Highlights from the Gartner 2020 Marketing Technology Survey

Aaand here comes another Gartner report breakdown!!

That’s right if you haven’t had a chance to check out the 2020 Marketing Technology Survey, now’s your chance. We’ve taken all the juicy stats, recommendations, and findings and boiled them down in a (kinda) condensed version.

The goal for Gartner on this one was to reveal how marketers are investing in, deploying, and getting value out of technology. CMOs should use this year’s martech survey results to track martech adoption, utilization, investments, and agility.

The survey examines:

  • The composition of the teams responsible for managing marketing technology
  • Their evaluation and selection process
  • Best practices for marketing technology effectiveness
  • Key business processes for maximizing the utilization of martech capabilities
  • The adoption of 29 marketing technology categories
  • Priorities related to emerging technologies and trends

As a result of COVID-19, CMOs have fallen back to cautious growth strategies. 79% of CMOs are relying primarily on existing customers to fuel growth

The survey also finds that martech leaders are under pressure to make shrewd investments in martech. Nearly 60% of respondents expect to make moderate to severe budget cuts to planned investments.

Organizations Face One of Two Strategic Choices: Optimize for Value or Invest in Growth

Gartner finds that respondents are basing investment decisions on one of two strategies. This decision is being made in direct correlation with how COVID-19 has impacted their budgets:

  • 58% have decreased budgets
  • 24% have increased budgets

Optimizing for Value: Marketers Strive to Do More With Less

Budget cuts mean that martech leaders are forced to do more with less, choosing to focus on extracting more from existing customers.

However, the data reveals that 68% of respondents face challenges with utilizing their stacks’ full breadth of capabilities, making this objective challenging for most.

66% of respondents facing a pandemic-related cut to their martech budget have delayed the purchase of at least one previously approved marketing technology.

There has also been a shift in focus for existing vendors and internal users to further existing tool adoption strategies without buying new technologies (39%).

Investing for Growth: Marketers Seize New Opportunities

Leading organizations are taking advantage of the economic downturn as an opportunity to make a greater marketing impact while other brands are retreating.

37% of those receiving increase investments are in the process of overhauling their martech stack to capitalize on new investments – acquiring new technology while pruning old technology to adapt to changing business and consumer climates.

Marketers Seek the Relative Safety of Integrated Suites

In 2019, most respondents reported selecting the ‘best’ solutions to solving challenges, irrespective of vendor.

2020 reveals a sharp reversal in this approach with 59% of respondents preferring to select their technologies using an integrated suite approach, relying primarily on a single vendor with multiple capabilities.


  • Regularly evaluate your martech stack to prune or eliminate underutilized technology.
  • Hold your team accountable for expanding martech adoption and use.
  • Seek a balance between integrated suites and best-of-breed solutions.
  • Leverage use cases available by vendors to expedite the adoption within your own organization.

Martech Teams Only Utilize 58% of Their Stacks

Martech teams face mounting pressure to utilize more of their stacks’ capabilities during this time when every dollar must count!

Respondents cite a series of impediments standing in their way of increasing martech utilization, many of which are people or process-related:

  • Lack of cross-functional collaboration (25%)
  • A lot of solutions with unused features (23%)
  • Lack of a strong customer data foundation (23%)
  • The complexity of the current martech ecosystem (21%)
  • Lack of training on the use of enhanced capabilities (21%)

Customer Data Management Challenges Prevail Despite Lofty Investments in CDPs

Despite the high usage of customer data platforms (CDPs), a “lack of a strong customer data foundation” is still a top impediment to martech utilization:

  • 87% of respondents have a CDP fully deployed
  • 23% are currently deploying one

So why are teams still challenged with establishing a strong customer data foundation?

CDPs are often, mistakenly, viewed as a sort of panacea for all customer data management woes. Although CDPs are typically owned by marketing, many other business units seek customer data, ranging from sales and service to BI, finance, and operations.

In reality, multiple views of the customer are often needed by an enterprise, resulting in disparate teams investing in applications of their own.


  • Eliminate or consolidate solutions that provide unused or redundant capabilities.
  • Benchmark your own decisions to keep or eliminate solutions against similar companies.

Marketers Are Confident in Their Martech Stack’s Effectiveness

  • 81% of respondents feel their current martech stack is effective at meeting their organization’s business objectives.
  • 87% also feel confident that their organization is currently outperforming their peers relative to revenue and profit.

