B2B marketing tasks, comprising of email campaign development, lead management, and landing page creation.

And, the firms in the current COVID-19 scenario are focusing on implementing them.