Marketing software tools by company size (unique research)

The market for marketing software tools (martech) has exploded in the last 10 years. A lot can still be improved but the growth will continue.

Our view is that the mentioned +8 000 martech vendor number is an inflated number as it takes into account software categories that aren't martech. Albeit, the market growth is there and it doesn't seem to stop.

Marketers need new ways to reach leads and customers and, as humans, we are very open to trying shiny new objects coming our way. Digital transformation projects and initiatives are accelerating the pressure on marketers to find these new ways of leapfrogging competition.

How many marketing software tools do companies use?

TL;DR

Marketing software usage among companies is modest for smaller businesses and grows as you move up the company size scale.

  • Small businesses (1-20 employees) use on average 13 martech tools where Advertising and Content/Experience tools are the most used.
  • Mid-size companies (21-1 000 employees) use 27 martech tools on average. Similar profile as small businesses and Advertising and Content/Experience tools are the most used.
  • Enterprise companies (+1 000 employees) deploy more tools on average. 52 martech tools across the enterprise with Content/Experience tools taking first place.(Full data set and analysis below)

If you are searching for marketing software you're faced with a crowded space for the specific tool you are looking for. That's great from a supply perspective since you can choose from a lot of diverse (?) vendors. But not so great if you look at it from a pure "jobs-to-be-done" perspective since you want the tool to solve whatever job you need to get done.

Frequency of evaluating new marketing tools

Companies are updating their marketing technology stack to newer and more sophisticated platforms at a faster pace. 74% of marketers at mid-size and enterprise companies evaluate (and possibly) their marketing tool setup monthly or quarterly. That's a lot of internal focus and time spent on evaluating tools most likely acquired 3-18 months ago.

(Source: Marketing Technology Implementation Survey. Conducted by Ascend2 and GetResponse. Published January, 2021)

The martech and digital transformation trends are working against you

If you are in the market looking for a specific marketing software tool then these trends will work against you for the following reasons:

1. Overlap

Many of the martech tools overlap and do the same job as their competitors. So you're spending money on "new" features you most likely already have in your current setup but aren't using.

2. No deep internal expertise

If you evaluate, rip and replace your current marketing tech stack quarterly or even monthly, you will never have time to deeply learn, manage and run the marketing software you're paying for.

3. Company ripple effects

With the trend towards overall data integration and first party (customer) data dependence, changing your marketing tool setup on one end will have ripple effects across most of the systems your organization use.

Companies invest in Content, Experience, Advertising and Promotion

Enough with the preaching. Let's dig into the overall data.

  1. We researched 15 companies per size category making it a total of 45 companies.
  2. We used 4 technographic tools to spot differences and get the fuller picture.
  3. Finally, we validated the findings manually through website visits to see which website tags were firing.

Time period was month of March 2021. (For full methodology see footer of this page)

Unsurprisingly, enterprise companies deploy the most martech technologies coming in at 52 different tools. Content & Experience is the most frequent category (15 tools) followed by Advertising & Promotion (14 tools).

  • Marketing tools usage follows a linear development where small companies use less and larger companies use more. (See model below)
  • Larger organizations start to look at more complex tools.
  • Some tools, such as Hubspot, are becoming cross-category tools since they now target both SMB's and enterprise clients.
  • Google and Facebook are present among all 45 companies we studied.
  • Some companies use 2-3 tools from the same category and are built for the same use cases.

marketing tools roadmap
Marketing software usage model based on company size and maturity

Enterprise companies use on average 52 different tools of marketing technology

Content & Experience tools are products used for personalization, marketing automation, email marketing, website experience, customer chats and more. Considering enterprise companies have a wide array of customers and internal projects we expected to see this category in the top. With the maturing business of an enterprise, companies needs to branch out to newer channels for customer acquisition. This puts a focus on Advertising & Promotion and a need/willingness to test new channels and platforms.

Once companies reach the enterprise stage, we see them using personalization and testing tools like Optimizely, data management platforms (DMP's) like Adobe Audience Manager and more data and analytics tools overall.

Mid-size companies focus on marketing automation

Mid-size companies use on average 27 marketing technology tools in their stack. Similar to enterprise companies Content & Experience and Advertising & Promotion are the most frequent categories (8 tools each).

One distinct difference between mid-size companies and smaller businesses is that marketing automation is mainstream among mid-size companies. Vendors like ActiveCampaign, Omnisend or Customer.io start to emerge. Small businesses use standalone email marketing tools instead or the built-in email marketing functionality of their backbone platforms.

Small businesses use email marketing as their heavy lifts tool of choice

Small businesses don't have time or resources to be too detailed in their marketing. The most common setups are:

  • Email marketing on vendors like Mailchimp and HubSpot
  • Paid ads on Google Ads or Facebook Ads (and nothing more)
  • Mostly relying on Google Analytics as the single-source-of-truth for data collection and analysis.
  • We did not see that many CRM tools deployed on small business websites so our hypothesis is that Google Analytics serve as the decisive engine for marketing campaign attribution.

Methodology on marketing software research:

Research done in March 2021 on how many marketing software tools companies are using broken down on company size. Stackbeam researched 15 companies across 3 categories; Small Business, Mid-Size and Enterprise. In total 45 companies.

Our definition of marketing software (martech) will only focus on software and tools built for marketers or with marketing use cases in mind. General project management or workflow tools will be out-of-scope for our study.

Marketing software categories

We have used Scott Brinker's 5 top categories in order to streamline understanding of what is included in each. The 5 categories are:

  1. Advertising & Promotion
  2. Commerce & Sales
  3. Content & Experience
  4. Data
  5. Social & Relationships

Stackbeam used 4 different technographic tools to validate the tool stack and the findings per company. Each company was then manually observed to see website pixel firings to specific tools. To find server-side tools used we have also studied documentation from the companies in the study on tools they use.

To avoid documenting cookie-syncing technologies that are not actually used by the company studied but only pixel-syncing cookies for user matching, we have not documented the first or second fully loaded web page but the third or later page load.

Selection of companies: Cross-vertical selection ranging from retail, travel, e-commerce, services, B2B and auto industries.

Possible gaps in our methodology are:

  • Technologies that are only cookie-syncing and not actually contracted by the company studied. These would theoretically inflate our numbers for Advertising & Promotion, specifically. We have tried to mitigate this as described above.
  • Server-side integrations not showing in a web browser. For the more advanced companies using server-side tracking this is a possible scenario where our study will have missed potential tools used. We have tried to mitigate this by using a wider set of tools and written documentation to get a broader insight on each company.
  • Our subset of companies is small, 45 studied companies, and we aim to multiply this in our next round. This will improve the statistical accuracy.

Niklas Nikolaidis

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