Marketing Technology

Leaders in the use of marketing technology are different than the rest of us. As last month’s post showed, they accumulate a different mix of skills – one focused on data, analytics, and software as much as or more than, legacy marketing skills.

But they also differ in other ways. They create formal plans. They’re all about process. They invest heavily not only in technology, but also in training and adoption. And they collaborate closely with IT. 

Who the frontrunners are

Who are these marketing technology frontrunners? We can’t tell you their names; our surveys are carried out under strict anonymity rules. But we can tell you the characteristics they share:

  • The frontrunners tend to come from smaller companies or divisions within larger ones.
  • They’re more likely to come from software companies, or software driven companies. 
  • The marketers best at extracting business value from technology are more likely to have narrow and well-defined responsibilities.

So it’s not just a matter of what you do differently. It’s also the environment in which you operate. The more complex the organization and its products, and less clarity about marketing’s mandate, the harder it is to use technology to scale up and generate more awareness, interest, and ultimately sales.

What the frontrunners do

Our study found that marketing technology frontrunners do six things differently. Two were covered last month: focus on data and analytics as much as, or more than, marketing’s legacy skills, and accumulate a richer skills portfolio weighted towards technology competencies. Here are the other four things that frontrunners do (and that followers frequently don’t).

They create formal plans. Seven out of ten have a marketing technology strategy, plan, and budget. Among followers, only 19% do. The followers know what they need to do: 62% are at least part of the way there, either in the planning stages (18%) or the part of the way into implementation (44%). But they’re late to the game. And while they’re dithering, they’re also hoping that their competitors are not among the frontrunners.

They’re all about process. The number one challenge in implementing marketing technology – tied with insufficient budget – is inefficient processes. Every company has processes, but only the frontrunners collaborate with sales, IT and operations to document formal processes. If you don’t know what your processes are, they can’t be refined, optimized, and automated. Frontrunners know precisely how their processes work – and they make sure that everyone else does, too.

They invest heavily in training and adoption. A term of derision for business software is “bright, shiny toy” – bought on impulse, played with briefly, and abandoned quickly. The most impactful marketing technology is disruptive: even as you pursue the same objectives (leads, churn, revenue), it disrupts the way you operate. Changing behavior requires investment. Not only in the software – in training, in support, and in time. Frontrunners make that investment.

They collaborate closely with IT. Seven out of ten frontrunners say that their relationship with IT is excellent or good. Among followers, it’s only half. IT is a steward of technology infrastructure just as marketing is a steward of brand and reputation. But while IT values stability and security, marketing values interaction and responsiveness. There’s not necessarily a contradiction between the two, but the two groups often talk past each other. Marketers who count themselves as technology frontrunners have the ability to stand in IT’s shoes and take IT’s concerns seriously. They also make an effort to benefit from IT’s experience in such areas as integration and interoperability.

Bottom line, marketing technology frontrunners are better marketers. They excel at targeting customers, generating leads, contributing to revenue growth, and measuring and achieving ROI. As with all things in life, becoming a frontrunner depends partly on circumstances and partly on action. Technology offers the most help when the goals are clear, the products relatively homogeneous, and the scope of the problem is well defined. But success also depends on what you do – and imitating successful peers is often a good way to start.

This article follows the article written by Dave Munn on What Are The Marketing Technology Skills That Frontrunners Have?

Dave Munn is the President and CEO, ITSMA, dmunn@itsma.com 

Article image: google

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