How Can Marketers Adapt to a Rapidly Changing Marketing Technology Landscape?



The skill-set required to thrive as a marketer has changed as the set of available tools is expanding every day.  But developing a framework to categorize the tech and then filter by strategic importance and scale of implementation is a common sense way to address it.

One definition of marketing is the act of building profitable customer relationships. For a long time, the way in which marketers interacted with their customers has been relatively consistent. And then things changed, and man, did they change quickly!

Tech is Changing our Concept of What Makes a Good Marketer

The Technology of Marketing, and technology generally, is having a significant impact on the marketer’s relationship with his or her customer, and has suddenly provided executives a hint that we’re closer to finding the Marketing Holy Grail - an accurate view on marketing return on investment.

Expectations on the Marketing Department have increased dramatically. Deloitte Digital did a survey with 89% of respondents agreeing that digitalization has changed the role and content of marketing. CMOs are viewed as being more influential to an organizations success over the past five years.

CMO’s are struggling to deliver

Spencer Stuart's study of 100 top-spending organizations in the U.S. showed average tenure was down to 42 months in 2016, from 44 in 2015. By comparison, CEOs averaged more than seven years with a company.

CMO's and Senior Leadership appreciate the pace of change of digital marketing, but may not be confident that their organization is keeping up. In particular, in Canada, we’re not doing nearly as well as we should.

According to Vanson Bourne, Canada is considered to be a “digital laggard,” ranking 13th out of 16 countries in its “digital transformation index,” a composite of factors measuring what companies are doing to catch up digitally.

Balancing the Qualitative with Quants

The challenge has two major facets -  one inward focused -the skillset required to thrive as a marketer has changed and the other external - the technological playing field where marketers are competing is evolving every day.

Firstly, CMO’s need to change their mindset from being masters of the qualitative aspects of understanding their products and customers to being masters of both the quantitative and qualitative attributes.  

“The CMO of the future is more of a chief digital officer who has a solid understanding of branding rather than a CMO with a sense for digital.” said Ari Aronson from the Ari Agency.

But how are we doing today?  In 2017, at least 30% of CEOs will fire their CMO's for "not mustering the blended skill set they need personally to pull off digital business transformation," according to a recent report from Forrester Research and featured in Ad Age.

BCG shares some uncomfortable truths about our readiness also in a paper entitled ‘The Talent Revolution in Digital Marketing’ where they state: “Marketing organizations are feeling the pressure created by these shifts. And while still important, traditional skills such as creativity and brand building no longer suffice in a digital-first reality. Marketing has become much more of a science requiring technical, data-crunching abilities.“

Secondly, CMO’s need to be dynamic in their learning to match the pace of rapidly evolving landscape for martech. They need to know their Hadoop’s from their ‘DSP’s, and their SEO’s from their PPC’s.

Today, Marketing is now a fundamental driver of IT purchasing. According to Gartner, CMOs will spend more this year on IT than their counterpart CIOs.

Industry Resources Help Chart Out the Industry

While understanding the basics isn't so challenging, keeping pace with all the new stuff consistently is tough.  There has been a number of valuable resources that are very popular in the industry.

Luma Partners produces their Luma Scape series, a fantastic classification of different companies of marketing and advertising technology.  Likewise, Marketing Technology Landscape produced by Scott Brinker from ChiefMartech, is fantastic.

One of the first pieces of research done for Digitopian was to create a clear digital marketing road-map that:

  1. Defines the landscape - Marketing Technologies that should be considered

  2. Provides a framework to prioritize marketing technologies

  3. Contrasts Canadian Financial Institutions (i) to their peers and (ii) best practice from other industries or geographies across the range of significant Digital Marketing Practices.

This has proved to be a challenging endeavour, namely because it deals with a moving target and what is considered ‘best in class’ today isn't necessarily what will be leading tomorrow.

I wanted to determine the fundamental attributes of digital marketing in my benchmark, but without getting bogged down with too much detail. Ultimately, making something specifically for financial services, I was able to organize technologies into 5 major categories and about 40 sub-categories - I’m still working on getting it shorter, but I’m not too optimistic!

To be a good CMO today is a lot more complicated.  But if data and ‘quants’ are kind of scary to you, there is hope.  

Building a good MarTech stack isn't rocket science (even though a lot of that tech was literally built by rocket scientists).  Simply going through and categorizing the available tech by the business pain they address, then coming up with a framework to filter out what is strategically important now and in the future against size of investment is an achievable step, no matter what your comfort level.

Ultimately, as long as CMO’s have the willingness to embrace a career of constant learning, they’ll be fine.  Frankly, these are the core skills that got them there in the first place