The explosion of websites, user publishing, and content marketing have created an environment where data has become the driver for marketing efforts. And if data is not driving decisions in your organization, it should be. The cry, “Content is King” is about to be replaced with “Data is King”. Although it continues to be a challenge for many marketers, the technical side of marketing is becoming a big part of the job. Marketers are using data to determine what content to create, where to distribute it, and how to measure it. Many organizations are struggling to create a marketing workflow that includes the CIO and the CMO while in other companies, the CMO is trying to circumvent the CIO entirely in order to get the marketing tools required to do the job.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a Chief Marketing Technologist
Enter the CMT, a bright and shiny new position that promises to be the glue between the CIO and the CMO and is expected to create a marketing workflow that is strategic, has the necessary tools, and contributes to the overall goals of the organization. Where will this super hero come from and what will the impact on organizations and individuals be? I talked with Erin Robbins O’Brien, COO, on a FOUND Friday episode recently and this is what she had to say, “I think this role will fit into every organization a little differently, but I’d like to say that I’m thrilled that this is being recognized as a necessary position. As with any new position, there are likely to be some things to work out in terms of jurisdiction, sharing of information, and reporting protocols.”
The Chief Marketing Technologist, CMT, will hopefully show value in a couple of places. The first place is understanding the technology that drives marketing today both from an actual channel side, such as email, social, display ads, organic search, and native advertising, but also from an analytics, reporting, and insights angle. Anyone taking on this position must understand how all of these tools and channels fit together to create a working customer journey that causes conversions.
Secondly, the CMT must be able to shed some light on the Business Intelligence (BI) side of things.The goals of the CMT would be to look at data from all the various marketing tools and use that data to understand what customers really want, how to get the message to them, and how to inform product roadmaps based on this information. The introduction of this new position demonstrates the need for a closed-loop system where all the data from all the different resources comes together to inform not only future marketing strategy, but product development strategy, as well.
Although the CMT will have to have technical acumen, they will also have to have a pretty deep understanding into the hows and whys of marketing and the unique challenges marketers face. “I’d like to think that marketers who are coming through the ranks today have some technological experience. I also think the folks that will be able to do well in this position need to have a strong grasp of statistics, analytics, the overall marketing climate, and a strategic mindset to glue it all together in the big picture sense,” stated Erin.
Trends Changing Faster Than a Speeding Bullet
It’s true that marketing, and the technology available to support it, has been changing rapidly in the last five years. Unfortunately for marketers trying to keep up, and fortunately for the increasing capabilities, that trend shows no sign of slowing. Even for the most astute of marketers, it’s almost impossible to know every piece of potentially relevant marketing technology out there at a deep level and, even if someone did, it would change in a few months anyway. On top of constantly changing tools, there’s a growing list of marketing channels to consider. For all marketers, as well as those with an eye to the CMT position, knowing the technology is as simple as having some basic knowledge of the exisitng tools and then learning in depth any tool or new technology that is thrown your way. In today’s climate there is really no choice. Adapt or die is the rule in nature and in marketing.
The new wave of marketing technology will also have to keep up with the times, and that means providing tools with easy user interfaces. It’s not the marketer’s fault when the tools are so unwieldy that they become another job instead of improving the workflow and informing decisions.
“We’ve seen it happen over and over again. When companies force people to use marketing technologies that are really cumbersome, hard to use, hard to grasp, difficult to manage and learn, and have a really long ramp-up time, the tools are never really used as they are meant to be. It’s a continuing problem and CMT’s will have to work with these challenges, and the teams involved, to address the technology and the workflow,” stated Erin.
Leap Tall Buildings Or Just Take The First Step
Whenever something new comes along, the status quo is threatened. Existing CMOs and CIOs may feel like this new position will take away some of their real estate in the organization. While there’s no way to stop people from having a scarcity mindset, the CMT must demonstrate immediately that their role is to help get the best possible strategy for increasing revenue and improving the performance of all the teams, not eliminate them.
The marketers with the most to fear are the ones who have not kept up with the market or the technology and are still running their programs as if it was 2004. “It sounds like I’m calling marketers dumb or taking them to task, and maybe I am,” stated Erin, “But I have seen a lot of shitty marketers and it’s making things suck for everyone. Marketers had a pretty sweet deal when some of these new tactics came out and they were able to drive a lot of traffic and vanity metrics without a ton of work. That game has shifted.”
In the current environment, consumers are starting to wise up to marketing tactics which makes it harder to drive traffic and create conversions. The hope is that the new CMT role will guide organizations to ensure that smart hires are made and that existing employees will get the information and education they need. As a result, everyone will step up their game.
Before taking on the whole mix, CMTs should begin thier journey by conducting an honest review of what’s going on in marketing already, including
- Data history over the last year
- Review of existing tools
- Examination of existing channels
- Content and Messages that drive conversions
- Efforts that are not working
- Areas of incomplete data
- Centralization of data
- Patterns over time
This list will give CMTs an idea of where to start and what to put into place immediately. If it isn’t happening already, create a central place where all data across sales, marketing, customer service, and public relations can be stored and viewed as a whole to track patterns and make informed decisions. The CMT must find out who owns the data and how it has been used historically. If the organization is using an agency, review the agency data to determine if they’re reporting meaningful metrics and if that data is telling you really what you want to know.
Not Defeated Yet
Many marketers are already overwhelmed and some are having trouble just keeping up with the changes that have already taken place. Erin provided this advice for marketers who are trying to do it all, “I think the first thing is to stay informed, but not make knee-jerk reactions based on fads or loudmouths who like to predict the rise or fall of anything. Marketing is an old institution and even the ‘next-big thing’ won’t seep into everywhere in one fell swoop.”
So much is changing so fast that it is tempting to change tactics or channels based on what is now declared “dead” or “cool”. For your organization, look at what’s working. The old adage applies, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” On the other hand, if it’s not working there is no reason to continue putting and time and resources into it. Always make sure to set benchmarks before you make any changes and then change one thing at a time. Once you add a channel or change a message, see how it effects the benchmarks and make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of based on the results.
“Stay smart about making the right data decisions and learn how to measure your efforts. Knowing how to use the data will be really important for people who want to have jobs in five years,” advised Erin. Be able to prove that what you’re doing works and when it doesn’t, be willing to try new things. At the very least, marketers must be able to
- Measure efforts
- Use analytics effectively
- Understand larger company goals
- Match efforts to corporate goals
The role of the CMT is rising from a need within organizations to do things a little diferently and get better results. Marketers who want to become a bigger asset to their organizations should embrace the idea of the CMT and integrate those traits and practices into their day to day roles.