However, what I failed to appreciate at the time was the broader revolution in marketing and the effects on the composition of the marketing team itself. Digital marketing was being created—not just by affiliate tracking, but from so many other new innovations. One company we were working with then was GoTo.com. The organization had the crazy idea of charging clients for ad space in search results (which I thought was shamelessly selling out). There were countless other companies and software tools emerging from the single fact that this new digital channel offered so many rich capabilities for marketing.
Fast-forward to today—the pace of innovation and new tools for digital marketing isn’t slowing down. What does seem to be slowing the pace is the overall complexity and in-depth technical knowledge necessary to use these tools efficiently (turns out marketing majors actually do need math). Ironically, the tools that help the marketing team do its job better are making things more and more complicated.
There’s a fair amount of technical knowledge required just to understand key performance metrics such as bounce rates, open percentages, MQIs, MQLs, conversion rates, search engine rankings, influencer ratings, SEO metrics, et cetera. All these metrics came from new tools to help the marketing team (you’re welcome), and the complexity of knowing how they all fit together and what drives what them will soon require a computer science degree.
Optimizing a click-through percentage by a single point can make or break a company. That intense need for optimization of the conversion funnel drives another need—to squeeze out every possible percentage point of results. Analyzing such a complex, interconnected digital marketing channel is a tall challenge in and of itself. As a result, technology has come to the aid of the marketing team with software tools for data mining and big data crunching.
Of course, running these tools and understanding the results is still incredibly complicated, no matter how “easy” they claim to be. Don’t get me wrong: I love data mining, and I love big data. The benefits of deep data analysis on the digital marketing channel are immense. But understanding how to use these technologies limits the adoption by the marketing department.
The complexity and breadth of digital marketing technology has given rise to a new role in marketing to help manage and make sense of it all. The marketing technologist—part developer and part marketer—is a hybrid role essential in bridging the gap between those two disparate fields by focusing on the selection and optimization of digital marketing tools. A Gartner study indicates that 70 percent of marketing teams already have one.
As we edge closer to 2015, will this role become even more prevalent in global marketing departments? Are you fulfilling the majority of this role’s responsibilities already? Tell us your thoughts on the marketing technologist—and how to become a better one—in the comments section below.
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