So many marketing tools, so little time. Marketers have a vast array of tools and technology at their fingertips to research, identify and reach their target customers, yet the sheer magnitude of options available can be paralyzing.

At the CRM Evolution 2015 conference held earlier this week in New York City's Marriott Marquis, Scott Brinker, founder of and co-founder and CTO of ion interactive, and Michael Krigsman, founder of, tried to provide some simple answers to how marketing professionals can utilize technology to their advantage without driving themselves crazy.

The two marketing executives covered issues such as overlaps between marketing and other departments (e.g., IT), the future of marketing technology, and the best avenues for marketing and technology departments to cooperate to foster additional sales revenue.

Double Sided Mirror

Krigsman said that the transparency new digital technology offers allows marketing professionals to collect customer data to determine what customers want and what actions they are taking to meet that need. But there's another side to the data collection. 

“It also gives us clarity about ourselves, because with digital we are able to make decisions about the type of interactions we will have with our customers and very importantly we can then track it,” he said. “It is this transparency that is the foundation of all marketing technology as we know it.”

Brinker noted the challenges the industry faces due to rapid technological advances in digital marketing and digital retail sales. He said most of the pressure isn't from direct competitors, but from the expectations of customers themselves.

“Customers are increasingly expecting when they engage with us digitally they will be able to get the content they want very quickly and efficiently,” he said. “When they choose to engage in some sort of interaction with us, they expect that that process will be streamlined."

He added that customers become angry when forced to contend with complex and complicated digital online procedures and question why the process doesn’t work as smoothly as others they have used, such as Amazon, for example.

“That is the challenge with this technology,” Brinker said. “The good news is we have a way to get there from here. All of the marketing technologies on the landscape essentially become the R&D departments for our companies to help us compete with the Amazons and the Apples ….”

Stakes Are High

Another key facet of marketing is customer engagement. Krigsman said that new marketing technology can help a company establish if it is satisfying its customers’ needs by the level of customer engagement it can solicit. He pointed to a survey released by Deloitte Digital in May that exemplified the high stakes game digital retail sales engagement can be for many companies.

The study, "Navigating the New Digital Divide," reported that digital interactions are expected to influence 64 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores by the end of 2015, or $2.2 trillion. That market share has grown considerably from 14 cents of each dollar spent in brick-and-mortar stores in 2012, the first year Deloitte Digital conducted the annual study. Digital interactions are expected to influence more than 90 cents of every dollar in the next few years.

Krigsman pointed to an interesting trend taking place: the blending of the marketing, technology and engineering functions of companies. With this blending comes new job titles. Examples he cited included the emergence of marketing technologists, creative technologists, chief digital officers and data scientists with technology management skills that work to integrate marketing and technology.

Hybrid Roles

In an effort to foster continued interaction between the corporate marketing and technology departments, Brinker and Laura McLellan, research vice president at Gartner, co-authored an article for the July-August 2014 edition of Harvard Business Review entitled “The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist.” They charged in the article that — whether by title or responsibility — this hybrid executive role calls for someone who is "part strategist, part creative director, part technology leader and part teacher."

Brinkman told the CRM Evolution 2015 gathering that the CMT should be the right hand man of the Chief Marketing Officer, but also work directly with the IT department to successfully integrate new technology into the company’s marketing efforts.

A key facet of the CMT role is to “empower the rest of the marketing team.” Brinker emphasized, “This is not about making every marketer a technologist, but it is about recognizing that technology management skills need to be a part of marketing’s DNA if we are relying on software to achieve this (customer) engagement mission.”

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