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[Book Review] A Valuable Introduction To the Complex World of Marketing Technology


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 “MarTech is marketing.”

Source:  Kogan Page

That’s the tagline adopted by Third Door Media a few years ago for its MarTech conferences and martech.org website. And while some have argued that the tagline goes a little too far, few marketing thought leaders or practitioners would dispute the idea that marketing and technology have become nearly inseparable.

Scott Brinker, the MarTech conference chair and editor of the Chiefmartec Blog, captured the interconnectedness of marketing strategy and marketing technology when he wrote, “Strategy alone isn’t enough. You’ve got to be able to execute on it. And martech has become integral to marketing execution. That’s what ‘martech is marketing’ really gets at.” 

Marketing technology has been discussed in hundreds, if not thousands, of ebooks, white papers, blog posts, webinars, and conference presentations over the past two decades. But there are surprisingly few full-length books that specifically address this vitally important topic.

So, a new book by Darrell Alfonso is a welcome addition to our body of knowledge regarding marketing technology. The Martech Handbook:  Build a Technology Stack to Attract and Retain Customers (Kogan Page, 2022) provides a valuable introduction to the complex and dynamic world of marketing technologies. 

Darrell Alfonso is well-suited to write about this topic. He is currently the Director of Marketing Strategy and Operations at Indeed.com, and he was previously Global Marketing Operations Leader at Amazon Web Services. 

What’s In the Book

The author used an expansive approach in writing The Martech Handbook. The book addresses – or at least touches on – all of the aspects of marketing technology that you would expect to find in an introductory treatment of the subject.

In the first chapter, Mr. Alfonso describes the phenomenal growth of martech, reviews the history of martech, and provides an overview of the martech industry. In Chapter 2, he lays out the business need for marketing technology and discusses the key business goals that martech can help companies achieve.

The next five chapters of The Martech Handbook cover several of the “nuts and bolts” aspects of marketing technology, including:

  • The key categories of marketing technology (Chapter 3)
  • The basic attributes of a “martech stack” (Chapter 4)
  • How to design an effective martech stack (Chapter 5)
  • How to identify and select “core” marketing technology platforms and applications (Chapter 6}
  • How to identify and select the right “ancillary” martech applications (Chapter 7}

Mr. Alfonso then turns to several issues relating to the management of marketing technology. In Chapter 8, he reviews some of the basic principles of managing a martech stack, and in Chapter 9 he discusses martech measurement, governance, and enablement.

In Chapter 10, he discusses the vital importance of getting buy-in for marketing technology. This includes buy-in from company leaders for martech investments and buy-in from the people who will use the technology platforms and applications.

Mr. Alfonso concludes The Martech Handbook with a chapter devoted to how marketing leaders can drive continuous improvement in the performance of their marketing technology systems.

My Take

The Martech Handbook is a welcome addition to our “library” of resources regarding marketing technology. The book is well-written, and Darrell Alfonso does an excellent job of making what can be a complex and technical topic easy to understand. The author also has extensive hands-on experience with several types of marketing technologies, and this enables him to bring a real-world perspective to the book.

The most important thing for potential readers to understand is that The Martech Handbook is mostly written at a very basic level. As I noted earlier, this book provides a sound introduction to many important aspects of marketing technology, and the key word here is introduction.

The Martech Handbook will be particularly useful and valuable for any marketer who is not already familiar with marketing technology tools and systems. This might include:

  • Recent graduates who have just started their first marketing job
  • Marketing students who want to learn more about the marketing technology landscape
  • Marketers who have had limited experience with most types of martech (e.g. a marketer at a small company who has only worked with e-mail marketing software)
  • A marketer who has recently been given responsibility for evaluating new types of marketing technology

This book would also be an excellent resource for a person working in another business function (e.g. sales, customer service, finance, etc.) who needs to better understand the capabilities and the potential benefits and pitfalls of marketing technology solutions.

If you have significant experience working with a variety of marketing technology applications, The Martech Handbook may not benefit you greatly. But, if you aren’t familiar with the landscape of marketing technology, or if you have colleagues who fit this description, The Martech Handbook will be a great learning resource.

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