Marketing has always been thought of as a creative industry. “Marketing” folks are generally known for their ability to create and launch brand identities, their keen skills in developing the perfectly crafted sell sheets, advertising and leave behinds for their sales teams, and lest we forget their awareness and ability to capitalize on trending social media topics.
However, in this day and age more and more marketing is becoming data-driven which is creating a new class of marketer: the Chief Marketing Technologist.
Sales collateral is not just customized, it’s personalized and tailored to its target.
Messages are automated based on an action (or inaction) with web sites or customer care centers.
Data-base marketing is becoming the standard by which teams deliver relevant content to customers.
Finally, all of these data-driven projects rely on even more aggregated data to create solid measurements when it comes time to budget for next year.
Wikipedia defines Marketing Operations as: the function responsible for marketing performance measurement, strategic planning and budgeting, process development, professional development, and marketing systems and data.
Scott Brinker wrote an article in 2013 citing the need for a Chief Marketing Technologist who would sit within a companies’ marketing organization but serve as a technology expert for the purpose of improving the efficiency and accuracy of the organization. Some even go so far as to see marketing operations leader as a “Chief of Staff” because they are often responsible for handling so many aspects of the company’s success.
(Personal story: I remember dramatically lamenting to one of my former bosses who continually sent me on fact-finding and resolution missions with technology teams, that I wanted to work on things that “weren’t broken” — had I only known to simply dub myself a Marketing Technologist!)
Marketing-Driven Process Improvement
Marketing technology leaders quickly find themselves being experts in process modeling and improvement. Because they identify gap, and in my case propose and drive resolution, we are then tapped to create training and staffing plans. Then, we are responsible for incorporating metrics to prove the processes are better and the process starts all over again.
Brinker (@chiefmartec) includes a Forrester-created a diagram of how this role functions under the direction of the CMO.
Breaking Out of Old Patterns
Companies who fail to understand this will continue to struggle. Several that I’ve seen firsthand, keep data tucked neatly away in the technology department without understanding how the data will even be used downstream, let alone understanding the consequences if it’s not correct. Marketing and communications staff will generally avoid understanding the complicated systems and their mysterious codes that generate the data.
This push-pull between departmental staff, over time will degrade the effeciency of how data moves through the process. Without anyone measuring the impact the organization slowly slides into a spiral of bad data, delayed activity and inaccurate measurements. Any data integrity projects are competing with mission-critical IT projects and its not hard to predict who will win if there isn’t an undertanding of the value of marketing-driven initiatives.
The Future Relies on Marketing Technology
Marketing technology teams must become the biggest influencers within a company, and to do that we have to build our own accountability. At a recent client meeting I was faced with a very skeptical client who didn’t understand how marketing could measure itself. The short answer is probably that marketing can’t measure itself, however, it should definitely measure its effectiveness by the performance of its peers and vice versa. The effectiveness of a marketing operations strategy and culture yields an increase in marketing efficiency and reinforces marketing in areas like customer care and information technology.
Building a successful marketing technology department is less art and more science, some data-driven industries like healthcare and finance, are definitely on the hook to adopt this approach sooner rather than later. But building it is only the first step, the operational intelligence that the team yields will need to be synthesized into meaningful priorities. Through continuous measurement, research and communication, a marketing operations team will stimulate ideas and internal discussion, provide cross-functional collaboration and give the entire executive team the tools they need for effective decision-making.