Thoughts on becoming a technical marketer

April 7, 2014Uncategorized

Thoughts on becoming a technical marketerThe merging of technology and marketing has led to a new breed of marketer- the technical marketer.

The good old days

Remember when there was an IT department full of nerdy guys with neck beards who were responsible for all the techy stuff in the company? Remember when there was a marketing department full of well-dressed graduates who were responsible for all of the sales stuff in the company? And remember a time when never the twain did meet?

No, me neither. But I do remember what it was like starting out as a computer-science graduate. We were the smart ones who made things run. We were the doers, and we had little interest in glossy brand awareness and consumer sentiment.

If I were to channel my marketing peers of the time, I might guess they considered themselves the creative ones – who made things run. They were the high-level thinkers, and they had little interest in our Java code or Unix shell scripts.

It’s safe to say that those days are over, and thankfully, those attitudes dying off.

The great convergence

In 2012, Gartner analyst Laura McLellan predicted that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.

Today, marketing and technology are increasingly tied together. Consequently, marketers and technologists are starting to work together. They’re even beginning to understand each other – that marketing is meaningless without the foundations built by technologists and that technology tools are worthless without the direction marketers provide.

Blurred lines

In fact, the most interesting facet of this convergence is that marketers are becoming technologists, and technologists are becoming marketers (though still sometimes kicking and screaming!).

What does this mean?
Silly new titles of course (Growth Hacker… really? Analytics Ninja … please). But it also means that modern marketers are a new breed, and the successful ones are the individuals who embrace technology and understand how and when to use it to complement their core marketing abilities.

Tools of the trade

So let’s look at some of the technology areas at which the marketer of yesteryear may have turned up their noses. These are concepts that the modern marketer should consider as integral to their skill set as anything with the word “brand” it in.

Analytics

Technical marketers know that marketing has no real value if you can’t measure it in some way. As such, all marketing initiatives need to be tracked, and more importantly, the powers that be need to understand and act upon the results. With this, it’s a given that:

• All email campaigns need to report on opens, clicks and unsubscribes.
• All websites need to report on page views, bounces and time on page.
• All ad campaigns need to report on impressions, clickthrough rates and conversions.

Technical marketers understand and expect these analytics and, if they’re good at their jobs, are ready to act on the results.

Automation

Technical marketers share a trait with their programmer comrades – they’re inherently lazy. They have no interest in carrying out repetitive tasks over and over again. They understand that marketing automation beats manual processing every day of the week for tasks such as:

• Emailing consumers who have recently bought their products, asking them to fill in a product review.
• Sending a thank-you tweet to all Twitter users who have retweeted their content each day.
• Sending a discount coupon to potentials buyers who have abandoned their online shopping cart.

Technical marketers embrace ‘set and forget’, knowing their time is better spent on strategic work.

Segmentation

Technical marketers understand that their target audience is not a single group with a single set of interests and needs. Rather, they are talking to a group of individuals, all of whom require personalised treatment. And the more data marketers can collect, the more effectively they can seek out small groups and interact with them through highly targeted messaging, such as:

• Using purchase-history data to identify the most valuable customers and providing them with further purchasing incentives.
• Using social media data to identify people who are promoting the company and providing them with recognition.
• Using behavioural data to find unengaged subscribers and attempting to win their interest back with specially targeted content.

Technical marketers understand that pinpointing their segments in this way is the best way to attract and maintain an engaged audience.

That’s just a small sample of the technologies in the technical marketer’s world. Beyond these concepts, the brave ones are also rolling up their sleeves and getting intimate with JavaScript, HTML 5 and SQL.

As someone from the other side of the fence, I’m watching this metamorphosis with great interest – and a tinge of sadness. As a techie, my feeling of superiority becomes less founded every day. My only recourse? Start reading up on brand awareness and consumer sentiment.

Charles Jacobson – Technology Director

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