However, this confidence seems exaggerated, considering that 20% of respondents who say their stack is effective also agree that they struggle to utilize the full capabilities of their stack.


  • Create a data management framework that covers the acquisition, organization, storage, analytics, and delivery of marketing data.
  • Prioritize investments in integration and customer data management.

It Takes a Village: Teams Make Progress Organizing the People and Partners Required for Martech Success

Given its highly technical nature and impact across the organization, martech is an inherently cross-functional undertaking. This is apparent where respondents cite cross-functional collaboration, lack of talent, and a need for more training as impediments preventing them from achieving greater utilization and effectiveness.

Martech Teams Lean More Heavily on IT and External Partners

This year’s survey finds martech teams collaborating with their IT counterparts more closely than they did in 2019. As many as 60% of respondents state that their activities are conducted in the ‘collaboration zone’ between marketing and IT.

Martech Teams Can Achieve Greater Success Through Collaboration with IT

Once a technology has been selected, don’t assume that marketing will have everything under control, as hiccups often send business teams back to IT.

To effectively partner with peers in IT, Gartner suggests:

  • Advocating for your organization’s needs and communicating them proactively.
  • Setting up rules of engagement that protect the IT team from being underutilized while they wait for marketing to establish business requirements or decide how impact will be measured.
  • Making a business case to justify IT investment as an advantage over recruiting the help of external service providers.

Martech Teams Confront Talent Shortages and Skill Development Issues

While 80% of respondents have identified a need for additional martech staff, 73% struggle to recruit qualified candidates.

In response, martech teams have opted to raise the profile of their staff and team skill development. More than half (56%) of respondents are building new processes and team capabilities to improve their team’s ability to utilize more of their stack.


  • Leverage the resources available for the task at hand, whether they reside in marketing, IT, or with an external partner or agency.
  • Create systematic measurements of features adopted, active licenses and seats, and socialize these needs so that managers hold their team members accountable for expanding martech adoption and use.
  • Maximize the impact of external partners and plan to take over deployments once your team is up to speed.

Efficient Martech Teams Adopt Agile Planning Approaches and Continuously Add New Users

According to Gartner’s 2020 Marketing Operations and Organization Survey, 67% said their marketing organization prioritizes effectiveness over efficiency when it comes to marketing technology. But, to succeed, teams must value both:

  • Improving efficiency to reduce cost and improve agility
  • Ensuring effectiveness with a strong connection to business outcomes

Agile Planners Accelerate Impact with Meaningful Actions More Quickly

Just 10% of survey respondents report an agile planning approach to their martech roadmap, but this cohort is much more active in responding to the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating that they put a variety of agile practices into action.

  • 82% have integrated new types of marketing technology
  • 68% have added new functionality to existing technology

According to this year’s survey, respondents with agile roadmaps take more actions across the board relative to the rest of the respondents.

Martech Teams with More Users Report Greater Levels of Utilization

Gartner found that organizations that have an above-average number of martech users achieve greater levels of martech utilization compared to others in the survey. For this reason, Gartner suggests adding external partners such as creative or media agency teams to facilitate collaboration and further improve impact.

Teams with Mature Martech Roadmap Approaches Get More From Their Stacks

According to survey results, respondents who adopt an agile or formalized planning approach to their martech roadmap struggle less with martech utilization than their peers with less mature roadmaps.

By incorporating regular sprints found in agile methodologies, you can identify gaps more quickly and capture the value of opportunities by breaking down large shifts in your martech ecosystem into smaller, more agile blocks.


  • Incorporate and expand agile practices to improve the efficiency of marketing technology teams and raise their ability to contribute to business impact.
  • Leverage marketing work management solutions and marketing operations methodologies to reduce cycle times, minimize wasted efforts, and address collaboration challenges.

Final Thoughts

Be sure to check out the full report to drill further down on these findings and recommendations provided by Gartner.

What do the results of this survey mean for you and your organization? How has the way you approach marketing technology changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Let’s find ways to come together as a community so we can all make the most of our technology investments. Share your ideas and challenges in the comments below, in slack, and throughout the entire MO Pros community!


2020 Marketing Technology Survey: Cost Pressures Force Martech Optimization and Innovation

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