Why the Marketing team is now also a Marketing Technology team.

Modern Marketing and business demands Marketers to be Technologists.

Lines of code need not be daunting. Not always anyway. Photo: Christopher Gower on Unsplash

If you’re part of a Marketing team and anyone else reading who works closely with Marketing — you will agree that technology has changed Marketing entirely in the last 10 years. From driving awareness to aiding purchase, traffic to conversion — online metrics surround marketers everywhere. While our (Marketers) jobs revolve around increasing marketing output we are constantly working with Digital tools and running back to the business with insights, analytics.

There really are just a very small number of actual objectives for marketers.

  1. Output — create awareness, drive consideration and purchase
  2. Analyse — find what works, do it again, more often and bigger
  3. Improve — what doesn’t work and either kill it or optimise.

Not a single one of these objectives is achieved these days without a reliance on Digital Marketing technology. How you get there and how fast you get there is underpinned by your grasp of this technology.

Ask Better Questions: a preamble

Photo by Alex Sajan on Unsplash

Over the last few years of working with Marketing agencies as well as brands — both startups and big brands. It’s easy to see how APIs and a big influx of Marketing platforms has come in year after year have provided us with an amazing depth and breadth of activation opportunities yet cluttered our paths to success and clarity a bit.

An average large site is running 55 technologies on it’s site. Thinking back to our list of objectives above you are juggling with dashboards, getting all metrics in one place and all the while keeping campaigns going live and satisfying the sales team with enough new leads.

I see it far too often. My friends and colleagues + clients who I’ve worked with closely in the past, struggle to keep up with the technical conversation above and when they do it is marred by a on-sided understanding that stops short of going a level or two deeper. I’ve been fortunate enough to live and breathe Marketing Technology for a number of years now and based on my understanding of this; my personal request for marketers is to embrace the technical conversations. Read, experiment and learn more about digital marketing technologies and as a result ask better questions. Not only will this help in success of your campaigns it will also build credibility and expertise in a new area which is increasingly demanding more and more attention and $ from the business.

What is Marketing Technology anyway?

Marketing technology isn’t a new term. After all, designers were using CAD software as far back as the 1960s and the rise of desktop publishing put marketing technology directly into the hands of small businesses. Technology has permeated every area of our lives over the last fifty years or so, and marketing is only one of the areas which has been affected.

Transformation into a Zen like being perhaps powered by Marketing Tech Image by Céline Haeberly on Unsplash

Still, marketing technology has been gaining momentum as both a term and as a movement over the last 6–7 years. Nowadays, we use the term to refer to a network of different apps and products which are designed to give marketers a single, integrated dashboard with which they can track every single customer/prospect interaction with the company.

Most digital marketers have witnessed first-hand the growth of customer relationship management (CRM) systems, cloud-based apps and even AI-based personalisation platforms. These new technologies are giving marketers the ability to bypass IT and to directly communicate with their customers, something which hasn’t always been possible.

I remember that even back in 2009 it was pretty difficult to get a landing page up and running, especially if you had no knowledge of programming languages or WordPress. The trailblazers at the time used landing pages within websites and and micro-sites to overcome the problem. Working closely with IT teams. You never hear that these days from marketers, we have Digital delivery teams now.

This was before Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram came along. Vine had neither launched nor gone defunct. Social networking was still in its early days and inbound marketing was largely the domain of the early adopters, if at all.

“A glowing red “change” neon on a wall” by Ross Findon on Unsplash

Change

But that’s all changed. In an incredibly fast-paced 10 years or so. These days, marketing is fundamentally a technology-powered discipline, a change which is leading to the rise of new kinds of marketing professionals. Enter the marketing technologist, a technically skilled person who designs and operates technology solutions for the purpose of marketing.

This isn’t just about embedding IT services within marketing, though. Good marketing technologists understand the context of the technology. They’re passionate about re-imagining what marketing can do in a digital world. They help nontechnical marketers to craft better campaigns, programs and customer experiences using software and data analysis.

Embracing technology = like a lightbulb waiting to be lit up Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

How does it work?

Having a one-on-one relationship with the customer is the end-goal for many marketing teams. That’s why many marketers turn to marketing clouds or apps which track every customer interaction and tie them all together into a centralised database.

These technologies all fall under the umbrella term of “marketing technology” or “martech”. According to John Koetsier, mobile economist at Tune, “Every piece of technology a marketer uses to reach a potential customer is martech. Everything from an email marketing system like MailChimp to social media marketing platforms like HootSuite.”

The problem for marketers is that each new product on the tech stack needs people who can help to manage, run and optimise it. And with each new stack comes a new responsibility to process and understand the data for the benefit of both the customer and the business.

Technology Decisions in Marketing. Source

The tools on your tech stack determine the marketing capabilities that your business has access to. They shape the experiences that prospects and customers will have. They impact your organisational efficiency and competitive position. Used correctly, your tech stack can unite your data, save you money and help you to make both business and marketing decisions based on hard data. Get it wrong and you’ll find yourself struggling to make sense of a dozen disparate data sources.

This is where a lot of marketers are either:

  1. Unwilling to take the risk / leap in case they ultimately get bogged down by the detail
  2. Get sold into the idea of one dashboard and a single customer view and then end up spending a lot of quarters of the FY not knowing where to go next. Because the complexities and technicalities spun about by the experts are too much to absorb.
Cobbling together a workable view of the technology landscape Photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash

But if you can start to understand what the piece of technology does for which part of your funnel you can hold the experts accountable to their view. There is nearly no reason to be intimidated of the technology speak.

Ultimately, technology decisions and marketing strategy are intertwined. IMHO, you can’t address one without impacting the other. Not in 2018 and not since the last 6 years at least.

But who makes these decisions?

  • Marketers
  • IT departments
  • Web shops
  • Technology vendors
  • Ad hoc

And on what basis do they make those decisions?

  • Marketing vision
  • Technical depth
  • Right incentives
  • Business alignment
  • Accountability

Marketers have the vision, incentives, accountability and alignment, but they often lack the technical depth to make the decisions which are best for the business. The IT department has plenty of technical depth but different incentives. And when you start to work with external agencies and technology vendors, they’re likely to have a totally different vision than the one that you hold internally.

The problem occurs if there’s no single party that can bring these different factors together. When marketers find themselves accepting what these other technologists say at face value, it can lead to challenges when incentives and end-to-end business objectives are not aligned.

Enter the Marketing Technologist.

They can act as an interpreter, reporting back to the marketing CTO who can provide checks and balances. Timeframes, technical specifications, architecture choices and final deliverables can all be reviewed by an expert who is perfectly aligned with marketing’s agenda.

The marketing technologist is the person who combines marketing vision and technical depth to direct the entire company’s marketing technology portfolio. Increasingly this is the blending of two roles.

Ultimately, the goal of the marketing technologist is to enable the CMO to wield technology as a strategic marketing capability. This is similar to the relationship between a less-technical CIO and his or her CTO, or between a product CTO and the CEO. If the chemistry is right, this is a powerhouse combination.

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About me:

Marketing Technology specialist. With a background in Marketing Comms, Strategy and Digital.

If you liked my posts, follow me here or find me on LinkedIn.

Co-Founder drømme — dromme.com.au