5 Ways To Embrace Your Inner Marketing Technologist
How can you improve your marketing technology skills without sacrificing your day-to-day work? Columnist Erik Bratt has some tips.
A former boss of mine once opined that all marketers are “technophobes” — arguing that if technology applications were not extremely simple and easy to use, then, in the words of iconic New Jersey movie gangsters, fuggedaboutit!
While I think many marketers tend to be creative types, I have seen a concerted effort by marketers to better understand and leverage technology, especially measurement tools.
Is it enough? With “martech” (marketing technology) all the rage and endless talk of how the CMO technology budget will soon surpass that of the CIO, marketers can ill afford to harbor any secret anxieties about using technology.
Now, more than ever, marketers must embrace their inner technologist and leverage technology as a centerpiece of their overall strategy.
While this sounds great, an important question remains: How can marketers improve their technology chops while still doing their day job? Should they start hanging out in the engineering department, or pick up a copy of “The Pragmatic Programmer” for their bedtime reading?
I asked several respected marketers for their practical advice. Here are five ways marketers can enhance their knowledge and use of technology:
1. Understand That Creativity Without Conversions Is Equal To Zero
This simple but core tenet is espoused by web analytics pioneer and digital marketing expert Rand Schulman. The concept is that marketing creativity is ultimately useless unless it contributes to the bottom line in a measurable way. In other words, that “cool factor” means little if it’s not generating results.
Once you understand this, you’ll be more interested in using technology to measure the effectiveness of your marketing and begin that process of merging your right and left brains (said to represent creative versus analytical, respectively).
The more committed you are to being a data-driven marketer, the more you’ll dig into applications that help determine ROI, such as analytics, marketing automation, CRM systems (for closed-loop marketing), and more.
2. Get Experimental
According to Scott Brinker, a leading authority on marketing technology and the force behind ChiefMartec.com, working with software in a more experimental way is a great way to learn.
For example, running your own WordPress blog and experimenting with different plug-ins, changes to themes, and other capabilities, can be a great learning experience for beginners, Brinker said.
This idea complements the notion of “getting your hands dirty” and digging into your applications as much possible. Sometimes, trial and error is the best way to learn.
And if that fails, well, then maybe learning a little programming might not be such a bad idea, according to Brinker. “Mostly for the development of algorithmic thinking, rather than having to actually do a lot of hands-on coding.”
3. Spend More Time With Your Technology Vendors
Yes, you heard that right: the people who sold you your complicated technology solution would be more than happy to train you on it as well.
Digital marketing expert and author Jay Baer advises being a vendor sponge: sit in on product training demos, watch videos, attend user summits and conferences, talk to sales engineers and trainers when possible.
[blockquote cite=” Jay Baer”] The companies that are making a living selling technology to marketers will be more than happy to educate them about it. Take them up on that offer.[/blockquote]
One easy tip is to use your social channels to create an education feed. Follow your key vendors, as well as other purveyors of technology news like Mashable, TechCrunch, Gizmodo and more.
4. Understand What’s Possible
According to Baer, the most advanced and relevant marketing today relies significantly on technology advancements that didn’t exist five years ago. He cites personalized, behavior-triggered marketing automation programs as one example.
“It is imperative that marketers understand how these advanced marketing approaches work and what’s possible,” he said.
As organizations become more adept at integrating their previously siloed applications and data, “what’s possible” will only grow in size and scope. Marketers need to grasp the increasing interplay between technologies and how that can impact the customer experience.
5. Immerse Yourself In Digital Marketing Best Practices
Best practices in digital marketing often lead to the use of technology.
If you’re learning the proper social media techniques, for example, you’ll likely begin using various social media monitoring and measurement tools.
If you’re engaged in demand generation, best practices will lead you to marketing automation and CRM applications. Same for SEM and digital campaigns.
Best practices are borne from the collective experience of others, and technology (vendor applications) often play a huge role. Fortunately, there is an abundance of books, videos and digital marketing courses available, including local colleges, and online sources such as Udemy, ClickZ Training and the Online Marketing Institute.
Technology know-how is critical to modern digital marketing success, but marketers — including “technophobes” — need not worry about being left behind. There is an abundance of help available to guide marketers through an increasingly complex martech landscape.
The rewards of mastering the management, application and integration of technology are profound, and will lead marketers to delivering the next-generation of customer interactions.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.
New on MarTech