Marketers Need to Own Their Tech Decisions

Marketers Need to Own Their Tech Decisions

5 minute read
Scott K. Wilder avatar

The marketing department now consists of technology builders, who have to create new channels (websites, mobile apps, Facebook apps, etc), implement new tracking systems (marketing automation, CRMs, mobile analytics) and integrate these into their customers’ experiences. More importantly, they have to quantify each step of the marketing funnel.

Taking the Marketing Tech Plunge

As Gartner Research frequently points out “Technology is the heart of Marketing, and CMOs will outspend their company’s CIO by 2017.” This new responsibility requires approaching the job in a completely different manner -- the success of their business depends on it. To start on their role as technology builders, CMOs have to:

  • Find the right technology provider who’s nimble
  • Ensure they can easily fire the technology provider just as they could their ad agency
  • Build in performance goals for the technology provider
  • Rely on the CIO to drive the technology purchasing decision
  • Make key decisions by extensively kicking the tires of these technologies. (Note: To this day, it still surprises how many technology providers do not have sandboxes or a demo product for CMOs to properly evaluate their products.)

Marketing will have to quarterback the technology acquisition and licensing process for their companies. To accomplish this, they will need to:

  • Sync up with the company’s business goals
  • Prioritize and identify the critical few projects
  • Facilitate projects and communications between marketing and IT
  • Prioritize funding for marketing technologies
  • Select, evaluate and choose technology providers
  • Define success for these providers (hold them accountable)
  • Design and implement technology, keeping digital business models in mind
  • Plan ongoing reviews of the technology provider and set goals
  • Push the technology provider for continuous improvements to the technology

But IBM’s CMO study (registration required) found many barriers to adopting technology:


None of these points take into account the capability technology provides to improve the overall customer experience or extract actionable data. Marketers need to carefully consider how implementing a new marketing system impacts people visiting their site. This needs to be carefully examined by capturing VOC (Voice of the Customer) and looking closely at data.

Another area that surprises me is how few focus on lifetime value or retention.As eMarketer shows below, there tends to be a focus on one time activities (campaign tracking) and brand analysis (which does focus on customers behaviors and competitive intelligence).

social media analytics.gif

Graphic Source:

Understanding of customers data fuels marketing organizations. Since marketing is now a key for major technology buyers, CMOs need to know how to evaluate, implement and leverage new systems. Technology impacts all parts of marketing.

Learning Opportunities

To get marketing departments ready for this change CMOs will have to:

  • Have the technology that allows them to quantify each step of the funnel.
  • Identify or hire someone who has the technology background in Marketing Automation, CRM and Web Analytics. Although some companies are beginning to hire a Marketing Technology officer in many cases it isn’t necessary. Within large companies -- more than $500 million in annual revenue -- 81 percent now have a Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO), up from 71 percent just a year ago. Another 8 percent expect to add that role within the next 24 months. However, smaller companies might not be able to afford to pay for an additional Marketing chief.
  • Have this person map out your technology and challenge them to figure out how the many pieces of the many technology puzzle fit together (no solution will solve all your problems) -- how your marketing automation system fits with your CRM system, for example).
  • Be committed to a just-in-time agile approach (they can learn Agile Development processes from engineers and apply it to marketing).
  • Map out the process before buying the technology (but be flexible).
  • Embrace technology. Pick a few technologies to learn. Yes, I think CMOs need to understand how some of these products work.

Marketers should keep in mind that any change in a company’s infrastructure can impact the overall customer experience. They need to embrace technology, not fear it. They can no longer say "it’s too technical to understand." As Phil Fernandez, Marketo’s CEO said, "The days of ownership are being replaced with the days of partnership.”

In the modern, connected, mobile environment, companies need to connect with customers with personalized and differentiated services. So called "stickiness" is essential and CMOs should be better equipped to meet those demands, regardless of whether or not they have the same level of technical knowledge as the CIO.

Despite all of the above, CMO’s should remember that technology is just an enabler. Marketing leaders should:

  • Map out the ecosystem of everyone who impacts your product
  • Focus on a few target audiences at first (prospects, customers, partners)
  • Map out each of their customer journeys (online and offline)
  • Identify their watering holes and where they spend their time
  • Understand how they speak about their work, your product, etc.
  • Understand the jobs / tasks they get paid to do
  • Map out potential experiences in the funnel
  • Determine the right technology to collect data at those key touch points.

Much of the change in the CMO’s role is due to the increasing influence of customers. This topic will be the focus of more articles, conferences, etc. For example, next month, the Incite Conference in San Francisco will focus on the CMO’s evolving role. There need to be more detailed blueprints for marketers to follow. Hopefully, this post provides some guidance.

Note: This will be the first of a series of posts that look at CMO’s evolving role in companies, especially as the "run and gun" campaign approach moves to building longer-term customer relationships. My next article will discredit the myth that the marketing funnel is dead.

Title image by Aspen Photo /

About the author

Scott K. Wilder

Scott K. Wilder manages Partner Economy, LLC, a new B2B Marketing and Sales consulting firm focused on leveraging data to drive actionable results and positive ROI.