October 07, 2010
How To

Chief Marketing Technologist: Finding the Right Person to Connect Powerful Tools with Effective Campaigns

SUMMARY: Marketing with the most effective tactics increasingly means marketing with the latest technology. As innovation piles on top of innovation, how can your team ensure you’re selecting and using solutions wisely?

See why the CTO of a marketing software company says more marketing teams need managers who focus exclusively on marketing technology. Find out where he says you might find the right person for the job.
by Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter

Fifteen years ago, marketers did not have to understand webpage design, search engines or emails. Today, technology plays a larger role in marketing than ever before -- and the list of required expertise grows with each innovation.

"It’s a golden age for marketing in terms of the tools that are available. But in many ways it’s overwhelming," says Scott Brinker, President and CTO, ion interactive, a landing page strategy and testing vendor. "Most people in marketing, particularly in marketing management, do not have a lot of experience with technology management and technology integration."

Marketing teams often turn to IT departments to launch and deploy new technology. The problem, Brinker says, is that the pace at which marketers want to leverage technology exceeds the pace at which IT teams can deploy it. This can hobble performance.

"For me, there’s only one possible solution. Marketing needs to own technology," Brinker says.

Marketing teams need a dedicated Chief Technology Officer, a position Brinker has dubbed Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT). This person would be responsible for managing marketing technology in a way that achieved the best results.

Below, check out the four benefits Brinks sees a Chief Marketing Technologist adding to your team, and where he says you can find the right candidate.

Benefit #1. Creates a plan for how technology can help marketing

A CMT is a management position which reports directly to a company’s Chief Marketing Officer. This person is responsible for helping the CMO achieve a vision for how the company’s marketing leverages technology.

The right person for the job has a thorough understanding of both digital technologies -- such as Web development and content management systems -- as well as marketing strategy. The CMT focuses on completing technical projects that improve a company’s marketing performance.

Rather than relying on IT departments, which are typically not concerned with marketing performance, the CMT is directly responsible for improving key performance metrics.

Benefit #2. Selects the most effective technology for marketing

"There are hundreds, if not thousands, of new companies coming on who are all about solving or enabling different technical capabilities for the marketing department," Brinker says.

This explosion in services has presented a challenge to marketing departments: of all the solutions that will improve our results, which should we launch now?

This selection should be made by the CMT. His or her understanding of marketing objectives and technological capabilities provides a full view of each solution’s costs and benefits, enabling them to make wise selections.

"It’s really a question of which ones are we going to prioritize and pick this month, this quarter, this year," Brinker says.

- Negotiating with vendors

Furthermore, the CMT’s expertise gives your marketing department a well-informed party at the negotiating table. The CMT should understand the requirements of getting a new solution running, the marketing goals it should achieve, and whether the vendor’s claims are realistic.

Benefit #3. Implements marketing-related technology on your timetable, not IT’s

Once solutions are selected, the CMT is responsible for getting them up-and-running efficiently. Depending on the resources available, this could involve hands-on technical work or, ideally, oversight of a technical team.

Many new marketing solutions are software-as-a-service (SAAS), or cloud solutions. The services are operated almost completely independent from your company’s computer networks. The CMT should be able to launch and manage SAAS solutions with minimal collaboration with your IT department, Brinker says, which should speed launch times.

Technology that is purchased and brought in-house will likely require collaboration with IT. In these cases, the CMT takes a lead role in organizing the work, and ensures it’s completed as quickly and effectively as possible. The CMT’s presence at the planning table ensures that the technical projects do not lose sight of marketing objectives.

"IT just doesn’t have [a marketing] background," Brinker says. "They are serving many different groups, and their focus is really on infrastructure."

Benefit #4. Unifies marketing technology for improved efficiency

The rise in marketing technology has created a patchwork of systems that many teams use every day. For example, it’s not uncommon to manage search marketing, email marketing, ecommerce, and display advertising in four separate platforms.

The CMT should work to connect these systems to drive marketing efficiencies. For example, maybe an interface can be developed to manage several channels. Or perhaps sharing the data between systems can promote better targeting and stronger performance.

Also, the CMT should ensure that the systems achieve a unified result that pushes marketing performance. For example, your team may hire separate vendors to provide product suggestions and product reviews on your website, but those technologies need to work cleanly on the same page to improve conversions.

Where can you find a Chief Marketing Technologist?

People who can fill this position are not walking around with the title Chief Marketing Technologist. The key is to find someone who understands marketing objectives and who has a thorough understanding of technology.

There is likely someone at your company who takes the lead on your marketing team’s technical challenges. If you are always turning to the same person in your marketing department to add something to your website or fix an email rendering issue, they might be a good candidate.

Marketers who are deeply involved with the technical side of search engine optimization can also be good candidates. There are also people at smaller Web development companies and Web 2.0 startups who are business-minded and have tons of technical expertise, Brinker says.

Useful links related to this article

MarketingSherpa’s Job Listings

Members Library: How to Negotiate Trials and Lower-rates with Vendors: 5 Strategies

Scott Brinker’s Blog: Rise of the Marketing Technologist

ion interactive

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