Marketing Technologists Play Pivotal Role In Move To Data-Driven Marketing

Published: August 7, 2013

The delineation between marketing and IT is becoming more fluid as data analytics and advanced technologies drive marketing strategies. As the concept of data-driven marketing takes hold and marketing’s responsibilities broaden beyond lead generation, the position of marketing technologist has emerged to bridge the gap.

“IT and marketing are blurring when it comes to marketing technology, probably more than any other department,” said Jason Stewart, VP of Demand Generation at ANNUITAS. “Technologies like marketing automation, social media monitoring and content strategy tools are requiring more marketing expertise and acumen. The need for marketers specializing in the tech aspects of the role is greater than ever.”

Marketing technologists occupy a middle ground between IT and marketing. In the early days of online marketing, it was IT, rather than the marketing team, that typically carried out the technical aspects of marketing campaigns. As technologies and responsibilities evolved, all marketers have become familiar with marketing automation software and other tools; however, marketing technologists have emerged as specialists who have an intimate knowledge of data analytics and other tools needed to maximize results.

Gartner has predicted that marketers will spend more on technology than IT teams by 2017. In addition, 40% of CMOs said that increasing their technology savvy is their most pressing priority, according to a survey conducted by Forrester in 2012 — a dramatic increase from 2008. In light of these projections, marketing technologists are becoming integral members of marketing teams.

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What Is A Marketing Technologist?

Marketing technologists have a higher degree of software literacy than the average marketer. A cornerstone of the occupation is the gathering and interpretation of data, which comes from web architecture, analytical tools such as Google Analytics and Javascript, and an in-depth knowledge of cloud computing.

Scott Brinker, Co-Founder and CTO of ion interactive, defined a marketing technologist as someone who has a general knowledge of the eight following areas, as well as a specialization in two:

Data and analytics: Management, measurement and manipulation of digital marketing.

Marketing applications: Configuration, operation and integration of marketing software.

Advertising networks: Management and optimization of digital advertising networks.

Social and mobile platforms: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook with accompanying tools and application programming interfaces.

Content marketing: Data acquired from content marketing and SEO.

Web mechanics: Web and browser platforms.

Software programming: A solid foundation in several coding languages.

IT operations: Understanding of cloud computing and communicating with IT team members.

Brinker also shared that the ideal person for the role should be skilled in analytical pattern recognition and project management.

Twenty years ago, marketing relied on guesswork, according to Andy Zimmerman, CMO of Brainshark. However, today, marketing is much more data driven due to the enormous amount of information available through social media, the web, and automation solutions.

“Marketing departments are becoming more tech-focused and IT departments are becoming more business centric because of cloud computing,” said Steve Woods, CTO at Oracle Eloqua. “These two departments are coalescing. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the title on [the marketing technologist’s] business card is. They just have to be someone bridging these two departments together.”

How To Leverage Marketing Technologists

Any company with both a marketing department and an IT department should be hiring marketing technologists, said Zimmerman. Companies that fail to do so will be risking obsolescence in an increasingly tech-driven world, he predicted.

However, because the role of the marketing technologist is malleable, the exact responsibilities depend on a company’s unique needs. Brainshark embeds its marketing technologists into all three of the subgroups within the marketing team, Zimmerman said.

This organizational structure is becoming common for marketing teams, observers noted. “The most successful [marketing teams] that I’ve seen are the ones that don’t try to carve out technology as its own strange thing,” said Woods of Eloqua. “Successful marketing groups generally have an understanding of what modern marketing is, how technology relates to it, and an understanding of who their buyers are. I don’t think you can be successful in 2013 without that understanding.”

Traditional marketing teams still have time to supplement their workforce with marketing technologists, observers explained. Data has become the backbone of modern marketing, and companies that cannot interpret that data will be left in the dark.

Brinker described marketers as skydivers and marketing technology as the parachute. The more parachutes a marketing company invests in, the greater guarantee it will have in gaining qualified leads and actionable information.

By leveraging the marketing technologist’s role, companies can safely navigate a world where technology and marketing are destined to become intertwined, observers concluded.

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