A Marketing Technologist, the only way for Marketing and IT to become closer?

If David Byrne of the Talking Heads were to write his hit “Once in a lifetime” for marketers, it might start out like this –

You may find yourself living inside Google analytics
You may find yourself in another part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large warehouse of data
You may find yourself in an cubical with a beautiful CRM system
You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

Yes, data analysis and software skills are now pillars of a marketer’s knowledge base. Beth Comstock, CMO and SVP of GE, recently went as far to say, “If you came into marketing because you didn’t like numbers, then you don’t have much of a future.”

This new reality makes success contingent on Marketing and IT collaborating to find common ties. Might the marketing technologist role be reason for both marketers and ESPs to be optimistic?

Prioritize message over media

For a few years now, the constant advancements in communication technology has made marketers manic. Chasing the latest digital trend or shiny new gadget. In rare moments of solace, we remember customers’ priorities are not with the various communication channels, but rather the relationship he or she has with the brand. The technology merely delivers the messages, but are still important in getting the right message out.

Walk with your customer

An organization succeeds when it chooses to freely contribute to, fittingly engage with, and fearlessly interact with its community. The firm’s objective is not to be a commander, but rather a companion walking in stride with a customer on his or her most convenient communication path, making the channel subservient to the relationship.

The fact that email recipients once checked their emails during a coffee break at their PC and now triage messages on their mobile phones during school drop off is meaningless. The priority is meeting the customer where they are and with permission. The only additional task is fine-tuning the context of the message to the recipient’s environment.

Be aware of departmental divides

The contextual conversations that customers expect require all communication points to be holistically linked, transparent and permissible. Unfortunately, the digital learning curve to launch and deliver messages across multiple channels has caused undue emphasis on the technology, rather than the message itself. In the process, this single-minded attention to technology contributes to a cultural divide within IT and Marketing departments.

Choose stability over experimentation?

This division is not baseless or biased. Organizations encourage internal IT departments to provide stable, secure, and accurate data across well-governed and operationally sound information infrastructure. In contrast, firms design incentives for marketers to promote experimentation and innovation of the latest digital channels to drive interactive customer communications.

Be present

Happily, the roles of IT, marketing and product development are converging. Scott Brinker, Chiefmartec blogger, frequently discusses this organizational overlap in his articles and posts. Three trends assisting this operational merge include:

1. Rapid adoption of cloud computing – Marketers’ accessibility to technology solutions supported by outside SaaS vendors make them less reliant on internal IT departments to manage and oversee the platforms.
2. Industry integration – Agencies are expanding beyond the customary offerings of strategic consultation, content development and campaign design to include multi-channel digital messaging delivery and marketing automation. Likewise, marketing software vendors and email service providers are responding quickly to clients’ needs for tactical planning and creative direction for the latest communication mediums. In fact, Gartner’s U.S. Digital Marketing Spending Report, 2013, states that up to 50% of digital marketing activities are outsourced.
3. Surging marketing budgets – The fusion of technology and marketing is a driving force behind Laura McLellan’s prediction that “by 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than CTOs will.”

Embrace your new role

As marketing evolves to become a human mix of art, science and innovation, it is imperative that organizations identify a marketing technologist to serve as the primary liaison between marketing and IT. This individual aims to influence project priorities, drive departmental knowledge sharing, and synergize data, process and strategy to maximize the firm’s revenue growth.

– Chief Marketing Technologist position reaches tipping point

Gartner reports that 70% of companies have the equivalent of a chief marketing technologist today. The derivative benefits from this new role are certainly apparent. Best practices shared between business units produce greater efficiencies and in the case of Agile Marketing, a new marketing discipline. This approach adopts the successful Agile Development philosophy from IT. According to Jim Ewel, the process strives to “improve the speed, predictability, transparency, and adaptability to change of the marketing function.”

Put on your sunglasses, the future is bright

In addition to receiving larger budgets, marketing technologists can expect to play an even larger role in setting their organization’s strategic course. The talent to leverage technological advancements and processes, analyze market and customer data, and anticipate product innovations make it essential marketers are highly invested in organizational planning process to identify new business opportunities and define go-to-market strategies.

I encourage marketing technologists to carry this optimistic outlook when sourcing new marketing messaging and/or management solutions. Be sure to allow plenty of room for process agility, cross-functional collaboration and multichannel growth. Good luck!

Are you optimistic about the emerging role of marketers and the technological advances of ESP’s in 2013?

Image via Flickr

About W. Jeffrey Rice

In 10 years of working in the email marketing space, Jeff has worked on behalf of an end user, email service provider (ESP) and a marketing research firm, using communication tools designed for companies ranging from SMB’s to global enterprises.

His eclectic background in sports entertainment, global manufacturing and software startups, has allowed him to excel at collaborating with cross-functional teams to successfully commute objectives, draw out subject matter expertise, and drive effective campaigns.

Jeff previously held the position of Sr. Research Analyst at MarketingSherpa. He examined email and mobile marketing’s best practices and authored a number of influential publications on the topic, including the 2012 Email Handbook and The Email Benchmark Report. Rice’s work has been cited in online publications including Forbes, HubSpot and Independent Retailer. In addition, Jeff has conducted live full-day strategic email certification classes with marketers from AT&T to Yamaha at the ESP User Conferences, Email Summits, and regional workshops. These experiences and technical background has enabled Jeff to consult with a number of clients including Brick Street Software, Digital Marketer, GLG, and more.

Jeff holds a B.S. in Sports Management from Springfield College, and an MBA from Anna Maria College. Springfield College's deep-seated humanics philosophy helped hone Jeff’s aptitude for teamwork and service.

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